Delicious Pernil Recipe | Easy-to-Follow Steps

What if I told you that there was a way to take a simple pork shoulder and transform it into a masterpiece of flavor and tenderness? Well, that’s exactly what Puerto Rican-style pernil or roast pork can do. This slow-roasted dish is not just any roast pork, it’s packed with garlicky succulent flavors that will leave your taste buds begging for more.

Originating from Puerto Rico, pernil is a dish that has been passed down from generation to generation- a true family favorite! Its preparation is traditionally done during the holidays or on special occasions, but I believe that this mouth-watering recipe should be enjoyed all year round.

I personally fell in love with this dish when I visited Puerto Rico myself. The slow-cooked, crispy skin and tender juicy meat left me wanting more, so I decided to bring this authentic Puerto Rican pernil recipe back home to share with others.

Don’t let the idea of cooking a whole pork shoulder intimidate you, because with my step-by-step instructions and tips for perfect results, you’ll be able to make this rican-style pork without breaking a sweat. Trust me; your friends and family will thank you for serving them such an outstanding dish. Get your apron on; we’re making pernil!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style
Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style

Have you ever tried pernil or roast pork, Puerto Rican style? If not, you are missing out on one of the most flavorful and succulent dishes you will ever taste. Trust me when I say that once you’ve tried this dish, you’ll be hooked for life.

This recipe is a traditional Puerto Rican dish that has been passed down through generations. The leg or shoulder of the pork is marinated in a garlicky and succulent blend of spices, and then slow roasted in the oven until it has crispy skin and tender juicy meat inside. The result is nothing short of heavenly.

One thing that sets this dish apart is the use of adobo seasoning, sazon goya con culantro y achiote, and garlic powder which gives it a unique combination of flavors. Add to that some margarine, black pepper, and olive oil, and you have a recipe for perfection.

When served alongside rice and beans salad with sweet plantains, this pernil recipe turns into an exquisite meal that will leave your taste buds tingling with pleasure. You can also serve it with crispy salads or grilled veggies to balance out the savory pork flavor.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try making this recipe yourself. It’s relatively easy to prepare and requires minimal effort. Whether it’s for your family dinner or a weekend party, trust me when I say everyone will love it. This Puerto Rican roast pork recipe is an absolute crowd-pleaser and I’m positive it’ll become a staple for all your family get-togethers.

Ingredient List

 The crispy skin of the Pernil is irresistible, just look at that golden-brown color!
The crispy skin of the Pernil is irresistible, just look at that golden-brown color!

Let’s dig into the list of ingredients needed for this delicious Puerto Rican-style Pernil or Roast Pork recipe:

  • A pork shoulder or leg weighing about 8-10 pounds
  • 12 cloves of garlic
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1.5 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons adobo seasoning
  • 1 packet Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote (coriander and annatto)
  • 1 tablespoon of margarine (optional)

Note that you can also use boneless pork shoulder or picnic roast but keep in mind that the cooking time may differ slightly from that of the bone-in version.

In the next section, I will walk you through each step to create this mouth-watering Puerto Rican dish.

The Recipe How-To

 A succulent layer of fat and tender meat that will melt in your mouth - this Pernil is a crowd-pleaser.
A succulent layer of fat and tender meat that will melt in your mouth – this Pernil is a crowd-pleaser.

Now that we have all of the ingredients, it’s time to dive headfirst into the recipe how-to. This Puerto Rican-style pernil requires a bit of patience, but trust me – it’ll be worth the wait.

Step 1: Prep the Pork

First things first, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Get your pork shoulder (between 8-10 lbs) and rinse it with cool water. Place it into a large roasting pan that’s deep enough to fit the shoulder comfortably. Pat it dry with paper towels so that you can achieve crispy skin.

Step 2: Seasoning Time

Now it’s time to get hands-on! In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon of black pepper, 1 tablespoon of garlic powder, 2 packets of Sazón Goya con Culantro y Achiote seasoning, and 1/4 cup of Adobo seasoning. Mix well and spread this seasoning blend all over the pork shoulder, making sure to get every nook and cranny.

Step 3: Adding More Flavor

Next, take 8 cloves of garlic and peel them. Then, use a sharp knife to make slits in the pork shoulder so you can insert garlic cloves all over. Top the roast off with about 1/4 cup of margarine and a drizzle of olive oil (about 1/2 cup). Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil.

Step 4: Into The Oven

Place the roasting pan into the oven and let it cook for about 30 minutes at the high temperature (450 degrees Fahrenheit). After 30 minutes has passed, reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and keep cooking for approximately 4 hours – or until your pernil is cooked through and through.

Step 5: Check The Pork

After 4 hours, check the pork. It should be tender, juicy and garlicky succulent. At this point, remove the foil and continue cooking your pernil for an additional 30-45 minutes to get that crispy skin you want.

Enjoy every bite of this slow-roasted deliciousness along with some Puerto Rican staples like rice and beans, salad and sweet plantains. Your dining experience is sure to be unforgettable with this recipe – take it from me, Chef [Name].

Substitutions and Variations

 The aroma of roasted garlic and citrus will fill your kitchen with warmth and deliciousness.
The aroma of roasted garlic and citrus will fill your kitchen with warmth and deliciousness.

As with any recipe, there are always options for substitutions and variations to personalize and customize the dish to your taste preferences. While this Puerto Rican style pernil recipe is already packed with flavor, there are a few tweaks you can make to put your own spin on it.

Firstly, if you prefer a spicier kick to your pernil, you can adjust the amount of black pepper and adobo seasoning used in the seasoning blend. Alternatively, you could add a few dashes of hot sauce or crushed red pepper flakes.

For those who may not have access to sazon goya con culantro y achiote seasoning or simply prefer not to use it, you can substitute with a mix of cumin and smoked paprika for a similar earthy flavor.

If you’re looking for a quicker cooking method than the slow roasted version provided, you can try using a pressure cooker or slow cooker instead. Just be sure to adjust cooking times accordingly based on the size of your pork shoulder.

If you don’t have margarine on hand, you can substitute with unsalted butter or even olive oil for added richness. And if you’re not a fan of crispy skin, you can skip brushing the pork shoulder with margarine towards the end of cooking time.

Lastly, when it comes to serving and pairing, while traditional sides include rice and beans salad and sweet plantains, feel free to mix it up with some different combinations such as roasted vegetables or cornbread. The possibilities are endless when it comes to personalizing this Puerto Rican pernil recipe.

Serving and Pairing

 A plate of Pernil with rice and beans is the perfect hearty meal to warm your soul.
A plate of Pernil with rice and beans is the perfect hearty meal to warm your soul.

Now that you have successfully roasted your pork pernil, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Puerto Rican style pork pernil pairs perfectly with a wide variety of sides, making it an extremely versatile dish.

One classic pairing is serving the pernil with rice and beans. The savory notes of the pork are beautifully complimented by the hearty and slightly sweet nature of the rice and beans. Not only does this combo satisfy your taste buds, but also keeps you full for longer due to the high protein content.

For those who prefer a fresher approach, serving your pernil with a colorful salad is a great option. Choose a light vinaigrette dressing to offset the boldness of the meat without overpowering its garlicky succulent flavor profile.

Sweet plantains also make a delicious accompaniment to pernil. The natural sweetness of the plantains creates a lovely contrast against the savory flavors of the meat, plus it adds another layer of texture to your meal.

Lastly, don’t forget about a refreshing drink to round out your meal. A cold glass of agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) or lemonade will nicely offset the richness of the pork and cleanse your palate between bites.

No matter which pairing option you choose, you can’t go wrong with this traditional Puerto Rican dish. So take a bite, savor all its tender juicy goodness and let it transport you to sunny Puerto Rico even if just for one meal.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The perfect balance of spices creates a flavor explosion - this is how Puerto Ricans do it!
The perfect balance of spices creates a flavor explosion – this is how Puerto Ricans do it!

Making Puerto Rican Pernil requires patience and slow roasting, but it can also be a great make-ahead dish. In fact, its flavor may even improve after refrigeration. If you’re planning to serve Pernil for an upcoming event or meal, here’s what you need to know about making ahead, storing and reheating.

To make ahead, complete the recipe up to step 5 (roasting in oven for at least 6 hours) and allow pernil to cool completely before shredding. This will help preserve the flavors and juices that are released during cooking. Store the cooked and shredded pork in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

When you are ready to reheat, gently warm the pernil over low heat in a covered saucepan with a splash of water, stirring occasionally until it reaches your desired temperature. The water will help rehydrate the meat and prevent it from drying out.

You can also opt to crisp up shredded pernil in a frying pan with some oil or margarine over medium-high heat until crispy, creating what is known as “carnitas” in Mexican cuisine. This will give your pernil a crispy edge!

Puerto Rican Pernil is a staple of many celebrations and feasts throughout Latin America, and leftovers are perfect for meals throughout the week! Try making stuffed plantain bowls with shredded pernil and avocado salsa or serve it over rice and beans for an easy meal that packs all the flavors of Puerto Rican cuisine.

Tips for Perfect Results

 The tenderness of the meat is the result of slow roasting for hours, a true labor
The tenderness of the meat is the result of slow roasting for hours, a true labor

Making the perfect Pernil Puerto Rican style recipe takes time and effort, but the result is worth it. Here are some tips to help you achieve the best flavors and textures for your slow roasted pork.

1. Marinate Your Pork Shoulder Beforehand

For a flavorful and juicy pernil, marinating your pork shoulder beforehand is essential. Combine ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, sazon goya con culantro y achiote, adobo seasoning, black pepper, and water to create a delicious marinade. Let your pork sit in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours so the flavors soak into the meat.

2. Use Margarine or Olive Oil

Rubbing margarine or olive oil on the surface of the pork before roasting will create a crispy skin on the outside while keeping it moist on the inside. This also helps with keeping any added seasoning from falling off during cooking.

3. Slow Roast for Tender Juicy Meat

Pernil Puerto Rican style is traditionally slow-roasted in the oven, making sure it’s tender on the inside but has a crispy outside. Cooking it at 325°F for about 5-6 hours ensures that your pork shoulder comes out perfectly tender and falls off the bone.

4. Baste Frequently

While roasting, make sure to baste frequently with its own juices to keep it moist and add more flavoring. To enhance its flavor further, you could start by soaking cheese cloth in red wine sauce, milk or rum to coat and then wrap around pernil midway through cooking.

5. Rest Your Meat Before Carving

Once your pernil is out of the oven by using a thermometer to monitor internal temperature let it rest for about twenty minutes before carving so that you do not end up losing too much juice from slicing too soon.

By following these steps carefully, you’ll surely have garlicky succulent pernil worthy of any family gathering, holiday, cooking competition or just a tasty dinner!


As with any recipe, there may be questions that come up while preparing your Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style. In this section, I’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions to help you simplify the process and achieve delicious results. So, let’s dive into these FAQs and get started!

What is Puerto Rican pig roast called?

Lechón is a mouth-watering Puerto Rican dish consisting of a whole pig roasted over an open flame or hot coals. The cooking process takes several hours to achieve the desired level of tenderness and juiciness while the skin is allowed to get crispy. It is a popular delicacy mostly found in rural areas, especially during the festive season.

What is Puerto Rican pernil made of?

Pernil is a succulent roasted pork shoulder dish that is bursting with flavor. It is typically served alongside rice and beans, salad, or sweet plantains for a complete and satisfying meal.

Is pork shoulder same as pernil?

In Puerto Rico, pernil or pernil asado is a famous dish made with pork shoulder. It involves marinating the meat in a tasty combination of herbs and spices before slow-roasting it. This delivers mouth-watering pernil with tender meat and a crispy, flavorful skin.

What is the difference between pernil and Lechon?

When it comes to cooking pork, there are two common methods that are often compared: pernil and lechon. The main distinction between these two methods is the type of meat used – pernil usually involves cuts of pork like shoulder, butt, or leg that are marinated and roasted in an oven. In contrast, lechon involves roasting a whole pig over coals.

Bottom Line

In summary, this recipe for Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style is one that everyone should try. The juicy and tender pork shoulder, seasoned to perfection with a blend of spices and cooked to crispy perfection, makes for a mouth-watering meal that will leave your guests asking for seconds.

The versatility of this dish makes it perfect for any occasion, be it a special family dinner or a fun-filled party with friends. This Puerto Rican delight can be served with rice and beans, sweet plantains, and a salad to complete the meal.

Furthermore, the simple ingredient list and easy-to-follow steps make this recipe accessible to both novice and experienced home chefs alike. So whether you’re looking to impress guests or simply craving some garlicky succulent pork, give this delicious Pernil roast pork recipe a try.

So next time you’re looking for a flavorful and exciting dish, look no further than Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style. Trust me – your taste buds won’t regret it!

Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style

Pernil or Roast Pork, Puerto Rican Style Recipe

This recipe was in a local magazine a few years ago. I just got around to making the other day and was amazed at how delicious and simple it was! I was in a rush to run errands the day that I made it so I put it in the crock pot on low for 8 or so hours and it was wonderful. Next time, I'll be following the directions!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 1 d
Cook Time 3 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Puerto Rican
Calories 607.8 kcal


  • 5 lbs bone-in pork shoulder or 5 lbs pork butt
  • 1/4 cup virgin olive oil
  • 2 (1/8 ounce) packets sazon goya con culantro y achiote
  • 2 tablespoons sofrito sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons margarine
  • 3 tablespoons adobo seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water


  • In a saucepan, simmer all ingredients, except the water, until mixed. Let cool.
  • The day before you cook, wash the pork.
  • Poke holes throughout the meat (you can do this by cutting small slits with a small, sharp knife); this allows you to place seasoning deeper into the meat and ensure proper cooking.
  • Place the pork in a shallow roasting pan, the pour the seasoning mixture over it.
  • Rub it into the pork with your fingers, forcing it into the slits.
  • Cover the pork with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. (I missed this step because of rushing and just poured the mixture over the roast after placing it in the crock pot).
  • Add the water to the pan and roast the pork in a 350F oven, basting from time to time with pan juices, until tender, about 3 or so hours (or until the meat has reached the internal temperature of 160).
  • Allow pork to sit 10 minutes before slicing.
  • Serve hot, warm or cold - it's delicious!

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 248gCalories: 607.8kcalCarbohydrates: 1.1gProtein: 39.2gFat: 48.5gSaturated Fat: 15.3gCholesterol: 161mgSodium: 174.8mgFiber: 0.2gSugar: 0.2g
Keyword Caribbean, Easy, Meat, Pork
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Recommended Recipes Just For You

None found



Dora is a chef well-versed in Brazilian and American cuisine. After a hard day's work in the kitchen of her restaurant, she finds the time to jot down recipes for her food blog. Her recipes are sure to delight foodies everywhere, as she strives to make each one unique and enjoyable to read.