Yucatan Goat Leg: A Cochinita Pibil Recipe

Cochinita pibil is possibly the most famous dish in all of the Yucatan Peninsula: traditionally pulled pork that’s been wrapped in banana leaves. It’s nothing more than a warm, griddled tortilla with braised shredded meat, marinated onions and spicy hot salsa, but some of the best things are just that simple. It’s also a cornerstone of local Yucatan cuisine hundreds of years in the making, and likely much older than that.

Yucatan Style Roasted Goat Leg Cochinita Pibil
A goat leg rubbed with achiote marinade and baked slowly until tender in banana leaves.
Alan Bergo
Chef Alan Bergo

As old as it is, the most well-known dish does rely on a few ingredients not native to the Americas, specifically bitter oranges and pork, but famous dishes like this often have even deeper roots, and it’s likely that the original meat was an indigenous one, most likely a small ruminant, like a deer. Goats are much closer in composition to deer than pigs, so we think Chef Bergo’s interpretation of this classic Yucatecan dish is pretty special made with Shepherd Song’s grass-fed goat, and could possibly be even closer to the original Native South American dish than the famous version.

Cochinita Pibil Ingredients

Making a goat cochinita requires some time, and preparation, but the ingredients are relatively easy to come by and the cooking process isn’t complicated. All of the special ingredients can be purchased at a local Latin or Asian market. If you can find bitter Seville oranges, they’ll add a great flavor to the dish.

Most importantly, you’ll need banana leaves, achiote seeds or paste, oranges, habaneros, and, of coarse, a goat leg with the shank attached, which you can order from Shepherd Song Lamb and goat meat by placing a special order. Once you taste the unique combination of slow coooked goat wrapped in a soft tortilla with onions pickled in citrus juices and a habanero hot sauce, we hope you’ll be transported to a warm, sunny beach in South America, like we were.

Yucatan Style Roasted Goat Leg Cochinita Pibil
Serving finished cochinita pibil tacos.

This recipe is by chef Alan Bergo. A chef from Minnesota, Alan is a veteran of the culinary industry, former executive chef of acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. He’s best known as a respected authority on Midwestern foraging. Learn more about Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at his site Forager Chef.

Looking to buy lamb or goat online? Shepherd Song Farm: Grass to table. We raise lambs & goats traditionally, humanely and sustainably. 100% Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Never Confined, no Hormones, Grains or Animal Byproducts. Born, raised and processed in the U.S.A. Good for you and good for the environment.

How to Make Cochinita Pibil

The images below illustrate the process of marinating the leg. You can also use a pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, or another cut of meat.

More South American Lamb and Goat Recipes

Lamb Tongue Tacos

Lamb Posole

Smoked Goat Barbacoa

Yucatan Style Roasted Goat Leg Cochinita Pibil
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5 from 1 vote

Goat Leg Cochinita Pibil

Slow-cooked, marinated goat leg is a traditional recipe from the Yucatan.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Marinating Time1 day
Total Time1 day 4 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Cochinita Pibil, Goat, Lamb
Servings: 10 People
Calories: 657kcal
Cost: 30


  • Banana Leaves, thawed if frozen
  • 1 Large baking pan



Achiote Marinade

  • 3 Tablespoons achiote powder or ground annatto seeds
  • 1 Tablespoon dried oregano or marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

Pickled Red Onions

  • 1 medium-sized red onion or white onion
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Finely grated orange zest to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

Habanero Salsa (optional-very spicy!)

  • 8-10 habanero peppers
  • 1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice or white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 garlic cloves unpeeled

For Serving

  • Corn tortillas, lightly charred over a gas burner
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Avocado, sliced
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro


Habanero salsa

  • Put the garlic cloves in a dry pan and cook on medium heat while you clean the peppers. Wearing gloves, or being very careful not to touch the peppers, cut the peppers in half and remove the seeds (optional). Add the peppers, cut side up to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high.
  • Cook the garlic and peppers until they blister, and the garlic is soft. Transfer to the bowl of a blender or molcajete (mortar and pestle) then add the lime juice and salt, and blend/pound until smooth. The sauce should not be finely pureed, so be careful not to overdo it if you have a high-speed blender like a vitamix.

Pickled Red Onions

  • Cut the root and top off the onions, then cut in half vertically through the root and top. Put the cut half of the onion down on the cutting board, then slice the short way, (perpendicular to the equator) into ¼ inch slices.
  • Combine the onions in a non-aluminum mixing bowl with the salt, orange juice, lime juice and zests lime and orange juices, and the oregano, mix well, transfer to a container with a lid, and refrigerate until needed.

Goat Leg

  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade and puree in a blender. Pour the marinated over the goat leg, then refrigerate, turning over in the juices every hour or two, or as often as you can remember, for 24 hours.
  • The next day, preheat an oven to bake at 325 F. Line a baking dish large enough to fit the goat leg into with banana leaves, leaving enough hanging over the side to completely wrap the leg on all sides.
  • Pour any excess marinade over the leg, then wrap tightly in the rest of the banana leaves, pour 2 cups of water into the dish, and bake for 3-4 hours or until fork tender.
  • When the goat is cooked, remove it from the oven, allow to rest for 15 minutes, then unwrap, shred the meat, season to taste and correct the seasoning for salt if needed, moistening it with any roasting juices.


  • Over a gas burner or a grill, heat the corn tortillas until the blister and char a bit, then wrap in a towel. Serve the tortillas with the shredded goat, onions, salsa, radishes, avocados and lime wedges and allow guests to build their own tacos. Black beans and rice make a good accompaniment too.


The goat leg pictured has an attached shank, but most of our legs have the shank removed. Legs with shanks attached can be made available, but are a special order. 
This recipe can be made using a slow cooker or pressure cooker, but you're on your own to figure out the timing. If using a slow cooker, just cook it for hours until the pork or other meat is tender. 


Serving: 4oz | Calories: 657kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 23g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 22g | Cholesterol: 166mg | Sodium: 1414mg | Potassium: 579mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 45IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 4mg






Yucatan Style Roasted Goat Leg Cochinita Pibil