Pinchos Morunos (Spanish Pork Skewers) - Spanish Sabores

Pinchos Morunos (Spanish Pork Skewers)

One of my favorite tapas recipes is pinchos morunos — delicious Spanish pork skewers that are marinated in a flavorful spice blend. These are the perfect quick meal option, just make sure to marinate them in advance!

Pinchos Morunos on wooden skewers on a white plate with lemon wedges.
Delicious pinchos morunos.

Pinchos morunos are a welcome addition of spice and excitement to tapas menus all around Spain. These savory pork kebabs break the general rules of Spanish simplicity by soaking in a marinade of up to 20 different spices! The story behind this popular Spanish pincho is fascinating, and my recipe for these skewers is perfect any time of year.

History of Pinchos Morunos

Moorish pork kebabs might be a literal translation of this typical Spanish pincho, but I believe Spanish pork skewers to be a better fit. The Moors didn’t actually eat pork, as it went against their Muslim beliefs. It was most likely the Christian Spaniards who invented the pork version, using similar spices to the ones found in traditional Moorish kebabs (usually made of lamb), and gave them their name.

History Lesson: The Moors were the Northern African Muslims who were of mixed Berber and Arab descent and conquered the Iberian Peninsula in the 8th century, sticking around until the end of the 15th. Their influence on Spanish culture is everywhere!

A true pincho Moruno is marinated in the spice blend known as ras el hanout, Arabic for “head of the shop”. The basic blend is often made up of cumin, oregano, coriander, turmeric, paprika, nutmeg, cayenne, peppercorn, and cinnamon, but each shopkeeper adds their secret ingredients and make the blend their own.

Ras el hanout marinade in a white bowl with a metal spoon
The secret is in the marinade!

This pincho Moruno recipe is the best I’ve found, resulting in juicy Spanish pork skewers that will have your mind wandering to southern Spain and Morocco.

Key Ingredients

Spanish pork skewers ingredients on a marble countertop

Key ingredients: Pork, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and oregano.

Ingredient Notes & Substitutions

  • Pork: If you’ve tried these (or simply think they look great) but prefer to make them without pork, go ahead! These work beautifully using chicken or lamb as well.
  • Spices: Here’s where it gets fun. There is no exact spice blend you must use for these. Adjust as you like — get creative. Try two versions and make half and half. The recipe below is delicious (and they’re my preferred proportions) but you can really make these your own!

Pinchos Morunos: Step by Step

These pork skewers are super simple to prepare — the hardest part is remembering to marinate them a couple of hours in advance!

Steps 1-2: Trim your pork loin and cut it into cubes. Place in a large plastic bag.

Pork loin cut into cubes to make Spanish pork skewers.

Steps 3-4: Prepare the marinade by mixing together the spices, olive oil, and lemon juice. Pour over the meat. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Steps 3 and 4 of making pinchos morunos. Making the ras el hanout marinade in a bowl and pouring over the raw pork cubes.

Steps 5-6: When ready to cook, take the marinated pork out of the bag.

Steps 5 and 6 of making Spanish pork skewers. Marinating the pork in a plastic bag and placing the marinated raw pork in a white bowl.

Steps 7-8: Place the pork cubes onto metal or wooden skewers. Heat the grill or cast iron skillet.

Steps 7 and 8 of making pinchos morunos. Putting the marinated raw pork on wooden skewers.

Steps 9-10: Grill until just cooked through, but still juicy. Then rest for five minutes before serving. Serve with lemon wedges.

Pinchos morunos recipe steps 9-10 grilling the skewers and then a close up of holding one cooked skewer.

Recipe Tips & FAQs

What does pinchos morunos mean?

Pinchos morunos would translate to Moorish skewers. They are a Spanish pork kebab (skewered meat) that’s marinated with a spice blend called ras el hanout. The recipe originates in the Middle East and is likely a remnant of Spain’s Moorish history (though they would have originally been prepared with lamb). They are currently very popular throughout Spain, especially in the south where they’re common in Andalusia and Ceuta and Melilla.

How long should I grill pinchos morunos?

It will really depend on the size of your pork chunks and the heat of the grill. But if you have cut the pork into 2-inch by 2-inch chunks and are using very high heat, you’ll likely need only a few minutes per side. If using high-quality pork, you needn’t worry about making sure the skewers are well done (medium to medium-well is fine). They should be fully cooked through but not overcooked (or they’ll be dry).

How do I store leftover pinchos morunos?

You can store leftover pinchos in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days. I recommend taking them off of the skewers if storing for more than 24h. You can also remove from the skewer and freeze for up to three months.

Serving Suggestions

These pork skewers are perfect for a tapas feast — I like to pair them with lighter tapas such as gazpacho or marinated carrots, and vegetarian tapas like fried eggplant and honey or pimientos de padrón.

See Spain’s most popular tapas recipes here.

If you’re serving them as part of a barbecue, you probably only need a simple salad on the side.

Spanish pork skewers on a white plate with lemon wedges.
Ready to be devoured!

More Spanish Pork Recipes

If you love these delicious pork skewers, you’ll be sure to enjoy these dishes.

  • Spanish Meatballs: A ground pork and chorizo sausage blend make these meatballs one of my most popular recipes!
  • Pork Stuffed Peppers: One of my favorite easy stuffed peppers recipes, filled with ground pork.
  • Flamenquines: This delicacy is a thin pork cutlet that’s filled with ham and cheese, then breaded, rolled, and deep fried.
  • Pork Cheeks: These slowly braised Spanish pork cheeks are one of the most delicious tapas in Andalusia. They’re super easy to make at home!

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Spanish pork skewers on a white plate with lemon wedges.

Pinchos Morunos (Spanish Pork Skewers)

These addictive Spanish pork skewers are called pincho morunos because of their fascinating history. The marinade is a delicious blend of spices and they make the perfect tapa!
4.84 from 18 votes
Print (images optional) Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Spanish
Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 417.42kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of pork tenderloin cleaned of excess fat/veins (1 kilo)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin approx. 7 grams
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander approx. 2.5 grams
  • 1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika approx. 7 grams
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric approx. 2.5 grams
  • 1 teaspoon oregano approx. 2.5 grams
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper approx. 1 gram
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon approx. .5 grams
  • 1 teaspoon salt approx. 2.5 grams
  • 5 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (60 ml)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon for marinade
  • Lemon wedges for serving

Instructions

  • Trim the pork loin of excess fat and then cut into 1.5 inch cubes and put into a large freezer bag
  • Mix all spices, olive oil and lemon juice in a bowl and then pour over the pork cubes
  • Seal the bag and toss the spice mixture with the pork, then marinate in the fridge overnight (or a minimum of 2 hours)
  • Remove the marinated pork cubes and place on metal skewers with a little bit of space between each cube
  • Grill on a high heat until browned on the outside but just cooked through (don’t overcook or they’ll be dry!)
  • Rest the skewers for five minutes and serve with lemon wedges

Notes

Ingredient Notes
  • Pork: If you’ve tried these (or simply think they look great) but prefer to make them without pork, go ahead! These work beautifully using chicken or lamb as well.
  • Spices: Here’s where it gets fun. There is no exact spice blend you must use for these. Adjust as you like — get creative. Try two versions and make half and half. The recipe below is delicious (and they’re my preferred proportions) but you can really make these your own!
To Store
You can store leftover pinchos in the fridge in an airtight container for up to three days. I recommend taking them off of the skewers if storing for more than 24h. You can also remove the meat from the skewer and freeze for up to three months.

Nutrition

Calories: 417.42kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.41g | Protein: 47.89g | Fat: 22.3g | Saturated Fat: 4.64g | Trans Fat: 0.08g | Cholesterol: 147.42mg | Sodium: 704.73mg | Potassium: 1022.59mg | Fiber: 1.78g | Sugar: 0.71g | Vitamin A: 898.54IU | Vitamin C: 9.22mg | Calcium: 56.46mg | Iron: 4.28mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @spanishsabores on IG and hashtag it #spanishsabores!

Update Notice: This post was originally published on January 30, 2015, and was republished with new text and photos on April 28, 2021.

This simple Spanish pork skewers recipe is a great addition to a summer barbecue or a Spanish-style tapas party. If you make extra ras el hanout spice blend, you can use it in other dishes too!

Have you tried pinchos morunos in Spain? Where?

Photography by Giulia Verdinelli

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    FINALLY, a Pinchito recipe that looks authentic! When stationed in Rota in the early 70’s we loved to go “tapa hoppin” and eat these skewers by the basket full along with a little glass of wine then move on to the next bar – you get the picture. After two hours of that, it was difficult to remember where we parked the car.

    Frequented Seville as well and many other little off the beaten path villages on the motorcycle. All the country people there were so friendly despite my slaughtering of the Spanish language.

    1. Same here. If we could not find the blue or green Seat we just kept Tapa Hoppin around Rota. Good times. ’80-’85.

  2. Hi I lived in the mountains of Andalucia for quite some time, and I was fortunate that my Spanish friends shared recipes with me. Their mix for pinchos was pretty simple. Cumin, tomilo (thyme) garlic, pimento dulce (sweet paprika), coriander, black pepper and salt. Strangely enough I am making them tonight for our evening meal, the component parts are marinating as I type. I am adding mushrooms, celery, courgette, tomato. Not strictly authentic, however it is not frowned upon. Makes a meal just by itself, but having squashed garlic and cheese potatoes and corn on the cob, I am now starving…lol

  3. 5 stars
    Awesome! It was worth shovelling out the BBQ and cooking in -15 degree weather. Took a double recipe to a potluck and it was the first dish to run out. Enjoyed by all.

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