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Pernil style roasted pork loin

My recipe for pernil style pork is made with pork marinated in a sauce of bitter orange juice, onion, garlic, achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and panela and slow roasted in the oven for several hours.

Pernil de cerdo

En Español

Pernil style roasted pork is a typical dish in Ecuador and many parts of Latin America. The pork is marinated in a sauce of bitter orange juice, onion, garlic, achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and panela and slow roasted in the oven for several hours.

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The whole process for cooking pernil in Ecuador is close to hornado de chancho, however the marinade and spices are different. Pernil style pork adds clove and cinnamon which give the meat a very special flavor, also while the hornado meat should be very moist, the pernil meat is very dry, but both should be extremely tender.

The roasted pork can be served as part of a meal, but many times is  used to make sandwiches. Just like with hornado, a pork leg is usually used to make pernil, however a pork loin makes it easier to cut the roasted meat. Pork loin is also more readily available and is smaller than a pork leg (7 lbs vs. 20 lbs).

Pernil recipe

Another difference between hornado and pernil is that for pernil the skin and as much fat as possible should be removed from the meat, and while the hornado needs to be constantly kept moist by “bathing” it with beer or chicha while roasting. Both roasted pork dishes are delicious with very different flavors and textures.

I recommend trying both (well, not making both at the same time) to taste the difference. Also, several Latin American countries have different versions of pernil, which are very different than Ecuadorian pernil. For example, what is known as “pernil” in Puerto Rico is much more similar to Ecuadorian hornado de chancho.

Pernil de cerdo

Pernil roasted pork loin

Pernil is pork marinated in a sauce of bitter orange juice, onion, garlic, achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin and panela and slow roasted in the oven for several hours.
4.90 from 57 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Ecuadorian, Latin American
Keyword: Pernil, Pork loin, Roasted pork
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Marinating time: 2 days
Total Time: 6 hours
Servings: 10 to 12


  • 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
  • 2 tbs grated panela or piloncillo see more info on panela in this post
  • Juice from 3 bitter oranges replace with 2 oranges and 1 lemon
  • Salt about 2 tbs and pepper (about 1/2 tbs), adjust to taste


  • Blend the onions, garlic and bitter orange juice to obtain a puree.
  • Mix the puree with the achiote, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, panela, salt and pepper. (Warning – this marinade is so strong will make you cry – even if you’re wearing contacts)
  • Make several cuts or incisions in the pork loin and add the onion marinade, rub the pork loin with the marinade trying to get it in to the incisions.
  • Let the meat marinate for at least 1 day (2-3 days is ideal), turn it over every 6-8 hours. 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.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 275 F, bake for 3 hours, turning the roast every hour.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 350F, bake for another 2 ½ hours, turning the roast every 30 minutes.
  • 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.

Recommended side dishes:

Whole potatoes sauteed in butter

pickled onions

fried ripe plantains

Tree tomato hot sauce

Step by step preparation photos for pernil roasted pork

Pernil marinade
Pernil prep
Pernil ecuatoriano
Side dishes for pork pernil
Pernil de chancho recipe

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  1. Oh my goodness, the marinate is seriously unbelievable. It’s now going to be a hard wait until it’s ready. Thank you!

  2. I made this because I wanted to make pernil sandwiches for a “cafecito” with Ecuadorian friends. Everybody loved the pernil sandwiches -I also made the pickled onions.
    The only problem that I had is that the marinade completely dried during the cooking process so my cooking pan got ruined and I had to put it in the trash afterwards. I will make sure that the marinade doesn’t dry next time.

    Hi Carmen – Sorry to hear about your cooking pan, you can also line your pan with foil to prevent this from happening.

  3. Laylita, I adore your recipes. I am so excited about trying all the different things that you have here! I’m Cuban, and love making my family’s traditional recipes. The similarities and differences between Cuban and Ecuadorian food are so interesting to see! Cubans LOVE Lechon Asado, and our marinade and method of making it have many things in common with the recipe you posted here. Latin food is the BEST! Thanks so much for sharing

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