Al Pastor Vs Adobada: Do You Know These Differences?

al pastor vs adobada

Among the many pork dishes in Mexican cuisine, there is the popular but easily confused comparison between al pastor and adobada. If you are not familiar with these dishes, you are in for a treat! 

These are both breathtaking traditional dishes that are not only popular in Mexico but all over the world. You can find them in Mexican restaurants or make them yourself using Youtube tutorials or online recipes. 

Here, we have a detailed article on al pastor vs adobada that can take you through all the similarities, differences, and FAQs that you may want to know. 

Ultimately, it should give you a better glimpse into Mexico’s rich culinary realm. So, what are you waiting for? Read on! 

Quick Facts

Al pastor:

  • Cooking Method: Pork is marinated then slow-cooked or over gas flames  
  • Flavor & Taste: Sweet and tangy taste

Adobada:

  • Cooking Method: Pork is marinated then baked 
  • Flavor & Taste: Spicy and hot taste 

Related: My favorite list of the top 30+ Mexican foods

The Similarities

Overall, pork is the heart of these dishes! 

Al pastor, also commonly referred to as “tacos al pastor,” is made using spit-grilled pork. Ideally, pork shoulder is used. This meat cut has marbling fat that can be cooked for long without becoming rubbery or dry. However, if pork shoulder is not available, it can be substituted by pork sirloin or pork loin. 

Similarly, adobada uses pork shoulder. This meat cut is also liked for its fairly inexpensive price tag. If you are making your own adobada, it is not difficult to find good quality pork shoulder at the local supermarket at all. 

The second important ingredient in all these two recipes is the corn tortilla. For your information, in their simplest forms, both of the dishes are meat shelled in a small corn tortilla. 

Although a few variants use flour tortilla, authentic al pastor and adobada are made with corn tortilla. The corn tortilla is believed to be the healthier option between the two. 

Plus, it is incredibly affordable and easy to find at supermarkets. So you will not have to worry about not being able to get it for your homemade meals. 

The Differences

Cooking Method 

This is the key difference between these two dishes. The former is slow-cooked pork, while the latter is baked pork. 

Al pastor’s pork is marinated in pineapple, dried chilies, and achiote paste. Then, it is slow-cooked or cooked over gas flames on a trompo, which is a vertical or an upright-standing spit. 

The browned outside of the meat is typically shaved off before it is thinly sliced to be transferred into the corn tortilla’s shell. 

On the other hand, adobada’s pork is rolled into a mixture of red chili powder and minced chili peppers, along with other spices, and refrigerated overnight. The meat is most typically diced. 

Afterward, it is completely wrapped in foil and baked at low heat. This method of cooking ensures that the meat is not dried out. 

Flavor & Taste 

Both dishes have impressive tastes, though their flavors are very distinct. 

The former has an easily recognizable sweet and tangy taste, mostly credited to its use of pineapples. As a result, it is not too difficult to fall for this dish and adopt it as a family favorite. 

In contrast, adobada is more spicy-tasting. Although the level of spiciness and heat changes depending on the type of chilies used, it is generally spicier and hotter than al pastor. Therefore, if you are a fan of spicy foods, you will surely be head over heels for this dish. 

Is Al Pastor Always Pork?

Yes, it is always pork. In restaurants, it is commonly referred to as the “pork-and-pineapple” dish. Unfortunately, if you cannot eat pork, this dish is not for you. Even though there are many variants, all will be made with pork. 

How Long Is Al Pastor Good For? 

If you seal and store it properly, the dish can stay good for two to three days in the fridge. Otherwise, if you keep it in a freezer bag with all the excess air removed, it can last for roughly three months. 

As such, it is a good option if you prefer prepping meals beforehand and only whipping it out for a final cook before plating for everyone at the table. 

If you only store the meat, make sure you thaw it properly for use, and if you store complete leftovers, you will have to reheat it.

Are These Two Types Of Meat Healthy? 

Both of these dishes are believed to be healthy. They offer good nutritional value, particularly in regards to protein. Plus, they are said to have fewer calories than presumably healthy granola bars. This means that you do not have to worry about al pastor and adobada being unhealthy. 

Delicious and healthy, what more can you ask for from a dish, right?

Mariana Rouco

Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of Elpasony.com. She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.

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