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. I have been looking for the best way to cook my pernil for years. In the past it has always come out too dry, and too tough. But after trying your method I can honestly say that my search is over. It came out amazing! I cooked a 8lb boneless shoulder and it was so tender and moist! No need to cut it because it was tender enough to pull apart with just a fork. Thank you for sharing this!

    1. @Jen: Thanks for trying our recipe and for the lovely feedback. Since it’s pull apart-tender, if you have any leftovers, and you may not because it’s so good, combined with some onions, garlic and chopped olives (or olive salad) it makes a wonderful filling for empanadas.

  2. I am going to try this recipe… it is in the fridge marinating now! FYI to all… if you are looking for a “healthier” Adobo seasoning, Penzeys Spices sells a salt-free one that is amazing! The Puerto Ricans in my family all have to watch their diets to an extent, and this is one way to help them! It smells amazing on this Pernil! Feliz Ano Nuevo!

    1. @Patricia: Thanks for the comment – hope the recipe worked out well and the Puerto Ricans in your family enjoyed it. We’ll have to look out for the salt-free adobo from Penzeys. We’re big fans of theirs.

  3. Hello folks, I am making my first pernil today for my hubby who is from puerto rico.
    I bought a 4 pound bone in picnic shoulder and im just wondering since its so small, should i put it in a 400 degree oven the first hour for the entire hour? Or should i reduce that time? Any advice would be greatly appreciated on how long i should bake it for.. Im so worried im going to mess it up. Thanks!

      1. @Julie Sallies: thanks for your comment and apologies for the slow reply. Hopefully everything went well, but I’d say that 4lbs of meat with the liquid alongside it, especially with a bone can take that heat for an hour, but that anything less than a 10lb peril probably doesn’t need it. Provided you then covered and made sure that it had liquid around it for the remainder of the cooking, it probably turned out fine. The issue, as you guessed, with smaller cuts is that they have a tendency to dry out, but let us know how it worked out. We should probably edit the recipe for smaller pernils as we get quite a few questions about it.

  4. I made 23 lbs of pernil last year following your low and slow method. I put it in at 6pm and by 2 am, the pans were almost full of juices. I was glad i checked right before going to bed, otherwise I’d have had a huge clean up day of the party. I had a hard time falling asleep that night cuz the whole house smelled of pernil lol. I let the pork roast until serving time..around 5 pm. It came out so tender and juicy!
    I need to make pernil again and had to look up cooking time.I’m glad I’ve found your site once again. Thanks!

    1. @Vikz: thanks so much for your lovely comment. We’re delighted you enjoyed our recipe. There really is nothing like coming downstairs in the morning to wafts of garlicky pork emanating from your kitchen Please bookmark us so that you can find us again!

  5. I forgot to add water to the bottom of the pan for that first hour at 475… Did i ruin the pork or it will be fine after these next 8 hours lol

    1. @Nick: I wouldn’t worry about it, pork shoulder’s usually have enough moisture of their own to withstand an hour at 475 (depending of course on how big the shoulder is and if it has a bone in it). Hope it worked out for you – let us know.

    1. @Tony Banks: the skin is likely to curl on you a bit anyway as the fat renders and it shrinks. You certainly could season underneath the back, we haven’t tried it. Instead, we insert garlic cloves into slits in it, and then makes sure the non-skin sides are also well-seasoned.

    1. @Kevin: no better in terms of the tenderness of the meat, but it did allow us to get a delicious crust on the outside without drying out the inside. However, if you attempt it, make sure your grill or broiler is blisteringly hot and beware because at that stage in the process the meat is almost fall-apart tender, so moving it to get that sear can be challenging.

  6. My fiancee and I are cooking our first pernil today for my family. I just wanted to know, before the cooking process is done, can we turn the oven back up to 475 for the last 30 minutes to get the skin nice and crispy?

    1. @Jennifer: apologies for the slow response. Hope your pernil turned out nicely. You can certainly uncover for the last 30 minutes or an hour (depending on the size of your butt, so to speak…) to get it crispy. We definitely like some bark on the outside of ours too!

    1. @Heather: good question. You should measure the cooking time by the weight of each individual piece. Combining the weights assumes they are one mass and could lead you to overcook them. Best of luck!

  7. I like this post and am grateful to have found it. I am roasting a 7.5 lb shoulder that I have marinated over night and was unsure if 275 was to high a temperature for 8 hours of cooking time. One thing, I have electric, my over uses electric which I had to learn and become comfortable with cooking and baking for over the first three years of use, I find that electric heat is a dryer and hotter heat than gas. Should I make any adjustments, of possibly use a lower temperature because of I am cooking with electric?

  8. I had a 2.25 lb pork butt and followed the recipe, except I halved the ingredients in the marinade (except for the garlic — we don’t skimp on garlic around here) and only did 45 minutes at 475F. My family inhaled the pernil, and the drippings made an amazing tangy gravy to boot.

    Also, it being summer I did the whole thing in a pan on a gas grill so as to not heat up the house. Worked perfectly. Thanks!

    1. @Turntabledoc: so pleased it came out well. Interesting that you halved the marinade ingredients. Others have mentioned previously that the pernil gets too soupy with all the marinade combined with meat juices (and fat) during cooking. We’ve observed the same from time to time. We think it may be the water quantity in the pork that can throw things off. Oh, and cooking it in a pan on the grill is perfect. We’ve tried it that way and it really helps keeps the house cool!

      1. Hello I am trying your method of slow cooking but I marinated my meat for 2 days. I have a 2 week old and am up every 2 hrs so this is perfect for me. I have a few questions though. 1. Can I cut off the top and fry after baking?
        2. Do I still have to boil it 1st before frying it being that I baked it 1st? Or how I cook it?
        Can I freeze the leftover Pernil and Chicharron?

        1. @desiree williams: congratulations on the new addition to your family! We have never tried cutting the fat cap off for chicharrones, but it’s a great idea! And yes, you can freeze leftover pernil, but we’re going to guess that chicharrones will go soggy when you defrost them.

  9. Any slow cook meal you can freeze just make sure that you have it in an airtight bag or container ask for cutting the top off frying it I would say only if you took it off when the meat was rare if it’s well done all you’re going to end up with is a piece of dried meat

  10. I’m going to cook my first pernil. I love the low/slow idea and need a substitute for the orange juice marinade (I can’t have most fruits or juices). Wondering about lemon juice/chicken stock combo.

    1. @Mary Alice Wells: best of luck – hope the pernil turns out well. Yes, the lemon juice and chicken stock combo will be similar to the sour orange juice. Not sure if you can have fruit peels/rinds, but the addition of chopped-up some orange peel to the marinade would give you the aroma or orange without the juice and the lemon would provide the acidity.

    1. @Mei: did it taste good? was the pork delicious and falling apart? did your guests enjoy it? In terms of gravy, we typically just de-fat the meat juices and then cook them down until they’re thicker and serve it alongside the meat.

  11. I have been cooking according to this recipe for YEARS. I have also sent it to countless people since it’s so fantastic. I don’t use your recipe for the seasonings but I do follow your cooking instructions and it is fantastic every time. After years and years of using it I thought it was time to leave a comment to say THANK YOU!

  12. This is absolutely THE WORST! recipe for pernil. After the initial hour, the pernil was partially burned and was almost completely cooked. I don’t know los much longer I’ll be able to cook it but it don’t be slow. WORST RECIPE EVER AND MY THANKSGIVING DINNER IS RUINED. Thanks a lot.

    1. @Ricardo: we’re really sorry it didn’t work out for you. It sounds very much like either your oven was too hot or the pernil was small. The cooking time per pound calculation is key to a good pernil.

  13. Stumbled on this recipe two days ago and decided to try this method instead of my usual method for making pernil. I made two 4.5 lbs. pernils and I followed the directions one small modification because of the size of the roasts. Instead of a full hour at high temp to start, I turned down the heat after 45 mins. The last half hour, I turned up the heat to 325 and uncovered the roasts and I had perfect, juicy meat with crunchy skin. My family raved. This is a keeper recipe!

    1. @stormygirl888: thank you so much for trying our recipe and for your kind words. We’re delighted it worked out well for you and your family. Felix año y buen provecho!

  14. Totally agree with the post about it burning, I had timed it for exactly 1 hour @ 475 & it burnt! No it was not on the top rack either. I assume dried it out too since I have yet to finish cooking it.

  15. I am going to attempt to make my first 12 pound pernil and followed all instructions and it is marinating right now except I have no citrus juices or fruits at all. Should I just add extra water in base of pan ?

  16. Angel Martinez. Great post. I make as you do mostly and I have for years. Works great. Just have to do the basics as you laid out. As with anything in life they’ll always be someone who’s not happy. I haven’t read more than one that wasn’t happy. Either way, ovens vary so keep. A close eye.

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