This slow cooker pernil is tender, moist, juicy, aromatic, and shreds like pulled pork with no effort, just a slow cooker!
There is nothing more quintessentially Puerto Rican than a deliciously tender, slow roasted pork shoulder, known as pernil. Pernil is the centerpiece of most of our holiday meals, and any other big celebration that calls for feeding a big crowd. This large, bone-in roast is slathered in a pungent blend of garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil, and is usually baked low and slow in the oven, with the slab of fatty pig skin sitting on top, so it slowly bastes the meat and gets crunchy.
In order to make this a weeknight friendly and stress free dish, I decided to buck tradition and make it in the slow cooker. My family was skeptical at first, but it turns out that a slow cooker is the key to a guaranteed tender and moist roast. You can’t achieve the crunchy skin thing, but really no one minds, I think we’re doing ourselves a favor by sparing our arteries anyway.
Pernil that’s roasted in the oven can become dry and tough without proper attention, but the moist environment of the slow cooker makes that virtually impossible. This pernil is tender, moist, juicy, aromatic, and shreds like pulled pork with no effort, just a slow cooker! A delish dish that’s foolproof and weeknight friendly? WOO! Let’s do this.
You’ll need a 6 quart Crockpot for this recipe.
What Cut Of Meat Is Pernil?
Pernil is typically made with a bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder or Boston butt roast. Take a boning knife and remove the pig skin from the roast (or have your butcher remove the skin for you). I totally forgot to take a picture of the roast before I removed the skin, but it’s pretty straight forward. I’ve asl
Once it’s removed, poke your roast with the knife so it’s got a bunch of slits for your garlic paste to seep into. You can also remove the bone at this time if you wish, it will allow for faster cooking. I usually leave the bone in, it’ll slip right out when it’s done.
How To Make Pernil Marinade
Get your paste ingredients together. I use a mortar and pestle to break up the garlic, but you can use a food processor, or simply finely chop the garlic and mash it with the back of your knife with some salt until it create a paste. Mash up the garlic cloves until you have a chunky paste, then transfer into a small bowl. Sprinkle in the salt. Yes, it looks like a lot, but it’s a big roast, you’ll need it!
Add in the ground black pepper. This will give a nice depth of flavor to the pork, but won’t make it spicy. Finally, add in the dried oregano. This will give it the roast an herbaceous flavor that is a must! Next, in order to make a paste that you can spread onto the pork, add 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil. Mix up the paste, it should look like this! If it’s too dry, add a bit more oil. Now to the fun part…
How To Marinate Puerto Rican Pernil
Take the garlic, salt, pepper and oregano marinade that you just made slather it all over the pernil, making sure to tuck some into those slits you created earlier. Massage that meat! Once you’ve got the first side completely coated, turn the roast over and slather with the remaining marinade. Don’t forget the sides!
Now that your roast is robed in this luxurious coat of deliciousness, it’s time to let it marinate. An 8 hour marinade is ideal, but even an hour will do the trick if you’re in a rush. To make this during the week, prep the roast the night before. Set the fat side down inside your crockpot’s ceramic insert, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.
How To Cook Pernil In The Slow Cooker
Set the ceramic insert into your slow cooker, and place the marinated pork shoulder inside, fat side down. Set it to cook on low for 9-10 hours or high for 6-7 hours, or until the meat falls apart. You don’t need to add any liquid, because the pernil will create its own juices as it cooks. When you pull the pernil out of the slow cooker, it’ll look something like this. A big, beautiful mess of tender meat, just waiting to be shredded.
How To Serve Puerto Rican Pernil
Remove the large shoulder bone and any cartilage and/or fatty bits. Shred the meat with two forks and drizzle it with some of the liquid from the slow cooker. This will absolutely be the best pernil you’ve ever had. And leftovers are great for freezing (if they last that long), or for tacos and my amazing Cuban sandwich empanadas.
More Puerto Rican Recipe Essentials
- Arroz Con Gandules (Puerto Rican Rice with Pigeon Peas)
- Puerto Rican Pasteles De Yuca
- Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut Rum Drink, Egg-Free & Vegan Versions)
- Puerto Rican Sofrito (Recaito)
- Homemade Adobo Seasoning
- Habichuelas Guisadas (Puerto Rican Stewed Beans)
Slow Cooker Pernil (Puerto Rican Roasted Pork Shoulder)
- 7-8 pound picnic pork shoulder skin removed
- 14-16 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Use a boning knife to remove the skin from the roast. Leave a layer of fat on the pork shoulder.
Once the skin is removed, poke the roast all over with the knife to create slits.
Smash the garlic, salt, pepper and oregano with a mortar and pestle, or blitz in a food processor.
Add olive oil to the paste, and stir to combine.
Slather all sides of the pork shoulder with the garlic paste, making sure to push some into the slits you created earlier.
Marinate overnight, or up to 24 hours. If you don’t have time to marinade, don’t worry. It will still be delicious.
Place the pork shoulder into a 6 quart slow cooker ceramic insert fat side down, and cook for 9-10 hours on low or 6-7 hours on high, until the meat shreds easily and the bone is completely detached from the meat. Shred the meat into chunks with 2 forks.
Freeze leftovers in a plastic freezer storage bag. Reheat in the microwave as needed.
I made this two weeks ago and it was amazing. I’ll be making it again for some of my family with the addition of two other common ingredients in the marinade- red wine vinegar and white vinegar(I’m using rice vinegar in place of white). I always pair it with its complimentary side of Arroz con Gandules as well!
I would like to make this but with two 9 lb pork shoulders in the oven at the same time. How long should I cook it for and at what temperature? Any tips would be great!
Made this tonight for my family and it was a huge hit. My Mom is an incredible cook who doesn’t pay attention to ingredients and measuring so she’s hard to follow unless you’re watching her make stuff live. This is the 4th recipe I’ve tried from your site and it’s been spot on from the DR/PR house I grew up in 🙂
Hi!! I was curious if anyone has added adobo to this recipe?? Does it need it? I haven’t made pernil without it. Thanks in advance!
Instead of adobo, if you can snag those sazón packets- that will give you the most amazing flavor ever! Usually for a small piece of meat I can get away with 2 packets one on each side of the meat
I add both one packet of Sazon and a few shakes of Adobo to the marinade.
OMG – I made this today. Bought an almost 8 pound bone-in, skin-on pork shoulder. Skinned it – froze the skin to make chiccarones later. ABSOLUTELY delicious!! So moist/juicy it almost shredded by itself. Left it on low for 10 1/2 hours. *
**Warning***If you live in an apartment like I do your neighbors will be knocking on your door to comment on all of the deliciousness wafting in the hall. LOL (Seriously!)
Put a little Wepa! In your life and make this.
What degree do I use
Hi! I just stumbled across your site yesterday looking for details to slow cook pernil. Mines actually a pork butt with just a shoulder blade in it, but seasoning it the same. You ingredients are just like my moms! I just added a splash of red wine vinegar to it. I read in your comments that you could cook the skin in an air fryer or oven, so my question is am I taking the skin off to cook separately from the roast or do I wait until after the meat is cooked then cutting it off and putting it in the oven? I hope my question is clear.
I cook the skin in the air fryer 350° until crisp. Hope that helps. You don’t have to pre-cook it before hand.
Thanks for your response. I was wondering how to cook the skin.
I just posted this to Facebook and wanted to share it with you guys:
You guys have to try this! I was at the grocery store and I wanted to buy a picnic ham to cook for my husband. I saw a lady looking at them and asked her opinion. She said, “oh you have to make pernil it’s a Puerto Rican ham!” So she told me to get Goya adobo, Sazon` recaito, and sofrito and that if I googled it I would find the recipe. Well I looked at a thousand recipes and could not find those exact ingredients. So here’s what I did with the ingredients I had. First off let me say don’t forget to defrost your ham LOL. I minced the garlic put it in a bowl add it all the ingredients I mentioned along with the olive oil, it kind of helps it stick together and be pasty. So I had this big ham and I had to spend half of the morning defrosting it enough to make deep holes to put the rub into, (all of the ingredients mentioned above) then by having it defrosted you can marinate it overnight which I did not get to do. Saying that with all the mistakes I made this was the most, let me repeat, the MOST delicious ham! Okay let me say pork not ham because it tastes nothing like ham this particular cut of picnic ham is more for making poor boys and sandwiches etc. My husband absolutely loved it! I made that and a Puerto Rican potato salad that I learned to make years ago it actually has green olives in it. My husband hates green olives but he loved this potato salad. You don’t really taste the green olives but it gives it this flavor that is so unique and so good! You make regular potato salad add green olives and Goya adabo and then some of your own seasonings that you prefer. So I put this in the microwave and I cooked it on high for 4 hours then I turned it down too low and let it finish cooking until 5:00. Tender, tender, tender! I use the drippings to make homemade gravy of course with homemade mashed potatoes. I topped this dinner off with sweet potato recipe casserole. This dinner can be made at any time doesn’t have to be a holiday I’ll definitely be making it again on our anniversary come June. Thank you for putting up with my rambling but I hope some of you at least make this recipe and enjoy it as much as me and my husband did.
I have used this recipe several times to make my pernil and we eat the leftovers for days! When there is only a little bit left, I make lechon nachos! I don’t make my pernil in the slow cooker though, I cook mine in the oven. I use the recipe and usually my pernil is anywhere from 8-9lbs. I actually double the recipe too and let the pernil marinate anywhere from 24-48 hours but I dont change a thing! QUE RICOOOOOOOOO!!!!! My family likes it so much that I have a turkey that I decided to make for Noche Buena and they want me to marinate it the same way as the pernil…then I saw your Pavochon recipe so I don’t know if I will use that one or keep the same pernil recipe. Decisions! Decisions! Thank you for a FANTASTIC recipe!! I will continue to use it time and time again. Now time to go marinate my turkey and make my Coquito for tomorrow! Happy Holidays!
Thank you so much! This makes me so happy.
When your oven is broken for the second time in a year, and, your landlord won’t fix it, this is the next best solution. No crisp outer skin, but all good. It was phenomenal.
Hello, I am excited to try this recipe!
I don’t generally cook large chunks of meat though–how would you convert cook time based on pounds of pork?
Today, I’m working with a little over one pound of pork shoulder (no bone). Thanks in advance! Can’t wait to try this out!
Thank you, this chart should help. http://www.oprah.com/food/slow-cooker-times-how-to-cook-anything-in-a-crock-pot/all
Hi Jannese! Although, I make pernil in the oven, but i’ve never tried making in a crock pot. I would love to try this recipe…sounds so good! Would you give me some advise? I would still like to make the crispy ‘cuerito’. Do you think after removing from the pernil I can roast it or broil it separately? Have you ever tried this or has anyone else? TIA!
I make my cuerito in the air fryer or oven. 325F until it’s crunchy and crisp.
How would you make this in the oven?
Preheat the oven to 325 F and roast the pork skin side up for 35 minutes per pound, uncovered, until the skin is crispy-brown.
This was so tasty! I wound up with a 10lb shoulder that I didn’t know what to do with and tried this recipe. Crockpot for around 14 hours. My mom added something at the end without my permission. “Vinegar based bbq sauce” she said “but not much”. Either way it was really good. I’m making it again tonight with the random cut of pork we have!
I have a boneless pork loin roast, would that be okay to substitute for the pork shoulder?
Yes it would work. You will have to add some liquid to the pot since pork loin is leaner.
This is my go-to recipe now. Absolutely delicious!
Thank you! ❤️
Hi there. I make pernil all the time and my family loves it. Here is my question: I got a great deal on pork loin today and wondered what would happen if I substitute the loin for the pork shoulder. What are your thoughts? Would it taste similar, or do you think it’ll turn out too dry?
Hi! You can definitely use pork loin, just add about 1/2 cup of broth in the slow cooker to make up for the liquid that’s released from a fattier cut. Cook for 5-6 hours on high.
Can I use a pork butt instead of a shoulder? Do i add anything extra?
Yes you can! Nothing extra needed.
Another delicious recipe! I make pernil often and I feel like it was even more moist in the slow cooker then the oven. Simply delicious! I will be making Cuban sandwiches with the leftovers. Thank you for another amazing recipe!
Thank you Crystal! Yes I love the slow cooker because it keeps things super moist. And Cuban sandwiches is also my fave way to use this leftover pernil!
I’ve been following your recipe for a couple years now and it’s amazing!! I have a question though. The store I stopped by today didn’t have bone in…I had to buy boneless pork picnic or go to another store. Will I need to reduce cooking time? Thanks for any help!
First off, thank you for being a loyal reader! Secondly, yes boneless pork will cook in less time. I would checked if it’s done after 4-5 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low. Good thing is, you can’t really overcook pork shoulder since it’s a tough cut.
Thank you so much for the quick response! Having family over tonight and making your pernil! Your Gandules recipe is also fire! Thank you for all you do!
Loved this recipe and my neighbors loved it too! It was super easy to make ~ Gracias!!
Thank you Alberto!
Hello!! I absolutely Love this recipe!! Works in the crock pot and the smoker as well!! Do you think this would work in a Crock Pot Express pressure cooker?? I have a 10 qt monster that this roast would fit right into!! Any insight would be great!!!
I’ve absolutely used a pressure cooker to make this recipe, with great success. I recommend cutting the pork into chunks, or even better, using a boneless pork butt/picnic shoulder if you can find them. Select High Pressure and cook for 60 minutes. When the pork is done cooking and you hear the beeping sound, do a 10-20 min natural pressure release. Manually release the remaining pressure and carefully remove the lid. Shred and enjoy!
This recipe looks great and I’m hoping to do a variation in the pressure cooker okay. Do you add any extra liquid (e.g. chicken broth) to the instant pot?
You can add 1/2 cup of broth or or water to the instant pot.
Thanks for sharing this recipe! The paste smells delicious and I can’t wait to cook the pork. Some recipes I’ve seen in the past said to slow cook the pork with the fat side on top. Your recipe says to cook fat side down. What’s the difference?
I find that cooking the pork with the fat side down guarantees that it melts (since it’s sitting closer the heating element of the slow cooker) and creates liquid for the pork to cook in. If you were cooking the pernil on the oven, I would say cook it fat/skin side up, so it gets crunchy 🙂 enjoy!
First a little background about myself and pernil. I used to eat it about monthly in Brooklyn. On Broadway near flushing ave was a little mom and pop roasted chicken and pernil shop. Juke box in the back, a few tables and a few stools at the counter. In the summer, if it was 85 degrees outside , it was 110 in there, so eating in the place was out of the question. I used to get pernil, yellow rice and beans, some fresh lime wedges and sweet fried banannas all this for 5 bucks. We tried other spots but this place was open till 1am , had large portions and was welcoming. I tried someone else’s slow and low oven method and it was terrible. I used a 4.63 pound bone-in pernil, (.79 cents a pound). Used the same amount of ingredients you suggested for the larger size one. Marinated it about 12 hours. 9hr and 15 minutes on low, and bam it fell apart perfectly when i used the 2 forks. I told everyone about it, it was a huge hit. Others say to put a tablespoon of vinegar or lime juice in the marinade, or rub the pernil with lemon. Does that add anything to it? I dont want to mess with success. Thabnk again
I love your story and I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. You can definitely add vinegar to the marinade, it helps tenderize the meat and gives it a nice edge. Alternatively, you can purchase some store bought mojo, which contains citrus juices like lime and orange, which does the same thing.
I just stumbled upon your site and I must say that it is now my go to for everything Puerto Rico. I have the pernil marinating in the fridge and I can’t wait to cook it up. Thank you for the recipe and look forward to trying others soon.
Can I use the liquid left in the crockpot To pour over the pernil once it is done cooking?
Yes you can use the liquid, not just for pouring over the pernil! I love using some of it to make arroz con gandules, you just substitute some of the water in the recipe. It makes it taste sooooo delicious! You can freeze it into ice cubes and use it in soups and stews.
Can i cook the pernil in the crock pot with the skin?
Yes it just won’t turn out crispy
Hello after you cut off the skin what do you do with it I know it’s very good crispy can you tell me what I can do to get that in the slow cooker
You can bake the skin in the oven at 325F until it gets crunchy. Enjoy!
I usually make mine in the oven but its often turns out to be too dry. But I love chicharones.
If I want to make chicharones with the skin should I cook the pernil with the skin on in the crockpot and then cut off and put in the oven? Will the pernil cook well in the crock pot with the skin on?
You can cook the skin in the oven at 325F until it gets crunchy, it usually takes 2 hours or so.
Can I leave the fat on in the slow cooker, and then put the whole roast into the oven to crisp it up??
You should remove the skin and cook it separately in the oven on a sheet pan. 300-325 degrees F for 1-2 hours or until crisp.
I’m Puerto Rican and Pernil is a staple in our home for the holidays. However I have never cooked it in a slow cooker before. I tried it and LOVED the way the meat just falls off the bone. So juicy! I have also tried it with a Cuban recipe Mojo Marinated Pork (recipe from the movie ‘Chef’) and it’s just as great. Thank you for the recipe. I’ll never cook pernil in the oven again.
Thanks so much for your feedback Lilly! I’m glad you loved it! Yes, once I started making pernil in the slow cooker I never went back to the oven!
Just curious if the juices that come from the meat are enough to make a gravy? or is it very little juice?
It depends on the fat content of the pork, but I usually end up with at least 2-3 cups of drippings.
If I cook it on regular oven, at what temperature should I put it and for how long.
Hi Edgar, cover with aluminum foil and cook skin side up at 325 degrees F for 5-6 hours. Remove the aluminum foil and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for another hour or until skin is crisp. Closely watch this so you don’t burn the skin.
If I remove the skin for the crock pot, can I cook the skin separately? I mean that’s, although greasy, the best part! 😉 ?
Yes you can cook the skin in the oven, bake it at 375F until it gets crispy.
Approx how long?
Cook the skin in the crockpot on top of the roast, then take it out and bake it in the oven at 375F to crisp it up. Depends on how thick it is, but keep an eye on it after 15-20 minutes.
Do i have to put any water in the oven if I do it there?
No water needed, the pernil will release its own juices as it cooks
We are making two one in the slow cooker and one in the oven…
Mine is the slow cooker and my husband (Fernando) is doing it in the oven. For the one in the slow cooker do I serve it with all the juices or what do I do with them? Discard them?
By the way it doesnt let me rate it 5 stars… So Im not rating yet but the slow cooker one finished and its delish! 😉
Hi Frances! You can discard the juices or save them in the freezer; I like popping some of the liquid into my arroz con gandules. Gives it great flavor. Glad to hear the slow cooker version went well! Happy Thanksgiving!
I am making a 3 pound roast for me and my husband. Do I cook for a shorter period of time? I will be cooking it on low.
You really can’t overcook pork shoulder so 7-8 hours should be fine.
Just wanted to let you know that I have a programmable slow cooker. I put this on before I go to bed and have wonderful dreams as I smell this in my sleep. Thank you for this recipe. 🙂
That’s awesome Christine!!
Also can you add onions to the bottom or would that give it a weird taste?
That would be fine, they will caramelize as they cook.
I found a paste the other day for pernil and it was amazing I cant fin it anymore but this looks similar…..can it also be used for chicken?
Yes it can!
This looks like a great recipe for it, but I always make pork shoulder in a pressure cooker. It’s a whole lot faster and you get the same tenderness, if not more, than slow cooking. The pressure forces the spices and everything into the meat.
That’s great Doug! I’m scared of pressure cookers, so I’ve never used one 🙂
Some of these new pressure cooker’s are amazing & are very safe compared to the older ones. Food comes out perfect every time! No more soaking beans overnight either. You should check into using one. The lids lock and don’t unlock til safe to open. Mine even has a warmer, browner, and slow cooker built in too. Different setting depending on what your making. Don’t be afraid to try something new; I can promise you that you’ll love it!
I just got an Instapot for Christmas so I can’t wait to try it! Thanks Heather!
How much time did you put it in the pressure cooker for it to shred and fall off the bone
I would consult a pressure cooker manual for specifics on cooking a pork shoulder as I’ve never done it.
Can I use Adobo instead of salt and pepper or is it just better to use it your way?
You can definitely substitute the same amount of adobo in place of the salt, add the pepper separately.
Do you need any water in the slow cooker for this recipe.
Nope, the pernil creates its own juices.
My boyfriend is Dominican and Ecuadorian and he missed his mom’s Pernil in New York (we’re in California). I wanted to give him a taste of home so I found your recipe and decided to make it for him and my family. Everyone was raving about this dish and my boyfriend couldn’t stop talking about it!!!! thank you so much for sharing your recipes! I’m definitely going to making more dishes from your blog! AMAZING!!!!
Gina, thanks so much! I love getting feedback from my blog visitors, and I’m so happy you guys enjoyed the pernil! Can’t wait to hear about more about other recipes on Delish D’Lites! Happy cooking!
Hi, I’d like to hear some nice ways to serve this dish, and how it is eaten alongside (or in) the things it accompanies. Thank you!
Hi Gregory! The traditional way to serve pernil is with Arroz Con Gandules. Some fried sweet plantains would be perfect as well! Enjoy!
Trying out this peril tonight! It smells amazing already and it’s only been in the slow-cooker for about 45 minutes!
I can’t wait to hear how it went!
First thanks for subscribing to my blog and looking forward to readi g yours.
Thank you so much, I’m so glad I found your blog, it’s fantastic!