Cochinita Pibil

April 18, 2022
3 Ratings
Photo by Ren Fuller
  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Serves 8
Author Notes

Grapefruit, lime, and orange slow-roasted pork shoulder

While I was in Yucatán, I had the honor of meeting a maestro of the pibil, Silvio Campos, chef and owner of Pueblo Pibil in Tixkokob. He showed me his pits, and how he selects the wood, how he knows when the fire is ready to receive the cochinita. This is a hard dish to replicate at home because so much of the flavor comes from the wood, the fire, and the minerals in the soil and in the pit—but even so, this slow-roasted pork, marinated in lots of citrus and then braised in the marinade and wrapped in banana leaves—takes me right back to Yucatán. If you have a grill or a smoker, you can roast the pork in it to get a closer version of this dish. —Rick Martinez

Test Kitchen Notes

Recipe reprinted with permission from Mi Cocina: Recipes and Rapture from My Kitchen in Mexico (‎Clarkson Potter, May 2022).

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. As an Amazon Associate, Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Cochinita Pibil
  • Cochinita Pibil
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/3 cup Recado Rojo or achiote paste (3 1/2 ounces / 100 grams)
  • 1/3 cup fresh grapefruit juice (about 1 grapefruit)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
  • 8 wide strips orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 oranges)
  • 4 1/4 teaspoons Morton kosher salt (20 grams)
  • 2 teaspoons Recado de Todo Clase (see below)
  • 2 pounds (907 grams) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 large fresh or thawed frozen banana leaves (optional)
  • Warm tortillas de maíz
  • Cebolla morada encurtida
  • Recado de Todo Clase
  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican (3½ grams)
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns (22 grams)
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 1-inch stick canela or cassia cinnamon
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  1. Cochinita Pibil
  2. In a blender, puree the garlic, recado rojo, grapefruit juice, lime juice, orange juice, salt, and Recado de Todo Clase (see instructions below) until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the pork and orange zest and toss to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 24. The more time, the better.
  3. Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 250°F.
  4. Unfold a banana leaf (it should be 2 to 3 feet long). If you have gas burners, heat one gas burner on high (otherwise, heat the oven to 475°F). Hold a leaf at each end and very slowly move the leaf over the flame, leaving it in one place until you see light char coming through the top, then continue moving slowly until the entire leaf is charred. It’ll take 3 to 7 seconds to see char marks in one spot. Repeat with the remaining banana leaf. (If drying the leaves in the oven, unfold them and arrange on a sheet pan—it’s okay if they are piled on top of each other—and bake until the leaves are browned and dried out in places, for about 20 minutes.)
  5. Lay the leaves across the bottom and up the sides of a large heavy pot or Dutch oven, arranging them so there’s about 6 inches of overhang draped over the rim.
  6. Remove and discard the orange zest. Transfer the marinade and pork to the prepared pot. Fold the overhanging leaves over the top of the pork so it is completely covered. Cover the pot with a lid, transfer to the oven, and roast the pork until it’s very tender and easily falls apart when poked, 2 to 2½ hours.
  7. Remove the pot from the oven and set it aside, still covered, for 45 minutes or up to 2 hours. Using two forks, shred the meat and stir into the accumulated juices.
  8. Serve with warm tortillas and cebolla morada encurtida.
  1. Recado de Todo Clase
  2. In a spice mill or blender, grind the oregano, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, canela, bay leaf, and cumin until finely ground. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark, dry spot for up to 3 months.

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Rick Martinez

Recipe by: Rick Martinez

Rick Martinez is currently living his dream—cooking, eating and enjoying the Mexican Pacific coast in Mazatlán. He is finishing his first cookbook, Under the Papaya Tree, food from the seven regions of Mexico and loved traveling the country so much, he decided to buy a house on the beach. He is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit, New York Times and hosts live, weekly cooking classes for Food Network Kitchens. Earlier this year, he was nominated for a James Beard Award for “How to win the Cookie Swap” in Bon Appétit’s holiday issue.

5 Reviews

cityphil November 27, 2022
It's missing the recipe for the Recado Rojo. I have the book so here it is:

Recado Rojo

Annatto seed paste flavored with citrus, herbs, and spices


2 chiles de árbol, stemmed

4 whole cloves

2 bay leaves

¼ cup annatto seeds

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt (0.21 oz/6 g)

4 garlic cloves, finely grated

¼ cup distilled white vinegar

1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1. In a blender, puree the chiles, cloves, bay leaves, annatto seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, oregano, peppercorns, and salt until finely ground. Transfer to an airtight container and stir in the garlic, vinegar, lime zest, and orange zest until a thick paste forms.
Maya May 17, 2022
This recipe turned out great. The marinade was delicious but I would double it next time.
Hmoshman May 13, 2022
Due to sub-optimal cooking conditions, I didn't get an amazing result. I used all ingredients in the recipe except I made my own achiote paste. I used whole achiote seeds and blended all the spices for the achiote paste in the spice blender. Perhaps as a result, the marinade was not super smooth. Secondly, combination of not having the super tight fitting lid and the fact that my oven wouldn't go down to 250, the pork came out a little dry. Little disappointed in the sauce too, so not sure what happened?
Hmoshman May 13, 2022
Also, while the charred banana leaves smelled good, didn't notice any added flavor to the dish. Pretty though!
I’m cooking this now. About 2 hours in the meat didn’t seem to be cooking. So I transferred to the stovetop. Let’s see how it goes. I don’t necessarily trust my oven.