Pernil is a brightly flavored roast pork dish from the Caribbean. This version uses quick-cooking tenderloin in place of the more traditional pork shoulder, but it has the same robust flavorings, including garlic, cumin, oregano, vinegar, and lime. Making this pernil-style toast pork is truly an art, the first step is poking holes in your pernil on both sides. Then you are going to wash the pernil with vinegar, lime juice, and water and you want to rub on both sides and then wash your pork. You are then going to make the marinade by combining the garlic and onions first in a food processor for a few minutes. Next, you are going to add salt, oregano, cumin, thyme, black pepper and then blend that together.

Once combined for a few minutes, add the bitter orange juice and if you don’t have bitter orange juice just mix together with some orange and lime. Last but not least, add in some olive oil and blend it one last time. Now, the most favorite part is marinating the pernil, pour in the marinade in your pernil and then massage it making sure the marinade gets into the holes. Once you are done, wrap your pernil super tight and let it marinate overnight so all those flavors can work on it. Before roasting the pernil, you are going first boil it, place your pernil in a big pot, pour the marinade all over it and then a cup of water. Boil it on low heat for 45 minutes to an hour and once done, you are going to roast your pork.

Wrap your pernil with some aluminum foil then you are going to roast your pernil in a 350 degrees oven. Let it slow roast for there and a half hours then remove the foil and let it roast for one more hour.


  • 6-7 lbs pork loin
  • 1 tbs ground achiote or annatto seed
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 garlic heads, peeled
  • 1 red onion, cut in large chunks
  • Juice from 3 bitter oranges
  • Salt (about 2 tbs) and pepper, adjust to taste


  1. Blend the onions, garlic, and bitter orange juice to obtain a puree.
  2. Mix the puree with the achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, panela, salt, and pepper.
  3. Make several cuts or incisions in the pork loin and add the onion marinade.
  4. Rub the pork loin with the marinade trying to get it into the incisions.
  5. Let the meat marinate for at least 1 day (2-3 days is ideal), turn it over every 6-8 hours.
  6. This is a dry roast and the marinade on the roasting pan can leave stains – to avoid this I recommend lining your pan with foil.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 275 F, bake for 3 hours, turning the roast every hour.
  8. Increase the oven temperature to 350F, bake for another 2 ½ hours, turning the roast every 30 minutes.
  9. Slice the meat finely and serve with whole potatoes sautéed in butter, fried ripe plantains, tomato slices, lettuce, radishes, pickled onions, and tree tomato hot sauce.