Puerco Pibil | Mexican Slow Braised Pork

Puerco Pibil | Mexican Slow Braised Pork


Marinated in a deliciously tart and spicy marinade, this pork shoulder is slowly braised in banana leaves until it is tender and succulent. The best part is that the prep time is minimal, yet the payoff is huge!
  • Serves: 10 to 12
  • Active Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 18 hrs
  • Views: 25,604
  • Success: 100%


Step 1: Grinding the Spices

• 5 tbsp annatto seeds
• 2 tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp black peppercorns
• 8 whole all spice
• 1/2 tsp cloves


Measure the spices. Using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the spices into a very fine powder.

Step 2: Making the Achiote Marinade

• 1 or 2 habanero peppers (or jalapeno peppers)
• 1/2 cup orange juice
• 1/2 cup white vinegar
• 2 tbsp kosher salt
• 8 cloves garlic
• juice of 5 lemons
• 1 to 2 oz tequila


To make the achiote marinade, first take out the veins and seeds of the peppers, if desired (leave them in for more heat). Roughly chop them and place into a blender along with the ground spices from Step 1. Add the orange juice, white vinegar, salt and garlic and blend until it is liquefied and smooth. Add the lemon juice and the tequila. Blend again.

Step 3: Prepping the Meat

• 5 lb pork shoulder


Cut the pork shoulder into 2" -inch cubes.

Step 4: Marinating the Meat


Put the pork into a plastic bag or bowl and pour the achiote marinade over top to cover. Toss to evenly coat. Let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Step 5: Assembling the Dish


Line a baking pan with banana leaves, letting the excess overhang on all sides. Pour in the meat and marinade. Wrap the leaves over the meat, adding more to seal, if necessary.

Step 6: Cooking the Dish


Cover very tightly with layers of foil to seal the pan completely. Roast in a preheated oven at 225°F for at least 5 hours or until the meat becomes fork tender and falls apart easily.

Step 7: Serving the Dish

• lime wedges (for serving)
• cilantro (for serving)


Once the meat is done, you can shred it or serve it as is. Serve with rice, Pickled Onions (Cebollas Encurtidas), lime wedges and roughly chopped cilantro.

Alternatively, fill warmed corn tortillas with this meat, along with your favorite salsa and the onions.

Chef's Notes

A bit of fun pop culture (taken from wikipedia):

“In the movie “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, puerco pibil is a favorite dish of antihero Agent Sands, and the character’s obsession with the dish is the feature of several scenes. He feels so strongly about the food that he murders any cook who makes it too well (in order to “maintain balance” in the country). Here, the director, Robert Rodriguez, provides a recipe and video instruction on how to cook the dish."


  • Francois G
    Francois G
    This recipe looks very good. Is the spiciness controlled by the peppers (habanero/jalapeno) mostly? I've never used annatto seeds before but they appear to be there mostly for coloring purposes. All other ingredients are fine.
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Yes, the amount of heat will depend on the number of habaneros/jalapenos you use, so adjust the amount to your liking. This dish is delicious - enjoy!
  • Judi G
    Judi G
    We had this with friends tonight, before watching the movie, and it was really excellent. I shied away from the hot peppers and used 2 jalapenos w/o seeds and there was actually no heat at all; I will increase it next time. The spice grinding was a chore as I had a crummny grinder and it NEVER did get them all ground properly, but thankfully they softened with the cooking. BE CAREFUL with the annatto seeds as it dyes everythng it comes in contact with. But all said, this was an lmemorable meal and with no stress on the cook the day of serving. Everybody LOVED IT as well as the extra charm thanks to the movie and Robert Rodruigez's comments. This was an Academy winner in my kitchen!
  • Jon W
    Jon W
    We made this yesterday and it was excellent although it seemeed like lemon dominated the flavor. Our leomons were rather large - is their a rule of thumb how much juice to expect from one lemon?
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    This is a fairly acidic marinade but perhaps you will want to decrease the amount next time to suit your tastes. For the amount of lemon juice that comes out of a particular lemon, it depends on how juicy it is. Hard to say, but on average, it's about 1/4 cup. Hope this helps!
  • Michael M
    Michael M
    I was wondering if it would be OK to allow the pork to marinade for 48 hours---I was hoping to begin the marinade in advance because of travel plans.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    I think that 48 hours might be too long for this one as the marinade is quite acidic and also the pork is cut quite small. Instead, you could try just rubbing the meat with the spices and then marinate the meat with the acidic components when you can. Hope this helps. Cheers!
  • William D
    William D
    We live in New York City, and we tried everywhere for banana leaves: asian markets, hispanic markets, specialty markets, whole foods. We had no luck. We substituted corn husks, and it worked really well... at least in that what we made was delicious. How would this alter the taste? - Bill + Raleigh
  • Kimberley S Rouxbe Staff
    Kimberley S
    Good job on improvising. Corn husks would be relatively neutral in flavor and might add a touch of sweetness but nothing that will completely change the dish. The flavor of banana leaves is hard to describe - sort of grassy/earthy...maybe a touch bitter. It is surprising that you are having difficulty finding them in NYC...one of the best cities in the world! :) The next time you make this, you may want to try and call around to some Mexican or other ethnic restaurants to see where they purchase them. Cheers!
  • Judi G
    Judi G
    Hi: I am going to make this recipe again for tomorrow night (it was such a huge hit last time) but after the spice grinding fiasco last time, and I don't have a motrar and pestle - I was wondering if I could use some of the achiote that I brought back from Mexico.. And, if so, would I use it in place of the anatto and keep everything else the same (using pre-ground spices). I know this won't be the perfect solution but I'm running short on time and this would be a huge time saver. Thanks.
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    Judi, I would say that if you only have achiote paste then use it. After all, the main ingredient in achiote paste is the anatto seed. As you mentioned the flavor will likely not be exactly the same, as the paste contains added ingredients and also the freshly ground anatto seeds will add a slightly different flavor as well, but honestly, I wouldn't over think it. That's the best thing about cooking we are all free to try new things and make tweaks here and there to suit our needs and our tastes. If you do end up using the paste, feel free to post a comment to let us know how it went that way everyone will know for next time. This would be especially helpful coming from you as you will have then tried it both ways so you can compare. Enjoy your dinner - what time should we be there? ha ha :-) Cheers!
  • Judi G
    Judi G
    Okay, you have given me 'license' to give it a try. I have so little confidence when it comes to cooking and I need to work on that. I believe it's from the YEARS of Home Ec classes where you NEVER strayed from a recipe. You have made my day so much more manageable and I will gladly let you know what the guest think (mind you, with the high-grade tequila we will be serving, taste buds - and other senses - could be blunted!) I really appreciate the quick response - it's like having your own personal chef advisor right in the computer!! Another thing I LOVE about Rouxbe...
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    No worries Judi, we are here to help you become more confident in the kitchen. Besides it makes cooking way more fun :-) I also wanted to let you know that I spoke with Kimberley this morning and she said that she made this same dish using achiote paste instead of anatto seeds and she still really enjoyed the dish. She said that she still used all of the same spices from step 1 she just substituted the paste for the seeds. Hope this helps. Cheers!
  • Judi G
    Judi G
    This turned out just as delicious - using a block of the achiote paste and the usual other spices - (as far as I can remember - difficult when you don't do a side-by-side taste test) and everybody loved it. MUCH easier than grinding spices and I just bought as much as I needed - spices are very expensive these days. We had lots for the six of us with seconds and leftovers right until today. My advice is that when serving this dish (at the table as I like to do) keep one of those Tide stain remover sticks handy. This stuff likes to jump all over the place and stains easily. But it won't stop me from making it again. It's a crowd-pleaser and we always tell the story of how it stars in the movie, Once Upon a Time in Mexico. A really fun evening!! Thanks again for all your help.
  • Gloria M
    Gloria M
    Here's an interesting bit of trivia. Awhile back I was trying to find out what was used to make orange cheddar cheese orange - the individual from the Cheese industry said it was beta carotene, but couldn't (or wouldn't) elaborate. I've since found out that it comes from annatto. It seems these seeds are used as a food colouring in many common food items.
  • Matthew C
    Matthew C
    I'm surprised this hasn't been asked yet, but I can't find banana leaves here. (I live in Banff, Alberta in the Rocky Mtns. We're a little short on banana trees). As corn is past season, too, corn husks aren't an option. Is there a way to cook this without? Thanks
  • Dawn T Rouxbe Staff
    Dawn T
    There is no real substitution for banana leaves as they add a unique flavor to the dish. The impart a subtle earthy/grassy flavor. That said, if you can't find them, you could just use parchment paper instead. Or cook the dish in a Dutch oven. You might also want to try and calling around to some Mexican or other ethnic stores or restaurants to see where they purchase their banana leaves. Hope that helps. Cheers!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Oftentimes, you can find them in the frozen section of ethnic markets or larger supermarkets - they are pretty common in Indian, Mexican, Thai and Caribbean cuisines. Or you can also order online, especially if you have other hard to find items that you may need.

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