How to Make Cochinita Pibil Recipe from Yucatán / Receta de Cochinita Pibil

cochinitapibil pork pibil style
Out of all the dishes in the Yucatan Peninsula, I think this is the dish that is best known throughout the whole country. Cooked with Achiote (Annato paste) and sour orange juice, the slow roasted pork meat was traditionally buried in a pit, hence the word “Pibil”, meaning “buried” in Mayan. It is really easy to make at home, you can do it in an oven bag, slow cooker, or even in your pressure cooker. I tried those 3 ways of cooking and had great results with all of them. It is ideal to serve with hand-made tortillas and habanero pepper sauce. You can also cook it ahead of time and just reheat it before serving. Leftovers freeze very well, too.
I still remember in my years living in Southern Mexico, going on Sunday morning to the local market where the Chochinita Pibil Taco Stand was surrounded by people waiting for their order. As soon as the cook saw a new customer joining the crowd, he will give them a taco to make their waiting time less painful. ;)

  • 2 large banana leaves
  • 1/2 cup of Achiote Paste 
  • 2 cups of bitter orange juice, or one cup orange juice mixed with one cup of grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3 Pounds of boneless pork loin or pork shoulder cut in pieces
  • 1 large red onion, sliced.
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon marjoram
  • 1 Tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/2 cup oil or lard
  • 1 turkey size oven bag
  • Salt to taste
This meal can also be cooked in a slow cooker for about 6 hours in the lower setting.
cochinita pibil pork pibil
1. Roast the banana leaf, if you bought it from the frozen section of the supermarket, wait until it is completely defrosted.
cochinita pibil
To roast the banana leaf, place it directly over a medium hot fire of you gas stove, it will start changing color and getting some shiny while in contact with the fire. Make sure not to burn the leaves, we just want them to be pliable. cochinita pibil
2. Line your roasting pan with the oven bag and arrange the banana leaves overlapping as in the above picture. You can also use aluminum foil instead of the oven bag.
cochinita pibil
3. In your blender, mix the Achiote (annatto) seasoning with the pepper and bitter orange juice. Add salt.
cochinita  pibil
4. Place the pork meat on the leaves. Pour the Achiote mixture over. And add the oil/lard to give it more flavor.
cochinita   pibil
5. Cover with the sliced onion and herbs. Fold the ends of the banana leaves over the pork.
cochinita pibil pork 6. Close the oven bag and cut 3 or 4 slits according to packages instructions. If using aluminum foil wrap tightly . Add about 1 1/2 quarter of water to the roasting pan to create a steaming effect. One time, I forgot to add the water and it still came out great.
Bake 2 1/2 hours in a preheated oven at 350 degrees. Add more water to the pan if needed.
cochinita pibil
7. Remove roasting pan from oven and uncover the meat. The meat should be tender. If it isn’t, cover and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.

To serve shred the meat and cover with the juice with warm tortillas and habanero sauce.

Did you like the recipe? Please let me know in the comments section, do you have questions, or share the link with your friends. I hope you have an incredible time cooking! Provecho!

Mely Martinez, the cook at Mexico in my Kitchen!


  1. MELY, con el hambre que tengo a esta hora, hora de comer! Se me antojó mucho hacer la cochinita! Qué bueno que venden ese jugo de naranja agria en tu área! Saludos!

  2. Hola Nora,

    Cuando encuentro el jugo de naranja agria botella, uso jugo de naranja con vinagre.


  3. Hello from Santa Barbara! This is so well done. so instudtive with great pictures...everyone is going to want to try this. best, s

  4. this looks so good - I made something similar once but I bet yours has more flavor...

  5. Thanks for popping in on us! We are happy to visit you often too. best from Santa Barbara. s

    ps...we misspelled the word instructive in our comment above (sorry?)

  6. This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I always eat tacos de cochinita when I go to Mexico and I have made it at home a couple of times. Deliciousness!

  7. Hi Ben,

    I had been thinking about you. I hadn't been able to visit your blog and many more that I like. I was just wondering what new things you will be cooking this spring time.

    And you are right this dish is delicious, in tacos, tortas (sandwich), etc.

    The best part is so easy to make.


  8. Mely no encuentro tu receta de CARNITAS!

  9. Hi there. I was looking through various recipes for Cochinita Pibil and noticed that they all contain some form of citrus juice.
    My grandma, in my opinion, makes the best Cochinita Pibil I have ever had, but she doesn't use any juice at all. She just uses vinegar.
    Do you have any idea why that is?
    I'm trying to find a recipe as close to hers as possible, as I live in Dallas and she moved back to Mexico and I can't have hers regularly anymore, but I simply cannot.

  10. Hello Samara,

    I am sure your Grandma's cochinita pibil is delicious, grandmas have that special touch to everything they cook that make it special.

    Traditional "Cochinita Pibil" is made with achiote paste and sour orange juice (Seville oranges) that are very common in the Yucatan area were this recipe originated. Sour oranges are grown in several areas of Mexico were is also used to marinade meats for grilled. Some people use vinegar as a substitute in places were sour oranges are not available. Other cooks prefer to make a combination of citrus fruits and vinegar. Vinegar is used as a substitute of citrus to give the sour flavor and tenderizes the meat. My guess is that your grandma uses vinegar because that is the way the recipe was given to her. You can use the vinegar instead of the orange juice just make sure it is a mild one like apple cider vinegar. SInce I had never tried to cook it this way before I would mix the vinegar with some water.

    Thank you for stopping by.

    I hope your "Cochinita Pibil" tastes as good as your grandma's.
    Please come back and let me know since I would love to hear how it came out.


  11. hola Mely..

    I was married to this man a couple years back and he is from Campeche Mexico...Well his mother gave me a recipe similar to yours..but it had ingredients like cumin powder, hojas de laurel, oregano yes if no sour oranges use vinegar and water black pepper achiote paste..put everything in blender except hojas de laurel let it marinate for bout 12 to 24 hrs..then slice onion and place on top wit hojas de laurel..and yes use banana leaves also...but did u knw u can subsitute chicken if u dnt have pork??? and its also delicious....

  12. Hi Mely! This looks fabulous! I'm going to make it soon, but I'm not sure if you use the oven bag in the crock pot? Thanks for your blog. I love it and use a recipe from it almost every day!

    1. Hello Christina,

      Unfortunately, the oven bag doesn't handle the heat for too long. Believe me, I tried it already. The bag opened from the bottom part. Anyway, it still works for about 3-4 hours, and then remove cutting the bag with a pairing knife. I did use the banana leaves inside the bag.

      Thanks for following!

  13. Hi Mely! I made this to make tacos estilo Ciudad Madero which is where the husband's family is from. Oh mymymy was this good. I had previously made this using a different recipe. Your recipe is hands down the winner. Thank you for posting such great recipes!!!

    1. Hola Yolanda,

      So glad to know your husband like it. I bet you added the pickled carrots too. :)


  14. Hello! So glad I stumbled upon your recipes! A quick clarification on how to make this in the slow cooker.
    I use no oven bag, but I still use the leaves? Also, how long and at what setting? Can't wait to try this!!!

    1. Hello Elise,
      For the crock pot do not use the oven bag, but if you can use the banana leaves for the added flavor. Cook about 6 hours at medium to low setting. Happy cooking!

    2. Mely,
      Do you think this can be cooked in a slow cooker?

    3. Hello Eila,

      The cooking time will depend on the heat setting you use. I had cooked it at low heat for 6 hrs.

      Happy cooking!

  15. Mely,
    I cannot find bitter orange at any Mexican stores near me. I was thinking about substituting vinegar, but I am not sure how much to use. Do I use the same amount?

    1. Hello Renee,

      Mix equal parts of orange juice with grapefruit juice.

  16. Ken, Lakeland, FloridaOctober 21, 2016 at 9:39 PM

    Hola Mely,

    ¿Qué tal?

    I love cooking REAL Mexican food and love your site.

    Interesting that you toast the banana leaves first. I made this Pibil once and wrapped the pork in the banana leaves with all the spices. My wife could not stand the aroma of the banana leaves in the house, so I removed them. dish was still outstanding, but i will try your technique to toast the leaves and also wrap in a roasting bag.

  17. Hello Ken,

    This step (roasting-steaming) the banana leaves is done all over Mexico, this also helps the banana leaves to soften and be more pliable.
    Happy cooking!


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