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Smoked Chicken Al Pastor

Ready to up your pellet smoking game? This Smoked Al Pastor Chicken is brimming with flavor, and the marinated chicken and pineapple go together so darn well on the smoker. This easy and show-stopping dish is all about infusing maximum flavor into every bite – serve it in tacos, on nachos, or just on a plate with your favorite sides!

Smoked Chicken Al Pastor on a vertical skewer with pineapple in the background.

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What Is Smoked Chicken Al Pastor?

Smoked Chicken Al Pastor, my friends, is magical meaty goodness. With juicy pineapple at the top, in the middle, and on the bottom, this slow-smoked wonder is infused with flavor even as it cooks. The real secret, however, is in the marinade. Packed with chili, garlic, and onion flavors, it is rich and savory without being spicy.

This dish is insanely good – did I say that already? Sure, you can do this dish in the oven or on the grill, but in the smoker? Wowers, you get all that lovely smoke flavor in addition to the rich and amazing spices and fruity pineapple. The meat does need to marinate overnight, and the smoke will take a couple of hours, so leave yourself plenty of time when making this dish.

Smoked Chicken Al Pastor Tacos on a black plate.

The best part about this dish is anyone can make it. You may have to visit a Mexican market to get the achiote paste and guajillo chilies, but you can also order them online. Other than that, grab your trusty vertical skewer – or order one here – and get cooking!

Chef Jenn's Top Pick
Chef Jenn's Top Pick
3.5
3.5
$4.79 ($1.37 / Ounce)
N/A
Description:

I love this flavorful concentrate! It's got all the best al pastor flavor in easy-to-use paste. Yum!

Description:

I have this very same vertical skewer. It is pretty solid and fits inside my smoker with the lid closed. Make sure to measure your own smoker for clearance!

Chef Jenn's Top Pick
3.5
$4.79 ($1.37 / Ounce)
Description:

I love this flavorful concentrate! It's got all the best al pastor flavor in easy-to-use paste. Yum!

Chef Jenn's Top Pick
3.5
N/A
Description:

I have this very same vertical skewer. It is pretty solid and fits inside my smoker with the lid closed. Make sure to measure your own smoker for clearance!

02/18/2024 06:07 am GMT

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE ABOUT Smoked Chicken Al Pastor


  • There’s incredible flavor in every bite!
  • It’s a show-stopping dish you can cut right off the skewer.
  • So versatile! You can use the meat in so many ways or eat it just like it is!

Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs – Boneless and skinless; about 3 pounds.
  • Dried guajillo chilies – About 4 of them.
  • Garlic – Fresh garlic cloves.
  • Onion – Yellow onion.
  • Pineapple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Cider vinegar
  • Achiote paste – You can’t make traditional al pastor without it. It really is worth finding it.
  • Ground cumin
  • Brown sugar
  • Chipotle powder
  • Dried oregano – Mexican oregano if you have it.
  • Salt
  • Whole pineapple
Labeled ingredients to make Smoked Chicken Al Pastor.

You’ll Also Need

  • Blender – Or food processor.
  • Vertical skewer Look for a heavy-duty skewer. This 10-inch one fit (though just barely) in my Traeger. I like the ones with the plate on the bottom, so I reduce the mess in my smoker.
Chef Jenn's Top Pick
TINAMO Stainless Steel 10" Vertical Skewer

I have this very same vertical skewer. It is pretty solid and fits inside my smoker with the lid closed. Make sure to measure your own smoker for clearance!

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How To Make The Best Smoked Chicken Al Pastor

  1. Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles and place the guajillo chiles in a dry skillet and toast them over medium-high for 2-3 minutes per side. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the skillet and simmer the chilies for 3-4 minutes until they are softened. Add the hydrated chiles to the blender.
  2. Add half a yellow onion, garlic cloves, pineapple and orange juice, cider vinegar, achiote paste, ground cumin, brown sugar, chipotle powder, dried oregano and salt to the blender and blend until thick and smooth.
  3. Place the chicken thighs in a zipper-top plastic bag or non-reactive (like glass) dish and cover with the marinade from the blender and toss to coat well.
  4. Marinate the chicken for 8 hours but not more than about 14 hours, or the acidity in the pineapple juice will change the texture of the chicken.
  5. Fire up your Traeger smoker or another smoker. Set it to 180-F.
  6. Remove the top of the pineapple and set it aside to use as a garnish or decoration when serving.
  7. Remove the outer layer of the pineapple and cut three 1.5-inch thick slices of pineapple. Reserve the rest of the pineapple for nibbling on later.
  8. Add one slice of pineapple to the bottom of the vertical skewer, then load on half the chicken thighs, alternating the direction of them so that they aren’t evenly overlapping each other. This is what gives you such tasty caramelized outer bits.
  9. Top the chicken with another slice of pineapple, add the rest of the chicken, and finish with the final slice of pineapple.
  10. Smoke the chicken at 180-F for about an hour to give it a good dose of smoke.
  11. Turn the smoker up to 300-F and finish cooking the al pastor until it reaches 165-F with a digital meat thermometer. It should take about 2 hours, but the actual cooking time will depend.
  12. Slice the meat right off the skewer and add it to your tacos, nachos, burritos and more. Or, just eat it like it is!
A horizontal image of Smoked Chicken Al Pastor on a vertical skewer.

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • Don’t over-marinate the meat, or the acidity in the pineapple juice will change the texture of the chicken to mush. 8-14 hours is plenty.
  • Like it spicier? Add another teaspoon of chipotle powder OR add 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce to the blender instead of the powder.
  • Actual cooking time will vary based on your smoker and how cold the chicken was when it went into the smoker. Also, how tightly packed it is on the skewer will also affect cooking time.

Recommendations

Make it a Meal

Add your Smoked Chicken Al Pastor to tacos, burritos, or enchiladas, or just eat it like it is! I love serving this super flavorful dish with sides like Mexican Street Corn Salad, Elote Corn Ribs or Baked Spanish Rice. You could also offer sides of pico de gallo or tomatillo pico de gallo, and turn your meal into a fiesta!

Chef Jenn's Favorite
Chef Jenn's 50+ Best Smoker Recipes eBook

This full-color ebook cookbook features more than 50 of Chef Jenn’s tried, tested, and favorite smoker recipes! Enjoy:

  • Smoked Beef Kabobs
  • Smoked Chicken Thighs
  • Smoked Bacon-Wrapped Pork Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers
  • Smoked Spaghetti Squash with Herbs

and so much more!

Buy Now

Storage

Store your leftover Smoked Al Pastor chicken in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Step By Step Process

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Smoked Chicken Al Pastor on a vertical skewer with pineapple in the background.
Print Pin
4.87 from 46 votes

Smoked Chicken Al Pastor

Ready for outrageous flavor?!? From the smoky, marinated chicken to the pinepple, every bite of Smoked Chicken Al Pastor is amazing! Serve it with all your favorite Mexican sides for a fiesta!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword al pastor, chicken, chicken al pastor
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Marinating time 8 hours
Total Time 11 hours 10 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 293kcal
Author Chef Jenn

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pineapple
  • 4 guajillo chiles
  • 6 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1/2 yellow onion skin removed
  • 1/3 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 ounces achiote paste
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano Mexican oregano if you have it
  • 2 teaspoons chipotle powder or 2-3 chipotles in adobo if you like it spicier
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Remove the stem and seeds from the chiles and place the guajillo chiles in a dry skillet and toast them over medium-high for 2-3 minutes per side. Add about 1/2 cup of water to the bottom of the skillet and simmer the chilies for 3-4 minutes until they are softened. Add the hydrated chiles to the blender.
  • Add half a yellow onion, garlic cloves, pineapple and orange juice, cider vinegar, achiote paste, ground cumin, brown sugar, chipotle powder, dried oregano and salt to the blender and blend until thick and smooth.
  • Place the chicken thighs in a zipper-top plastic bag or non-reactive (like glass) dish and cover with the marinade from the blender and toss to coat well.
  • Marinate the chicken for 8 hours but not more than about 14 hours or the acidity in the pineapple juice will change the texture of the chicken.
  • Add a hardwood blend of pellets to the hopper and fire up your Traeger smoker or other smoker. Set it to 180-F.
  • Remove the top of the pineapple and set it aside to use as a garnish or decoration when serving.
  • Remove the outer layer of the pineapple and cut 3 1.5-inch thick slices of pineapple. Reserve the rest of the pineapple for nibbling on later.
  • Add one slice of pineapple to the bottom of the vertical skewer, then load on half the chicken thighs, alternating the direction of them so that they aren't evenly overlapping each other. This is what gives you such tasty caramelized outer bits.
  • Top the chicken with another slice of pineapple, and add the rest of the chicken, and finish with the final slice of pineapple.
  • Smoke the chicken at 180-F for about an hour to give it a good dose of smoke.
  • Turn the smoker up to 300-F and finish cooking the al pastor until it reaches 165-F with a digital meat thermometer. It should take about 2 hours, but actual cooking time will depend – see notes below.
  • Slice the meat right off the skewer and add it to your tacos, nachos, burritos and more. Or, just eat it like it is!

Notes

Chef Jenn’s Tips

    • Don’t over-marinate the meat or the acidity in the pineapple juice will change the texture of the chicken to mush. 8-14 hours is plenty.
    • Like it spicier? Add another teaspoon of chipotle powder OR add 2-3 chipotles in adobo sauce to the blender instead of the powder.
    • Actual cooking time will vary based on your smoker and how cold the chicken was when it went into the smoker. Also, how tightly packed it is on the skewer will also affect cooking time.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cups | Calories: 293kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.03g | Cholesterol: 162mg | Sodium: 456mg | Potassium: 662mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 760IU | Vitamin C: 62mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.

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