Photo by Hispanic Kitchen

Pernil Cubano with Mojo

Cuisine: Cuban
Prep Time: 1 to 2 Hours
Cook Time: 3 to 4 Hours
Servings: 6 People

Pernil, the traditional Cuban dish typically enjoyed during Noche Buena, is a filling comfort food that always brings up memories of my happy childhood. Not to be confused with lechon — a whole pig roasted over a spit — pernil is flavored with garlic, oregano, and other strong ingredients and marinates for hours before it’s baked to crispy, flavorful perfection.


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  1. Prepare the mojo by combining all ingredients and mixing them in a bowl. Season to taste with salt. Transfer half of the mojo to a sealed container in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Prepare the pork: Rinse and dry the meat with a clean towel. Place pork on a large, rimmed sheet pan lined with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Poke deep, one-inch holes throughout the meat with a paring knife.
  3. Pour the mojo over the meat in batches, using your fingers to push the mojo deep into the pork. Wear gloves if you’re worried about your hands smelling like garlic or oregano.
  4. Loosely seal the foil over the pork, leaving room for the air to circulate inside. Place the pork in the oven and roast for three hours. Baste pork with pan juices or water as needed when juices evaporate. The pork is done cooking when the thickest part of the shoulder reaches 160 degrees with a meat thermometer.
  5. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes, then transfer to a large cutting board. Use kitchen shears to cut into serving pieces, trimming the excess fat, if desired. Add reserved mojo and lime for more flavor.
  6. Serve with rice, beans, and plantains on the side. Reserve leftovers for sandwiches.
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Carmen Cusido

Carmen Cusido is a writer based in Northern New Jersey. She is working on a memoir about grief and loss titled Never Talk About Castro and Other Rules My Parents Taught Me.