Instant Pot 3-Ingredient Cuban Pork (Pernil Asado)

Have you ever seen the Norman Rockwell painting “Freedom of Want” with the family around the table excited while the grandmother presents this gorgeous turkey? Nothing evokes the memories of large American family dinners like the presenting of a gorgeously browned and delicious turkey. Well, if Normal Rockwell were Cuban and lived in Miami, his painting would have  had 30 people gathered around a wooden box called a Caja China, waiting for the unveiling of the pig.

A whole suckling pig (Lechon Asado) at my father-in-laws house for Christmas.

If you have never had the experience of eating a perfectly roasted pig that has been cooking all day so the skin is crispy and fatty and the meat is moist and drizzled with Mojo (a traditional Cuban garlic/citrus sauce and marinade), you haven’t lived. That said, as magical as the Instant Pot is, there is no way to make Lechon Asado in it. I promise you, if there was a way I would have found it.  However, you can get pretty darn close to capturing the tenderness and flavor, and in a fraction of the time. Oh, and with using only 3 ingredients!

What’s the trick you say?

Well first, since you can’t very well put a whole pig in an IP (not even in an 8 Qt), I use my favorite part and the cut that Cubans use when they want pork, but aren’t feeding 30 people…the shoulder (aka the picnic cut or picnic shoulder which is lower on the leg or the Boston Butt which is higher up the shoulder). In Spanish it’s called Pernil and the mixture of meat and fat is perfect. It’s also cheap!

Second, marinade it. Over night is best, but a few hours is just fine.

And last, cook the pork in the marinade. Just pour it all in and that boosts the flavor  and keeps it juicy and flavorful as if it has been cooking low and slow all day!

Instant Pot 3 – Ingredient Cuban Pork (Pernil Asado) 

Recipe by Lana Horruitiner Perez

  • 3+ lb Pork Shoulder, Picnic Shoulder, Boston Butt, or Picnic Half, cut into 3-4 inch large chunks (I prefer to use skin on and bone-in even though I remove both the bone and skin. I find them cheaper and more tender. However, you can use boneless to make it easier. Also, because you are cutting the roast into 3-4 inch large chunks, you can buy as small or as large a roast as you want.)
  • 1 1/2 cup Mojo Criollo marinade (when I am not making my own homemade Mojo, I prefer Goya brand. That said, you can use whatever brand you like. You can usually find this in the Latin or Hispanic section of the grocery store.)
  • 1 Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 3 Tbl Olive Oil

If you are using a Picnic Shoulder cut with the skin attached, use a sharp pairing knife to take the skin and fat layer off. The easiest way to do this is to peel the skin and fat back with one hand as you use a pairing knife to slice underneath. It’s ok if there is a little fat left on the meat. (Save the skin to use for fat back or to make chicharrones.)Pork shoulder

remove skin from pork

With a sharp chefs knife, cut the Pork shoulder into large 3 to 4 inch chunks. If you have a bone-in roast, remove the bone. Place the chunks of pork into a ziploc bag and add 1 1/2 cups of the Mojo Marinade to the bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can before closing the bag.

Place the ziploc bag into the fridge for 4 to 12 hours.

When ready to cook, pour the entire contents of the ziploc bag (pork and marinade) into your Instant Pot liner.

Lock the Instant Pot Lid inot place and make sure the Valve is set to the Sealed position. Pressure cook on High for 70 mins and allow to Natural Pressure Release completely which will take 15-20 mins.

Remove the pork and place into a bowl. Discard all but 1/4 of a cup of the liquid that is left in the Instant Pot. 20190430_202206

Clean the Instant Pot liner and place back into the Instant Pot and press Saute and adjust to High (I have an Instant Pot Max that allows you adjust the Saute temp through the touch screen. however, on most other models you can cycle through the temperatures by either using the “Adjust” button or by just pressing the “Saute” button multiple times until it reaches the temperature you want.)

Add 3 Tbl of Olive Oil and allow the Instant Pot to get hot. Add the slices of Yellow Onion and Saute while stirring until the onions begin to get soft and brown.

Once the onions are starting to brown, add the 1/4 cup of reserved marinade and deglaze to get the browned bits of flavor.  Add the Pork and 2 tsp of Salt and mix with a wooden spatula or spoon. As you mix, use the spatula to chop up the meat. 20190430_203510

Serve with White Rice and my Cuban Black Beans or on a crusty loaf of Cuban or Italian Bread to make the best sandwich you will ever have! Buen Provecho!20190501_092204


11 Comments Add yours

  1. The Coasties says:

    Lana – I can’t remember how I found your website, but I am enjoying the recipes I have tried for the Instant Pot.


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Thank you so much and I am so honored you tried my recipes and so happy you enjoy them. You made my day! ❤😊


  2. Judy says:

    Absolutely delicious!


    1. drlanaperez says:

      I’m so glad you like it! Thank you so much for sharing with me. ❤


  3. Ana says:

    Can I make this with bone in?


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Absolutely! You will just have to cook it longer because you won’t be able to cut it into chunks. Also, a standard large bone in pernil might not fit in the pot. I usually buy the cheaper bone-in shoulders and than cut the bone out and cut it into chunks.


    2. drlanaperez says:

      Yes but since you aren’t cutting it, the cook time will be much longer. I would double it and see.


  4. JimmyB says:

    I made this night before last and it was delicious! I used a 3lb Boston Butt and cut it into 6 pieces. Did the overnight marinade and then cooked if for the 70 minutes with a 10 minute natural release. Sauteed the onion in olive oil and found I needed more than 1/4 cup of reserved marinade for the consistency I like. I would suggest holding back more, just in case. Everything turned out great and far superior to the takeaway pork roast dinner I had bought a couple of nights earlier. The next day for lunch I used some of the shredded pork on a bun and added a bit of BBQ sauce and had a chopped pork sandwich. I have always been perfectly happy with Mojo sauce in a jar and not going to make the effort to make it from scratch. Thank you so much for posting this recipe!


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Oh wow, I’m so glad you liked it! My daughter prefers it cooked this way even than in a caja china. That’s a great idea to reserve more liquid and if you don’t mind I’ll add that into the recipe ( giving you credit of course). The best part is the leftovers for sure. I just made a video tutorial on using the pork to Mahe Cuban sandwiches and Medianoches. I’ll add it to the blog soon.


  5. Penny says:

    If I were to use Goya and had a 5 pound shoudler, would you recommend upping the amount of Goya to 2 cups?


    1. drlanaperez says:

      Hi. I would keep it at 1 1/2 cups. You don't need to up the liquid based on the quantity when dealing with an Instant Pot.


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