Rick Bayless Pork Achiote

Slow Roasted Pork Achiote steaming hot out of the oven.  Lime juice and achiote paste turn this everyday pork roast into a fiesta.

I’m a huge Rick Bayless fan and a big fan of real Mexican Food. By real Mexican food I mean authentic dishes from south of the border as opposed to our Americanized versions of dishes we call “Mexican Food”

I was browsing through his cookbooks last Saturday and this jumped right off the page and right onto my dinner table. This is simply delicious.

Rick tells us in the introduction to this recipe that this type pork recipe would normally be served at a large celebration using a slow pit roasted whole pig. Since most of us don’t have pits in our back yards, Rick assures us a slow cooker or dutch oven and a bone-in pork roast will deliver much of the same flavors. It’s just up to us to provide the celebration.


The major flavor to this dish is Achiote. Achiote is a spice used in cuisine in Mexico and South America. The paste is clay red in color and clay-like in texture. It does turn your fingers red when you crumble the paste.

It’s made of crushed achiote seed, vinegar, salt, garlic and spices and is typically formed into a small block. The paste is then diluted and added to stews or used as a rub for meats. It adds a salty and bittersweet tangy flavor.  It is a traditional ingredient used to make Ricado, a rub for suckling pig and other meats.


For this dish, I’ve diluted the paste in fresh lime juice.

Line a Dutch oven or crockpot with banana leaves. Make sure you place the banana leaves so that you can fold them over to surround your pork roast.

Pour the diluted achiote seasoning over the roast, top with rings of sliced onions and pour a little bit of water on the sides of the roast. Fold the banana leaves over to surround the meat and onions. Put the lid on and slow roast the meat either 6 hours on high in a crock pot, or 3 hours in the oven at 300 degrees.

Serve with Roasted Fresh Chili Salsa (photo above, recipe below), some good quality warm corn tortillas and a fresh green salad and you’ve got a beautiful and delicious meal. A note about corn tortillas. Hopefully you can find a good hand-made brand like the one I found at Marczyk Fine Foods. They don’t even resemble the rubbery cheap brands that you find at Safeway. NO comparison.

Slow Roasted Pork Achiote
Recipe type: Main course
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 10
  • 2 oz. achiote seasoning
  • ¾ C. lime juice
  • Salt
  • Banana leaves
  • 3 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 large white onion, sliced about ¼ inch thick
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ C. roasted fresh chile salsa
  1. Place the achiote seasoning in a small bowl. Pour in ½ C. of the lime juice and 2 t. salt. Use a fork to work the mixture into a smooth thickish marinade.
  2. Line your slow cooker with banana leaves. Lay in the pork and pour the marinade over and around the meat.
  3. Scatter the white onion over the meat.
  4. Pour ½ C. water around the meat.
  5. Fold banana leaves to roughly cover everything.
  6. Cover and slow-cook on high for 6 hours, until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. If you roast this in the oven, 300 degrees for 3 hours.
  7. While the meat is cooking, combine the red onion with remaining ¼ cup lime juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and set aside to marinate, stirring from time to time..
  8. Use tongs to transfer the meat and onions to dinner plates. Spoon off any rendered fat that's floating in the juices. Ladle brothy sauce into a saucepan and boil it down to about ½. Season with salt and spoon it over the meat. Top with the lime-marinated red onions and serve with the salsa and warm corn tortillas.


Roasted Fresh Chile Salsa
Recipe type: Condiment
Cuisine: Mexican
  • Makes ½ Cup
  • 4 ounces fresh hot green chiles (4 medium jalapeño, or 10 medium Serrano, or 12 orange Habanero) I used the jalapeño
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 T. fresh lime juice
  1. Turn on your oven broiler and adjust rack to highest level. Break stems off the chiles, cut them in half lengthwise and lay them, cut side down, on a small baking sheet. Scatter the garlic cloves among the chiles. Broil until chiles are soft and blotchy black. Remove skins. Scrape the chiles and garlic into a blender and add the lime juice and ¼ C. water. Process until nearly smooth.

I ate this like a soft taco. Warm the tortillas, lay some of the tender pork on top, drizzle with the Fresh Chili Salsa and some cilantro and red onions. Roll it up and enjoy. I can’t wait to serve this at my next dinner party. Rick Bayless has done it again! 

 Rick Bayless Pork Achiote…It’s What’s For Dinner

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  1. says

    This sounds absolutely incredible and quite simple, as well. Thanks for giving me an idea for my next “pot party”. It might not be what most would think. Pot parties are dinners where my guest serves themselves from the pots the dinner is cooked in. And I think they will be quite surprised when then lift the top off the Crockpot Pork Achiote and find banana leaves. I’ll let you know how it goes…

    • says

      It is very easy! Which is quite different for Rick Bayless recipes. They are usually an extravaganza and only weekend fixes. I hope you have a source for good tortillas. If not, the supermarket ones will be fine. A pot party sounds like a lot of fun! What a great idea. The title would most certainly get everyone’s attention. :-) As always thanks for stopping by George.

  2. Melody says

    I love being able to throw things into a slow cooker! I’m excited about the achiote paste, which I haven’t actually used before. I might also suggest adding some roasted tomatillos or poblano or ancho chiles to the salsa.

  3. Leah says

    Wow, that looks really yummy! I might have to get over to Savory and pick me up some of that achiote paste. Where did you get the banana leaves this time?

  4. says

    You really went all out on this beautiful and very authentic dish! I haven’t heard of achiote paste before and am going to look for it. This sounds like a dish my family would really enjoy!

  5. says

    I love Rick Bayless too…not only for his authentic recipes but because he seems like such a nice unassuming guy!

    You and I are quite obviously both big fans of Savory Spice Shop; it’s an experience that’s addictive. My cooking has improved as a result too so have to mention to your fans that aren’t local to Denver, they have an online shop at http://www.savoryspiceshop.com. Shouldn’t we be considered sales reps by now?

    You know I’m a Twitterholic…I’m gonna tweet this recipe to Rick and my tweeps…beautiful!

  6. says

    Beautiful and looks delicious! I’m excited to taste achiote paste and look for good tortillas in California next week. Such great photos – made my mouth water!

    • says

      I wouldn’t know how to cook with it if I didn’t have a recipe. I’m just learning about it too. If you find those thin flaky good tortillas, but a few packages, as they freeze well.

  7. says

    If there’s ever a perfect marriage it’s got to be “slow roasting” and “pork”> The use of banana leaves reminds me of “bush” cooking in the Caribbean.

    happy cooking



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