Al Pastor Kabobs are your favorite pineapple, chile marinated pork with beautifully charred edges and caramelized pineapple but in easy kabob form!
These Al Pastor Kabobs are bursting with restaurant-style flavor from your very own grill! Mouthfuls of juicy, sweet pork, caramelized pineapple, charred bell peppers and onions with a killer marinade that doubles as the irresistible dunking sauce. You can prep and ASSEMBLE these kabobs ahead of time for stress free homerun entertaining and 4th of July celebrating!
When we go out for Mexican food, I order Al Pastor Tacos Or Al Pastor Burritos 9 times out of 10. Needless to say, an Al Pastor recipe has been on my bucket list for quite some time, so when I asked my awesome Instagram readers which kabob recipe they would rather have in time for the 4th:
- A) Honey Mustard Chicken Kabobs (with bacon, potatoes, onions, bell peppers)⠀
- B) Chipotle Maple Chicken Kabobs with (with bacon, potatoes, onions, bell peppers)⠀
- C) Steak,Potato Mushroom Kabobs (with potatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers)
- D) Al Pastor Kabobs (with pork, pineapple, onions and bell peppers)
I was THRILLED that the overwhelming response was D followed by A, B (nearly tied) then C. I will share all the recipes eventually, but for now, it’s all about D – these sensational Al Pastor Kabobs! The combo of pork, pineapple and veggies is magic and the the marinade is absolutely sensational – I wanted to drink the stuff – or at least put it on everything!
What is Al Pastor?
If you aren’t familiar with Al Pastor, (meaning “shepherd style” in Spanish), it is a popular pork dish in Central America in which pork is marinated in pineapple, chilies and spices then stacked and vertically roasted on a slowly turning spit with a pineapple on top which bathes the pork with its juices. The outside edges of the pork become beautifully crisp and caramelized while the inside remains splendidly juicy. The Al Pastor is sliced off the spit-grilled meat to-order accompanied by chunks of fresh pineapple. Heaven.
I’ve translated this roasting concept into over-the-grill skewers and couldn’t be more giddy about it! Serve these Al Pastor Kabobs with a side of Cilantro Lime Rice and you will never want to order Al Pastor any where else again!
Tips and Tricks for Al Pastor Kabobs
- Soak Wooden Skewers: You can use metal or wood skewers but just take care you soak your wood skewers for at least 30 minutes otherwise they can catch fire!
- Pork Tenderloin: I recommend pork tenderloin for these Al Pastsor Kabobs, because, as it’s name implies, it is tender! Pork tenderloin is extremely easy to work, has hardly any excess fat to remove, easy to cut into cubes, comes prepackaged in the weight we need, cooks in the same amount of time as our bell peppers, onions and pineapple and stays tender when grilled – just don’t overcook!
- Don’t cut pork too small: Cut your pork into 1 1/2 inch cubes in order to keep them juicy. Avoid cutting the pork too small or it can easily overcook. Lastly, try and chop your pork roughly the same size so they cook evenly.
- CANNED Pineapple Juice. Please use only CANNED pineapple juice! Canned pineapple juice will infuse your pork with flavor without leaving it mushy if it’s not marinated too long. Fresh pineapple juice still contains enzymes that could break down your pork and more likely to leave it mushy in a short amount of time.
- Handle Guajillo chiles with care. After you remove the seeds from your dried Guajillo chiles, immediately wash your hands. Take care not to touch your eyes while you are working with them! (more on Guajillo chilies below).
- What is Achiote Paste? This spice paste is made from the annato seed that gives the Al Pastor its traditional bright red-orange color as well as oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, black pepper, garlic and salt. It is slightly sweet, peppery, nutty and smoky. You can find it in any Mexican market or you can Amazon-it.
- Achiote Paste Substitute: (will not provide the authentic red color)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- Assemble Ahead of Time. Due to the thick nature of the marinade, you can assemble the skewers ahead of time, cover, and refrigerate until ready to cook. I would suggest marinating the pork for at least 2 hours then you can assemble and refrigerate any time after that – of course the longer they are allowed to marinate the better. The only catch is you have to use metal skewers because wooden skewers will dry out (even if they have been soaked) and catch fire.
- Dip for more heat. Al Pastor is tangy, sweet and smoky but not spicy. I love to use some of the marinade as a dip for additional heat and flavor. Just note that when you taste the marinade, it will taste much spicier than the kabobs will be – so don’t worry!
Guajillo chiles belong to the holy trinity of chiles commonly used in Mexican cuisine and is essential to authentic Al Pastor. Guajillo chiles boast a sweet berry-toned heat (think cranberries) combined with a mild smokiness. We enhance this smokiness by adding our guajillo chiles to a hot skillet and and toasting them until blistered in spots and fragrant, turning occasionally, about 3 minutes.
Guajillo chiles are dried chiles from the mirasol chili, and are considered medium heat with a rating 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville scale in comparison with the jalapeño which can reach 8,000 SHU. The Guajillo chiles add wonderfully complex flavor to our Al Pastor marinade but our Al Pastor Kabobs are far from spicy, simply flavorful.
Dried Guajillo chiles can be found at any Mexican market as well as many grocery stores (and almost all super Walmarts) in either the Mexican aisle or produce section. Many produce stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods also carry packages of dried Guajillo chiles. If you can’t find them or simply want a one-click option, then you can Amazon-it.
Looking for more Kabob Recipes?
- Chicken Souvlaki (Greek Chicken Kabobs)
- Hawaiian Chicken Kabobs
- Brazilian Steak Kabobs
- Thai Pineapple Peanut Chicken Satay
- Greek Steak Kabobs
- BBQ Chicken Kabobs
- Tandoori Chicken Kabobs
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