Easy Al Pastor Marinade (for Pork, Chicken & More)

Taco night will never be the same after soaking your meat or veggies in this flavor-packed Al Pastor Marinade. It’s surprisingly easy to make and loads every bite with addictive layers of smoky, earthy, and citrusy goodness!

For more perfect taco sauces, be sure to check out these 9+ Tasty Taco Sauces as well!

In this Al Pastor Marinade recipe, you’ll learn how to make al pastor sauce that’s just as addictive as what you’d find at a taco truck. The layers of rich, smoky, and tangy flavors are outstanding and help pork, chicken, and even veggie tacos taste their best. Best of all, it takes minutes to blend together!

Al pastor marinade in small bowl with spoon.

Why you’ll love it

Making al pastor sauce at home is surprisingly simple and takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish. Once you’ve gathered all of the ingredients, just toss them in a blender and blend. Voila! You have a close-to-authentic al pastor sauce with incredible flavor.

There’s a little bit of everything in this al pastor recipe; smoky, spicy, earthy, tangy, sweet, and savory flavors. All of that flavor soaks into your meat of choice as it marinates over several days. Remember: the longer you wait, the more flavorful the al pastor meat will be.

Think of this sauce as your ticket to making the best pork tacos, chicken quesadillas, or veggie burritos. It’s a recipe you’ll want to keep in your back pocket at all times!

Ingredients for al pastor marinade labeled on counter.

Ingredients needed

The great news is that you can use your al pastor sauce on the meat or vegetables of your choice, making this a fantastic all-purpose marinade. Here’s what it’s made out of:

  • Garlic
  • Chipotle peppers – Use the chipotle peppers from a can packed in adobo sauce. You can use the leftover peppers or adobo sauce to make my Chipotle Salsa or Chipotle Crema.
  • Pineapple – Freshly chopped pineapple is best, or you can use canned pineapple in a pinch.
  • Orange juice – Try to squeeze the orange juice yourself if you can. Freshly squeezed juice always tastes the best!
  • Apple cider vinegar – White vinegar also works, but I like the subtle tang of ACV.
  • Honey or maple syrup – The sweetness balances the deeply savory flavors.
  • Achiote paste – This is a popular ingredient in Mexican and Central American cuisine, made from ground annatto seeds and various herbs and spices. It adds an essential flavor and color to this marinade, so try not to skip it! Look for it at your local Mexican grocer or buy it online.
  • Ancho chili powder – Or use regular chili powder if that’s what you already have at home.
  • Dried oregano – Use Mexican oregano for a more authentic flavor.
  • Cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • Salt and pepper

How to make al pastor marinade

Add all of the al pastor ingredients to a blender. Blend until thick and smooth, adjusting the flavor with more kosher salt and ground black pepper as needed.

Use the marinade immediately, or transfer it to a jar and store it for later. Enjoy!

How to marinate meat with al pastor marinade

Place the meat or vegetables of your choice in a shallow bowl or container. Pour the al pastor marinade over top, cover, and place in the fridge to marinate. 

  • Chicken, beef, pork, and tofu should soak in the marinade for at least 8 hours or up to 3 days.
  • Fish and vegetables can be left in the marinade for a maximum of 12 hours.

Grill, smoke, or bake the meat or vegetables until charred and crispy, then enjoy!

Tips and tricks

  • If you can, pick up the peppers, herbs, spices, or as many of the ingredients as you can from your local Mexican or Latin market. This way, you’ll spend less money and end up with a more flavor-rich sauce.
  • I recommend using a high-powered blender rather than a food processor to blend the marinade. These blenders are magicians at pulverizing and liquifying ingredients in no time.
  • Many al pastor marinade recipes are made with dried chili peppers. I opted to use chipotle peppers packed in adobo sauce because they’re super flavorful and don’t need to be rehydrated before blending.
Al pastor marinade in small bowl with spoon.

Serving suggestions

You can use your marinade to infuse mouthwatering flavors into a ton of different proteins and even vegetables! This is what I like to use it on:

  • Pork: Authentic tacos al pastor are made with boneless pork shoulder but you can also use pork butt or pork chops.
  • Chicken: Use chicken thighs (boneless or bone-in), chicken breasts, or chicken legs to make chicken al pastor.
  • Fish: Any kind of white fish works well!
  • Vegetables: Marinate hearty vegetables, like cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, or bell peppers.
  • Tofu: Tofu “steaks” are a great option when you need a vegetarian-friendly protein.

Just like pork carnitas, the al pastor marinated meats and veggies are fantastic in tacos topped with shredded cheese, diced pineapple, fresh mango salsa, and/or pico de gallo to tone down the heat. You can also use the meat/veggies to make:

  • Burritos
  • Quesadillas
  • Taco salads
  • Nachos
  • Fajitas
  • Tortas (Sandwiches)
  • And much more!

Finish the meal with Mexican-inspired appetizers and side dishes, such as:

Cook al pastor chicken thighs on plate with chopped pineapple and cilantro.

FAQs

Is al pastor spicy?

Yes, the chipotle peppers and ancho chili peppers bring a mild to medium level of heat to the sauce. If you’re worried about it being too spicy, only use two peppers and/or ½ tablespoon of chili powder.

How long does the marinade last?

The marinade will last for up to a week when you store it in an airtight container or jar in the fridge.

Can you freeze al pastor marinade?

Yes, the marinade freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before marinating the meat or vegetables.

More sauces and marinades for tacos

More meat marinades

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Al pastor marinade in small bowl with spoon.

Al Pastor Marinade

Taco night will never be the same after soaking your meat or veggies in this flavor-packed Al Pastor Marinade. It’s surprisingly easy to make and loads every bite with addictive layers of smoky, earthy, and citrusy goodness!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Marinating Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 people

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds meat of choice
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 -3 chipotle peppers (from a can packed in adobo sauce)
  • ¾ cup fresh pineapple (chopped )
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (or maple syrup)
  • 1 Tablespoon achiote paste
  • 1 Tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)

Instructions

  • Add all listed marinade ingredients to a blender. Season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Blend until combined; the marinade should be thick & smooth. Use immediately, or transfer to a jar or airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Marinate: Pour the marinade over your meat or veggies of choice. Marinate for at least 8 hours & up to 3 days.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Blender

Nutrition

Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 0.4g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.04g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 308mg | Potassium: 51mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 309IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.4mg

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