Pernil FAQ’s | How to Season & Cook The Perfect Pernil

by Chef Zee

Pernil Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What do I look for when choosing a Pernil?
    1. I look for a pork shoulder that’s nice in size (about 10lbs) and has bone in. I also make sure that it has a nice thick skin and little to no fat on the bottom. This is tricky and sometimes I have to settle for a pork shoulder with a fat rim on the bottom. It’s not the worse thing in the world. At the end of the day, the fat throughout the pork shoulder is what makes it juicy and tender
  1. How do I wash a pernil & how long do I do it for?
    1. You can wash the pernil for 5mins to an hour or more. When you wash the pernil for more than 10 minutes, it begins to brine the meat which adds to the juiciness of the meat. I typically will leave the pernil brinning/washing while I prepare the other ingredients



  1. How do I season a pernil?
    1. Seasoning a pernil is fairly simple and I have a video that goes step-by-step on my YouTube Channel: Made To Order– How to Make Pernil Dominicano 
    2. The main rule to seasoning a pernil is to remember to keep your salt ratio in check. I suggest making note of how much your pernil weighs – dividing that in half. The number you get is the MAX amount of salt in tablespoons that you should use. For example: If you have a 10lbs Pernil, 5tbs of salt is the MAX amount of salt I’ll use in my marinade. This will give me the perfectly seasoned pernil that isn’t bland. Now you can adjust this to your liking. It’s all up to you and your tastebuds
  1. What is sopita?
    1. Sopita is a chicken bouillon cube. Find out more about sopitas and its uses on my YouTube Channel: Made To Order- What is Sopita? 
  1. What’s better to use– fresh oranges, limes, or bitter oranges?
    1. As long as you’re using fresh limes, oranges, or bitter oranges, then it’s really all up to you. I love using bitter oranges but they aren’t always in stock so I’ll make my own with oranges and limes. Now I personally like it more limey than oranges so I’ll add more limes than oranges but this is up to you. I’ve always made pernil countless of times using just limes and it’s also impeccable and delicious
  1. What are the measurements for multiple pernils?
    1. Simply adjust my Pernil Dominicano recipe to account for your size pernils. However, divide seasonings BEFORE adding limes and salt. In essence, you can combine all of the garlic, onions, orégano etc… in the food processor but then divide into separate bowls. Once in the separate bowls, salt and add limes according to the size of each pernil. Add the salt and limes all at one to one large marinade batter will surely give you pernil that’s way too salty and sour. This tip is golden and I swear by it whenever I made more than one pernil at a time.




  1. Can I season a pernil for more than one day?
    1. Of course. The longer that the pernil marinates– the better. I marinade my pernil anywhere between 1-2 days
  1. Do I have to boil the pernil? And if so for how long?
    1. You don’t have to but I recommend it. Boiling it beforehand opens up the pores of the meat allowing the seasoning to really permeate throughout the meat. It also yields an undeniable tender juicy pernil
  1. How do I bake/roast the pernil?
    1. How long you bake your pernil all depends on how big and how many pernils you’re making. Nonetheless, you ALWAYS want to start roasting your pork shoulder covered for the first 3-4 hours and then uncovered for the last hour
    2. For pernil 10lbs and under roast covered at 350 degrees. If you want extra crispy skin, raise temp to 400 degrees when roasting uncovered
    3. For pernil 10.5 lbs and over  roast covered at 375 degrees. If you want extra crispy skin, raise temp to 425 degrees when roasting uncovered
    4. You know your pernil is done and ready to be roasted uncovered when the juices flowing from pernil are clear and skin is golden brown
  1. If I want to cook two pernil how do i position them in my oven, side to side, or one top and one bottom?
    1. Best to roast then side by side. If you roast one on top and one on the bottom, it will take longer for pernils to cook and one will brown faster and more than the other
  1. How do I get the skin crispy on the pernil?
    1. Crispy skin is all about how long you roast your pernil uncovered. I typically roast it uncovered for an 1 hour – 1hour 20mins. At the very end, I place my oven on broil and watch it carefully as the skin crisps up. I then squeeze a lime or bitter orange at the very end when I take it out to secure the crispy skin
  1. What do you do with the liquid that you take out of the pernil?
    1. I usually throw it out or strain it to create a gravy or stock
  1. How long do you let the pernil rest before cutting into it?
    1. Let the pernil rest for 30mins – 1 hours before cutting. Rest it uncovered as well so that skin doesn’t soften
  1. What do you eat pernil with?
    1. The possibilities are endless! I eat pernil with moro, cassave, plantains, bread, yuca and much much more!
  1. How long does pernil last?
    1. Pernil will last you about a week in the fridge. You can use leftovers to make Cuban Sandwiches. You can also saute leftovers with onions and peppers.

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