Crockpot Pernil

Years ago, I used to work in an office that was much more culturally diverse.  This one is rather “pale”.  ~sigh~

At any rate, back before The Food Network was showing people how to cook things that were not your basic American Staples, before there were cooking competitions on TV every 20 minutes and before the Chef became the New Rock Star, ethnic food in my neck of the woods was Chinese Take Out.

Unless, we had an office party.

Office parties were where I first tried “Sweet potato pie” and Arroz con gandules and the fantabulous garlicky tender pork dish that had a Puerto Rican name.

I had no idea what it was.  I even dated a guy who was of Puerto Rican descent.. and his mom made us gandules and pasteles (which I did *not* like.. and I felt so bad because she worked so hard at them).

But I hadn’t had that pork dish again .. until Knitting Knoobie said that she was making Pernil for dinner.  I was all “whut?” and she told me and I was like YAY!!! that’s it!!!

I did a little digging around the web and found a recipe by The Rican Chef.   Nothing against her method, but I was not about to tie up my oven all night when I had a crock pot that would do the job.  I made this a few times an tweaked it a bit here and there.
It’s really pretty easy.. you chop up some garlic with oregano, salt and pepper

Chopped garlic and spices

Prep your pork by stabbing it full of holes

Pork shoulder

Fill those holes with the garlic, sprinkle with adobo and shove in crock pot.

In the crock pot


Pernil and Greens

ok.. it’s not the best picture…

Pernil with greens and black beans

Pernil with greens and black beans

Eh.. whatever.. it’s good.. trust me.

4 from 1 reviews
Crockpot Pernil
A Slow Cooker way to make this classic Puerto Rican Dish.
  • 5 lbs boneless pork shoulder (butt roast, picnic roast)
  • 12 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp mexican oregano
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp adobo (I used Penzey’s salt free)
  1. Peel the garlic.
  2. Put the garlic, black pepper, oregano and olive oil in a small food processor and chop it all up to bits. (If you don’t have a food processor that will deal with the small amount, just mince the garlic and combine everything together.)
  3. Rinse the pork shoulder and pat dry. Remove the large layer of fat that sits on the top of the shoulder. There is plenty of fat marbled within the meat so you really don’t need this ½ inch thick layer.
  4. Take a paring knife and stab some holes throughout the pork. I usually make an X and then shove my finger in there to widen the hole.
  5. Shove the garlic mixture into these holes. Don’t worry if some ends upon the outside of the pork. It is not a big deal
  6. Sprinkle the adobo seasoning over the pork and put it into your crockpot.
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-5 or until pork is tender.
  8. Remove the pork from the crockpot and either cut up and serve or cut up and put it back in the crockpot to sit in the juices for a bit. (this is my preferred option
I've had some people tell me that they take the pork out and shove it in the oven to get the crispy bits that really make pernil. I haven't tried this myself but I think it's worth a shot.

Kibbeh-inspired Pot Roast

I love kibbeh.  If you’ve never had it, it’s a Middle Eastern dish of spiced ground meat  with bulghur wheat.  Much like hummus and falafel, how it’s spiced is regional.  In some areas it’s even served raw.   By the way, if you are local, the best kibbeh that I’ve found in the area is at Phoenicians, which I cannot recommend highly enough.  (They are closed on Monday’s even though the website says “open daily”)

I also happen to love pot roast.   Not only is it cheap but it’s easy.  But I wanted something a smidge different than the every day Yankee pot roast.

So, I combined my love of Middle Eastern Spices with the traditional pot roast recipe to come up with something mildly spiced but very flavorful. I’ve also substituted white potatoes for sweet potatoes for a little different flavor (and to be more South Beach Diet friendly- sweet potatoes are phase 2 only and are considered a “starch” because of the amount of natural sugar in them)

This is done in the crock pot. I usually just load it up and move on.. But, you can always sear your pot roast first to add that bit of flavor that come from browning your meat.

Kibbeh Inspired Pot Roast


  • 3-4 pound pot roast.
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3-4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 cup beef stock/broth
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake (can bump up to 1/2 if you like a bit more heat)


  1. Trim the fat from your pot roast. This can be difficult since it’s usually marbled throughout.  I just get the hard fat off the edges.  If desired, sear all sides in a hot pan.  Put the pot roast in the bottom of your slow cooker.
  2. Slice the onion and spread over the top of the roast
  3. Peel the sweet potatoes and place them whole on top of the onions.
  4. Stir the cinnamon, allspice and red pepper flake into the beef broth and pour over everything in the slow cooker.
  5. Cook on high for about 5 hours.  I don’t know how long on low (sorry.. I’m always shoving this in the crock pot around 11AM on Sunday mornings).  Turn the sweet potatoes over about 1/2 way through.

Once everything is cooked through, remove sweet potatoes and cut up for serving.  Remove the pot roast and cut up in chunks, I usually remove as much fat as I can at this point. You can take some of the broth from the crock pot and thicken it with cornstarch for a gravy or you can just pour a smidge over your plate as is.   I usually nuke some broccoli for a side dish.