Large puerco pibil recipe

Puerco Pibil

I was watching a DVD and found this puerco/cochinita pibil recipe as part of the special features. I was intrigued by the role the food played.

Collections: Main Dish Mexican Pork Spice

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Puerco Pibil Recipe

  • 5 pounds pork butt, cut into 2 inch cubes
  • 5 tablespoons annato seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 8 whole allspice berries
  • 2 habanero Peppers, fresh or dried, cleaned and minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 5 lemons
  • 1 shot of tequila
  • banana leaves (optional)
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Preparation Instructions

Grind the annato seeds, cumin seeds, whole peppercorns, whole cloves, and whole allspice in a mortar and pestle, molcajete y tejolote, spice grinder or coffe grinder.

Blend the cleaned and chopped habanero peppers with the orange juice, vinegar, garlic and salt.

Mix the dry spices with the liquid.

Add the juice of 5 lemons and a nice splash of tequila.

Place the cubed pork butt in a large zip lock bag and add the marinade. Soak 4-6 hours, in refrigerator, turning several times.

Line (8x13) baking pan with banana leaves. Pour in pork along with the marinade. Cover with Banana leaves and seal the pan with foil. Bake in a 325 F degree oven for 4 hours.

Helpful Hints

Banana leaves are optional, because I haven't found any locally yet.

Take it easy on Habanero peppers. HOT!HOT!!HOT!!!

Preground spices can be used in place of the whole spices, but the brilliant flavor of freshly ground spices really makes this dish what it is!

(Editor's note: It may be helpful to read the hints left in the reviews of this recipe. Another suggestion, given to us by Dennis from Rawlins, Wyoming, is to add brown sugar to the marinating mix, use limes instead of lemons, and only cook 3 to 3 1/2 hours in aluminum foil.)


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Linda O

My new Son-in-law made this for me when I went to visit
them in Pittsburgh. He used 3 Peppers and I thought my head would explode. Wow, made with Basmati rice, you will dream about it.(eat rice on the side) I use 1 pepper for my husband.

David S

I made this recipe after I saw the DVD and loved it. I used 2 peppers and it was spicy, but not terribly so. I couldn't find annatto seeds, but they are primarily used for color so I omitted them. I plan on making it again after I find some seeds, without them it definitely lacks the beautiful red color it has on the DVD.

Rocquel S

I have made this several times and my suggestions would be to
1. definitly buy the banana leaves - in the frozen foods at local mexican grocery store
2. Don't use five lemons - it's too much lemon - just use 3 limes and two lemons
3. Reduce the cooking time to 3 1/2 hours and then let it sit for at least 1/2 hour to cool down a little. (If you eat it right away, it doesn't have much flavor...but if you let it sit for 1/2 hour after opening the leaves, it is amazing!!!

Mark W

You can find the ingredients at any Mexican Meat market or asian store.

eve r

I mdae this dish last year for Christmas. My family and my son's future in-laws ( philipines) fell off their chairs! That's how much they like this! I will leave out the liquor this time. It didn't make much of a difference. I added red wine instead. And I marinated four huge pork tenderloins for a week in this!!!!! I really think the length of time of marinating is the key. I am in the process to make the marinade just now. Have to have it for Christmas 2005 again!!.
eve in Illinois <>~~~~~~~~~~

Mary S

I love this dish. My husband and I make it all the time. We have even made it for family and friends. Here in Kansas it's hard to find banana leaves but my mom brought some from home state. I don't know what to do with the extra leaves though. I don't want them to ruin. Anyone have any suggestions?

Jo J

Forget the master chefs' alterations. Get the DVD and make it exactly the way Robert suggests, it is the only way to make it. And invest in a coffee grinder if you don't have one. I am not sure why the author of this hack version of the recipe suggests a mortar and pestil and other ways to grind the spices but a coffee grinder is the only way to do just get a mess with anything else and the annato seeds are so hard you don't get the proper texture without a grinder.

Andrew R

TOO SALTY!! I'm eating this dish right now for the first time. I was concerned about the 2 tablespoons of salt, but 5 lbs of meat sounded like a lot so I thought it might be okay. I also found another review of this recipe that said the salt with dry out the meat too. If I do this again I would leave out the salt and add it to taste after. I also had a hard time finding pork butt and will probably try tenderloin, and reduce the lemon juice, if I do it again.

Memphis S

This is a great recipe. I too made it directly from the DVD, not this web site. Contrary to a couple of the reviews, the annatto is essential for flavour. Also, I wouldn't leave out the tequila.
However, I tried it with tenderloin once and it did NOT work well. Far too dry and chewy. You need the fat content of the cheaper cuts of pork to make this work!

Kelly L

I was never able to find achiote for my recipe so, I found that instead of cutting in out (which it is ESSENTIAL for color as well as flavor) you may mix paprika and tumeric. Split it somewhere like one part tumeric to three parts paprika. I used Spanish paprika which seemed to work best. I have also heard of a recipe from Veracruz where the pork is boiled in the achiote paste, and not baked.

Kat R

The spice mix is a version of achiote paste (found in Mexican markets all over US); that flavor is essential to this dish, so do no omit that ingredient! The tequila does provide a subtle almost citrus flavor and is less aggressive than red wine. The Oriental market was out of banana leaves. I used foil instead with great results . Unless you are accustomed to edible fire, watch the habeneros. I used 5 but halved them and removed the seeds. Their warmth and flavor was in the sauce, but the halved peppers could be identified and easily avoided.

allysha c

omg...did you get this off the once upon a time in mexico? this is the dish johnny depp's character loves that he shot the cook because it was too good. lol, yer i cooked. it takes foreva though which put me off!! i like quick meals!! but i enjoyed it, the peppers were REALLY hot though!!

Leilani P

I have been making this recipe since I saw the movie. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe! A few hints, if you prepare the dish the night before, put it in a ziploc bag, let it soak overnight and cook it the next day, it has a LOT of flavor! My husband and I noticed that when we had leftovers and we ate them the next day and the next day there was more flavor in the meat. So we tried it one time and it was delicious! Also, I like to serve it over white rice because the white rice really soaks up the marinade. I wouldn't recommend changing this recipe in any way because it is perfect the way it is.

Rebecca T

The first time I made this recipe, I cooked it according to the instructions. I thought the pork was a little dry, but it was really good. I tried making it in a crock pot the 2nd time around and the meat was very moist. It was a little spicier, but the meat was a lot better. I put all of the ingredients in a crock pot for about 4 hours on high and it worked very well.

David L

Someone here said that they would use pork tenderloin next time because it was too dry. Bad idea. Pork is way way to lean. I suggest insulating the pork better next time. Wrap it in plenty of banana leaves, then foil, and make sure it's more in the shape of a ball so the meat is submerged in the liquid. I find even Robert Rodriguez' version to be lacking in sweet for me, so I add lime and brown sugar as someone else has suggested.

paul c

i made the puerco pibil using the instructions from the dvd not from this site and it was amazing. my advice to any one wanting to make this dish is to follow the instrucions from once upon a time in mexico and not from any internet recipie. if you do this like the dvd this dish is to die for.


The recipe from Rodriguez is like his movies - masterful, unconventional and totally mind-blowing. I make this dish frequently and make things easier by using a large cook-in bag instead of a Ziploc bag. This means you can marinade and cook without transferring the pork or messing around with banana leaves and/or tinfoil. There is little mess and cleaning up is a breeze.

Jim D

Okay guys and gals, I have read coutless copies of the recepie from the movie and they are all WRONG. If you will watch the '10 minute cooking school' feature from the Once Upon A Time In Mexico DVD agin, you will see that the peppers used are Abanero (Orange), not, I say again NOT Jabanero (Red) peppers. I know, they sound alot alike...The difference? About 3 alarms on the heat scale. Use the right peppers and you won't burn that sensitive stomach. As much.FYI, I did manage to find banana leaves here in Tulsa at Las Americas grocery store. I couldn't tell any difference in the taste, but as Robert says "It looks coooler" Hope this helps. ( I know, I get letters saying I'M wrong, but before you send them, watch that video again.....)

Ethan W

Great recipe! The second time I made it I used only 2.5 large lemons. The first time I made it I used 5 large lemons. WAY TOO TART.
If the lemons you are using are bigger than a racket ball, SCALE DOWN ! Also, the second time around, I skipped the marinading step without a noticeable change (but it has been awhile since the first time I made it). I use Uncle Ben's white rice for accompaniment, the full grains are great with the sauce from the Pibil. Lastly, I skipped the Tequila since I knew my daughters friends were joining us for dinner, and didn't want them staggering home. As Robert Rodriguez said "ENJOY!".

Bill B

Stick to the DVD recipe and it's great. Only thing is I agree with several people to cut down on the lemon or it's too tart. Also, I couldn't find banana leaves anywhere in Milwaukee when I first made this but I have since found them at the new Woodman's market on Howell. I can't wait to try this again with the authentic banana leaves. Don't skip the tequila either folks, the alcohol completely cooks away anyway.

David T

Try the recipe with chicken. Somehow it absorbs the flavor a lot more. Unfortunately, chicken breast is a lot more expensive than pork butt. If you need a name for it: Pollo Pibil.

Jayne M

I haven't made this dish yet but I've been dying to for quite some time. The one thing I want to know is how you came up with the marinating time? In the video on the dvd he doesn't say anything about letting it sit. I realize it's probably one of those shouldn't have to mention it because it should be obvious but some people might not know to do that.

gustavo l

I've been cooking this since I saw the movie and after maybe 10 times, trying different ways, here's my opinion:
- MUST be pork butt. As was said before, the fat avoid the dry meat flavor.
- NO SPICE CHANGES: you may do it so, but the original recipe takes Annato and all the rest. Including banana leaves!
- I don't see many differences between the website and the movie, anyway I stick most with the site, especialy about the marinading time. It's so basic. How do you want to get the max flavour if you don't do that?
- Somebody said "use gloves" to handle the habaneros. Hyper helpful! This way you avoid to cry for the next 24 hours when you touch your own eyes.
- My only change: I always double the orange juice because it minimizes the habaneros, lemon tart AND gives you a little more extra sauce at the end.
- and last, everytime I cook that, especialy when my guests bring friends that I don't know, I use a bullet proof vest, just in case. You never know...

Jennell N

Wow! This was really good. I doubled everything except the habaneros, cloves, and lemon. It really didn't need as much lemons as the recipe suggested. I used the pork cushion cut into chunks, and got the banana leaves right off the tree in my back yard. I served mine with white rice, sweet plantains, and yuca en escabeche. The leftovers were devine, and it seemed to just get better on every re-heat. It made fantastic tacos.the third day, and I used it as a pizza topping on another day. It was a big hit for x-mas dinner and already they are asking me to make it again!

Mike B

I've noticed a lot of posts suggesting the lemon being too tart. In reality, in the region of the world where Puerco Pibil comes from, they wouldn't have used lemon in the recipe, it would have been lime.

Also..habenero...that's not a south american spice, that's a pepper that was created by us heat addicted americans. They would have used, probably, a poblano, but maybe a jalepeno. Without the extra heat burning your taste buds, this recipe is so very complex and balanced.

Pibil is Pibil. Puerco is Puerco, You can Pibil anything..puerco, pollo, bisteca, etc.

Finally, this recipe is amazing to use for taco meat. I do it all the time. Use this recipe, some rice, diced avacado, and you have one of the most amazing tacos ever..just dont forget to drizzle with fresh lime juice

Scott J

I agree on 3.5 hours and 2 lemons/ 3 limes. Don't look for abenero peppers they don't exist. You want habeneros just remove the seeds and ribs and the heat is hardly noticeable. With all peppers the heat is in the seeds and ribs the flavor is not. I'll add one maybe two more peppers next time I cook this recipe.

Missy H

To the one that said follow the recipe from the movie right. I have read many pibils before and the one from the movie far exceeds any others.

Of course, Mr Depp adds to the spice..............

Kathleen G

I've made this recipe many times, and have a couple changes to the instructions above:

- Following a tip from a fellow commenter, I use a turkey bake-in bag rather than banana leaves and/or tin foil. This makes cleanup easier, and is a tighter seal.

- Use only 1 tsp of salt, otherwise it is overwhelming.

I make pibil in steps over 3 days:

Day 1) Make the marinade, marinate the pork in the turkey bag for 12-24 hours.

Day 2) Cook the pork. Then, let it cool, and put it in the fridge until tomorrow (still in the pan and bag).

Day 3) Skim the fat! To me, this makes all the difference in flavor and texture. Also skim the gelatinous stuff under the fat, which is the connective tissue broken down. The turkey bag helps again, since the hardened fat tends to stick to the bag - just cut the bag away from the pork.

Reheat the remaining pork and marinade on the stovetop, and serve. You can also use thigh-meat (ie, higher-fat) chicken instead of pork, but reduce the cooking time by about an hour.

Mark S

I want to chime in on the pepper controversy.

I agree with Mike B. that there is no such thing as an "abanero" pepper (though that IS how it is actually suposed to be pronounced) nor is there a such thing as "Jabanero" pepper which would be the spanish spelling of how we gringos pronounce it.

Additionally the only difference between an orange HABANERO and a red HABANERO is the degree of ripeness. Like most peppers they go through green to orange to red as they ripen. I just bought a basket of habaneros at the farmers market that has all three colors; same pepper.

As to the Habanero not being authentic to the region (which happens to fall in NORTH america by the way); I have spent quite a bit of time in the Yucatan and found that the Habenero is just about the ONLY pepper used in that part of Mexico and it's been that way since the time of the Maya.

As a side note; no one I met was quite sure why it's named after a city in Cuba, but I was assured that the Habanero is 100% Yucateco.

Jack G

Slow cooked pork recipes generally specify an oven temperature of 275 degrees (F) and a cooking time of from six to eight hours. I prefer the results using the slower method if I have the time. Try it yourself.

Mariza C

Comment - anyone who knows spanish knows the the "H" is a silent letter unless after the "c".

This is a really good recepie. I work really long hours so I made it in the slow cooker - mmmmm mmmm gooood!

I think the next time I make it, I will tweak the recepie some and let yall know how it turns out! ;")

Peter m

who ever said they couldn't find all the ingrediants in milwaukee try again theres a place called el ray down on 35th and burnam
has everything you need bananna leaves anato you name it


Like many others here, I also use my slowcooker & the meat comes out meltingly delicious.
HOWEVER ... a slowcooker cannot give the skin or the meat that lovely bronze crispness that an oven can.
So after my pibil is cooked, I transfer it to a 400 deg oven for a few minutes of heat until the skin is crisp & the meat browned.
drooooooooooooooooooooooooooollllll ...

Michael R

This dish is amazing! Question though, when I cook it for 4 hours in foil, it turns out way too dry.

3 to 3 1/2 as suggested is perfect though, but why is this? Is it the banana leaves that allow Robert Rodriguez's version to cook for 4 hours?

brian w

I found the banana leaves in the frozen section at Safeway. I felt 3 hours was a little long.

Heather F

First of all, you have to go to a Hispanic market to get the fresh banana leaves, and I can only find them in the larger markets. I have made this recipe several times, and have never had problems with it I cook it in the enamal roasting pan I use for making turkey, use the banana leaves, then foil over it, then the lid of the roasting pan. Also, if you think it's salty, cut down on the salt. Two tablespoons is ALOT of salt, and I don't remember using that much. I may have used two teaspoons instead.

As for the habenero peppers, I use fresh peppers, but I recommend putting on rubber gloves before handling them. If you have a paper cut or anything on your hand and that juice from the pepper gets in there, it will burn for days. You can make it without the seeds for a milder version, throw in a few seeds for a "medium" spicy version, or add quit a bit of the habenero seed to make it very very spicy.

Franz B

I have a question: This recipe sounds great (have yet to try it) but the ingredients sounds like a LOT of meat. How many people does this serve? I only want to make enough to feed 2 or 3 folk.


Dan G

If you have problems with the dish coming out too dry, lower the heat and be sure you have a good seal on your foil wrap. I cook mine for at least 4 hours at about 300 degrees, and it comes out fine every time! The meat just falls apart, and is so succulent that it is impossible to avoid snacking on it immediately!

David E

Lots of great comments and suggestions! I agree with those who insist on following the original recipe. My first effort was stellar, though there were two divergences from Robert Rodriguez's recipe (director of "Once Upon a Time in Mexico"--where the recipe is to be found as a "cooking school" extra in the DVD). First of all, I happened to use less meat (3lbs?) than the 5 lbs in the recipe. No big deal there, except for the extra marinade. Certainly no loss in flavor. The only other difference was my using fresh-squeezed blood oranges. They were the only source for orange juice I had at the moment, so I went with it. It was only with later efforts that I realized that the blood oranges actually created greater depth of flavor. We're talking about flavor that penetrates you to touch your desiring soul--like a bullet from Agent Sands... I highly recommend trying this. But only if you own a kevlar kitchen apron.

Kyle M

Aloha Kakou!
I have made this numerous times and it is always a favorite. The first time I went to make this I could not find annato seeds anywhere on my little island, so being adventurous I decided to make it using 4 tablespoons of chili powder instead . . . AMAZING! The wife loved it, the kids loved it, & everyone at my churches potluck loved it!
I have tried this using lime instead of lemon juice, it does add a nice layer to the juice. Also as far as the Habanero peppers go, I find if I deseed, despline and finely mince them they only add a little heat to the juice(The wife and kids are heat intolerant and it passed their satisfaction of not being too hot just fine).

I have tried this with the annato seeds, after a friend from the mainland sent me some. Interesting flavor, I do prefer the chili powder version myself. try it and you be the judge.

Served over rice or on a tortilla, either way nomnomnom!!!!!!!

Aloha a hui hou!


I also found this recipe on R. Rodriguez 10 minute cooking school. It is excellent. One note though is that annato seeds are almost like little rocks so if you grind your own, try to pulverize it to a flour like powder or you can have some unpleasant grittiness in the finished dish. Also try your local Asian, Chinese, or Phillipino markets for banana leaves. They come washed. folded, and frozen in a package for a couple dollars here in Tampa.

Particle F

My girlfriend and I have decided to put on our aprons and try this dish out. The first time I saw it was ofcourse the recipe was at the 10 minute school of cooking by Rodriquez and eversince have always wanted to do this. my girlfriend is crazy about exotic foods and we will update you shortly. Banana leaves are in abundance in RSA but the spices will need to improvise hugely with Asian spices.

Wayne G

Add me to the list of those who found this recipe at the end of the DVD for Once Upon A Time in America. I 've been making this dish for a few years and it is a crowd pleaser. Substituting apple cider vinegar for the white vinger really gives you a much for fruity and floral taste. Just a suggestion

tyler e

just leaves and foil will allow for moisture to escape. use plastic wrap too.

Jared G

I love this recipe but most of my family and friends can't handle the habaneros so I substitute Serano's works great. Such a flavorful dish

Ashley J

I live in the U.K and found it very difficult to get a couple of ingredients , but never the less I made it to the tee and would recomend a little more than a splash of tequila lol

mark v

Puerco pibil, it is a slow roasted pork, nothing fancy, just happens to be my favorite and I order it, with a tequila and lime, in every dive I go to in this country and honestly, that is the best it's ever been, anywhere. In fact it's too good, it is so good that when I finish with it, I'll pay my check walk straight into the kitchen and shoot the cook, because that's what I do, I restore the balance to this country and that is what I would like from you right now. Help me keep the balance by pulling the trigger.

Rick T

I made it to the tee but substituted one of the habeneros with a Jalepeno, worked great!
I'll be making this quite often

Shaun H

My buddy made it this weekend, with a few amendments due to lack of annato seeds in our area. We cooked it in the oven for 2 hours in a 275 degree oven, then smoked it in the grill with lump charcoal and applewood, hickory and mesquite chips for another 2 hours. The smoker temp was about 225 degrees at top of barrel. came out so perfect that while sitting around drinking beer we had to use fingers to take out of pan because tongs caused the pork to shred instantly. It was melt -on-your-mouth AMAZING!!!

Matt B

I make this a couple times a year, thank you Robert Rodriguez! Banana leaves are totally unnecessary. They add nothing to the flavor; it's just what they traditionally used in places that have banana trees! Parchment paper works better and is easier to tie up. And I've made it with and without tequila and no one can tell the difference.

Ben B

I make this a few times a year, great simple recipie, with minimal effort. Tips:
1) in the UK annato seeds are hard to find, but you need the, for the dish to work... I get mine from eBay.
2) you don't need banana leaves
3) 3 shots of tequila instead of 2
4) use pork short rib - the butchers will define it for you. Less fat, more taste and pulls/shreds far better
And that's how to perfect this already awesome recipie.

James S

I have been using this recipe for quite a while. I've never seen it use lemons; in my case, as it's a southern Mexican and Central American thing it's tropical by definition. I will use pineapple juice in lieu of orange juice and I will dice and add pineapple chunks for that reason.

The reason it''s called "pibil" has everything to do with the banana leaves. They are used, originally, like corn husks in tamales. As a wrap while it cooks. In tropical Mexico corn was not used and the banana leave served the same purpose. The leaf is completely unnecessary in modern cooking if you are using a conventional oven and tin foil. When Robert Rodriquez talked about his recipe he himself said he wasn't sure what the leave was for. All that's critical in either case is a tight seal of course to envelope and contain the juices and steam. It really does "fall off the fork" when done right.

Franc G

Do not leave out the annatto or the banana leaves both add flavor, in Puerto Rico were I come from we cut the rib out of the leaves and pass it over an open flame on the stove,it makes the leaves more pliable and the leaves add a subtle flavor. I can find the leaves at any grocery store in Racine in the freezer section. I grow several banana plants in my yard in the summer and save the leaves in my freezer,they can also be used wrapped on chicken or fish to hold in moisture and add flavor. We also use lime instead of lemon and rum instead of tequila. Do not leave out the alcohol no matter which one you use as they also add flavor and the alcohol cooks out, I flame the alcohol before adding to burn off the alcohol and it's just fun to do. I also prepare this recipe several days in advance so the flavor develops and contrary to other comments this is important. I also use less salt. If making this with recipe with chicken as was mentioned before use thighs instead of breast meat as it can take the longer cooking time and they stay moist. Also wait to add the salt until just before cooking.

Byrce s

I've been making this recipe since I saw it on the extras to Once Upon a Time in Mexico years ago.

Annatto can usually be found at your local Mexican grocery. You may not know it but you almost certainly have one near you, no matter where you live.

DONT SKIP THE ANNATTO! If you absolutely can't find it, you can almost ALWAYS find achiote paste at the Mexican grocer. It's not quite as good, to me, but It is way easier than grinding a heap of hard annatto in a mortar and pestle.

Joe C

Find the fresh spices. Use the banana leaves. Search the Robert Rodriguez on YouTube to see how simple it is.
I can never make enough. Over rice with Pickled veggies is the right touch.

Peter Punky

Banana leaves can most commonly be found in the freezer section of asian markets, I've found annatto most easily at hispanic stores...though it's very helpful to be in a urban area with those populations (even the cub foods by my house has these things)


The Robert Rodriguez recipe makes an excellent Pureco Cochinita Pibil, and it has been made several times in our home with slight variations with the number of habaneros. The first few times it was prepared in the oven with excellent results. Then it has been prepared using a crock pot, cooking for 8 hours, also just as good. For the latest atttempt, I used a pressure cooker at 15psi for 40 minutes. It came out wonderful, and FAST!! It's a great and very versatile recipe!

James F

I’ve been making this recipe for years.

Here are my thoughts:
-Annatto seeds and banana leaves are absolutely necessary.
-The past few times I’ve made it, I’ve used two lemons, two limes, and one ruby red grapefruit with excellent results.
-A splash of whiskey works if you don’t have tequila.
-I cook it in a Dutch oven. Line with banana leaves, pour in meat and marinade, cover with more banana leaves before putting the lid on.
-I’ve found that reheating the leftovers intensifies the flavor, almost too much. When storing the leftovers, separate the meat and marinade. When you’re ready to reheat, put the meat in a pan on the stove and add just a small amount of the marinade.

Hope this helps.

Linda O

This not the original recipe. I have been making this since the Movie came out. I can't get Banana leaves. (Only once) So I get Heavy duty Foil and the Tequila is not only for flavor but is also a tenderizer please use it. You don't need to let it set before you bake. Do let it set for 10 minutes after. My Whole neighborhood knows when I make it. It Smells Fantastico!

Aarón N

This is now my new favorite recipe. Its easy, its fun and it wow's your friends.

Here's some tips I had.

1. Use Rubber Gloves when cutting the peppers. (it makes your hands feel much better

2. Cook some rice to serve it over (probably been said)

3. Saute some green peppers and onions

4. Throw in some pine apple (it is a good contrast to the spicy)

5. I used the extra bannana leaves as a garnish. I put a small section of leaf on each plate and served the dish on that. It made it look very cool.

6. This goes great with a nice Mexican Cerveza.

7. Save the marinade and freeze it, you can make a really good black bean soup with it.

And that's about it, its a really easy recipe, you can make it in advance and freeze it if you'd like. I'd suggest going all out with bannana leaves, I decorated the entire dining room with the leaves. It looked awesome.

hobbes c

Here in Milwaukee, the ONLY place, and i do mean ONLY place, i could find Banana leaves was at a place called the Pueblo market on North Holton Ave, just south of North Ave, in the part of Milwaukee called Riverwest.
They also hade Achiote and pretty much any other spice you could need to make native dishes like this..
My own recipe differs some, already..
I don't agree with using bitter oranges instead of regular oranges & vinigar, i think the sour taste from the vinigar is signature to dishes like this.
I do however think that some SUGAR would be a good addition..
Not too much either, just 1/2, to 1 whole tbsp, just enough so the sweetness is present but not overpowering the spicy.
all in all, great dish though, well worth the 4 hour wait, and don't fool yourself.. serving ANYTHING in banana leaves not only looks cool, but it holds moisture in a LOT better than tin foil.
go get some. i have extra in my freezer just in case.
(Editor's Note: Achiote is another name for annato. It is also spelled annatto. It is available right here on The Spice House website. Click here.)

Michael S

The proper Mayan recipe is known as Cochinta pibil because it uses a whole suckling pig. The version above is based around the recipe given in the film ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ where if Johnny Depp liked what he was served he would shoot the chef! I too got the recipe from the film but instantly saw errors; why use orange juice and vinegar? Use bitter Seville oranges or mix up fresh oranges with lime juice. I would not add the hot chili –but the annatto (look for achiote) and banana leaves are essential. Annatto is not just a color, as said earlier, and the taste of it and the musty banana leaves adds a unique flavor that is all but destroyed by the hot chili. If you want hot cook another recipe, this one is too good to wreck! The shot of tequila can also be left out.

Long marinating helps, 24 hours is good but here is an idea to get that long cooking time in and save money – a hay box. Cover your pibil in banana leaves then foil, bring it to a boil on the oven, then quickly place it in a box filled with crumpled newspaper (small air pockets are essential) so it is surrounded. Add other insulation around that and leave it for five hours or more. It will slowly cook, no fear of burning and will still be very hot. This also sort of mimics the original idea where the dish was cooked in a pit, hence the name.

Nelson C

I made this recipe for my vegetarian wife using Tofu. The amount of sauce in the recipe is enough for 2 to 3 10-oz bricks of tofu (get the extra firm type). Slice the tofu into cubes (1/2 inch for small bites is good), then marinate for 3 hours in a ziplock. Line a deep dish glass baking pan (for example, a bread pan) with banana leaf. One big banana leaf cross section will line the bottom of the pan, and also wrap around the top. Pour in the tofu and the marinade, wrap and cover with banana leaf, then cover with a lid or foil. Bake for 1 hour at 350F. Serve from the hot baking dish with a large spoon - the banana adds a nice presentation.

I modified the marinade recipe slightly:
Substitute 1 Red Fresno, 1 Jalepeno, 1 Serrano for 2 Habanero peppers (deseed and remove ribs)
Instead of 5 lemons, use 2 lemons and 3 limes
Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar

For crispy tofu: after baking, remove the tofu cubes to a preheated frying pan with just a bit of the marinade, and fry at high heat for 30 seconds, flip over, and fry for another 30 seconds. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinade in a saucepan, and add a small amount of corn starch to slightly thicken. Serve the tofu with the sauce drizzled over the top.

Serve with barely steamed (just until a slight color change) broccoli florets - the broccoli goes nicely with the pibil spices.


Add chopped garlic in the second step. Its in the ingredients but not instructions. Also, don't make this if you can't find the annatto seeds. It's a very large part of the flavor of the dish. The tequila is fun if you have it but you probably won't notice the difference without it.


Of it's to spicy use jalapeno peppers instead of habanero. It's great as a taco!