Cochinita Pibil – Instant Pot Pulled Pork Tacos

Authentically Delicious Yucatan Style Tacos

Cochinita Pibil tacos are an authentic Mexican food that comes from the Yucatan region of Mexico. These authentically delicious Yucatan-style pulled pork tacos are perfect for the adventurous eater! Packed with a sweet, acidic, earthy taste, that when combined with the traditional pickled red onions and habanero salsa, makes for a unique experience for your taste buds!

tacos made with cochinitas pibil

Cochinita Pibil tacos have a very distinct taste perfect for the adventurous eater! The pork itself is not spicy, but instead is packed with a sweet, acidic, earthy taste, that when combined with the traditional pickled red onions and habanero salsa, makes for a unique experience for your taste buds!

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How Cochinita Pibil Is Traditionally Prepared and Cooked

The pork for these tacos is, traditionally, slow-cooked underground. As a matter of fact, Pibil is a Mayan word that means exactly that, buried or cooked underground. Its distinct taste comes from the heavy amount of achiote (annatto) used to marinate it. During the cooking process, the pork ends up with its traditional red color and a very distinct aroma!

As soon as you walk into a kitchen cooking Cochinita Pibil, you immediately know what’s cooking!

a pyrex full of shredded pork roast

A Fun Day of Authentic Mexican Cooking

I had never made Cochinita Pibil, nor would I have thought I’d ever attempt it. I have certainly eaten it plenty of times, since we’re fortunate enough to have some awesome Mexican friends who serve it often, along with many other traditional Mexican tacos.

authentic mexican flavored pork carnitas tacos served on a plate

My friend Mari, who moved to the United States at about the same time my family and I moved up here, is an expert at Mexican cuisine. She’s been toying with the idea of getting an Instant Pot since she knows how much I love mine. We thought it would be a lot of fun if she attempted to make one of her delicious recipes in my Instant Pot, and then I’d be able to share the recipe with all of you! So we set a date and got right to it.

The results?

An Instant Pot filled with Cochinita Pibil perfection!

cochinitas pibil tacos, a pork street tacos recipe

Some May Argue That This Is Not True Cochinita Pibil

So obviously, as you may have expected, we did not go in my backyard and dig a hole to cook the Cochinita Pibil. I couldn’t find the shovel that day, so we opted for using the Instant Pot instead! No, we did not use an entire pig (Cochinita means baby pig), and we really tried to make it an easy, approachable recipe. So I don’t need to hear from all you die-hard Cochinita Pibil experts that this isn’t the way it’s made or that we didn’t use the banana leaves to wrap the pork…

a plate of pork tacos topped with habanero salsa

A Mexican made this Cochinita Pibil recipe, and she has made it like this in her stovetop pressure cooker for years. Mari has really made it so easy for anyone to make Cochinita Pibil. Her recipe does not involve some of the harder traditional steps, but it does have ALL the traditional flavor!

three mexican tacos served on flour tortillas with cochinita pibil and habanero salsa

Authentic Mexican Flavor for the Adventurous Palate

So like I said before, if you’re an adventurous eater and like to try authentic international cuisine, then this recipe is for you! This recipe is a delicious spin on pulled pork tacos and is perfect for trying something different with pork shoulder. Mari and I had such a fun time prepping, cooking, and eating the Cochinita Pibil. Eating it was the best part of course!

holding a cochinita pibil pork taco

Now it’s your turn to try this delicious authentic Mexican dish! Thanks to the Instant Pot, in just a few easy steps you’ll be enjoying some delicious Cochinita Pibil tacos. Here we go!

Making Cochinita Pibil in the Instant Pot

Look at that delicious taco! Isn’t it just calling your name?

Well, if you like different, then you’ll love this recipe. Plus, making the meat in the Instant Pot is so much easier, faster, and cleaner than cooking it in the ground or a slow cooker. Very few ingredients and steps are required. I was surprised by how easy this recipe was to put together.

Gather Your Ingredients

Most of the ingredients you will need are simple and easy to find. The only one that you probably won’t have in your pantry is the Achiote, known as Annatto here in the U.S. The nice thing is, you will use the entire bottle of achiote in this recipe, so you won’t be stuck with a spice you won’t use often.

You will need 5 pounds of pork shoulder, orange juice (pulp-free), distilled white vinegar, yellow or white onion, garlic, achiote (annatto), salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, and cinnamon. For exact amounts, see the recipe below. For the salsa that traditionally tops these tacos, you’ll want to make my Pickled Red Onion Habanero Salsa.

cochinita pibil is loaded with wonderful spices like annatto (achiote), cumin, cinnamon and oregano

The distilled white vinegar and the orange juice really give these tacos the acidic part of their distinct flavor.

white distilled vinegar helps give this mexican pork dish its distinct flavor

We bought 5 pounds of boneless pork shoulder for this recipe.

a bowl of pork shoulder strips ready to go into the instant pot pressure cooker and make cochinta pibil carnitas

Prepare the Pork Shoulder

You will need to cut the pork into small strips, approximately 2 inches wide. The small strips will allow for a faster cooking time and will also ensure that all of the meat is saturated with flavor.

slices of pork shoulder ready to be added to the instant pot

Make the Cochinita Pibil Sauce

This is like a marinade, but since we are not allowing the meat to soak in it before cooking, we cannot truly call it a marinade. So, I’m calling it sauce.

Mari mixes all the ingredients in the blender to make it easier. I love easy! You can start with the orange juice and the vinegar.

the citrus flavor of orange juice is an integral ingredient for these pressure cooker carnitas
adding orange juice to the blender to make the sauce for this authentic mexican pork recipe

Add the quarter onion and garlic cloves.

adding onion to the blender to make a sauce for this instant pot pulled pork recipe
adding a few cloves of garlic to the blender for making the sauce that goes with this instant pot pork roast recipe

Next, add the achiote (annatto) and the rest of the delicious spices.

add annatto, cinnamon and cumin for making cochinita pibil in the instant pot
all the ingredients for the sauce used for making cochinita pibil pulled pork are in the blender ready to be blended before adding to the instant pot

Blend away until everything is mixed well. The color of the achiote will vary depending on the brand and origin. Traditionally it is very red. The one we found at our local supermarket was not as red but had the perfect flavor. It won’t make much difference in your end result.

blending all the ingredients in the blender for the sauce that's used to make cochinita pibil in the instant pot

Add the Cochinita Pibil Sauce to the Instant Pot

Make sure your stainless steel liner is in your Instant Pot, and add the liquid sauce to the pot.

adding the sauce to the instant pot for this pork roast recipe

Place the Strips of Pork Shoulder Into the Instant Pot

Next, add the strips of pork shoulder into the pot and ensure that each strip is thoroughly covered with the liquid.

pork shoulder strips being added to the instant pot to make cochinitas pibil
all the ingredients for this cochinita pibil pulled pork recipe are added to the instant pot pressure cooker

Set the Instant Pot Cooking Time

Close your Instant Pot and set it to sealing. Press your Manual or Pressure Cook button and adjust the time to 60 minutes. You will cook it for 60 minutes under high pressure.

setting the pork shoulder pressure cooker time on the instant pot

Open the Instant Pot

After the pot comes to pressure and the Cochinita Pibil has cooked for 60 minutes, you will allow for a 30-minute Natural Pressure Release. This means when the 60 minutes are up, you will do nothing, and you will allow the counter to count up to 30. At that point, you can do a quick release of the rest of the pressure by moving the knob to ‘Venting’. When the pin drops, you can open your pot!

opening the instant pot after making cochinita pibil

Mari was very happy with the results of cooking the Cochinita Pibil in the Instant Pot! It was perfect!

cochinita pibil made in the instant pot is one of my favorite mexican pork recipes

Shred the Cooked Pork Shoulder

Now, you can take the pieces of cooked pork out of the pot and shred them. We used two forks. It was very easy to shred.

shredding the pork shoulder that just came out of the instant pot for making the pork carnitas, cochinita pibil
instant pot shredded pork in a pyrex

After shredding the pork, Mari used a ladle to add some of the liquid left in the pot to the pork. When adding the sauce, make sure to add enough so that the pork has the right color and looks very moist, but is not swimming in liquid.

adding and mixing in more sauce for this instant pot pork roast recipe, chochinita pibil

Warm up Some Corn Tortillas

Time to heat up some tortillas! So close to enjoying Cochinita Pibil tacos!

heating up corn tortillas on the skillet for this cochinitas pibil pork tacos recipe

You’ll want to use corn tortillas for these tacos. I just recently started buying these street taco-sized tortillas from Mission. They’re so cute! Yes, a tortilla can be cute!

a stack of corn tortillas ready to be made into authentic mexican pork tacos

Serving Your Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil

You MUST serve the tacos with the traditional Pickled Red Onions and Habanero Salsa.

a plate of mexican shredded pork tacos served with a wedge of lime

I hope you enjoy your Cochinita Pibil tacos as much as Mari and I enjoyed making them (and eating them!). Remember, to serve the pork on corn tortillas and top it with the pickled red onion and habanero salsa!! For more ideas, check out my post on Pork Shoulder Recipes for the Instant Pot.

Buen provecho!

instant pot cochinita pibil

Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil

SHREDDED PORK SEASONED WITH VINEGAR, CITRUS, AND A BLEND OF TRADITIONAL MEXICAN SPICES

4.48 from 21 votes
Servings
16 tacos
DifficultyModerate
Cooking Method(s)
  • Pressure Cooking
Pressure LevelHigh
Program SettingManual / Pressure Cook
Prep Time
10 minutes
Cook Time
1 hour
NPR
30 minutes
Total Time
1hour:40minutes
Recipe by: Valerie Cooper
Experience the tastes of Mexico. These authentic Mexican tacos will surprise your taste buds with their unique mix of sweet, acidic, earthy flavors.
tacos made with cochinitas pibil

Essential Equipment

  • instant pot
  • ninja professional blender

Ingredients

for the Sauce

Instructions

  • Prep The Pork Shoulder: Cut the pork into small strips, approximately 2 inches wide.
    slices of raw pork shoulder
  • Make The Sauce: Place all the ingredients (orange juice, vinegar, onion, herbs, and spices) for the sauce in a blender and blend until they are very well mixed.
    blending all the ingredients in the blender
  • Add Sauce & Pork To Pot: Pour the sauce from the blender into the Instant Pot. Then place the strips of pork shoulder into the pot, ensuring that each piece is thoroughly covered with sauce.
    all the ingredients for this cochinita pibil pulled pork in the instant pot
  • 60-Minute Cook Time: Close the Instant Pot, set the pressure release valve to 'Sealing', and set the pot to cook on 'Manual' or 'Pressure Cook', 'High Pressure' for 60 minutes.
  • 30-Minute NPR: Once the cooking time has completed, allow for a 30-minute natural pressure release. When the 30-minute NPR has finished, release the remaining pressure and then open the pot.
  • Shred & Marinate Pork: Remove the meat from the pot and shred. Pour some of the liquid from the pot over the shredded pork and allow to marinate in the liquid until ready to serve.
    adding and mixing in more sauce to pulled pork
  • Warm some corn tortillas.
    heating up corn tortillas on the skillet
  • Serve the shredded meat on the tortilla and top with Pickled Red Onion & Habanero Salsa.
    tacos made with cochinitas pibil

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1taco | Calories: 151kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 57mg | Sodium: 502mg | Potassium: 377mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 85IU | Vitamin C: 20.4mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1.2mg
instant pot cochinita pibil

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23 thoughts on “Cochinita Pibil – Instant Pot Pulled Pork Tacos”

    1. Hi Leo! Walmart always has it in my area. I usually buy McCormick but there are a few other brands like Badia that they have at Walmart. Most brands say “Ground annatto and/or achiote molido”. Hope this helps! Enjoy!

  1. Hi Valerie,
    Tried the recipe and it came out great. I have one question – I ended up with a lot of sauce. What can one use that for? Or should it be discarded?
    Thanks

    1. In Mexico’s Yucatan, tortillas are dipped in tgat sauce/juice on both sides and fried in a pan with a little oil so they dont stick (like making enchiladas) and then the meat, onion n salsa are put on top. You can use a gravy strainer to get rid of the excess fat n use the remainder as sauce for the tacos!

  2. Oh. Em. Gee. Thank you for this recipe. It is AMAZING! If you want to impress your friends and family and make them think you slaved all day, trot this baby out. So easy, but so, so tasty!

  3. If we are using less pork as only 2 of us eating with other bits, do I reduce the cooking time? We’re only using 700g (1.5lbs) in a 3qt instant pot. Looking forward to making these.

    1. I’ve cut the time in half for this amount and works great.. per instant pot time tables it’s about 15min per pound of pork butt… seems to work great for me.

  4. I just made this tonight and served with the red onions and pico and guacamole. It was awesome! Tasted super authentic and it was so juicy! You know a taco is good when the juices run down ur arm. I loved it, will definitely make again!

  5. Cochinita Pibil is my FAVORITE dish from Mexico. Every time I go to Merida (I’ve been half a dozen times) I get it at least twice while there. I never dreamed I could make it myself. I followed your recipe and it came out PERFECT! Flash backs of sitting at an outdoor restaurant near the Plaza Mayor. Oh my goodness. This will be a favorite to make. Thank you!

    1. Hi Kenneth!! I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed this so much! Cochinita Pibil is definitely an acquired taste, but I think it’s fantastic! I really appreciate your comment! You need to start trying some of my Honduran dishes, like Salpicon! Have a wonderful day!

    1. Hi Adele! It is not spicy at all. The salsa that goes on it can be spicy, but the meat itself has more of an earthy taste, not spicy. Hope you try it!

  6. Hi VK,
    I greatly enjoyed your Red Onion & Habanero Salsa with the Cochinita Pibil recipe, the photos also as usual were fantastic! Congrats!! WWK

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