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Pieces of the Cuban roast pork served with white rice and black beans on an aqua plate with an aqua linen and garnished with two lime wedges.

Cuban Roast Pork (Lechon Asado)

This Cuban roast pork (lechon asado) is marinated in a citrus and garlic marinade overnight and then roasted low and slow until it’s fall apart tender.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cuban
Keyword pork
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 7 hours
Marinating overnight 8 hours
Total Time 16 hours
Servings 10
Calories 412kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 8-10 pound Pork Shoulder also called pork picnic (ours is 9¼ pounds)
  • 2 Heads of Garlic peeled - divided (1 head for the mojo marinade and 1 head to insert in the pork)
  • cups Sour Orange Juice how many oranges to use will depend on how large and juicy they are (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon Cumin
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 tablespoons Coarse Salt divided (1 teaspoon to break down the garlic, 1½ teaspoon for the mojo marinade, 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on the pork, about 1 tablespoon for the water to crisp the skin at the end)


  • You will also need: Mortar and pestle, a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, meat mallet to smash the garlic (or use the side of a large knife), mesh strainer (to catch the seeds of the oranges), a large pan to marinate to pork, large marinating or roasting bag (optional) or plastic wrap to cover the pork while marinating, large roasting pan with a rack, aluminum foil to tent the pork, and cooking spray.

Make the mojo marinade

  • Peel the 2 heads of garlic.
  • Reserve 8-10 whole garlic cloves for the pork.
  • Smash the remaining garlic cloves; place them on a cutting board and give them a good whack with a meat mallet or the side of a large knife.
  • Add the smashed garlic and 1 teaspoon salt to a mortar and pestle. Work the garlic until you break it down into small flat pieces.
  • Add the smashed garlic, sour orange juice, olive oil, oregano, cumin, 1½ teaspoon salt, and the bay leaf to a medium bowl or jar. Stir or shake to combine well.
  • Cover the jar/bowl and let the marinade sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, a couple of hours or overnight is better. Shake or stir well before using.

Marinate the pork

  • Line a large pan with the roasting bag (if using). Place the pork in the pan.
  • Make 8-10 (as many garlic cloves) small slits (about 1-2 inch deep) on the skin side of the pork.
  • Insert the reserved whole garlic cloves into the slits. Dip the clove in the marinade to make inserting them easier.
  • Turn the pork over (skin side down) and make about 10-12 small slits (about 1-2 inch deep) in the meat.
  • Use a ladle or spoon and start pouring the marinade into the slits you made.
  • Then, pour the remaining marinade over the pork. Sprinkle another 1 teaspoon of salt over the pork (if desired).
  • Turn the pork, now it should be skin side up. We want the fleshy side sitting in the marinade.
  • Seal the bag by making a tight knot on the top, or cover the pan well using a generous amount of plastic wrap.
  • Marinate the pork in the refrigerator overnight.


  • Remove the pork from the refrigerator 30 – 45 minutes before roasting (providing that it’s cool in your kitchen).
  • Preheat the oven to 325°F
  • The marinated pork will be a grayish color, that’s normal; it’s the citrus working on the meat.
  • Lightly spray the rack of the roasting pan with cooking spray.
  • Place the pork on the rack, skin side down.
  • Brush any loose pieces of garlic off the pork. They will start to burn quickly.
  • Pour a little bit of water in the bottom of the roasting pan. You’ll have to add a little more during the roasting time too. The drippings and any garlic pieces on the bottom of the pan will start to burn and smoke. The water keeps this in check. Discard leftover marinade.
  • Roast the pork for a total of 6-7 hours until the internal temperature reaches at least 170° F and the meat has pulled away from the bone on one end. About 1½-2 hours into the roasting time tent the pork. Take a piece of aluminum foil (roughly the size of the pork shoulder) and loosely cover. Just place it on top, don’t wrap it.

Crisp the skin (if desired)

  • Remove the pork from the oven and carefully flip it over so it’s skin side up. Be very careful during this step as the roast is heavy and hot!
  • Fill a bowl or cup with water and add a generous amount of salt (about 1 tablespoon for 1 cup of water), stir. Drip a little bit of the salted water on the pork roast and brush it all over the skin. Repeat several times.
  • Make sure the pork isn’t sitting too close to the heat element. Move the oven rack down if you need to. Switch the oven to the low broiler setting.
  • Very Important Cook’s Note: Do not leave the oven’s side until you finish this step. Turn on the oven light and look in every minute or so. It will only take 2-4 minutes. The skin will crisp and brown quickly, it will go from perfectly golden brown to burnt in minutes, if not seconds.
  • Once the skin is bubbling and it may even start to crackle, carefully remove the pork from the oven, cover it loosely with a piece of foil and allow it to rest at least 20 minutes before carving.



If you can’t find sour oranges, you can make a good substitute by combining orange juice (fresh squeezed is best) and lime juice. Two parts orange juice to one part lime juice. So, for this recipe it would be 1 cup of orange juice and ½ cup lime juice. Shake or stir well to combine.
We lined the pan with a large roasting bag. We found them in the foil and plastic wrap section of the supermarket. Cover the pork well with plastic wrap while marinating in the refrigerator if you are not using a bag. The smell of this marinating pork is strong and will permeate the refrigerator.
Use a roasting pan that has a rack so the pork shoulder is not sitting on the bottom of the pan.


Calories: 412kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 49g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 888mg | Potassium: 930mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 94IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 3mg