Pernil (Puerto Rican Pork Roast)

Learn how to make Pernil, a traditional Puerto Rican pork leg or shoulder marinated with adobo seasoning, garlic, and lots of fresh oregano. 

  • Author: Salima Benkhalti
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 7 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Category: Entree, Dinner, Lunch
  • Method: Roasted
  • Cuisine: Puerto Rican, Latin
  • Diet: Gluten Free




  1. Make the spice rub. Combine oil, garlic, oregano, adobo seasoning, and salt in a mortar & pestle or food processor and mash/pulse until a consistent paste forms. It should be a thick with chunks of small chunks of garlic.
  2. Prep the pork. Start by scoring the thick piece of fat on top of the pork with a sharp knife. Next, insert the knife through the fat and several inches deep into the flesh. Repeat this about 15 times throughout the surface of the piece of meat.
  3. Marinate the pork. With the pork in a baking dish, rub the marinade all around, making sure to push it into the deep cuts made earlier. Add orange juice or water to the base of the baking dish, cover the baking dish with foil and marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight (the longer the better).
  4. Roast the Pernil. Make sure to bring the pork to room temperature before preheating your oven to 300 degrees. Roast the pork, covered with aluminum foil for 2 hours or until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  5. Crisp the skin. At this point, raise the temperature of the oven to 450 and bake on a middle rack uncovered for 1 hour or until the fat becomes crispy and the pork inside is fork tender.
  6. Let it rest. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wooden cutting board, wrap with foil and allow the Pernil to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Keywords: Pernil, Puerto Rican Pernil