We love traditional al pastor tacos (and really any tacos). They are challenging to make at home though. We’ve tried a few methods for making authentic-ish pork al pastor with mixed results. I decided to try this chicken version for a slightly healthier, easier weeknight meal.
The marinade for these is the same marinade that gets used for pork. A key component of this dish is the achiote paste or annatto paste. Achiote is a paste made from ground annatto seeds, which is what gives al pastor its color and flavor. The marinade also contains garlic, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, orange and lime juice, brown sugar, chili powder, cumin and oregano.
I marinated the chicken overnight for maximum flavor and then cooked it in a hot skillet. You could also marinate breasts without slicing and grill for more authentic flavor.
I broiled the pineapple for the salsa under my broiler, because I think it gives a nicer flavor, but you can skip this step if you like. The sweetness of the pineapple is a great contrast to the spicy, smoky flavor of al pastor.
Al Pastor Chicken Tacos
For the chicken marinade:
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tbsp achiote paste
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 package boneless skinless chicken breasts trimmed and thinly sliced
For the salsa:
- 2 cups small diced pineapple broiled if you like
- 1/2 cup red onion diced
- 2 tbsp cilantro chopped
- 1 jalapeno seeded, stemmed and minced
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
For the tacos:
- corn tortillas heated in a skillet
- sour cream optional
- lime wedges optional
- Combine marinade ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt to taste. Pour over the sliced chicken and allow to marinate overnight in the fridge.
- When ready to cook, heat a few tbsp oil in a skillet until very hot. Add the chicken and allow to sear on one side. Stir and allow to sear on the other side. Turn heat down to medium low and cook until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Broil the pineapple until it has some black spots then cool and dice. Combine with other salsa ingredients and taste and adjust the lime juice, salt etc.
- Char the corn tortillas briefly in a hot skillet. Serve with cooked chicken, salsa, and other toppings of your choice.