Belqui’s Dominican Pernil with Sazon

Pernil Belqui Dominican

This Dominican pernil is boldly flavored, overnight-marinated, and family-famous in the Arizona home of Belqui Millili-Ortiz, one of our favorite Dominican homecooks and the host of Belqui’s Twist food blog.  ”Pernil is a classic dish in Dominican households, says Belqui, who grew up in both the D.R. and New York’s Washington Heights, a Dominican community where she was surrounded by friends, family and lots of cooking.

The dish is also one of her forever-favorites, says Belqui. She makes this flavorful roast for special occasions, summer cookouts, and ”every couple of months, for no reason other than I love it.” To watch Belqui make this recipe step-by-step, check out her pernil master class in this video.

Dominican sazon
Dominican sazon is the DR’s essential cooking base and a first cousin to Puerto Rico’s sofrito.

The secret to a great pernil, says Belqui, is marinating it in Dominican sazón, the cooking base that is a first cousin to Puerto Rican sofrito and just as essential to the cocina Dominicana. Bright-tasting and aromatic, sazon is the “the holy grail” of her country’s cuisine, explains Belqui, who makes hers with multi-colored bell peppers, a ton of garlic, onion, adobo seasoning, lime juice and soy sauce. Belqui keeps a sazon container in her fridge, freezing the rest in ice cube trays or small zip bags to make sure she is always stocked.

Dominican pernil
Belqui’s Dominican pernil slow-roasts for about 5 hours, crisping up deliciosamente.

When she makes pernil, Belqui likes to use pork butt, which despite its name, comes from the shoulder of the pork. ”Today, I went with a 7-pound pork butt for this recipe, for its tenderness,” says Belqui, ”but you can use other parts of the pork. They will crisp up, just as well. There is no wrong cut to pick. And remember, make sure to set aside enough time for the pernil to soak in all the juices of the Dominican seasoning. Be sure to let it marinade overnight, at least, and a full 24 hours is better.”

Belqui pernil shredded
Belqui shreds her pernil and serves it with rice and black beans, a classic Dominican combo.

Another bonus of this delicioso pernil: it feeds a crowd—a big one, says Belqui. ”The amount that you can render from this recipe is shocking, and the leftovers can be used in so many amazingly delicious ways.” She lists sandwiches, empanadas, casseroles, and so many more memorably good ways.

She gets it, she says. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but don’t skip making Dominican sazon from scratch, says Belqui. ”Just throw them all in the blender and you are good to go. It’s actually pretty easy,” she says. It’s worth the effort and makes all the difference in this dish.

”You are going to love, love, love this pernil,” says Belqui.

For more of Belqui’s family-famous Dominican recipes, try her arepitas de yuca, queso fundido with chorizo (perfect for Sunday game days!), beef picadillo ragu and many more here.

Ready to Make Belqui’s Family-Famous Dominican Pernil?

Belqui’s Dominican Pernil with Sazon

Recipe by Belqui Ortiz-Millili
4.8 from 6 votes
Cuisine: Dominican


Prep time


Cooking time






  • For the Pernil
  • 1 pork butt or shoulder, about 7 pounds

  • 2 Tbsp adobo seasoning

  • 1 cup corn oil

  • 1 cup Dominican sazon (see below)

  • Water to cover the pernil halfway

  • For the Dominican Sazon
  • 1 red pepper, chopped

  • 1 green pepper, chopped

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 orange bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled

  • 1 bunch cilantro

  • 2 Tbsp oregano

  • 3 to 4 heads garlic cloves, peeled

  • 4 Tbsp adobo seasoning

  • 3 Tbsp white vinegar

  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 4 Tbsp adobo

  • 5 splashes soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup water


  • Make the Dominican Sazon
  • After chopping all ingredients, mix all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  • Divide into separate freezer friendly, plastic containers. Keep one container in the fridge and store the others in the freezer until needed. To thaw, remove container from freezer and place in fridge overnight. These can last several weeks in your fridge. Frozen, for a couple of months.
  • Marinate the Pernil
  • Season the pork with the adobo.
  • Cover the pork with the oil and massage into the meat.
  • Pour the Dominican sazon all over the pork.
  • Wrap the meat in saran wrap. And then wrap it in foil.
  • Refrigerate overnight at minimum, with 24 hours or longer preferred.
  • Boil and Slow-Roast the Pernil
  • When the pernil is marinated, place the pork in a deep pot or Dutch oven large enough to fit it.
  • Add water to cover the meat halfway up.
  • Bring to a boil on the stovetop, on medium heat. Boil for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning the pork a few times to ensure even cooking.
  • While it is boiling, preheat the oven to 350ᴼ.
  • Line a roasting or baking pan with nonstick aluminum foil.
  • Unwrap the pork butt and place in the pan. Top with the marinade and water mixture.
  • Cover the pan with foil. Roast for 3 hours, basting once every hour and re-covering with foil.
  • After 3 hours, remove the foil. Cook for 1 more hour, basting every 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven. Let the pernil sit for about 20 minutes, lightly tented with foil.
  • To serve, shred the pork and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle with fresh lime juice for added flavor. Reserve the pan juices from the pan in a separate container to use with leftovers. Serve with rice and beans for a classic Dominican meal, says Belqui.


  • If you love onions, add an extra 1/2 to the Dominican sazon, says Belqui.

Like This

More Delicioso Family Recipes & Articles We Think You’ll Like!

You May Also Like

Got a question or suggestion?

Please rate this recipe and leave any tips, substitutions, or Qs you have!

Share Your Thoughts

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *