Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor

These easy Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor take minimal effort for maximum flavor!

Juicy, crispy pork is cooked in a smoky, tangy sauce and served with tender onions and juicy pineapple.

These are inspired by traditional tacos al pastor but tweaked to make them easier for the home cook.

Plus they’re naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30 friendly!

a closeup of Mexican pork tacos with onions, pineapple and cilantro in tortillas lined up on parchment paper

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Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor

Tacos al pastor (“shepherd’s style”) traditionally consist of pork marinated in a blend of guajillo peppers, achiote paste, pineapple juice and spices. The vibrant, not-too-spicy meat is then vertically roasted and thinly sliced and is then topped with onions and pineapple in tortillas.

And while they’re normally thought of as a Mexican recipe, they actually have roots in Lebanese cooking due to migration.

But not only do most home cooks not have vertical roasters, it can also be hard to find guajillo peppers and achiote paste (although you can always try Mexican markets or of course look online).

So I looked at traditional recipes like this amazing one from Mexico in My Kitchen and then modified them to make it more accessible for home cooks. It still has all the smoky, rich flavor with more commonly found ingredients and cooking techniques.

So, even though putting “Slow Cooker” in the title already makes it obvious, I’m not saying this is authentic. I’m just letting you know what the recipe is based in.

 

What you need to make Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor

Ingredients:

 

Equipment:

slow cooker pork taco meat on a wooden cutting board next to a plate of tortillas and a platter with onions, chopped pineapple and romaine lettuce leaves

How to make Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor

Peel and trim off the ends of the onion. (Save the scraps to make your own bone broth!) Halve and slice into thin half-moons. Add these to the slow cooker insert, toss with a 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and spread out into an even layer.

Trim any excess fat from the pork (if it has an especially thick fat cap, you can trim it down to a thinner layer). Slice the pork lengthwise into 1/2″ wide steaks. Season with salt on both sides and lay on top of the onions.

In a blender, add 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple rings), the apple cider vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt, chipotle powder, cloves and pepper. Blend until smooth.

Pour the sauce over the pork and onions. This might not seem like enough liquid but the pork and onions will also release liquid as it cooks.

Cover and set on low for 6-7 hours.

Turn on the broiler.

Remove the pork from the slow cooker and lay flat on a baking sheet. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until parts are darker and crispy, then flip and broil for another 3-5 minutes. The pork might fall apart as you handle it but that’s okay.

Slice the pork crosswise into chunks, then serve, drizzling more sauce over the top, with the onions and chopped pineapple rings.

(Note: normally you don’t cook the onion with the pork. However, I’m not a fan of raw onion so I cook them so they get all soft and tender. If you’d rather keep it more traditional, leave the onions out of the slow cooker. Dice them and sprinkle on top of the pork when serving.)

lettuce cups filled with Mexican pork, onions and pineapple on a white platter on a wooden table

Storage/make ahead

For even better flavor, you can marinate the pork (without the onions) for up to 24 hours.

You can also make the sauce up to 5 days in advance and store in the fridge. Blend again before using, if necessary.

Once cooked, the pork and onions can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. Skim any excess fat from the surface and rewarm over low heat in a saucepan or spread out on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes, tossing occasionally.

They can also be frozen in an air-tight container or baggie for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat as above.

 

Substitutions and variations

  • If you want to use fresh pineapple, finely chop enough to equal 1/4 cup and use that in the sauce. Then chop the rest into cubes for the tacos.
  • You can use 3 peeled garlic cloves instead of the garlic powder.
  • You can use 2 teaspoons of toasted cumin seeds instead of the ground cumin.

 

Other recipes you might like:

  1. Ground Chicken Tacos
  2. Taco Casserole
  3. Frozen Mango Margarita
  4. Apple Cider Pulled Pork
  5. Slow Cooker Espresso Pulled Pork
Slow Cooker Tacos Al Pastor on parchment paper and piled into lettuce cups with extra meat on the side on a wooden cutting board
a closeup of Mexican pork tacos with onions, pineapple and cilantro in tortillas lined up on parchment paper
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes

Slow Cooker Al Pastor-Inspired Tacos

These easy Slow Cooker Al Pastor-Inspired Tacos feature smoky, juicy meat topped with onions and pineapple for an irresistible dinner! The traditional recipe is modified for home cooks while still retaining all the robust flavor. Plus it's naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, Paleo and Whole30!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time7 hrs
Total Time7 hrs 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: al pastor tacos, paleo tacos, slow cooker al pastor, slow cooker tacos, tacos al pastor, whole30 tacos
Servings: 4 people
Author: Don Baiocchi

Ingredients

  • 1 medium white, yellow or red onion
  • 2-2½ pounds boneless pork shoulder, butt
  • 1 (15 oz.) can pineapple rings
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • teaspoons chili powder (preferably guajillo)
  • teaspoons dried oregano
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • teaspoons garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • your favorite tortillas (corn, flour or grain-free), lettuce cups (romaine or Boston lettuce), or veggie rice
  • chopped cilantro, for serving (optional)

Instructions

  • Peel and trim off the ends of the onion. Halve and slice into thin half-moons. Spread these out on the bottom of the slow cooker insert, tossing with a 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt.
  • Trim any excess fat from the pork (if it has an especially thick fat cap, you can trim it down to a thinner layer). Slice the pork lengthwise into 1/2" wide steaks. Season with salt on both sides and lay on top of the onions.
  • In a blender, add 1/4 cup pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple rings), the apple cider vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, cumin, salt, chipotle powder, cloves and pepper. Blend until smooth.
  • Pour the sauce over the pork and onions. Cover and set on low for 6-7 hours.
  • Turn on the broiler.
  • Remove the pork from the slow cooker and lay flat on a baking sheet. Broil for 3-5 minutes, until parts are darker and crispy, then flip and broil for another 3-5 minutes.
  • Slice the pork crosswise into chunks. Chop the pineapple rings into small chunks. Set out your preferred tortillas, lettuce cups or veggie rice. Serve the pork, drizzling more sauce over the top, with the onions, pineapple and cilantro, if using.

Notes

(Note: normally you don't cook the onion with the pork. However, I'm not a fan of raw onion so I cook them so they get all soft and tender. If you'd rather keep it more traditional, leave the onions out of the slow cooker. Dice them and sprinkle on top of the pork when serving.)
Storage/make ahead
For even better flavor, you can marinate the pork (without the onions) for up to 24 hours.
You can also make the sauce up to 5 days in advance and store in the fridge. Blend again before using, if necessary.
Once cooked, the pork and onions can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. Skim off any excess fat and rewarm over low heat in a saucepan or spread out on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes, tossing occasionally.
They can also be frozen in an air-tight container or baggie for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge. Reheat as above.
Substitutions and variations
  • If you want to use fresh pineapple, finely chop enough to equal 1/4 cup and use that in the sauce. Then chop the rest into cubes for the tacos.
  • You can use 3 peeled garlic cloves instead of the garlic powder.
  • You can use 2 teaspoons of toasted cumin seeds instead of the ground cumin.

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