Al pastor is the iconic Mexico City taco, showcasing a stack of pork that has been marinated for days, cooked on a rotating spit and then sliced and crisped to order.  If you want that same robust flavor but are lacking in specialized equipment and time, try this version which uses the instapot! Flavored with fresh Mexican spices, it can certainly be a credible stand-in for the authentic Mexican al pastor.

Low carb tacos made with slow cooked pork shoulder
Low carb tacos made with slow cooked pork shoulder
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What makes Instapot Tacos al Pastor Low Carb?

The pork shoulder is the star of any al pastor recipe and it needs to be cooked to the tender stage, regardless of the cooking method. The instapot can be an effective method for getting the tenderness, and then it is a matter of whether you want to crisp it to finish or just stir into the sauce.

Because I am striving to make everything as easy as possible these days, I simply added it to the Mexican-spiced sauce to finish. For a great carnitas recipe where you do crisp the pork, see this post.

The pineapple is a problem for low carb or keto people. There is just no getting around how much sugar is in pineapple. In one cup of pineapple there are 22 grams of carbs and 16 grams of sugar. I tried to come up with a low carb alternative to the pineapple but really it is such a classic addition to al pastor that it’s probably better to go ahead and use pineapple, but just use it more sparingly.

Because I was making this for family and I had no pineapple available, I used a bit of quince paste to give it a touch of fruity sweetness. I needed to figure out how to use that quince paste that was sitting in my pantry for so long, and I think using it instead of the pineapple really elevated this dish and made it unique. Quince is not low carb either however, so use your preferred fruit.

The other carby ingredient of course is the tortillas. I have a couple of recipes and suggestions for low carb tortillas here. The following recipe used store-bought low carb tortillas.

So, to keep the integrity of al pastor but still get the delicious taste, focus on using really fresh spices, and great pork and then just go easy on the pineapple. We used pickled red onions to up the flavor even more. Click here for an easy, quick pickled onion recipe.

Instapot Tacos al Pastor – Low(ish) Carb

Low carb tacos made with slow cooked pork shoulder
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Servings 6
Calories 244


  • 2-3 lbs pork shoulder cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 tsp mineral salt
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 med onion chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic smashed with knife and then minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp achiote paste
  • 1/8 cup smoked pepper blend
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup vinegar white distilled or sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup quince paste alternative of pineapple
  • 1 1/2 cup liquid left in instapot from pork
  • 1 cup pickled red onions and cilantro optional additions/garnishes


  • Add the cubed pork to the instapot, sprinkle with salt and add 3/4 cup water.  Close lid and turn instapot setting to meat for 30 minutes
  • About 10-15 minutes before instapot pork is done, start the onion-spice mixture.  Add oil to a large skillet and turn to med-high heat.  Add chopped onion and saute for about 5 minutes or until caramelized. Add mashed garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Add all spices (through pepper) and stir into onion mixture for 30 seconds to toast and blend.
  • Add vinegar to hot skillet mixture.  Add quince paste and melt into the onion mixture, stirring in thoroughly.  
  • When instapot pork is done, open and remove liquid (pork juices and water) from bottom of instapot and add to onion mixture in skillet over med-high heat.  Add pork chunks and stir thoroughly, coating pork cubes with onion-spice mixture.
  • Serve in low carb tortillas with pickled onions and cilantro garnish.


Calories: 244kcalCarbohydrates: 18.6gProtein: 10.3gFat: 15.5gSugar: 9.3g
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