Cochinita Pibil (piglet in achiote) – Mayan legacy to the world

Cochinita Pibil
“Tacos de Cochinita Pibil”

Cochinita Pibil – The signature dish from the Yucatán peninsula, and a delicious legacy from our Mayan ancestors, is one of the most famous in the Mexican cuisine. This mestizo dish is a wonderful result of the fusion between the Spanish and Mayan cultures.

Pibil comes from the Mayan word Pib, which means ‘cooking under ground’, where the meat cooks slowly until tender.

Cochinita means little piggy, as the original Cochinita Pibil recipe involved roasting a whole baby pig between the ages of 2 and 6 weeks. Today, the most common way is to cook it from the pork shoulder.


Pib. under ground oven to cook, steam, bake and smoke food
“Pib – Earth oven. Photo credit: Jeremias Tzul”

Pibil comes from the Mayan word Pib, which means ‘cooked under ground’. This earth oven is a hole in the ground specifically made to trap heat and bake, smoke, steam, or cook the food. With a base of embers and hot stones, the meat is wrapped in leaves and placed to be cooked for several hours under the ground. This pre-hispanic oven was used for big Mayan events, such as Hanal Pixan – rituals for the dead.

Some people believe that Yucatán was the first place in the Americas where people started to eat pork. But in the past, people used to cook a deer, a pheasant or a wild pork instead of the domestic pork. As these species became endangered, pork was used as an alternative.

Nowadays this slow-roasted pork marinated in the achiote sauce – a strongly acidic citrus juice – is cooked in a conventional oven, wrapped in banana leaves and aluminum foil to keep the heat and moisture, until the meat becomes very tender. Thanks to technology, we can save a lot of time cooking this amazing recipe. It can be prepared in a pressure cooker with great results, so in less than 1 hour you will have a delicious dish ready to serve! The slow-cooker (crockpot) is another way to cook cochinita and it is effortless.


Cochinita Pibil cooked in crockpot
“Cochinita Pibil wrapped in banana leaves”

Did you know? Guadalajara owns the Guiness Record for the largest taco in the world – made with 441 pounds of Cochinita Pibil and 44,000 corn tortillas, creating a 1.7 mile long taco!




Achiote – Annato Seeds

Achiote comes from annatto seeds, which impart a vivid burnt orange color to the food. You can find it in different versions: ground or paste.

Besides the achiote – the main ingredient of the Pibil marinade – the Yucatecan recipes always employ the juice of Seville or bitter oranges. If bitter oranges are difficult to find, lemons, limes, or vinegar are employed to approximate the effect of the bitter orange on the meat.



A variation of this dish is called Pollo Pibil, and uses chicken instead of pork.

Mayan dish -Cochinita Pibil at Cocina Corazón
“Cochinita Pibil cooking class”


Serve in tacos or tortas with cured red onions and habanero salsa. It goes perfect with white rice, black refried beans and Easy and Delicious! If you would like to discover how easy is to cook this amazing dish and impress your guests, BOOK A CLASS or host a class in your own kitchen and learn how to prepare this delight in a super fun 3 hour session.





Tamales – Featured dish of the month

Mexican Tamales from Cocina Corazón
“Tamales –rich and delicious Mexican delight”










-Tamales (in plural)

-Tamal (in singular)

History of tamales

The word tamal comes from the Náhuatl tamalli that means envuelto (wrapped) – a legacy from the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures to the world. Corn is the main ingredient. This grain is over four thousand years old and it is one of the most representative ingredients in Mexican cuisine.

This pre-hispanic delight has been documented by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún – a missionary priest who participated in the Catholic evangelization of colonial New Spain – as one of the ancient dishes of the Mexican culture, used in ritual activities as an offering for the dead. Many regions of Mexico still use tamales for their funeral rituals such as Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), or for the independence celebration.

The concept of a tamal comes from the primitive idea of using the hand as a plate to wrap the food. Afterwards, plant leaves found in nature replaced the hand. Because of the abundance of the corn in the central regions and the banana leaves (plantain) in the southern regions, these two leaves became the most popular.

There are over 500 different types of tamales in Mexico. The most popular include: Pork in green chili, chicken in mole negro, red salsa and sweet with raisins.

What is a tamal?

Mexican tamales
“Tamales ready to be steamed”

A nixtamalized corn (hominy) masa, mixed with lard or vegetable shortening and rich broth. Nowadays there are many alternatives to replace lard, and we can find tamales for vegetarians and vegans – but the flavor, of course will not be the same.

Tamales from Mexico City are typically wrapped in corn husks and filled with different meats, salsas, vegetables or fruits (for the sweet tamales) before being steamed.

Perfect for celebrations, potlucks, or family gatherings. You can freeze them up to three months. Kids take them to school for lunch, and they are GLUTEN-FREE!

Eat them hot or cold. Unwrap them and they are ready to eat. Easy to take on the go.

There are 4 basic elements in tamales

Nowadays the tamales have many variations and due to the influence of other cuisines and cultures, they come in many different styles. But to be called a genuine tamal, they must have these four elements:

  • Wrapped – in corn husks or banana leaves (plantain)
  • Masa
  • protein filling
  • Salsa

Learn to make tamalesBook a class now!

Mexican corn for tamales
“Mexican corn”

Perhaps you’ve been wanting to learn how to make tamales? You’ll be surprised how easy it is to cook this fabulous recipe. Sign up to one of Cocina Corazon’s tamales workshops. Stay tuned for new classes and reserve your spot as this class is so popular.

Want to host a class in your kitchen? Invite your friends and family and host a class in your own kitchen. Send us a message and let’s cook!