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Low Carb Mexican Cochinita Pibil

Low Carb Mexican Cochinita Pibil
Home » Holidays & Celebrations » Cinco de Mayo » Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita pibil is a pork dish that is typically cooked underground.  However, this recipe uses the slow cooker and tastes just as good!  The pork shines in sweet, tangy achiote sauce in this recipe for cochinita pibil.

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Sliced cochinita pibil with corn tortillas
Sliced cochinita pibil with corn tortillas

What is Cochinita Pibil?

Cochinita means little pig.  Pibil is a method of cooking in a large pit underground.  Oftentimes, large banana or palm tree leaves are used to cover these pits and hold in the moisture.  This method is commonly used in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and in some other countries like Belize and Guatemala. 

Although, you can cook almost any meat “pibil style”, pork really shines with this method because it holds in the moisture so well.  Some people cook the pig whole on a spit, while others butcher the pig and cook it in chunks. 

In Mexico, they will often use the banana leaves as a natural packet and make items like tamales or a meat pocket (similar to pot pie).

Classic Spices and Substitutions

The key element of this cochinita pibil recipe is the achiote (annatto) paste.  The paste is often hard to find in places that do not have a high Latinx population but you can order it on amazon- this is the brand I use

You can change up the pepper and use various substitutes for most of the spices if desired, but you cannot substitute the achiote- it is key in this recipe!

Ideas for the Leftover Pork

 A five pound pork shoulder will generally give you more cochinita pibil than you would need for one dinner. There are many delicious ways to use this marinated pulled pork. 

It does freeze well, but here are a couple of ways to used it the next day without that feeling of eating “leftovers”:

  • It Is a wonderful option for a taco bar, with tortillas (if you are not on a low carb diet), with pickled onions and any other condiments you have on hand;
  • Mix the pork into scrambled eggs or reheat the pork and cook a fried egg on top
  • Use it as a topping for pizza, nachos or even french fries!

My husband folded our leftover pork into an oven-baked tamale pie that was to die for. It was similar to this harissa tamale pie recipe, but it folded in the leftover pork.

Basically it was a box of cornmeal muffin mix with chiles and pork mixed in and baked in the oven (topped with your favorite salsa). Here is a photo of the finished product:

Cornmeal tamale pie filled with cochinita pibel marinated pork
Cornmeal tamale pie filled with cochinita pibel marinated pork

Low Carb Cochinita Pibil

Cochinita Pibel using pork shoulder and cooked in slow cooker
A traditional pork dish from the Yucatan peninsula, cooked in a crock pot rather than underground
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Servings 4
Calories 489
Author dorothy stainbrook



  • 4.5 lbs pork shoulder can use butt as well
  • 3 Tbsp achiote annatto paste
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1 scotch bonnet pepper can use habanero or another chile pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Lime wedges, jalapenos, guacamole, pickled onions optional- for serving


  • In a small bowl, combine the achiote paste, orange juice, lemon juice and vinegar. Mix thoroughly until all the achiote paste is wet and combined with the juices.
  • Place the meat in a large bowl and add the pepper, achiote/ juice mix, and the spices and rub all over the pork. Make sure to get the juice in all the crevasses of the pork. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate overnight turning the pork at least once to ensure full coverage.
  • Place the pork and all the juice mixture in a crock pot or slow cooker. Add 1 cup of water and turn on low for 8 hours or longer.
  • Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with two forks. If not serving right away, return pork to the slow cooker.
  • Serve with lime wedges, hot pepper slices, guacamole, refried beans queso fresco or pickled onions.


Calories: 489kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 62gFat: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 3g
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a 5-star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. And don’t forget to tag me at @dorothy_stainbrook_heathglen, if you share a picture on Instagram! You can also tag me at #heathglen!

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