Homemade Pork Pernil

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This pork pernil is no joke. It’s a long-term commitment (taking 12 hours to marinate and 6 to cook!) Luckily, this dish is a better long-term commitment than your ex, because at the end you will be left with delicious, melt-in-your-mouth pork that leaves you on cloud 9. Because of the hours it takes to make, pork pernil is best for a Sunday roast or holiday banquet, when you have time to dedicate to the task.

Despite taking so long, this recipe is still fairly simple. Most of the ingredients (besides the pork shoulder) are things you probably already have, and most of the time is spent either marinating or in the oven. So, even though this seems overwhelming and complicated, it’s actually pretty easy to do. Just take it step by step and you’ll be fine!

Pork Pernil

Prep Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 18 hours
Servings: 10
Calories: 353kcal


  • 1 onion
  • 1 ½ cups fresh cilantro
  • ¼ cup salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 7 lb bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 1/3 cup lime juice


  • Assemble your ingredients.
  • Roughly chop the onion and add it to a food processor along with 1 cup of de-stemmed cilantro, salt, oil, garlic, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Pulse until all the ingredients are finely chopped and mixed together.
  • Use paper towels to gently pat the pork until it is as dry as you can get it.
  • Use your hands to scoop up the cilantro mixture and rub it all over the pork shoulder. Use all the mix, so after rubbing it you can pat the rest on. Make sure to get all sides.
  • Tightly wrap the pork shoulder up in sturdy plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for 12-24 hours. The best way to do this is prepare it the day before you actually want to cook it and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  • When you are ready to begin cooking, put an oven rack a little below the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 450F.
  • Use a large cooking dish or oven-proof pot and fill it with 8 cups of water. Remove the plastic wrap from the pork and put it in the dish, skin-side down. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and tuck the edges over the side of the pan.
  • Cook the pork like this for 90 minutes, then discard the foil and turn the temperature down to 375F. Cook for another 2 ½ hours.
  • Remove the dish from the oven. Oil a v-rack with non-stick cooking oil. Use a spatula (or a few) to transfer the pork from the baking dish to the v-rack, keeping the skin intact.
  • Turn the pork so the skin is facing up and put the v-rack with the pork on it into the baking dish. Pat the skin dry with paper towels and make sure there is water still in the bottom of the dish.
  • Return the dish with v-rack back into the oven and continue cooking for another hour, or until the pork reaches 195F all the way through. Keep an eye on the water in the pan while cooking, if it begins to run low, replace it.
  • Prep a large baking tray by covering it in aluminum foil. Take the pork out of the oven and place it, still in the v-rack, onto the newly prepped pan.
  • Put the pan into the oven and turn the heat up to 500F. Cook for another 15-30 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. You will know it is done when the skin becomes brown and crispy.
  • Remove the pork from the oven and allow it to cool on a carving board for about half an hour.
  • While waiting on the pork to cool, pour the liquid left in the pan into a bowl. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes, or until the fat separates from the juices. Remove and discard the fat. Measure out the juice and if it is less than 1 cup, add water to make up the difference.
  • Pour the pork juice into a large bowl and add ½ cup of chopped cilantro, the lime zest, and the lime juice. Whisk together until mixed.
  • When the pork has cooled enough to handle, pull the skin off. It should come off in one, crunchy piece. Save and set aside.
  • Use kitchen scissors or a knife to trim the excess fat from the pork and discard. Use a knife and your hand to pull the pork off the bone and roughly chop the pieces.
  • Add the pork meat to the bowl of liquids and toss to coat.
  • Chop the skin into bite-sized pieces. Serve up the meat and place pork skin on the side. Enjoy!



Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 130mg | Sodium: 2980mg | Potassium: 745mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 201IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 3mg

Notes & Tips

This pork can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 5 days. You can also freeze it for several months; just dethaw it and re-heat in the microwave when you want it again.

The best method of preparing this dish is to season the pork the day before and refrigerate it overnight. I then recommend starting to cook it around noon so it can be ready in time for dinner.

Serving Suggestions

Like I mentioned earlier, this is an excellent option for a Sunday roast, Thanksgiving dinner, or Christmas dinner. You can use this recipe for any holiday that needs a meaty entrée. Of course, that means you’ll need sides. I enjoy this dish with green beans and mashed potatoes.

Of course, if you’re using this recipe for Thanksgiving, you’ll want all your usual sides such as stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, and whatever other traditional extras your family prefers.

Another option is shredding the pork with a fork or your hands and serving it on a toasted bread bun with coleslaw for the most amazing sloppy joe you’ve ever had. However you choose to enjoy it, this pork pernil is certain to be a success.

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