Cochinita Pibil | Pulled Pork Yucatan Style

Course Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 50 minutes


  • 8lbs. Pork butt or pork shoulder, cut into large 3”x 4”cubes. Pork butt tends to shrink a lot because of its fat content, always calculate at least 2 or 3 more pounds of what you think you will need. In this recipe 8 pounds, yields about 5-6 net pounds of pork meat.
  • 2 medium white onions, sliced on thin wedges

For the marinade:

  • 6 tablespoons annatto seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper
  • 8-10 whole all spice peppercons, aka pimienta gorda, upon s small=10 medium-large=8
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 2" stick Mexican Cinnamon
  • 12 large garlic cloves
  • 1 habanero chiles, de-seeded
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1-1/2 cups bitter oranges juice, Bitter oranges have a sour bitter flavor, highly acidic which complement and tenderize the meat. If you can’t find this kind of oranges, substitute for 1 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup white vinegar.

For the Quick Pickled Onions:

  • 2 medium red onions, sliced in thin wedges
  • 3-4 Habanero peppers, thinly sliced or diced.
  • 1 Lime, the juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar or pineapple vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

You will need the following to cook your Cochinita Pibil in:

  • 5-6 large Banana Leaves
  • Heavy duty foil paper
  • 16"x 13" Ennamel, clay or stainless steel roasting pan


  1. 1. Cut the pork into 3”x 3” cubes, set aside.

    2. Grind the annatto seeds, black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, cumin seeds, oregano until powdered. You can use a stone mortar to pulverize the seeds or a coffee grinder. I do recommend fresh spices whole rather than powdered because the whole seeds retain much of their oils and are more fragrant. Since we are making all by scratch, it is worth the extra effort!

    I do prefer to use a mortar, is more fun and the aroma of the spices while you grind them is amazing… if you are not so romantic like me..hehehe a coffee grinder will work, just remember that once you use it for spices, just use it for that purpose.

    3. In a blender combine the garlic cloves, Habanero chiles, sea salt and orange juice. Blend.

    4. In a glass container place the pork and all the blended marinade, massage the pork pieces until well covered. Cover with parchment paper and plastic wrap. Refrigerate, let it rest over night.

    5. Next day remove your pork out of the fridge while you prepare the pan. You want the marinated pork not to be refrigerator cold when you place it in the oven. This allows the meat to cook more evenly and it will be more tender.

    6. Move your oven rack to the lowest position in your oven. Preheat the oven at 325 F/160C Place the banana leaves inside the oven for 5-7 minutes.Afterwards they should be a little warm which will make them more pliable. With scissors cut off the banana leaves hard middle rib edge.

    7. In a large roasting pan line the banana leaves in both directions, overlapping half way the leaves and placing them cross ways until you can not longer see the bottom of the pan. Place some banana leaves pieces on each corner to ensure there is no leaks.Leave the over hanging leaves, these will help us to make the bundle.

    8. On top of the banana leaves place a layer of thin onion wedges and the marinated pork meat in the roasting pan. Add the marinate juices and cover with the over hanging banana leaf. You want to make a pork bundle. Make sure is all fully wrapped up. Take a look at the following images for visual directions.

    9. Cover the entire pan bundle with aluminum foil. Tighten the edges fully to seal and contain the heat and moisture. Place the pot into the oven (or the just warm charcoal embers outside in a pit or carefully monitored grill) for 3.5 to 4 hours.

    10. Pull the cochinita out of the oven and before uncovering it, let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

    11. While your pork is resting, prepare your pickled onions by thinly slicing red onions and habbanero peppers. Slightly warm up the vinegar, and add the salt and lime juice to the onions. cover and leave them at room temperature, until the Cochinita is ready. The onions will became hot pink, and the vinegar will have the flavor of the spicy habaneros. Set up the table, get yourself a nice cold Mexican beer to drink.

    12. Unveil the Cochinita Pibil and with the help of two forks shreed the pork into smaller pieces, let the pork absorb those juices from the pan. The pork should be fork tender, juicy, moist…fragrant! the smell will fill your kitchen. You will almost hear the toucan screaming and the Mayan Jaguars slinking around behind you (watch out)… Time to eat!… Enjoy!

    This Cochinita Pibil is best served with a side of white fluffy garlic rice, and black beans. Tacos are always a great option. corn or flour, what ever rocks your boat. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes