Skip to Recipe
At its roots, al pastor style pork is basically Mexican shawarma. The spit-grilled style of cooking the pork was brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants. The rest is history. Nowadays, tacos al pastor (which basically translates to “country-style tacos) are an ubiquitous taco truck staple.
Traditionally, the method of cooking the al pastor pork is to roast a pork shoulder on a vertical spit with some pineapple rings. The fat that drip from the pork crisps up the outer layers of the pork, which is then shaved off and served on a corn tortilla with some pineapple salsa, cilantro, and onions. For the home cook, this is probably a lot more than one is prepared to undertake. Fortunately, there are options. I can’t take full credit for this discovery, as someone else discovered that you can get the flavors of al pastor pork in your pressure cooker for a fraction of the effort. However, I did tinker around with the recipe until I got it to taste the way that I like it. It may not be 100% authentic, but for delicious and flavorful pork tacos that can be made on a weeknight, these are well worth the trade-off.
When doing al pastor meat for in the pressure cooker, the pineapple flavor is incorporated in the sauce that the meat is cooked in. I find that fresh pineapple gives the best flavor, but you can use canned pineapple if you can’t find fresh in your area.
Heat the pressure cooker liner on the hottest Saute/Browning setting. Lightly season the pork chunks with salt and pepper. When the liner is hot, use it to brown your pork chunks on all sides, then remove them and set them aside. You may have to do that in stages, because they probably won’t all fit at once. After that, add the chopped onions to the pot and cook them until they start to soften. Add your browned pork chunks back into the pot.
Pour the pureed pineapple mixture over the pork and onions in the pot. Seal, then change the setting on the pot to Manual (High Pressure) for 45 minutes. When the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release for about 10 minutes before releasing the remaining pressure manually. Remove the pork chunks, leaving the sauce, then set the pot back to the Saute/Browning setting. Cook the liquid, stirring occasionally, until it’s reduced by about half. While that’s going, brown your cooked pork chunks on all sides over a grill or in a hot skillet. Chop or shred the meat and then return it to the pot with the liquid. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the meat looks like it has absorbed some of the cooking liquid. Turn the pressure cooker off and let the pork al pastor sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
These tacos al pastor may not be authentic, but they are darned good. And, for those of us that don’t have a vertical spit or time, these are a great way to get your craving for good tacos taken care of at home. Serve on corn tortillas with cilantro, onions, and lime wedges and you’re in for a treat! The meat freezes beautifully, too, so feel free to make a big batch and save some for a rainy day.
Pressure Cooker Pork “Al Pastor”
- 3lbs of boneless pork butt (Boston Butt Roast). cut into large chunks
- 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 or 2 peppers from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (plus a spoonful or two of the sauce itself)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp salt (more or less to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp olive oil
In a blender or food processor, mix your pineapple chunks, chipotle peppers with sauce, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin, and oregano until no large chunks remain. Set aside.
Preheat the liner of your pressure cooker using the Saute/Browning setting. Season pork chunks with salt and pepper. When the pot is hot, add the olive oil and brown the pork chunks on all sides in the liner (do this a few at a time so you don’t crowd the liner). Remove the pork from the pot and set aside.
Add the chopped onions to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until they start to soften. Return the pork chunks to the pot, then pour the blended pineapple sauce over the pork in the pot. Cover, seal, and cook on Manual (High Pressure) for 45 minutes. When the time is up, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10-15 minutes before manually releasing the remaining pressure.
Remove pork chunks from the pot, leaving the cooking liquid. Set the pot to Saute/Browning and allow the cooking liquid to come to a simmer. Continue simmering until the liquid is reduced by about half.
While the liquid reduces, char pork on all sides using a hot grill or skillet. Remove from heat and chop or shred the pork. Return the pork to the pot with the reduced cooking liquid, stirring to coat the pork. Continue to simmer until the pork has absorbed some of the liquid, about 5 minutes. Turn off the pressure cooker and allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.