Low and Slow – Even More Succulent Pernil, But Only If You Have the Time!

Pernil (Puerto Rican Roasted Pork Shoulder/Butt) with Yucca Fries and Kale with Chickpeas

Many, many moons ago, I published my recipe for pernil, the delicious Puerto Rican roasted pork butt/shoulder. Recently, I had a whole Saturday afternoon to try a longer and slower cooking method for my bone-in pork butt. I have to tell you, if you have the time I would advise cooking it this way as you will have meat absolutely dripping moist and falling off the bone. The quicker method in my earlier recipe is a very good way of cooking the pork if you don’t have 8-9 hours to kill waiting to tear into the pernil. But, if you do remember to put your pork in by 11AM, you will not be disappointed by the results of low and slow cooking.

I am cutting and pasting the old pernil recipe here and adding my alternative “Low and Slow” cooking time. I hope you’ll give it a shot – and let me know what you think! Remember to allow your pernil to marinate overnight for the best results!!



  • 1 Bone-In Pork Shoulder (5-10 Pounds depending on how many you want to feed, 5 Pounds will feed 4-5 hungry people)
  • 5-8 Cloves garlic, some chopped, some sliced
  • Adobo (or a mixture of garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and oregano)
  • 1 Bottle of Sour Orange Marinade (or 2 Oranges and 1 Lime OR 1 Cup OJ and 2 Limes)
  • 1 Large Onion, chopped up
  • olive oil

SO the night before you cook the meat (or, if you prefer to not let it sit, then the half hour before you cook the meat):

What to do for the marinade:

  1. Take your big-ass, delish pork shoulder/butt, place it in a baking dish skin-side up and rub it with some olive oil then sprinkle it all over w/ adobo (Goya makes a few versions of this that you can keep in your spice cabinet or you can make your own by sprinkling garlic power, onion powder, cumin, black pepper, salt and oregano all over the pork). WHEN I SAY SPREAD IT ALL OVER I MEAN SPREAD IT ALL OVER. Don’t be afraid of putting on too much.
  2. Cut slices of garlic up from about 3 cloves of garlic – make slices thick-ish. (NOTE: If you have the extra time, make a paste out of your garlic by smashing it in a mortar and pestle w/ a bit of salt to aid in the smashing until it has the consistancy of a spreadable paste.) ****NOTE: This recipe uses alot of garlic b/c we love alot of garlic. If you don’t like the taste of garlic, maybe this recipe isn’t the best for you.
  3. Take a sharp knife (a steak knife should be fine) and make 1-inch wide (1 inch deep or so) slits all over the pork, skin and all. Every time you make a slit, slide in a slice of garlic into the slit. It’s best if the garlic goes into the hole all the way. If it doesn’t, again, don’t worry… just make a bit of a deeper slit next time. (NOTE: If you made the garlic paste, then just slide a bit of the paste in each slit instead of the sliced garlic.)
  4. MAKE MARINADE IN SEPARATE BOWL: Add one cup of sour orange juice (again, Goya makes a bottled version, I’m sure it’s not as tasty as the real ones, but sour oranges aren’t around all the time to buy) to 3 cloves of chopped garlic and 1 chopped large onion. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper and well as some extra oregano. Mix. (NOTE: You can also substitute sour orange w/ a cup of regular Orange Juice mixed w/ the juice of two limes, or juice of 2 oranges, juice of 1 lime.)
  5. Pour your marinade over your pork. Let sit for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight).

Cooking the Pernil:

  1. Fat side up, place pork in a roasting pan along with the rest of the marinade. Add a bit of liquid if necessary (water or some chicken stock) – so it comes up about 1/2 an inch high. Make sure there’s always some hot liquid at the bottom to mix with the drippings. (This is not necessary – I just liked it this way).
  2. Heat the oven to 475 degrees and cook pork uncovered for 1 hour.
  3. After the hour is over, turn oven down to 275 degrees, tent pork with some tin-foil and cook for 8 to 9 hours on this low setting. (You want to cook the pernil for an hour to 1 1/2 hours per pound for low and slow versus the quicker cooking of pernil where I recommend a 1/2 hour to 45 minutes per pound).
  4. Don’t forget to remove the foil from the top of your pork about 30-40 minutes before your done cooking it. This will crisp up your pork skin only so much. If you are looking to make chicharron by removing the top layer of skin after it’s been cooked (as I did – see first picture, top of post) and frying it up a bit.
  5. Allow to rest for 15 minutes to a half hour before slicing and serving. ENJOY.


Check out another pernil post:
Pernil: Easy & Cheap

182 thoughts on “Low and Slow – Even More Succulent Pernil, But Only If You Have the Time!

  1. Looks fantastic! I am thinking about making this again, perfect any time of year but sounds even more delish in the cold days here FAR from sunny south america.

  2. Thanks, Nika! I love your site (adding to blogroll now). And thank you so much for allowing me to spread the word of your delicious chicharron recipe! Now I just gotta get my hands on some pork belly and really do it up!

  3. I tried this recipe last Friday (and made 2 shoulders)… I substituted the sour oranges for a sour orange marinade and I have to say this is one of the best pernil recipes I’ve ever tried!!!!!! I had to feed a croud and everyone loved it!!!!

    Thanks so much! I will definitely use this recipe again!!!!!

  4. Oh, I love pernil! There’s a Puerto Rican deli down the street from me that serves it every Friday and Saturday. It comes with a side of some yellow sauce (not mustard) Any idea what it is or how it’s made? I think Pernil is in my future.

  5. hey, julia! wow… you found an oldie but real goodie on our blog. love when we get comments on old stuff. as for the yellow sauce, have you tried it? what are the flavors like? is it acidic? many times pernil has a side of “jus” made from the drippings, sometimes it’s served w/ a sour orange sauce. you should ask the puerto rican deli guys and then tell me… i’m curious.

    but you should def. make pernil. it’s SOOOOO cheap and very tasty. then you can make cuban sandwiches w/ the leftovers (we have a recipe here too for that)

  6. I’m so glad I picked your recipe to try for making my first pernil. I usually enjoy my friends’ versions in the past (puerto rican and cuban recipes) and finally got the nerve to try it myself. Even though on this first voyage, it was more for a time guideline. Funny story, though. When I went to the butcher and picked out my “picnic” while I was on the cell phone, I watched him take the whole piece and come back with it cut up into 8 pieces. Ack! I took it anyway, marinated it overnight in some mojo criollo (Goya’s) and after consulting with my friend, roasted it anyway. Originally a 3.5 pound picnic, luckily it fit on my roasting rack perfectly. After 1/2 an hour on 475, then 3 hrs on 275 and final 1/2 hour rest period, it was fall apart tender. Yum! Hubby and I had a most delicious Valentine’s Day dinner. Can’t wait to make it again!

  7. Hola, Jo! Thanks for the kind words… I’m so glad you gave ours a try (kinda) and were able to make it work w/ a sliced up pork butt. wtf? i wonder why your butcher did that… maybe he knows a secret we don’t know…

    anyways, glad you had a delicious v-day. i would’ve been sad if our recipe was the downfall of your big day! ha ha ha.

  8. I made this last weekend and it was such a huge hit. It was absolutely delicious! Not only did all the adults love it, but my daughters loved it too and have been eating the leftovers all week. After hearing someone talk about Pernil I Googled it and came across your site and am so excited to try some of the other recipes on your blog – what a fun site! Thanks for the delicious recipe.

  9. Wow was this great! We made 3, 7 lb butts at the same time for a birthday bash. Everybody was beggin for more to take home. Make a lot! You’ll love it and so will everyone else. This is a dish for your family’s favorite recipe book. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  10. How about reversing the order of the cook?
    Start low and cook until almost done, then raise the temp to 450-500 and uncover to crisp up the skin?
    Or do you need the high heat initially to render the fat quickly?

    1. Hey, Mike. Great comment. I would be curious to see what would happen if you reversed the cooking process… what a great experiment. i think we’ll try it with our next pernil. thanks for the idea.

  11. The “reverse sear” technique works great with birds and beef. I’ve not tried it with a low’n’slow pork, because I usually don’t sear butts, but I’ll give it a try myself when I try your Pernil recipe!

    1. perfect. we may have one tomorrow and will also try the reverse! thanks soooo much for the comments, mike. looking forward to hearing from you again.

  12. This is hands down the best way to cook Pernil. I have tried this low and slow method twice and plan to cook another one tomorrow. I have already seasoned the Pernil and can not wait until tomorrow. My in-laws are in visiting from England and I know they will absolutely be gobsmacked over this

    Many thanks for all these amazing recipes! Keep them coming…and btw I am Puerto Rican and my mother was born in Puerto Rico and has gone back to this low and slow method based on my recommendation.

  13. I had never heard of Pernil, but after reading the recipe I knew resistance was futile. We are a family of 3 and consume very little meat on a weekly basis, but when we do eat meat we buy it at our neighborhood farmer’s market from a local farmer who raises beef and cattle organically and very humanely. We purchased a pork shoulder for our Sunday night dinner and it was to die for. Even my 13 year old stepdaughter was swooning over the tender goodness. We had the leftovers in tacos and they were so spectacular. Thank you so much for sharing your cooking expertise. I love to cook, love to try new recipes and flavors and I am now a fan of the amazing Pernil. We are all hooked!

  14. my mom used to make this when I was a kid. I found your recipe and decided to give it a try. It smells delicious. Can’t wait to eat it. Thanks for the recipe.

    1. thank you lori for the comment! smells are great but please let us know how it tastes!! thank you, thank you for giving our recipe a try!

  15. the taste was amazing. it was juicy, tender, and just plain delicious. the meat fell right off the bone and it melted in your mouth. its even better the next day. gonna make some pulled pork sandwiches with the left overs. thank you

  16. I had pernil twice in my whole life, and it is soo good. So for my sons 1st bday party I went crazy and made 5 of them I put them in at 9 pm, and I haven’t been able to sleep thinking about them.I am sure they are going to be out of this world!! Thanks for your recipe and ill let you know what happened.

  17. I had never cooked pernil before, and I am quite glad my first attempt was with this recipe! It came out absolutely melt in your mouth tender and so very delicious. I attempted the Chicharron, which didn’t work for me, but ultimately really wasn’t necessary anyway – the skin crunched up quite nicely in the oven (I raised the heat a bit for the last 45 minutes).

    Thank you for the excellent guidance! My boyfriend and I loved it. I will be trying again next week to serve visiting family.

    1. We are so happy that you gave it a try – the chicharron really is better done with separate pieces of meat (which we’ve realized) and i think the method of just keeping it in a hot oven at the end is a good one. Thanks again for the comment and enjoy pernil for years to come!

  18. well all I have to say is ‘that’s it?’ a fool proof receipe and was confused @ store bought bitter orange instead of sour same thing doing one for church christmas dinner @ work and my family christmas day can’t wait to see results will keep u posted

  19. I was really happy to find a recipe that simple, with ingredients i can easily get here (Moscow, Russia). I’ts really fantastic and totally worth it’s time.
    P.S. That was a torture day for our dog =)

  20. Wow! What a GREAT recipe! We just made this and it turned out absolutely wonderful! We marinated a seven pound picnic roast for 24 hours inserting 12 cloves of garlic, roasted at 475 for one hour and slow cooked it at 250 for 9 hours. The resulting product was moist and almost buttery in texture. The flavor components were complex and subtle with Adobo playing the major role. This is truly a memorable recipe and meal.

  21. I love your pernil recipe. I used your low and slow method and the results were spectacular. I had tons of left overs, which have made the best pulled pork tacos I ever ate. Thanks for this amazing recipe!

  22. If I have a 9 lb bone in shoulder- do I still cook it the nine hours, or should I roast it longer? And, is it possible to roast it at an even lower temp, say 200 degrees, but roast it for an even longer time- say overnight ?

    1. I would say to def. cook it for the 9 hours. the best part of this cut of meat is it’s hard to overcook. Try it out at 200 for a longer time – it’ll be an experiment that I’d love to hear about. Otherwise, follow our directions since I can tell you first hand that it works – and works deliciously!! Good luck, Teri!

  23. Being that I was having company and trying this for the first time, I did not experiment. I marinated the roast for two days in a baggie. Then I cooked the almost 10 pound roast for about 11 hours at 275. I put it in at night, and when I woke up the next morning- it was done. I wrapped it tightly and it stayed warm until I served it later for an early dinner party. I served 12 people and had only little left over! The meat just fell apart- you were so right! The flavors were amazing and brought back memories of my mother’s pernil.
    Next time, I will by-pass the Adobo- I thought it made the pork too salty. I’ll use kosher salt instead. Thanks again for this great recipe!

  24. i to leave out the adoba as it combined with the fat from the pork makes it too salty..(and i love salty) i use cumin, black pepper, garlic and a little cajun

  25. Teri, I want to thank you so much for this recipe. For Christmas I have always made the traditional meal with little regard to the Hispanic heritage of my grandchildren or children or ex husband, for that matter. Last year, I decided it was time to do so. I made this recipe…and everything with it, including the sofrito, all from scratch. I marinated 15 pounds of meat for three days and roasted it overnight. Oh the aromas that filled this house on Christmas morning. Since I didn’t know what to serve with it, I just kept looking up recipes. So… With it, I had Habichuelas (Beans) and Yellow Rice and Corn – Arroz Amarillo y Maiz. We had a houseful of people, from the ex and new wife and her kids and grandkids, to all my grandsons, my granddaughter and her parents, me, my daughter and myself. There were rave reviews on everything, Teri. but that meat was a HIT, for sure. I am making your recipe again this week, by the way, as I’m having out of town guests on Saturday. So, I’ll start today and marinate the meat until Friday night or Sat. a.m. I know the guests will love it. Thanks again.

  26. I am so glad that I found this recipe. I am going to try this next week I think that I am going to let it marinate for a couple of days. Oh I can’t wait. Thanks

  27. I have made a pernil each Christmas for the last 15 years or so. If I do a whole fresh ham, about 15 pounds, bone in, how long do I leave it in at the slow temp? Do I use your hour per pound recommendation?

  28. This recipe bring a lot of memories, specially during this Christmas season. My dad used to do the whole Christmas dinner pernil with arroz con gandures, pasteles (similar to tamales but made from root vegetables), and coquito every Christmas. For the pernil, I remember that he used in addition of adobo and garlic, he also used Sazon Goya with achiote to adobar (or season) the pernil. The sazon basically helped to get the pernil golden brown during the roasting. Also, on the last roasting hour to get “el cuerito” or pork skin crispy like it came from la lechonera (pit bbq), he used achiote seeds (small red seeds) boiled in vegetable oil. Boiling the seeds in the oil infuse the oil with color and flavor. This infused oil is brushed every 15 minutes over the pernil skin during the last roasting hour. The achiote and the oil helped to make the skin golden crispy. This is quick puertorrican tip, keep bringing good recipes…

    1. @Gil – thanks for the great tip! I bet the achiote oil gave all that crispy delicious crackling a beautiful color and fragrance!

  29. First time making a pernil and You recipe caught my attention..I have a 20 pounder..how long should I cook it for using the slow method?

  30. I made this for New Years Eve for my sister’s Birthday. Marinated it overnight. A 7 pound roast, cooked a total of 8 hours. It did not fall apart, and I could have been more generous with the seasoning. I put it on a rack in the roasting pan, as I have seen other recipes for this using a rack. I probably should not have done that. Also, next time I will roast it overnight. The drippings with the marinade was wonderful and made the dish! I made Arroz Con Gandules with it. Must say both the pork and the rice were better the next day! I am making my own notations on the recipe and will make it again soon!

  31. Made this for the 3rd time and it was the best ever! I made my own adobo from your directions which I applied liberally to the meat by removing the skin. I returned the skin for cooking. Having the detached skin made for easier chicharones. I let it marinate from Friday night until Sunday morning. Threw down the Arroz Con Gandules with it. Taking lunch to work has never been this good. Co-workers are jealous and complaining of “not fair good food smells”. Living well really is the best revenge!

  32. I’m going to start my marinade tonight!

    Just out of curiosity, it doesn’t look like this needs to be turned over at all during roasting — is that correct? I just want to make sure that I don’t leave any steps out. Thanks!

  33. Have you ever tried pernil in a slow cooker? it would be moist, but not crispy – there’s a recipe I’m cross checking on this website: skinnytaste.com/2011/01/skinny-slow-cooked-pernil-puerto-rican.html
    Haven’t tried either yet, but am curious about your thoughts. More energy efficient, but sometimes that’s not enough 🙂

  34. This is the recipe you remember from roadside stands in PR. First time I made it, it didn’t come out of the oven til 9PM and even tho it was late, we couldn’t stop eating it. It fell off in juicy chunks and we stood around it pulling the meat off and licking our fingers. This is one of those dishes that is best when it comes fresh from the oven which is why I got up at 6:30 am this time to put it in the oven. It should be ready (low and slow) around 3PM. As far as the spice rub and marinade, I go crazy with garlic -9 cloves mashed- and then throw in every spice I like plus sazon with aciotte, stuffing it into holes I’ve made in the meat til my fingers turn yellow with the spice rub and then throw in a plastic bag with a bottle of Goya mojo marinade and let it sit in the refrigerator for days – the longer the better.
    My husband is on Atkins so he’s in (pardon the pun) HOG HEAVEN!

  35. So here I go again – I can’t seem to get enough of this pork. I marinated it for four days and it’s now in the oven- the aroma is driving me crazy. I would have cooked it earlier in the week but the weather was so hot I couldn’t stand having the oven on for 8 – 9 hours. My windows are all open and I’m sure the whole neighborhood smells it and their mouths are watering. I researched recipes on the web before getting to this site and this recipe is by far the best. Low and slow are the way to go. I’m looking forward to making another recipe from this site, deep fried marinated chicken – think it’s called chiccharone – you can’t go wrong following recipes from little mom and pop restaurants in Bklyn- thanks for sharing these gems!

  36. I’m making this for a group of people visiting us this weekend. I have made this on two other occasions with no disappointments. Planning on serving it with garlic mashed potatoes and a green veggie side like blanched green beans. I’m also planning on making a kick ass sauce/gravy with what is left of the drippings. Wish me luck. I will let you all know on Monday how it turned out.

    1. Thanks for the great comment!! We absolutely love this dish – can’t wait for some cooler weather so I can heat up my home w/ the oven while cooking my pernil. Can’t wait to hear how this one went…and your sides/gravy! you go girl! or boy….

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