Cochinita Pibil

Foodbuzz dinner
[donotprint]First of all, I want to thank everybody who left a message on my last post. It is very comforting to know that there are people out there that truly care about other. That has made my mourning a lot easier. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Hopefully this week I will catch up with everything that was unattended last week. So let’s get down to business. That here means food! Several months ago I blogged about a typical Mayan dish that was one of my favorites when I was growing up, chicken legs in achiote sauce. Achiote is a common sauce in the Yucatan peninsula. Many dishes are prepared with it, but the most commonly known is probably Cochinita Pibil. Cochinita (roughly translated little or baby female pig) is a slow-roasted pork dish with a strong acidic taste from bitter orange juice, usually Seville oranges. The preparation of this dish is simple. However, to obtain better results the meat must be marinated for at least 4 hours, some experts in Yucatan food recommend marinating it for 24 hours. I made this dish a couple of weeks ago with some minor changes on the preparation, but the result was a very delicious and tender Cochinita.[/donotprint]

Cochinita Pibil
Makes 4-6 servings
Prep time 10 minutes plus 4 to 24 hours to marinate
Cooking time 2 1/2 hours

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 1/2 lbs pork shoulder
  • 1 TBSP annatto seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 chile ancho, deveined and seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh bitter orange juice (Seville Orange)*
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • salt and pepper

Pickled onions:

  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped

*You can substitute bitter orange juice with 1/2 cup sweet orange juice and the juice of one lemon.


  1. Cut pork shoulder in 1 1/2 to 2″ cubes and season.
  2. Dry-toast annatto seeds, allspice, cumin, oregano and chile ancho in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until fragrant, around 2-3 minutes.
  3. Cool slightly and grind in a food grinder (I used my blender on high speed)
  4. In a large bowl whisk together spice mixture, garlic, vinegar and orange juice until well blended.
  5. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil letting it hang over the sides so it can cover the pork.*
  6. Place pork on aluminum foil cover with the annatto sauce and mix well.
  7. Cover and marinate for at least 4 hours. 24 hours works best.
  8. Preheat oven to 250ºF (120ºC)
  9. Cook for 2 1/2 hours.
  10. Serve in tacos with pickled onions over fresh homemade corn tortillas.

Pickled onions:

  1. Mix red onion, vinegar, orange juice, cilantro and salt to taste and marinate for 4 hours.

About this recipe:

  • The original recipe calls for banana leaves instead of aluminum foil.
  • The pickled onions is originally a hot sauce. You might add 1 or 2 finely chopped habaneros and 1 chopped radish.


If you are looking to impress a crowd, this is the perfect dish for it. This is authentic Mexican flavor.

¡Buen provecho!


  • Good to have you back with us Ben. Looks like a delicious dish, even without the annato seeds and The Chile ancho (by the way the link does not work). Are these hot spices?

  • Ben we are glad to have you back with your usual cheerful banter. This dish is a great way to start the week:D

  • Welcome back Ben! This certainly would impress a crowd! Great flavors, I could just imagine the taste!

  • Oh man. The pork sounds amazing…full of spicy flavor. And the pickled onion would go so well with it! I’ll have to try this sometime.

  • Ben, it’s so good to see you back! I’ve missed your posts.

    This looks totally fabulous! My husband would be eating out of the palm of my hand if I made this for him, hehe. Thanks!

  • That looks really tasty. I will have to see if I can find some of those annatto seeds.

  • Dang, read this last week and spent the weekend dreaming about it. I did okay though, found and made me a new bbq sauce, I did okay.

    xo, Biggles

  • Ben, so glad you’re here and hoping cooking is helping with your healing…
    Great selection. We made pibil for that Mexican extravaganza we had recently — on the BBQ! This sounds really great! Marinated onions and all! YUM! And big hugs to you…

  • Oh, I loved eating cochinita pibil when we visited the Yucatan last year — thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

  • I too started making it after seeing Robery Rodriguez’ version and it’s fantastic.

    Ivy, the annato seeds are VERY IMPORTANT, i can not stress that enough. I use a coffee grinder to grind them up into a very fine powder along with all the other spices and the smell is unbelievable. Dip your nose into a bag of annato seeds, it’s a very euphoric smell.

    Robert suggests a splash of tequila, I disagree. The acidity in the tequila also works to tenderize the meat and for that reason (along with taste) I add a splash of tequila per pound (and a shot for me for good health).

    I’m definitely going to try this recipe though, especially the pickled onions, never tried that with my pibil.

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