Authentic Pernil Recipe For Your Tacos

When I created this authentic pernil recipe, it immediately transported me back. I remembered all my childhood memories. It was like, in an instant and for a moment, I was back HOME.

As a Puerto Rican growing up in Puerto Rico, I had a lot of authentic pernils from family, friends, and community gatherings. In an attempt to bring the authentic flavors to the US, I called my father to get his recipe down!

He’s the chef of the family and gave me all the secrets to create the delicious juicy pork that we all love!

Back at home, we usually serve this pork dish during Holiday celebrations. So I thought, with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, we should start practicing on our main dishes to brush up on our skills.

I made this pernil for meal preparations, and my boyfriend and I ate it two different ways- one with cauliflower rice and the other as a taco as presented in this post.

This tender and juicy fall-apart meat is perfect to eat with low carb tortillas. It also feeds a lot of people. With only a few simple pernil ingredients you should be able to enjoy an incredibly flavorful pernil Puerto Rico taco recipe!

Authentic Pernil Recipe Ingredients:

Pernil Marinade:

Additional Taco Ingredients:

  • Low carb tortillas (I use Mr. Tortilla)

  • 1 Avocado

  • Fresh cilantro bunch

  • Red onion, thinly sliced

  • Lime wedges

What Is Pork Pernil Roast?

Pernil is a slow cooked pork roast, usually a shoulder, butt or leg part, that is typically enjoyed during the holidays. It’s a classic Puerto Rican and Dominican Republic dish, though unsurprisingly there are small differences between them.

There are also Cuban versions of pernil. The seasonings typically included in this dish are salt, pepper, sofrito, adobo, oregano, and sometimes a sazon packet.

This authentic pernil recipe is not for the faint of heart. It takes around five (5) hours at 350°F. Some even prefer to cook it for even longer- about ten (8) or so hours at 200°F.

On top of that, it’s also important to give it a 45 minute hit at 425°F for a perfectly crispy pork skin. You may do as you wish with the temp and time.

You only need to make sure that the temperature never gets too high (450°F is the absolute highest for crisping). I always keep an eye on it during this high temperature process to prevent burning.

My pernil Puerto Rico version is not only magical and well-able to bring me back to my childhood home, it is also just plain delicious.

The crispy crust and the soft and tasty meat on the inside quite literally makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

How To Marinade Pork

The marinade is one of the most important things in an authentic pernil recipe. This means that once you’ve finished preparing the meat, blend the oil, garlic, fresh and dried oregano, Adobo, paprika, salt, onion, and pepper in a blender to fully combine it.

Then, rub the mixture all over the meat. Make sure to work it all over the surface and into the slits you made while you were preparing the meat.

Finally, cover the pork with foil and refrigerate it for a minimum of 8 hours. This should be enough time to soak the meat and marinate it in your spices but I love to marinate it for 24 hours to make sure it fully penetrates the meat.

Marinating the meat in some of your pernil ingredients is very important. Without the marinade, your pork is just going to be another roast with no discernible taste.

The spices help not only create an incredible aroma, but also creates an otherworldly burst of amazing spices in your mouth.

How To Make Roast Pernil

After the overnight marinade, bring the pork to room temperature for about an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F°.

Then, bake the pork and make sure you have completely sealed and covered for the first four (4) hours. Afterwards, remove the foil and bake for another hour at the same temperature.

This should soften it up until the pork is fall-apart tender.

For a crustier exterior, turn the heat to 425°F and bake for another 45 minutes, until the outside of the pork has a nice browned crust.

Then, let the pernil sit for at least 20 minutes. Finally, use a couple of forks to pull the meat into chunks and mix with the drippings.

The drippings will have lots of flavor and add back the juices to the meat!

Tender Juicy Meat For Your Tacos

Pernil is a very versatile dish. You can eat it as a main course with the typical sides of rice (in our case cauliflower rice), or you can make great tacos, or a fantastic sandwich on your favorite keto bread.

No matter which way you choose to eat it, you will not be disappointed.

If you so choose, you can make leftover pernil into taco (like I did). How? Once the roast is done, pull apart the meat into small chunks.

This should be quite easy, especially since the meat is so tender it’s going to fall apart at the slight encouragement.

This pernil Puerto Rico o pork shoulder recipe is an amazing party dish which can feed around 9 hungry people.

The prep time is 20 minutes while the cook time is six (6) hours. Which means that you only need to actually put in some work for 20 minutes and then forget about it in the oven for hours. I love how convenient this recipe is!

Especially since you can use your pernil leftovers and turn it into absolutely mind-blowing taco meat.

So what are you waiting for? Try it and see. Go ahead and buy yourself some meat and create this tender-juicy meat for your taco day.

You can even try it now, in preparation for the Holidays. After all, taco day is everyday. I swear you won’t be disappointed.

Share Your Results! 

I hope you enjoy my  keto pernil taco recipe as much as I did. If you make this recipe, please let me know how it turned out! 

Absolutely love to see your creations! If you happen to make one of the recipes, would really love to see it! Just use the hashtag #sweetketolife, tag me on @sweetketolife , or just let me know by comment!

Salty recipes you might like: 

Authentic Pernil Recipe For Tacos

Yaidy Santiago
This tender and juicy fall-apart meat is perfect to eat with low carb tortillas. It also feeds a lot of people!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Marinade Time 8 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine keto, low carb
Servings 9


Pernil Marinade

  • 1 (7-9 pound) bone-in pork shoulder
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 14 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 3 tbsp Adobo powder seasoning
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Additional Taco Ingredients

  • low carb tortillas (I use Mr. Tortilla)
  • 1 avocado
  • fresh cilantro bunch
  • red onion thinly sliced
  • lime wedges



  • Blend all pernil marinade ingredients until it forms a smooth paste.
  • Score your pork shoulder on a crisscross pattern all over the skin. Poke your knife into the pork all over the meat (back and sides) creating 1 inch wide and 2-3 inch deep incisions. Also under the skin fat to slightly detach the skin from the meat. I made about 25 in total.
  • Rub your marinade all over the meat and into each knife incision with your fingers. I recommend using gloves for this part.
  • Once the meat is completely covered in marinade, place it in a large bowl/container and cover it airtight with foil or cling film. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours ( I do 24 hours).
  • Remove it from the fridge 1 hour before cooking to reach room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350F. Place your pork shoulder (skin side up) in a deep baking pan (at least 2-3 inches tall) to catch the drippings.
  • Dry the pork skin with a paper towel and salt the skin evenly (use 1 tsp).
  • Cover your baking pan with tin foil sealing each side of the pan to conceal any steam from escaping. Cook for 4 hours.
  • Remove tin foil and cook for 1 more hour at 350F then turn the oven to 425F and cook for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and crispy. Remove the meat and let it sit for 5 minutes before pulling the meat apart with a pair of forks. Remove the bone and crispy skin before mixing in the drippings.

Taco Assembly

  • Grab your favorite low carb tortilla, add a slice of avocado, chopped red onion, and fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Add a squeeze of lime for extra freshness and Enjoy!
Keyword marinade, pernil, pork shoulder, puerto rico, taco

Yaidy Santiago

Former collegiate volleyball player that loves to cook and try new healthy recipes. My boyfriend and I follow a strict keto diet and I challenge myself to make delicious low-carb foods that we both enjoy every day!

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