CourseHolidayLatinMain DishPuerto RicanUncategorized

Puerto Rican Pernil

This Puerto Rican Pernil recipe is easy to make, deliciously flavored with a garlic, oregano and adobo marinade and slow cooks for fall apart tenderness with a crispy skin on top.

This Puerto Rican recipe makes a pork roast is perfect for family gatherings or dinner parties. Try serving this with the traditional rice with pigeon peas, Saucy Puerto Rican Beans and Potatoes, or Bacon and Brown Sugar Arkansas Green Beans or Pasta with Beets, Sweet Potato and Goat Cheese.

Pernil on a platter. This Puerto Rican Pernil recipe is easy to make, deliciously flavored with a garlic, oregano and adobo marinade and slow cooks for fall apart tenderness with a crispy skin on top.

What is Pernil?

If you have never heard of Pernil you might be wondering, “What is Pernil?”

Pernil (also known as pernil asado and pernil al horno) is a slow-roasted marinated pork shoulder or pork picnic. In Latin American countries the dish is commonly shared during Christmas dinner, typically accompanied by rice with pigeon peas (also called arroz con gandules).

The pork shoulder is used as a whole piece, with skin and bone. It is marinated the day before roasting. This Puerto Rican Pernil is marinated with garlic, salt, oregano, adobo and olive oil. This marinade is placed deeply within the meat through small cuts. After marination the meat is slow roasted in the oven covered, and, in the final phase, at a higher temperature with the cover off to get the skin crisp.

When finished, this slow roasted pork shoulder is so tender that the meat easily falls apart, and the crisp skin (cuero) can be eaten with the Pernil or served separately as cueritos (or skin chips). As Puerto Rican recipes go, this is a famous one you will love!

Recipe Pernil on a white platter and on a plate served with rice and pigeon peas.

Okay, so just think about this as the most tender and delicious pulled pork you have ever had!

And, Bonus, the left over meat from a Pernil can be used to make a superb Cuban sandwich.

How to Make Puerto Rican Pernil

Making Pernil is easier that you may think, it just takes some time to marinate and time to cook slowly in the oven.

First, assemble the ingredients and for this easy roast pork recipe, there are only a few. Please note that the actual amounts can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

The ingredients to make Puerto Rican Pernil. Pork Roast, olive oil, oregano, garlic, salt and adobo seasoning.

Turn the pork roast so that the larger part of skin is down. If you have a picnic roast, then the skin will wrap all the way around the roast, so carefully, use kitchen scissors to cut across the skin. Next, for either a shoulder or picnic roast, use a knife to remove the skin and layer of fat from the roast. Again, if you have a picnic roast, then after doing one side, turn the roast over and completely remove the skin with the fat from the roast. Once the skin is removed, set it aside.

Making Pork Pernil. Cutting the skin and fat off of the Pernil pork roast with a large knife on a cutting board.
Tenderize the roast by using a small, long kitchen knife to make lots of finger sized slits in the roast. When you have done this on one side, turn the roast over and do the other side. When you are finished, you should be able to stick your fingers all the way down into each hole.

Tenderizing the Pernil roast using a small knive to cut slits in the pork roast.
Now, lay the skin on a cutting board with the skin side up and the fat side down and using a sharp knife cut parallel lines through the skin, but not through the fat. Make the cuts 1 inch apart. Then, turn the skin a quarter turn and cut the lines again, so that you now have 1 inch squares across the skin.

Making slits on the top of the skin from the Pernil pork roast. Slits are one inch square and go through the skin into the fat.
Make the spice rub, by pureeing the garlic, oregano, salt, adobo and olive oil in a food processor.

Make the Puerto Rican Pernil spice rub, by pureeing the garlic, oregano, salt, adobo and olive oil in a food processor.

How to Marinate Puerto Rican Pernil

Place the roast in a roasting pan and rub the spice mix all over the roast and deep down into the holes, then turn the roast over and rub the spice mix over the other side and deep down into the holes on that side.

Pernil roast in a baking pan with the spice mix rubbed all over the roast and deep down into the holes.

Finally, place the skin on top of the roast with the skin side up and rub the rest of the spice mix all over the skin and into the cuts made into the skin.

Pernil roast in baking pan with the skin placed on top of the roast with the skin side up and the spice mix rubbed all over the skin and into the cuts made into the skin.
Cover the roast with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. You should marinate this for at least 2 hours, but we like to marinate it overnight. If you want to marinate it for 2 or 3 days, that will work as well, if that helps you make it in advance.

After the Pernil has marinated, remove it from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.

How to Cook Pernil

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add 1 inch of water into the baking pan of the Pernil to keep the drippings from burning, to keep the Pernil moist and to make a nice gravy with the drippings.

Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and seal the edges well so that the steam cannot escape.

Bake the Pernil covered for 2 hours.

After two hours remove the Pernil from the oven and lift the foil to check the water level, being careful to not burn yourself. If there is less than a half inch of water, then add more water to make sure there is at least a half of inch of water. If you are cooking the medium or large pernil, then reseal the foil and cook covered for the remaining amount of time.

After you have cooked the Pernil covered for the amount of time required, then remove the Pernil from the oven, remove the foil covering and sprinkle a little bit of Adobo seasoning onto the skin to help it crisp up.

Cooked Pernil Puerto Rican in the baking dish before the final cooking uncovered.
Put your Pernil in the oven, uncovered at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes check to see if the skin is crispy and done by tapping it with a butter knife. If it is flexible, then cook for another 15 minutes and then check again. Repeat until the skin is crispy.

Remove the Pernil from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Move the Pernil to a serving platter, put some of the gravy in a gravy boat.

Serve hot or warm and enjoy!

Puerto Rican Pernil roast on a white serving platter with rice with pigeon peas in a bowl on the side.

Tips for a Perfect Puerto Rican Pernil

What cut of meat? This is a toss up. If you like the crisp skin, then get the picnic cut where the skin covers around the roast for more crispy skin. If you like less crispy skin, then use a boneless roast because it is easier to pull apart the pork after cooking.

Excess fat? Fat is great for adding flavor to your roast and the resulting gravy, but if your roast is really fatty you can go ahead and remove any excess fat.

Crispy skin: Crisp up the skin to your liking. Some like it golden brown, others like a dark color. Tap on the skin with a butter knife and you will be able to easily tell when it is crispy.

Tender: The trick to keeping this roast tender is to avoid overcooking it when the cover is off. As soon as the skin is crisp, it’s time to come out of the oven.

Let it rest. As with any large piece of meat you want to let it rest before cutting it so all the juices don’t run out. Resting keeps your meat nice and moist and helps prevent it from drying out.

Carving: Carving is not needed with this Pernil roast. Just use a couple of forks and pull apart the meat.

Looking for Puerto Rican pernil recipes? This Puerto Rican Pernil recipe served on a white serving dish with rice on the side and a plate served with the Pernil and the rice.

Storing and Using Leftovers

Keep leftovers STORED in the fridge for 3-5 days in an airtight container. You can also FREEZE it in an airtight container up to 3 months. Make sure you write the date you froze it on it.

REHEAT leftovers in the microwave until warmed through. If you are trying to cook the pork straight from frozen, you need to let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then bake it the next day.

What to use leftovers for? You can put the leftover meat in burritos, tacos, casseroles, or even sandwiches – like a Cuban sandwich mentioned above.

Here’s the Recipe!

This Puerto Rican Pernil recipe is easy to make, deliciously flavored with a garlic, oregano and adobo marinade and slow cooks for fall apart tenderness with a crispy skin on top.

Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe

This Puerto Rican Pernil recipe is easy to make, deliciously flavored with a garlic, oregano and adobo marinade and slow cooks for fall apart tenderness with a crispy skin on top.
4.8 from 8 votes
Pin Rate Save
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Latin
Prep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 4 hrs
Additional Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 5 hrs
Servings: 2 Servings Per Pound
Calories: 241kcal
Author: The Wanderlust Kitchen
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound pork shoulder
For every 1 pound of your pork roast, use:
  • 1 ½ garlic cloves - fresh
  • 1 ½ teaspoons oregano - fresh
  • ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoons powdered adobo seasoning
  • 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

Instructions

Cook Times:
  • Large Pernil (9-12 lbs.): Cook covered for 4 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit; then cook uncovered for 1 hour at 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection turned on if your oven is a convection oven.
  • Medium Pernil (6-8 lbs.): Cook covered for 3 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit; then cook uncovered for 1 hour at 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection turned on if your oven is a convection oven.
  • Small Pernil (4-5 lbs.): Cook covered for 2 hours at 350 degrees Fahrenheit; then cook for 1 hour at 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the convection turned on if your oven is a convection oven.
Instructions:
  • Turn the pork roast so that the larger part of skin is down. If you have a picnic roast, then the skin will wrap all the way around the roast, so carefully, use kitchen scissors to cut across the skin. Next for either a shoulder or picnic roast, use a knife to remove the skin and layer of fat from the roast. Again, if you have a picnic roast, then after doing one side, turn the roast over and completely remove the skin with the fat from the roast. Once the skin is removed, set it aside.
  • Tenderize the roast by using a small, long kitchen knife to make lots of finger sized slits in the roast. When you have done this on one side, turn the roast over and do the other side. When you are finished, you should be able to stick your fingers all the way down into each hole.
  • Now, lay the skin on a cutting board with the skin side up and the fat side down and using a sharp knife cut parallel lines through the skin, but not through the fat. Make the cuts 1 inch apart. Then, turn the skin a quarter turn and cut the lines again, so that you now have 1 inch squares across the skin.
  • Make the spice rub, by pureeing the garlic, oregano, salt, adobo and olive oil in a food processor.
  • Place the roast in a roasting pan and rub the spice mix all over the roast and deep down into the holes, then turn the roast over and rub the spice mix over the other side and deep down into the holes on that side. Finally, place the skin on top of the roast with the skin side up and rub the rest of the spice mix all over the skin and into the cuts made into the skin.
  • Cover the roast with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight. You should marinate this for at least 2 hours, but we like to marinate it overnight. If you want to marinate it for 2 or 3 days, that will work as well, if that helps you make it in advance.
  • After the Pernil has marinated, remove it from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap.
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add 1 inch of water into the baking pan of the Pernil to keep the drippings from burning, to keep the Pernil moist and to make a nice gravy with the drippings.
  • Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil and seal the edges well so that the steam cannot escape.
  • Bake the Pernil covered for 2 hours.
  • After two hours remove the Pernil from the oven and lift the foil to check the water level, being careful to not burn yourself. If there is less than a half inch of water, then add more water to make sure there is at least a half of inch of water. If you are cooking the medium or large pernil, then reseal the foil and cook covered for the remaining amount of time.
  • After you have cooked the Pernil covered for the amount of time required, then remove the Pernil from the oven, remove the foil covering and sprinkle a little bit of Adobo seasoning onto the skin to help it crisp up.
  • Put your Pernil in the oven, uncovered at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.
  • After 45 minutes check to see if the skin is crispy and done by tapping it with a butter knife. If it is flexible, then cook for another 15 minutes and then check again. Repeat until the skin is crispy.
  • Remove the Pernil from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes.
  • Move the Pernil to a serving platter, put some of the gravy in a gravy boat.
  • Serve hot or warm and enjoy!

VIDEO

Nutrition Facts
Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe
Serving Size
 
1 serving
Amount per Serving
Calories
241
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
13
g
20
%
Saturated Fat
 
4
g
25
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
1
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
7
g
Cholesterol
 
93
mg
31
%
Sodium
 
397
mg
17
%
Potassium
 
509
mg
15
%
Carbohydrates
 
2
g
1
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
27
g
54
%
Vitamin A
 
34
IU
1
%
Vitamin C
 
2
mg
2
%
Calcium
 
48
mg
5
%
Iron
 
2
mg
11
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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About the Author

Linda

Hi, I'm Linda! Welcome to The Wanderlust Kitchen, where I share recipes and travel adventures from all around the world. Here you'll find a world of recipes you can have confidence in. These recipes celebrate authentic food heritage as well as modern techniques and ingredients. Be adventurous and try a new recipe and travel somewhere you have never been before.  Bon Appétit! Bon Voyage!  

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