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Pernil (Puerto Rican Slow-Roasted Pork Shoulder)
Nathan Congleton/TODAY
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(13 rated)

This marinated and slow-roasted pork shoulder could easily be named Puerto Rico’s national dish. The star of just about any holiday party or family gathering, it’s a perfect recipe for entertaining as it serves a crowd and only requires a few minutes of active time on the part of the cook. Serve it with your favorite side dishes like rice or plantains, and be sure to save some leftovers to eat in sandwich form!


    • One 5-8-pound pork shoulder, bone-in with skin
    • 1 cup sour orange juice from Seville oranges (or 1 cup tart grapefruit juice)
    • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
    • 12 cloves garlic, peeled
    • 1 large bunch cilantro, bottom of stems removed chopped
    • 2 Cubanelle peppers (also known as Italian frying peppers)
    • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
    • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
    • 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
    • Kosher salt (1½ teaspoon per pound of pork)
    • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
    • Water


1. Place pork shoulder skin-side up in large roasting pan, right on the pan (not on a rack). Use a paring knife to cut slits into the skin and fat.

2. Combine orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, onion, garlic, cilantro, red bell pepper, cumin, oregano, paprika, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.

3. Pour marinade over all sides of the pork, rubbing into any crevices and into the slits cut in the skin (use it all). Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and let marinate a minimum of 6 hours and up to 2 days.

4. When ready to cook, preheat oven to 325°F.

5. Remove pork from refrigerator. Wipe off excess marinade from the skin of pork and pour water into bottom of pan so it goes up 3 inches on the side of the pork. Cover roasting pan tightly with foil or pan cover and place in oven on lowest rack to bake for 4-5 hours, or until the meat is tender and pulls away easily with a fork.

6. Remove cover, raise heat to 425°F and return to oven for another hour or until the skin is crisp.

7. Serve chopped and shredded along with the skin.

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