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26 October 2020

This Puerto Rican pernil recipe is a holiday favorite with seasoned pork shoulder or leg cooked low and slow until perfectly tender. It’s absolutely delicious.

We’re cooking up some pork shoulder today, my friends. Only this time, we’re taking a trip to Puerto Rico and cooking up our pork Puerto Rican style with a dish I think you are going to love.

The recipe is called Pernil, and it just may become one of your new favorites.

What is Pernil?

Pernil is a popular Latin American recipe of slow roasted pork that has been marinated for full flavor. It is usually made with pork shoulder or pork leg, though other cuts of pork can be used. It is commonly served for Christmas dinner and at the holidays, rather than the traditional turkey or ham of other countries, and is usually served with arroz con gandules, or rice with pigeon peas.

Sliced pernil (roasted pork shoulder), ready for serving

It is also popularly served in the famous Cuban sandwich. You may know it by other names, such as Pernil Asado or Pernil al Horno. 

It’s absolutely delicious, especially to lovers of tender cuts of pork that are juicy and deeply satisfying. You’ll find pernil in countries like Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. This is a Puerto Rican version.

Let’s talk about how we make Puerto Rican pernil, shall we?

Thick slices of pernil (roasted pork shoulder) on a platter

Pernil Ingredients

  • FOR THE MARINADE
  • Sofrito. Use 3 tablespoons sofrito – Use my homemade sofrito recipe
  • Seasonings. Use 2 tablespoons dried oregano, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon cumin and salt and black pepper to taste. Alternatively, you can use 3-4 tablespoons adobo seasoning.
  • Oil. ½ cup olive oil
  • FOR THE PERNIL (Roast Pork)
  • Pork. Use 4-6 pound pork shoulder (bone-in, skin on – Or you can use boneless – see recipe notes). This recipe can also be made with pork leg or ham.
  • Garlic. Use 4 cloves garlic for studding the pork.
  • Optional. ¼ cup achiote oil.

How to Make Pernil – the Recipe Method

Make the Marinade. Combine the sofrito, oregano, garlic powder, coriander, onion powder, cumin and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil and mix well. Set aside for now. You can also use a food processor to blend everything.

Sofrito Recipe

Prepare the Pernil (Roast Pork Shoulder). Cut various slits into the pork and stuff the garlic slices into them. I like to make long slices along every side, making this part easier.

Rub down the pork shoulder with the prepared marinade. Get it under the skin (if using skin on) and into the slices. Rub it down nicely. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Refrigerate overnight is best for more flavor penetration.

Pork shoulder studded with garlic, ready for roasting

Roasting the Pernil. Heat oven to 275 degrees F. Transfer the pork shoulder to a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Reserve any leftover marinade.

Bake the pork shoulder for 2 hours. If using skin on, the skin will start to crisp up for crispy skin.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Brush the pork shoulder (pernil) with the reserved marinade and optional achiote oil (if using).

Bake for 1 hour or longer, until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 185 degrees F when measured with a meat thermometer. If cooking with skin-on, the skin should be nice and crispy.

Pernil, or baked pork shoulder, on a cutting board

Rest the Pork. Remove from heat and rest 15 minutes to 30 minutes. I usually rest it for 20 minutes.

Carve and Serve. Carve up the pernil into slices with a sharp knife for serving.

Pernil on a platter, sliced and ready to serve

Boom! Done! Easy enough to make, isn’t it? There is a bit of prep work, but the majority of your time spent will be waiting while the pork shoulder roasts in the oven.

I love this recipe! SO delicious and tender.

Thick slices of pernil (roasted pork shoulder)

Recipe Tips & Notes

  • Skin On or Skinless Pork? Skin on pork is more traditionally used to make pernil, as the crispy skin is prized, but it is often made with skinless pork. The choice is yours.
  • Adobo Seasoning. Adobo seasoning is a common seasoning blend in Latin American countries. It’s a mix of garlic, cumin, onion, salt and pepper and other possible ingredients. Use it instead of the seasonings called for in the recipe.
  • Other Ingredients. You can use other ingredients for your roast pork marinade. Orange juice is a popular addition, as is lemon juice and other herbs and seasonings.

That’s it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Puerto Rican-style pernil recipe. Let me know if you make it. I’d love to hear how it turned out for you. Keep it spicy!

A slice of pernil (roasted pork shoulder) on a fork, ready to serve

Cookbook Recommendations

I’ve been learning a lot about Puerto Rican cooking from several different cookbooks. Here are links to 2 Puerto Rican cookbooks I highly recommend. They are great. These are affiliate links, my friends!

Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes

Sliced pernil on a fork, ready to serve

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

Pernil Recipe
Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Pernil Recipe (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)

This Puerto Rican pernil recipe is a holiday favorite with seasoned pork shoulder or leg cooked low and slow until perfectly tender. It's so easy to make and HUGE on flavor.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Puerto Rican
Keyword: Christmas, holiday, pork, pork shoulder, roast, spicy
Servings: 6
Calories: 448kcal

Ingredients

FOR THE MARINADE

  • 3 tablespoons sofrito
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup olive oil

FOR THE PERNIL (Roast Pork)

  • 4-6 pound pork shoulder bone-in, skin on – Or you can use boneless – see recipe notes
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • ¼ cup achiote oil optional

Instructions

PREPARE THE MARINADE

  • Combine the sofrito, oregano, garlic powder, coriander, onion powder, cumin and salt and pepper in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil and mix well. Set aside for now.

FOR THE PERNIL

  • Cut various slits into the pork and stuff the garlic slices into them. I like to make long slices along every side, making this part easier.
  • Rub down the pork shoulder with the prepared marinade. Get it under the skin (if using skin on) and into the slices. Rub it down nicely. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Overnight is better for more flavor penetration.
  • Heat oven to 275 degrees F.
  • Transfer the pork shoulder to a baking dish or Dutch oven. Reserve any leftover marinade.
  • Bake the pork shoulder for 2 hours. If using skin on, the skin will start to crisp up.
  • Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Brush the pork shoulder (pernil) with the reserved marinade and optional achiote oil (if using).
  • Bake for 1 hour or longer, until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 185 degrees F when measured with a meat thermometer. If cooking with skin-on, the skin should be nice and crispy.
  • Remove from heat and rest 20 minutes.
  • Carve and serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 448kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 124mg | Sodium: 143mg | Potassium: 687mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 39IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg
Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)
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