Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (2024)

Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (1) Jorge

4.6 from 55 votes

28 comments

Prep Time 15 minutes mins

Cook Time 4 hours hrs

Additional Time 30 minutes mins

Total Time 4 hours hrs 45 minutes mins

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This authentic pernil recipe creates a juicy, fall-apart-tender pork shoulder with irresistible crispy pork skin on top. Serve it the Puerto Rican way with arroz con gandules and watch how quickly it disappears!

Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (2)

Table of Contents

  • Why You Will Love This Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe
  • What Is Pernil?
  • Ingredients Needed For Puerto Rican Pernil
  • How To Make Pernil
  • Tips and Variations
  • What To Serve With Arroz Con Gandules y Pernil
  • Storage Options
  • More Must Try Latin Recipes
  • Get the Recipe

    Why You Will Love This Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe

    When I think of Pernil, one word comes to mind – mouthwatering. Trust me, this is a dish that will impress everyone at the table! Here’s why you will love this recipe:

    • Authentic: Seasoned with garlic, sazon, fresh citrus and herbs, this is how my Abuela taught me to make pernil. With a crispy cuerito (crispy pig skin) and juicy roasted pork that is fall apart tender, you’ll be craving this dish year round!
    • Festive: Seeing a roasted pernil placed onto the holiday table is a sign of love. Just like a Thanksgiving turkey, it takes a lot of prep, but it’s well worth the effort!
    • Flavorful: You will never find a more tender, juicy and perfectly flavored pernil than this recipe. Trust me, this is a dish that will impress everyone at the table!

    If you love roasted pork with Latin flavors, be sure to also try our recipe for lechon asado.

    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (3)

    What Is Pernil?

    Pernil is a slow cooked roasted pork shoulder (or leg), with crispy skin on top, that is so tender you don’t even need a knife. The pork is marinated overnight and then slow roasted as a whole piece, with the skin (fat) and the bone still intact. Puerto rican pernil is served shredded, not sliced, with arroz con gandules for special occasions.

    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (4)

    Ingredients Needed For Puerto Rican Pernil

    You’ll need the following ingredients to make this flavor packed, fall apart tender Pernil. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.

    • Pork Shoulder: I like to use a pork shoulder, but you can also use a pork leg roast or a pork butt.
    • Garlic Cloves: You want to use lots of fresh, peeled garlic cloves.
    • Oil: We used vegetable oil growing up, but you can also use olive oil.
    • Green Bell Pepper: Remove the seeds and stem.
    • Onion: A white onion is traditional, but a yellow onion will also work.
    • Fresh Oregano: You can substitute 2 tablespoons dried oregano, but fresh is best. While not traditional, cilantro is also delicious for a different flavor.
    • Seasonings: Salt, black pepper, cumin, adobo, and store bought sazon con azafrán or homemade sazon seasoning.
    • Chicken Broth: I use reduced salt chicken broth because there is a lot of salt in the seasonings.
    • Orange or Lime Wedges: Optional, for serving. You can also choose to add sour orange juice to the marinade.
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (5)

    How To Make Pernil

    I know it’s looks like a lot of steps, but most of the time the pork will be marinating or in the oven! Below is a quick rundown of all the steps for this Puerto Rican pork. For the full detailed directions scroll to the recipe card below.

    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (6)
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (7)
    • Marinade: Combine garlic cloves, bell pepper, and cilantro in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the seasonings and process one more time.
    • Garlic: Cut the fat cap from the back of the roast, still keeping it intact and attached to the meat. Fold it over so you can access the meat under it. Cut deep holes into the roast and stuff whole garlic cloves into the roast. This will give it epic flavor!
    • Prep: Spoon a third of the marinade over the back of the pork. Flip and cover the top in another third of the marinade. Lay the fat cap back over the top and make deep slices to form a checkered pattern. Spread remaining marinade over the fat cap.
    • Marinate: Cover the meat with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours, flipping it every so often. Do not skip this step! It’s incredibly important to ensure you get the absolute best, full flavored pernil!
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (8)
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (9)
    • Roast: Add pork to a roasting pan skin side up and add broth until there’s about 2 inches in bottom of the pan. Replace the foil and roast in the oven at 350°F for 3.5 to 4 hours. Rotate the pan every hour to ensure even cooking.
    • Crisp: Remove the foil and turn the heat up to 400°F. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes, until the skin gets crispy on top. The internal temperature should be at least 180°F or higher.
    • Knock Knock: The fun and traditional way to test of if the cuerito (crispy pig skin) is ready is by knocking on it. If it sounds like somebody is knocking at a little door, you know it’s ready!
    • Rest: Before shredding, allow the meat to rest for 15 minutes minimum, or up to 30 minutes for best results. This is an important step to ensure the meat is tender and juicy.
    • Shred: Shred the meat on a cutting board and pour some of the juice from the pan and the fresh orange or lime juices over the meat, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (10)

    Tips and Variations

    Here are a few tips and different variations to ensure your pernil turns out perfect:

    • Pork With Fat: No matter what pork cut you choose, make sure it is bone-in, with a good amount of fat and the skin still attached. Some grocery stores in the US may call the pork shoulder a “Picnic Pork Roast” on the label, so keep that in mind.
    • Plan Ahead: Make sure you plan ahead to allow plenty of time to make your pernil. If you try to rush the marinating time or cooking time, it won’t be half as good. This pernil will take about 5 hours of cooking time including cooling time after cooking.
    • Marinate: It is SO very important to marinate the pork for the full amount of time. It is best if you can leave it marinading for a couple of days, but need at least 12 hours at minimum.
    • Garlic: Hiding whole garlic cloves inside the pork is a traditional step that is a huge key to giving your pernil ALL THE FLAVOR. Don’t skimp or skip the garlic, you will regret it.
    • Sofrito: Some Puerto Ricans use sofrito to marinade their pork. If you want to use sofrito, skip the onion and bell pepper and use 1/2 cup sofrito instead.
    • Sour Orange: Want to add naranja agria, sour or bitter orange juice, to your pork marinade? Add 1/3 cup to your marinade. Fresh is best, but bottled works in a pinch.
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (11)

    What To Serve With Arroz Con Gandules y Pernil

    Of course we serve this Puerto Rican pernil recipe with arroz con gandules for the perfect Christmas dinner. Here are a few more Puerto Rican recipes to try:

    • Rice And Beans: If you prefer white rice, arroz blanco and beans is always great with juicy pork.
    • Plantains: Both tostones (savory fried plantains) and maduros (sweet plantains) are often served with pernil.
    • Pasta Salad: Ensalada de doditos is a pasta salad served for the holidays or any large gathering. Made with hard boiled eggs and sometimes with ham (ensalada de coditos con jamon) it’s a great hearty side dish.
    • Coquito: No Puerto Rican party is every complete without coquito.
    • Dessert: No dinner is complete without dessert. Here are some of our favorites: arroz con leche, easy tres leche cake, tembleque and queso flan.
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (12)
    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (13)

    Storage Options

    For a delicious breakfast the next day, serve leftovers in a mallorca with cheese!

    • Fridge: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.
    • Freeze: Freeze cooled, shredded pork in freezer safe airtight storage bags for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
    • Reheat: Add meat and a couple of tablespoons of water to a bowl and cover with a wet paper towel. Heat in the microwave in 30 second bursts until warmed through. Or add meat to a large non-stick skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water over low-medium heat.

    More Must Try Latin Recipes

    Lechon Asado

    Chuleta Frita

    Roscón de Reyes

    Arroz con Pollo (Mexican Chicken and Rice)

    • Flan
    • Cuban Black Beans
    • Churrasco Steak with Mojo Marinade
    • Birria Tacos
    • Dulce de Leche Cake
    • Instant Pot Cochinita Pibil

    Yield: 12 to 15 servings

    Pernil Recipe

    Pernil is a marinated, slow roasted pork shoulder or leg with crispy pork skin and tender, flavorful pork underneath. It is most popular in Latin American countries around Christmas, but is delicious all year!

    Prep Time15 minutes minutes

    Cook Time4 hours hours

    Additional Time30 minutes minutes

    Total Time4 hours hours 45 minutes minutes

    Ingredients

    • 15 peeled garlic cloves, divided
    • 3 tablespoons oil
    • 1 green bell pepper, with the seeds removed and roughly chopped
    • 1 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 1 cup fresh oregano, with large stems removed
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 packet sazon, or homemade sazon seasoning
    • 1 teaspoon adobo powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
    • 8 to 10 pound pork shoulder roast, or leg roast with fat cap, cleaned and damp dry
    • 3 to 4 cups chicken broth
    • orange or lime wedges, for serving

    Instructions

    • Add 5 cloves of garlic, oil, bell pepper, onion, cilantro, salt, sazon, adobo powder, black pepper and cumin to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

    • Cut the fat cap from the back of the roast, but keep it intact and on the roast. Just fold it over so you can access the meat underneath.

    • Cut deep holes into the roast, so that you can fit your finger into each hole. Flip the roast over and cut deep holes into the back as well.

    • Stuff the remaining garlic cloves into the holes in the back of the roast. Then spoon a 3rd of the marinade over the back of roast and push the marinade into all of the holes as well.

    • Flip the roast over and cover the top in another 3rd of the marinade, again pushing the marinade into the holes of the roast.

    • Lay the fat cap back over the roast and make 4-5 deep, long, evenly spaced slices along the top of the fat, without cutting all of the way through. Then, make 4-5 more perpendicular slices to the first slices to form a checker pattern on top.

    • Pour the remaining marinade over the fat cap and rub it generously into the slices of the fat cap so that every crevice is covered in the marinade.

    • Marinate: Cover the pork with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 24-48 hours, flipping every 3-5 hours. This step is important to ensure you get the best flavor!

    • When the roast is ready, preheat the oven to 350°F and remove the pan from the fridge.

    • Lift up the aluminum foil and pour in the chicken broth or water until there is about 2 inches of liquid in the bottom of your pan.

    • Replace the foil and place the roast in the oven for 3 ½ – 4 hours, rotating the pan every hour to ensure even cooking.

    • Remove the aluminum foil from the pan and turn the oven heat up to 400°F. Continue roasting the pork for another 30 minutes or until the skin gets crispy on top. The internal temperature on an instant read meat thermometer should be at least 180°F or higher.

    • Remove the roast from the oven and let it cool for 20-30 minutes before carving and shredding. The pork will be super crisp on the outside and tender underneath from the layer of fat.

    • Once the meat has been shredded, pour some of the juice from the pan and the fresh orange juice and lime juice over the meat and stir to combine.

    Video

    Notes

    Storage: Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.

    Freeze: Freeze cooled, shredded pork in freezer safe airtight storage bags for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

    Reheat: Add meat and a couple of tablespoons of water to a bowl and cover with a wet paper towel. Heat in the microwave in 30 second bursts until warmed through. Or add meat to a large non-stick skillet with 1 to 2 tablespoons of water over low-medium heat.

    Pork With Fat: No matter what pork cut you choose, make sure it is bone-in, with a good amount of fat and the skin still attached. Some grocery stores in the US may call the pork shoulder a “Picnic Pork Roast” on the label, so keep that in mind.

    Plan Ahead: Make sure you plan ahead to allow plenty of time to make your pernil. If you try to rush the marinating time or cooking time, it won’t be half as good. This pernil will take about 5 hours of cooking time including cooling time after cooking.

    Marinate: It is SO very important to marinate the pork for the full amount of time. It is best if you can leave it marinading for a couple of days, but need at least 12 hours at minimum.

    Garlic: Hiding whole garlic cloves inside the pork is a traditional step that is a huge key to giving your pernil ALL THE FLAVOR. Don’t skimp or skip the garlic, you will regret it.

    Sofrito: Some Puerto Ricans use sofrito to marinade their pork. If you want to use sofrito, skip the onion and bell pepper and use 1/2 cup sofrito instead.

    Sour Orange: Want to add naranja agria, sour or bitter orange juice, to your pork marinade? Add 1/3 cup to your marinade. Fresh is best, but bottled works in a pinch.

    Nutrition

    Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 294kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 37g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 5g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 125mg, Sodium: 785mg, Potassium: 727mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 119IU, Vitamin C: 10mg, Calcium: 97mg, Iron: 4mg

    © Jorge

    Cuisine: Puerto Rican

    Category: Pork

    Categories:

    • Christmas
    • Cuisines
    • Diet
    • Dinner Ideas
    • Family Recipes
    • Gluten Free
    • Holidays
    • Low Carb
    • Main Dishes
    • Pork
    • Puerto Rican
    • Recipes
    • Thanksgiving
    • Videos

    Post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

    Related Posts

    • Coquito Recipe (Puerto Rican Coconut Eggnog)

    • Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja

    • Platanos Maduros (Fried Sweet Plantains)

    • Pumpkin Flan

    Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe | Tender and Juicy Roasted Pork Shoulder! (2024)

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