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Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe

The 1 and Only Pernil Recipe You'll Ever Need

The following post was originally featured on Analida's Ethnic Spoon and written by Analida Braeger, who is part of POPSUGAR Select Latina.

Pernil (per neel) is a typical Puerto Rican dish consisting of a pork roast/shoulder that has been marinated overnight and slow roasted at 300°F. The result is a flavorful and tender meat that will fill your house with a delicious aroma, and your belly with a whole lot of "piggy goodness."

This recipe I am sharing with you came from my friend Eimy who is Puerto Rican. I first tried this dish at her house, many years ago, and instantly fell in love with it. You could say that pernil is the Puerto Rican version of America's pulled pork minus the barbecue sauce. In my humble opinion, it is better, much better!!! I have made one small adaptation from her recipe, since I prefer to use my homemade sofrito instead of the store-bought Goya brand.

Pernil is a common and expected sight at the Christmas table in Puerto Rico and in other Latin American countries also. I remember Christmas dinner at relatives' houses where pernil was always on the menu. The one I remember most fondly was pernil with a crispy skin. Perhaps not the best dietary choice, but during Christmas, who is being good?

As with most recipes, we tend to gravitate to the version we were first introduced to. I am guilty of that with my, or rather my friend's pernil recipe. Lately, however, I have been talking to some Hispanic friends and they do not use the Goya sazon, but a mixture of dry spices such as cumin, oregano, cilantro, and paprika. I will most definitely have to try this before I share with you.

Pernil is very versatile. You can definitely serve it as a main course with the typical sides of rice and beans and tostones (fried plantains), or you can make great tacos, or a fantastic sandwich on a nice Kaiser roll. Either way you choose to eat it, you will not be disappointed. Slow roasted pork, how can you go wrong?

Puerto Rican Pernil

From Analida's Ethnic Spoon

Puerto Rican Pernil Recipe


  1. 1 8-pound pork shoulder
    8 to 10 garlic cloves, cut in half
    6 tablespoons sofrito
    3 packets of Goya Sazón with culantro and achiote (You can substitute this with 3 tablespoons of a mixture of equal parts sea salt, black pepper, coriander, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, and oregano)
    1/4 cup adobo seasoning


  1. Stab the pork shoulder in various places and insert the garlic pieces. Rub the sofrito all around the pork shoulder. Combine the adobo and sazón and use as a dry rub and coat pork shoulder.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and set in your refrigerator overnight.
  3. Preheat your oven to 300°F. Remove plastic from pork shoulder and place in a roaster pan.
  4. Cook covered for about 3 hours. Remove from oven, flip, and cover once more.
  5. Continue to cook another 2 hours, or until fork tender. It should fall apart.
  6. Remove from oven and place half the shoulder on a large cutting board. Discard the layer of fat.
  7. Start chopping the meat with a sharp knife and place chopped pieces in a large bowl.
  8. Take remaining juices from the cooking process and place in a container in the refrigerator to allow the fat to rise to the top and solidify. Remove solid fat and discard. If you have a gravy and fat separator, those work very well. Mix the juice with your chopped meat.
  9. Portion off into individual containers and freeze.
Image Source: Analida Braeger
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