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. My grandmother made the best pernil. last week I attemped it with a pork roast that had no fat. Total disappointment. This looks amazing, so I went to the butcher who attempted to cut it. NO WAY JOSE. So now the pernil is in the oven and the bouse smells like abuelas memories. Wish me luck!!!!!

    1. Hi, Mimi! MMMMMM the smell. Now I’d love to hear how it tasted!! Comparing anything to an abuelas food is the ultimate compliment! Thank you!

  2. slow cooking this right now..its an 11lb one..started at 400ish for about 1hour or just over a little that (maybe 1 1/2) and then turned it down to 275 since 2:45am – its 8:45 now..So I hope around 12 its done. Also instead of tin foil – has anyone tried using oven bags? this is what my bro-in-law use and i have used in the past.

    1. Hi, Ted.

      On low and slow cooking (bone-in pernil), I would definitely recommend and hour to an hour and half per pound. That’s a enormous pork shoulder! And, unless you cook at a higher temp, you’ll definitely want at least 25 hours to cook it. I’d reserve longer if you have it. You could always choose to cook it at a higher temp for less time, you just may not get it as juicy and moist as it would if it was cooked super low and slow.

      Good luck! It’ll be delish, I’m sure.

      You could try the higher temp method if you’re “in a rush” (hope you’re not w/ a 25 pounder!) – http://www.weareneverfull.com/easy-and-cheap-i-like-my-men-like-i-like-my-food/ – that cooks it at about 350 for 30 to 45 mins per pound.

      Happy New Year!

      amy and jonny

    2. Hi, I have a 25lb bone in with skin pernil/pork leg and I’m planning to cook low and slow at 275 degress for like 26 hours. My question is do i cover the whole time with foil? Or uncover? And what’s the preferable internal temperature for this.


  3. Imagine my surprise to find you still replying to folks as of Dec 2011. I just made this today 1/1/12 for New Year’s Day dinner. I had to go with the original method because my family couldn’t wait that long. So at 11:00 am I poured OJ over it and started pushing in the garlic. It marinated for only 1/2 hour, but it was at room temp which I think is critical. 6lb roast would have been done around 3:30, so lowered it to 325 and cooked until 5 with the last 45 minutes being uncovered. It was FANTASTIC, MOUTHWATERING & DELICIOUS! My husband raved and my children devoured it (even the 6 year old). I love the flavors but was concerned about the pairing with saurkraut and mashed potatoes for an ‘original’ New Years Day menu, but it went together amazingly. One little tip that we enjoyed was that I left some of the sliced onions on top and when it was crisping up the skin, the onions crunched up too like little fried sticks-the kids were eating them like crazy and when I said they were onions they said “huh?” Eww! That taught them a lesson that you can like foods cooked in another way even if you think don’t like it. Anyway thank you so much – you made our 2012 have a delicious beginning.

  4. I put two shoulders in the oven about two hours ago. The house is smelling really good. I’m sure it will taste as good as it smells.

  5. Hey Jonny & Amy, it was absolutely wonderful…can one say succulent on the Internet? I made it with black beans and rice on the side. The skin was a bit too charred, but the meat was so juicy. I will definitely use this recipe again. Low and slow is a good thing.

  6. I have read the reviews and this and this low and slow Pork butt sounds GREAT!I have a question , as a first timer doing this reciepe. I am having a big family gathering for my daughters first birthday in 4 days. I have 2-10 lb big ass pork butts! I am going to marinate them starting today. My question is when do I start cooking them for a 11 am gathering?

  7. Ok, so (and I always go back and refer to my recipe), the timing is about an hour to 1 1/2 hours per pound for low and slow. Will you be cooking both at the same time, in the same oven? Keep that in mind b/c sometimes (and you need to know your oven), ovens sometimes take a bit longer to cook if they are more crowded. The good thing about this pernil is you almost can’t really ruin it by cooking it a bit longer. remember to take the pernil out of the fridge a few hours before you cook to bring it to room temp. cooking is at an hour to 1.5 hrs per pound per pernil. So, that would mean, 1 hour at the higher temp, you’ll need about 9 hours at the lower temp to 14 hours. Maybe choose a number in the middle? 1 hour at the high temp then 11.5 hours at the low temp (12.5 hours total)?

    You really can’t mess this up unless you under cook it (and, to me, the long marinade really helps too). For an 11am gathering, stick it in around 9.30 or 10PM the day before, (don’t forget the 1 hour at a high temp and then you turn it down – so don’t fall asleep w/ the pernil in a 475 oven!), remove the foil for the last 20-30 mins, take it out around 10 or 10.30am, let it sit for 15 to 30 mins then carve for the gathering. good luck and i hope it all goes well – you’ll do great.

    let us know how it goes if you can!

    amy and jonny

  8. THANK YOU! Amy and Jonny, the pork came out GREAT!
    I ended up putting the 2-10 lb big ass pork butts in at 11pm to be served for a 12 noon party. I had to change up my cooking process. The 2 butts were to big for my 1 pan. I put 1- 10 pounder in the oven and the other in my huge Dutch oven. Started them at the same time and ended at the same time (roughly 10 hours cooking time) but fall off the bone goodness! Tender and delicious thank you again. Triple A plus!

  9. OMGosh!!! This was AMAZING!! I cooked the 8.5 lb shoulder for 10 hours…the skin was nice and crunchy while meat was moist and succulent. I loved getting the occasional surprise bite of garlic, too. I made this with your Arroz con Gandules (http://www.weareneverfull.com/arroz-con-gandules/) and some fried plantains. This brings me back to my childhood, and my memories of our Puerto Rican neighbor’s cooking. I am going to make tacos de carnitas and cuban sandwiches out of the left overs.

    I have a couple questions: I used a roasting pan (like you would for a Thanksgiving). I had about a 1/2″ water as the recipe stated, but do you add more liquid as it cooks or just let the drippings char? I added a little a couple ours in, but didn’t add anymore. What type of roasting pan do you use?

    So happy I found your blog! Thanks for the great recipe.

  10. I’m making your pernil ‘low and slow’ again .. this is the best recipe I’ve found. Since I’ve moved to FL I’ve made a lot of Puerto Rican friends and gathered recipes but this is the best.
    Thank you!!

  11. I made this for Christmas for my then boyfriend, his mother and brothers (who are all puerto rican) and my mother (who hates pork), along with a apricot glazed ham and a fried turkey; let me tell you everything else was left but the pernil (and my status as a girlfriend, he proposed that same day)! Thank you soooo much for the recipe! We’re trying it in the slow cooker today, wish us lucl!

  12. So my husband doesn’t EVER cook. Last night I seasoned my pork, made my marinade, cut the skin almost completely off except for one tiny piece left attached and I put it in my roasting pan. I gave him directions on how to let it come to room temperature, how to start high and then end low and I left home at 7:00am to go to work. I just got home and saw it wrapped up in the oven. I opened my little package of joy tore off a piece, and the WHOLE DAMN THING fell of the bone. It is sooooooooo good. I’m putting this site on my favorites bar. Thanks 🙂

  13. Thank you soooo much for this cooking method. I have made it a few times now and it is easy and perfect each time. My husband is Cuban and I have been learning recipes from my mother-in-law. This one I did on my own and she and the entire family was extremely impressed as these cuts and recipes are new to me.
    When i was ready to cut it… i grabbed the bone and did one twist and it came out clean… let me just say, I felt like a food superhero…lol. Thanks again

  14. I am not sure if you will see this or not but i was searching for recipes for a 9lb bone in fresh pork leg, i guess its also called a fresh ham. I am wanting to make this for easter tommorow and we are going out all day riding the fourwheelers and want to have it done after we get home. Thing this recipe will work?

  15. I always do the slow roast with mine as well. Amazing outcome. Also, try also stuffing the holes with pimiento stuffed green olives along with the garlic! Occasionally I will make my own adobo with lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Try it!! Comes out AMAZING!

  16. I love pernil! I use my own recipe, which is actually very similar to yours, anyway. But I found your recipe when I was googling for a low and slow way to roast the pernil. I usually just cover it and bake on 375, then uncover for the last hour to crisp the skin. But last time I cooked a pernil, I tried the low and slow method and it came out even better. Woke up today and could not remember, for the life of me what the temp settings were, though, so I googled, “slow roasted pernil” and came upon your recipe. I’m about to pop the pernil in the oven as I write this. Thanks!

    1. @Kristin: thanks for the comment and for visiting. Hope the pernil came out great, but let us know if you have any tweaks to the recipe!

  17. Looks amazing! My question is if I just want to cook it only at 275 degrees and would like it to be ready by 5, how long should I leave it in? Mine weighs between 8-9 lbs


    Question…I’ve made 2 simultaneously before, but I can’t remember if I extended the time. They are about 8 pounds each. Help? Thanks!

    1. @Irina: sorry for the slow reply. Given that there will be less hot air in the oven per pound of pork with two in there, you’d expect the cooking time to be extended, but I really don’t know how much. Simply adding the poundage together wouldn’t be correct because it’s two pieces of meat not one. I would suggest using the same rule of them as above, seeing what they look like, and if they can go some more, keep your eye on them until they each look as good as if you’d cooked one by itself.

  19. Hi, I’ve made this recipe once before using an oven bag for the entire cooking time and then removing the cooking bag for the last hour. I’m wondering if it’s better NOT to use one?

    1. @Janelle: we recommend tenting the pork with foil for most the cooking time, after cooking it uncovered for the first hour. Essentially, you have done the same in reverse but in an oven bag. Did it turn out well?

  20. I want to thank you for this recipe. I am from British parents raised here in the states and I married a Cuban man.. who loves to eat. Thankfully I have an amazing mother in law who has taught me A LOT about Cuban cooking. Now I wanted to make a pernil for may now very large family for my sons birthday party and having tried a pernil before I figured that would be the best main course. Price and taste. Well I found this recipe here and tried it. What a success, my mother in law was very impressed and said that to eat my food, she would never know that I was not brought up in Cuba myself. I love to make this and am now expected to make it for every family gathering I host. Thank you for helping me.

  21. Hello, I am serving a 24lb Fresh Ham on Christmas Eve at around 5pm. From reading all your questions/answers sounds like I should put it in the oven the day before at around 12 noon at 475 degrees for 1 hour and then reduce to 275 for the rest of the time. So that would be about 29 hours in the oven. Does that sound right to you? Also, during the night when I am sleeping 11pm(Dec 23)-5am(Dec 24) is it ok if I don’t keep checking on it?


    1. @Gloria: that sounds like around the right amount of time. And, don’t worry about checking it often, providing all the liquid doesn’t evaporate, which it most likely won’t overnight, the great thing about this recipe is that the foil seals in the moisture and self-bastes the meat throughout. Let us know how it went, okay?

  22. I am excited to try the “low and slow” method. I have been doing pernil every Christmas since my wife and I got married. Always looking for ways to make it even better!


    I have a 25 pound pork leg to roast … by your figures and my calculations it needs to be in the oven at 275 for around 36 hours … HAT SOUND ABOUT RIGHT TO YOU ?

    1. @RCBrauwn Jr.: We’ve never cooked anything as large as that, and don’t know what kind of oven you have that would accommodate a 25 lb leg, but 36 hours sounds like it would be a bit too long even for a giant leg like that. That said, we’ve seen Pacific islanders roast a suckling pig in a pit for more than 12 hours that must have weighed roughly the same, so perhaps half a day would be enough. Sorry we can’t be more help, but let us know how it worked out for you so we can learn.

  24. @Jonny & Amy: I have made pernil in the past for years…I am going to try your low and slow method this time, but my question is…can I cover with another roasting pan instead of the foil tent? That’s how I’ve done it the last few years as that’s what a cook at a Spanish food restaurant told me she did when cooking the pernil. Just want to be sure that the foil is or isn’t a must in the recipe…

    1. @Cathy: you certainly could use another roasting pan. The idea of the foul is just to make sure it doesn’t dry out, so the roasting pan lid would do likewise. Just be careful it’s not completely air tight though, otherwise the pork will steam and get soggy.

  25. A couple of questions before I attempt my first Pernil! At the store, I found Bitter Orange Marinade by Goya. Is this the same as sour orange in your recipe?

    1. @Tiffanylane: the bitter orange marinade, aka naranja agria, is the same as the sour orange we mention. It is the 24oz bottle we are referring to. This juice is similar to the fruit that the Spanish call naranja de Sevilla, or Seville oranges, that are used principally in the making of marmalade. If you can’t find Goya bitter (sour) orange marinade, a 2-1 mixture of regular orange juice and lime juice will be a close approximation. Note also that the Goya product has some salt in it that you’ll need to account for if you use fresh fruit.

  26. How do you recommend carving the pork.. I always end up cutting into chunks which for some people get a little to much. Any suggestions to shread the meat?

    1. @matt: two forks are good if you want to pull it apart like pulled pork, but we usually chunk it so that each person get a one chunk as a portion, they can figure out the rest by themselves.

      1. Im cooking this in a roasting pan w a cover, can I just cover it while cooking or do I need to use the foil?

        1. @Stefanie: a lid will work just as well as the foil, perhaps better since it will allow for less evaporation during cooking. Just be careful to leave the lid ajar slightly so some steam can escape. You’re roasting the pork not steaming it, after all. Plus, there’s a lot of liquid in the pork and the recipe that could overflow out of your roasting pan otherwise and make a nasty mess in your oven. Buen provecho!

          1. Thank you so much for the quick reply! I had the lid on all the way for the last 2 hours but I just opened it some now so hopefully will be okay. It smells great in here! 5 hours to go 🙂 thanks again!

  27. How do you think this recipe can be adapted to use a slow cooker? I just bought a small 4-7 quartcooker and I am planing to make a small 4 lbs pernil. Any pointers?

    1. @Jim: apologies for the slow response. We have never tried it in the slow cooker, but having cooked pork in one before, the trick will be rendering the fat off so that you get some cracklings. That said, if you’re not bothered about cracklings, the slow cooker may approximate confit-ing because all the fat will render and melt back into the meat keeping it ultra-moist! Let us know how it goes!

  28. Hi there,
    Are the roasting times (1 – 1.5 hour per lb) for a conventional oven or a convection oven? Do you recommend using a convection oven option (my oven allows me to choose)? If so, should the cooking time or temperature be reduced? Also, do you generally add more liquid to the pan during the cooking process to maintain the 1/2″ of liquid in the pan? Many thanks!

    1. @Susan: the times quoted are for a conventional oven. We don’t have a convection oven at our disposal so we can’t recommend an alternative time per pound using one, so we’d say that since you have the choice, you should select conventional and follow the 1-1.5hrs/lb rule of thumb. Buen provecho y feliz navidad!

      1. Thank for your getting back to me! One more question, I’m making two 10lb shoulders and will cook them in a big pan together. What do you recommend for cooking time? Feliz Navidad!!!

        1. Just want to share my results…I went with the convection oven (against your advice) since I had 2 10lb shoulders…I stared at 9pm and took out at 11am. The convection oven at 14 hours was too much for 2x 10 lb shoulders…the meat unfortunately was dry. Next time I will use the conventional oven.

          1. @Susan: we’re sad to hear it didn’t work out for you. Convection ovens (we believe) tend to cook things faster than conventional ones, so it could be that it was just in there too long. It could also be worthwhile upping the liquid quotient next time, regardless of the cooking method – again, depending on how much fat your particular shoulder has, or, for that matter, keeping it covered for longer.

    1. @Ery: technically, yes. The larger your pernil the longer the cooking time, roughly in the proportions we describe below. However, since we’ve never cooked a pernil of that size before, you may find that an hour per pound is plenty – or, equally, you may find that it takes as much time as you have to cook it.

  29. Unfortunately I followed this recipe exactly (with one small change) but the first hour of uncovered cooking at 475 degrees even with an added 2 inches of stock (the one chage I made bc I knew only half an inch would dry out quickly) still practically charred the bottom of the pan at the end of the hour. The saucy marinade and drippings dried up, the garlic and onions were blackened and crisped and all that was left was burned grease for an 11lb pernil. Not happy about my Christmas Eve pernil being pretty much dried out. Had to recreate the sour orange marinade sauce, transfer a pernil, which was stuck to the bottom of the pan, to a new one not nearly as big and deep, and begin the slow and low portion. I’m sure the damage is done. The recipe should either adjust the amount of liquid, uncovered time, or temp. Or at least mention that we’ll need to monitor that first hour for the possibility of liquid drying up to save others what I just had to go through.

  30. We are using the convection method on our oven @300 degrees and plan on eating at 6PM. The convention component is suppose to cook food more evenly which is suppose to speed up the cooking process. No matter what it will be delicioso. Feliz Navidiad…..

  31. Just pulled it out of the oven, you were right, the inside is juicy. The flavor is a tad bland since I lost the majority of juices so early on and could only make due with what I had, but nothing I can’t remedy in post with a bit more adobo. Thanks for the recipe. Next time I try this, I will watch like a hawk that first hour to keep the liquids there.

  32. The pernil is looking good thru the oven glass (still has lots of liquid in pan). Took off the foil early. Pasteles are boiling on the stove and the arroz con gandules is cooking too. 6PM!!!!! Can’t wait….

  33. Hi, I have a 25lb bone in with skin pernil/pork leg and I’m planning to cook low and slow at 275 degress for like 26 hours. My question is do i cover the whole time with foil? Or uncover? And what’s the preferable internal temperature for this.


    1. @Grasita78: Given how long you’re cooking it for, the internal temperature isn’t going to be a concern. It will be cooked all the way through within a couple of hours, the rest of the cooking time is just turning all that fat into juiciness inside the meat, and tenderizing all that connective tissue. To be on the safe-side with prolonged cooking times, we’d recommend covering it for the vast majority of the roasting. The last 1-2 hours could be uncovered to develop some of the outer, crispier bark that is so delicious.

  34. Ugh forgot to put the pernil on the lowest rack of the oven. My cuero burned that first hour. I will not get that bubbly/crunchy chicharron 🙁 caught my mistake when it was time to turn the oven down. Placed it on the bottom rack, tented foil and all. I just hope it’s not ruined. 15 more hours to go on this gigantic pernil.

    Look no further.
    This is IT.
    Just follow this recipe and you will have made the bestest
    pernil you have ever had.
    Thanks so much.
    Still in awe………

  36. I followed you over from the comments on another blog, and when I saw the pics of all the deleicious foods you post I knew you either must be Spanish or living in a part of Latin America, and I was right. I’m Puerto Rican and pernil is the heart of our cuisine. I make it at least once a year during las navidades. thanks for paying homage to it in your blog.

  37. Love, love, love….your recipe! I’ve made this dish more than a dozen times and it’s always been delicious. In a pinch I just picked up an 18 lb BONELESS BUTT….does any part of the recipe or cook time change? I’m always up for an experiment but would really appreciate some advice.
    Thank You

    1. @Marygail: that’s a good question. The bone certainly helps it remain moist but at 18lbs the sheer mass of your butt (ahem, so to speak…) should keep it from drying out. If you do have any concerns about dryness, I would consider tenting it earlier than 1hr, but I wouldn’t think it’s likely to be much of a worry.

  38. I have two 5.5lb pork shoulders to make together in the oven and I’ll be running around most of the day. If I cook it at 475 for 45 mins then at 275 for 8 1/2 hours do you think that would be good or would it be too much?

    1. @Dylcia: typically, the smaller the roast, the shorter the time needed to cook it, so you could probably get away with 4 hours on low, but providing you have plenty of liquid to keep the roast moist, you can cook if for longer and it shouldn’t dry out.

  39. Happy holidays, although a little late… I’ve only got a 2 lb pernil for just 3 of us. I’ve heard high heat first then reduce down to low heat for slower cooking but at an hour per pound, I’m not sure how long to cook it at high heat and how long at low heat, also, how high should high heat be for this small cut, and similarly how low should the low heat be?

    1. @Arnold: if it were me, and I had a 2lb roast, I’ve brown it in a pan first, then finish it in the low oven (275F) for as much as 1.5hrs, making sure there is plenty of basting liquid to keep it from drying out, because I doubt there’s a bone in your 2lb cut, right?

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