Chicken Al Pastor: A Flavorful Mexican Classic

Chicken Al Pastor is a delicious and vibrant dish inspired by the traditional Tacos Al Pastor, which typically feature marinated pork cooked on a vertical spit. This version uses chicken, marinated in a blend of spices, pineapple, and citrus juices, then grilled to perfection. It’s perfect for tacos, burritos, or served with rice and beans for a hearty meal.

Preparation Time:

  • Prep time: 20 minutes (plus marinating time)
  • Cook time: 15-20 minutes
  • Total time: 35-40 minutes (plus marinating time)


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons achiote paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced
  • Salt, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for serving
  • Corn tortillas, for serving


1. Prepare the Marinade:

  • In a large bowl, combine the pineapple juice, orange juice, apple cider vinegar, achiote paste, chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, ground cinnamon, ground black pepper, and minced garlic. Mix well to form a smooth marinade.

2. Marinate the Chicken:

  • Place the chicken thighs in a resealable plastic bag or a large bowl. Pour the marinade over the chicken, ensuring all pieces are well coated. Seal the bag or cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat.

3. Preheat the Grill:

  • Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. If you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or a large skillet on the stovetop.

4. Grill the Chicken:

  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any excess to drip off.
  • Grill the chicken thighs for about 6-8 minutes per side, or until they are fully cooked and have nice grill marks. The internal temperature should reach 165°F (74°C).

5. Dice the Chicken:

  • Remove the chicken from the grill and let it rest for a few minutes. Dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces.

6. Prepare the Pineapple:

  • While the chicken rests, grill the diced pineapple for a few minutes until lightly charred. This step is optional but adds a nice smoky flavor to the dish.

7. Assemble the Tacos:

  • Warm the corn tortillas on the grill or in a dry skillet until pliable.
  • Place a generous amount of diced chicken in each tortilla. Top with grilled pineapple, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Serve Chicken Al Pastor tacos with a side of Mexican rice, refried beans, or a simple salad.
  • Add your favorite toppings like diced onions, sliced radishes, or a drizzle of crema for extra flavor.

Cooking Tips:

  • For a spicier version, add a chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to the marinade.
  • If you prefer, you can bake the marinated chicken in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for about 25-30 minutes, or until fully cooked.
  • Leftover chicken can be used in salads, sandwiches, or burrito bowls.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe:

  • Flavorful and Aromatic: The combination of spices and citrus juices creates a vibrant and aromatic marinade that infuses the chicken with incredible flavor.
  • Versatile: Chicken Al Pastor can be used in various dishes, making it a versatile option for any meal.
  • Easy to Prepare: With simple ingredients and straightforward steps, this recipe is easy to prepare and perfect for any occasion.


Chicken Al Pastor is a delightful and flavorful dish that brings the taste of traditional Mexican cuisine to your table. The combination of marinated chicken, grilled pineapple, and fresh toppings makes for a delicious and satisfying meal. Whether you’re making tacos, burritos, or serving it with rice and beans, this Chicken Al Pastor recipe is sure to become a favorite in your household. Enjoy the vibrant flavors and the joy of homemade Mexican food!

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