Chicken Al Pastor: A Flavorful Twist on Mexican Street Food

Chicken Al Pastor is a mouthwatering and vibrant dish that brings the bold flavors of Mexican street food straight to your table. Rooted in tradition yet celebrated for its fusion of sweet and savory, this dish features marinated and grilled chicken, pineapple, and a medley of spices. Al Pastor, which means “shepherd style” in Spanish, is a culinary art form that combines the heritage of Lebanese immigrants with the heart of Mexican cuisine. Whether you’re recreating the vibrant streets of Mexico at home or simply looking for a memorable meal, Chicken Al Pastor is sure to delight your taste buds. In this article, we’ll explore the world of Chicken Al Pastor, offering a step-by-step recipe and tips to help you create this tantalizing dish.

The Irresistible Allure of Chicken Al Pastor:

Chicken Al Pastor offers a multitude of attractions:

  1. Complex Flavor Profile: A harmonious blend of smoky, spicy, sweet, and savory notes.
  2. Tender Chicken: The marination process ensures that the chicken is incredibly juicy and flavorful.
  3. Pineapple Magic: The addition of grilled pineapple adds a burst of freshness and sweetness.
  4. Versatile Dish: Enjoy it in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or as a stand-alone entree.
  5. Cultural Fusion: A dish that celebrates the diverse culinary heritage of Mexico.

Key Ingredients for Chicken Al Pastor:

  1. Chicken Thighs: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are ideal for tenderness and flavor.
  2. Achiote Paste: A signature seasoning blend that includes achiote (annatto), spices, and vinegar.
  3. Pineapple Juice: Provides natural sweetness and acidity to the marinade.
  4. Vinegar: Adds tanginess and helps tenderize the chicken.
  5. Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves for aromatic flavor.
  6. Chiles: A combination of dried guajillo and ancho chiles for smoky heat.
  7. Spices: Cumin, oregano, and paprika for depth of flavor.
  8. Pineapple: Fresh pineapple slices for grilling.

Chicken Al Pastor Recipe:


For the Marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, seeds removed, soaked, and chopped
  • 1 dried ancho chile, seeds removed, soaked, and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the Chicken:

  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

For Grilling:

  • Fresh pineapple slices
  • Corn tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro and diced onions (for garnish)
  • Lime wedges (for serving)


1. Prepare the Marinade:

  • In a blender, combine the achiote paste, pineapple juice, white vinegar, minced garlic, chopped guajillo and ancho chiles, ground cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Blend until smooth.

2. Marinate the Chicken:

  • Place the chicken thighs in a large resealable bag or shallow dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring it’s well-coated. Seal the bag or cover the dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight for the best flavor.

3. Preheat the Grill:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (around 375-400°F or 190-204°C).

4. Grill the Chicken and Pineapple:

  • Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread it onto skewers. Alternate with fresh pineapple slices.
  • Grill the chicken and pineapple skewers for about 5-7 minutes per side or until the chicken is cooked through and has a nice char. The pineapple should be caramelized and slightly browned.

5. Serve the Chicken Al Pastor:

  • Remove the chicken from the skewers and chop it into bite-sized pieces.
  • Warm the corn tortillas on the grill for about 20-30 seconds per side.
  • Assemble your Chicken Al Pastor tacos with a generous portion of grilled chicken and pineapple. Garnish with chopped cilantro and diced onions. Serve with lime wedges on the side.

Pro Tips for Perfect Chicken Al Pastor:

  1. Marinating Time: For the best flavor, marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours, but overnight marinating is even better.
  2. Achiote Paste Substitution: If you can’t find achiote paste, you can substitute it with a mixture of paprika and ground annatto seeds.
  3. Grilling Pineapple: Grilling pineapple enhances its sweetness and adds a delightful smokiness to the dish.
  4. Serving Suggestions: Chicken Al Pastor is traditionally served in warm corn tortillas with fresh cilantro, onions, and a squeeze of lime. You can also add salsa or your favorite hot sauce for extra kick.


Chicken Al Pastor is a vibrant and flavorful dish that captures the essence of Mexican street food. By following this recipe and embracing the fusion of sweet, smoky, and spicy flavors, you can create a Chicken Al Pastor that’s not just a meal but a celebration of culinary heritage. Say hello to a dish that’s as unforgettable as it is delicious, leaving you craving another bite with each taco.

Article Categories:
Blog · Dinner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Don't Miss! random posts ..