My Recipes: Everything on moderation is ok!

Recipe: Pernil or Roast Pork Puerto Rican Style


Last Updated July 4, 2016

In Puerto Rico we say that “el amor entra por la cocina” or “love comes in through the kitchen” as a way to say that the girlfriend cooked her way into her man’s heart. My husband grew up in a butcher family so he was raised as a meat lover. Thanks suegra, that made it easy for me! 馃槈

If you ask me, what’s a traditional Christmas meal, puerto rican pernil or roast pork and arroz con gandules is the one dish that’s top of mind. I remember since I was a child how my parents would teamed up to have the holiday spread ready on time.

My mom would work on the rice and the potato salad and that was “pork master”. And as soon as that pork was roasting in the oven the smell of Christmas would take over in our home. Those were the days!

I told you all this because once I moved to the mainland, I wanted to recreate that sense of Christmas without making a phone call being home sick so my parents would cook and freeze pernil, overnight it just to brighten my days a bit (and they did just that more than once or twice.) Yes, in my book they are the best! When I met my husband (a year later of being by myself) the phone calls changed a bit. I was not begging asking for comfort food anymore.

Related Recipe: Potato Salad Puerto Rican Style

I wanted to impressed him with my cooking “skills” that were pretty much non-existent then. Luckily, I had my secret weapon at the other end of the line: my dad telling me step by step on how to cook a pernil. Once my husband saw the process a couple of times, he urged me to think outside the saz贸n and use our own spice mix.

Related Recipe: Guineos en escabeche

It. Was. Delish! So much so that my sisters started to call me the “pork master”… It was amazing until as you can imagine, dad heard about it! In essence, this is dad recipe without the store-bought adobo or saz贸n. Well, it’s time to share my secret with y’all! You can thank the husband… because I was not fond of posting this recipe 馃槈

How to prepare a Pernil or Roast Pork Puerto Rican Style:




Pernil or Roast Pork Puerto Rican Style
Author: Yoly
  • 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon onion salt
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chipotle Pepper or cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 pounds pork shoulder, bone-in
  1. Mix all the spices with the garlic and the olive oil.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut slits into the pork and rub the pork with the spices mixture.
  3. Place the pork, skin side up, in a roaster (no need to use the rack.)
  4. Preferably, let the pork marinate overnight or at least 4 hours before cooking in the refrigerator.
  5. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  6. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Roast uncovered for 3 to 3-1/2 hours in center of the oven.
  8. Every hour during the cooking, flip the pork over.
  9. The idea is to cook the pork evenly, and your last flip will have the pork skin side up again.
  10. At the end, the pork should be at an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  11. Let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it and enjoy!
[b]A good rule of thumb is to bake for 30 minutes per pound.[/b]




  1. mel

    December 17, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    This looks so good! I need to try this! Thanks!

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 17, 2013 at 2:46 pm

      Mel, my husband loves it. If you decide to try it, let me know!

  2. Stefani

    December 17, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    This looks delicious. I am looking for something new to make on Christmas instead of our traditional ham dinner. This would make a great dinner!

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

      We don’t do ham anymore. If you make it, please let me know!

  3. Rachee Fagg

    December 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    This is such a delicious looking recipe! I cannot wait to give it a go.

  4. Mel @ Outnumbered 3 to 1

    December 17, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    Oooh, that looks delicious! I’ll have to try it one day!

  5. Chrysa

    December 17, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    I love peril! That’s what I made for Thanksgiving, but I did it in a crockpot. It turns out nice and juicy that way, but it doesn’t get the crispy outside. I had also planned to make arroz con gandules, but didn’t have the time. – — maybe for Christmas! – – – yours looks delicious, by the way!

    1. Chrysa

      December 17, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      I meant to give your recipe 5 stars!! The wrong one was clicked!

  6. Victor Feliciano

    December 11, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    Looks really great however, Puerto Rican pernil is never ever cooked without homemade sofrito.

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 19, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      Thank you for your comment Victor. Sofrito is a staple in my fridge but it doesn’t go with my pernil.

    2. Sandra Oliveras

      December 23, 2014 at 11:29 am

      AMEN Brother-man! HOME made sofrito. May people buy it and think it’s the same. NUNCA mi amor! nunca!

      1. Yoly Mason

        December 23, 2014 at 11:53 am

        Sandra, totally agree that nothing beats homemade sofrito!

    3. Bobbie81765

      November 20, 2015 at 3:06 pm

      It’s actually homemade Sason. Which is a combination of whole garlic cloves, pepper, salt, oregano, vinegar over the pork and olive oil. What she did is also fine. A lot of people use powdered ingredients.
      Sofrito is a staple of Puerto Rican cooking and it is used for legumes, rice dishes and sauce based dishes and stews. Not as a seasoning for meats.

    4. Enrique Carmona

      March 31, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      It doesn’t go in my pernil either. My arroz con guandules, stewed meats, and my beans, definitely!

    5. Domme`sofrito!

      April 14, 2017 at 12:23 am

      SOFFFRITO!!! Thank God someone said it!! First person out of like 5 different recipes!!!!!! AWESOME!

  7. Crystal Ayala

    December 26, 2014 at 12:03 am

    my first time making pernil ever and they all loved it. I thought it would be almost like a pulled pork buy it turned out differently. I was complimented all night. This will be a new tradition for our christmas dinner. Trying to implement to the puertorican traditions to my side of the family.

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 26, 2014 at 10:59 am

      Crystal so happy for you that your pernil rocked!

  8. Kraftyred

    February 22, 2015 at 10:52 am

    Just popped this in my oven now .can’t wait till done .great recipe glad I found it . Sent a picture to my girls and they will be out later for dinner !!!! Thanks !!

  9. Diana Graham

    March 27, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. Pat the meat w/paper towels until it’s dry before you add the spiced oil. If you don’t the meat will be “steam” cooked instead of being roasted. Same goes for roasting chicken, Pat the bird dry inside and out before roasting & you’ll get a crispy skin

  10. Kelly brock-sanchez

    May 25, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    My PR husband is standing in our kitchen at 11pm and making love to this meat as I write. He says we are making this for Christmas this year. He is in complete heaven. Thank you for having this recipe. I made my man soooo happy. He can’t stop eating it!

    1. Yoly Mason

      May 26, 2015 at 8:07 am

      Kelly, that’s fantastic. I can totally picture hoy happy that pork shoulder was. Enjoy!

  11. Mara

    August 30, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    I grew up in Puerto Rico. I’ve never seen cumin or red pepper (like cayenne or chipotle). Are you adding a Mexican twist to the recipe?

    1. Yoly Mason

      August 31, 2015 at 7:36 am

      I grew up in Puerto Rico as well! The red pepper is added not so much to give it a Mexican twist but the idea to add the red pepper is more to please my (American) husband’s spicy tooth. It also gives it a nice “mini bite” to the meat. Definitely it will be less spicy than eating a spicy morcilla though.

      1. Mara

        September 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm

        Good to know. Thanks for the reply. I thought it might be too spicy for me…I’ll give it a try.

  12. Marilyn Feliciano

    October 18, 2015 at 5:24 pm


    1. Yoly Mason

      October 19, 2015 at 11:21 am

      Muchas gracias Marylin! Es s煤per delicioso.

  13. Victor Tanon

    December 6, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I will be trying to do this for the first time as I told my son about Christmas growing up in Puerto Rico. The catch was that he needs me to make it as a project for his Spanish class. Wish me luck.

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 9, 2015 at 1:05 pm

      It’s going to be amazing!

  14. Rosemary Padilla

    December 20, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Hi! My husband bought a 20 pound pork shoulder! How long would you recommend cooking it?

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 23, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Rosemary, 25 – 30 minutes per pound is what I always use. For that big of a pernil, it would be close to 10 hours, turning the pork at least 5 times (start fat side up)

  15. Sarah Viera

    December 23, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Thank you for this delicious recipe,made a small pernil to try it out,it was absolutely delicious ????????
    Will be making a large one for my Christmas party,again thank you so much .

    1. Yoly Mason

      December 23, 2015 at 6:54 am

      You’ve made my day! Enjoy the deliciousness!

  16. lourdes

    January 17, 2016 at 8:49 am


    It looks delicious! What non traditional sides would you recommend for this dish?

  17. Tammy Melendez

    June 12, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I made the marinade as posted, and let it sit overnight. I just put it in the oven. I’m so excited about this recipe. I married a Puerto Rican man so I try to master as many dishes as possible. I’ve gotten the arroz con gandules down, now pernil. I will keep you posted on the outcome.

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