This tender Cuban pork is packed with flavor from the inside out thanks to its mojo sauce made with all kinds of citrus fruits. Baked to juicy perfection, the trick to this lechon asado recipe is to let it marinate long enough.
Flavorful Cuban Roast Mojo Pork
With an irresistible caramelized layer on top, this Cuban pork packs your favorite citrus fruits into one sauce. Baked until it’s fall-apart tender, every slice is an explosion of mojo sauce flavors.
Marinated for at least 4 hours, this lechon will transport you directly to Havana without having to leave your kitchen. It’s made with all of its traditional ingredients, except the recipe is simplified so you don’t have to dig a hole in the ground in order to enjoy it.
Oven-roasted for extreme convenience, it doesn’t get much easier than this juicy Cuban pork. When all you have to do is process the garlic, make the mojo, marinate, and bake the pork, is there anything to complain about?
What Is Lechon Asado?
Lechon asado, a.k.a Cuban or Mojo pork , is a typical slow-roasted pork served on special occasions. It’s marinated in mojo sauce for notes of citrus and beautifully tender meat that melts in your mouth. It is most often served shredded, but can also be sliced and served.
Lechon asado is traditionally prepared by burying a whole pig in the ground and cooking it there. It’s often wrapped in banana leaves too. However, the cooking method has been simplified to fit modern kitchens, which is exactly what this recipe is for.
It’s time to load up on citrus fruits for this Cuban pork! Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for full ingredient amounts.
- Pork Shoulder Roast: Make sure it’s bone-in.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic is important to get the most flavor. Jarred garlic will not give you the right amount of garlicky punch!
- Onion: White or yellow is fine.
- Olive Oil: Feel free to use vegetable, corn, or canola oil.
- Salt and Pepper
- Orange Juice: Use freshly squeezed juice for best results. If you can find sour oranges, they will give you the best authentic flavor, however they can be difficult to find fresh year round. You can also use jarred Naranja Agria.
- Limes: You can substitute these for lemons.
- Lemon: Don’t substitute these for all limes because then the pork can turn out sour.
How to Make Lechon Asado
Making a quick marinade, marinating the pork, and popping it in the oven isn’t so hard, is it?
For the Mojo
- Process the garlic. Place garlic (reserving 10 garlic cloves for later) and onion in the food processor. Pulse until you make a paste, similar to the texture of rice.
- Prepare the marinade. Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic mixture. Stir well and let it cook for 2 minutes.
- Add the orange juice. Add in the oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and remove from the heat. Carefully stir in the orange juice and freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice. Stir to combine.
- Prepare the pork. Place the roast in a large baking dish with the fat layer facing up. Use a sharp knife to carefully detach the fat from the meat, making sure to keep the last 1⁄3 attached. (This will help get a crispy layer on top.) Use the knife to poke about 10 deep holes into the meat. Stuff a garlic clove in each hole.
- Add the marinade. Reserve 1 cup of the mojo marinade. Pour the rest over the top of the roast, making sure to push some of the marinade into the garlic holes.
- Marinate it. Cover the roasting pan with foil. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours, or overnight for the most flavor.
To Bake It
- Roast it. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to 225°F and cook for an additional 25 minutes per pound, or until you reach an internal temperature of 145°F. About 2 hours into the roasting time, loosely cover the pork with foil.
- Let it rest. Take the pork out of the oven but don’t uncover it. Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes before slicing or shredding.
- Serve. Serve the pork with the cooking juices and/or the reserved mojo sauce on the side.
Do I Have To Let The Pork Marinate Overnight?
No, you don’t have to. However, it will let the flavors develop a lot better, making a much more flavorful Cuban pork so I highly recommend it.
Tips for the Best Cuban Roast Pork
Follow these tips for the juiciest, most authentic Cuban pork possible:
- Use sour oranges. If you can get a hold of them, use them to substitute the limes and orange juice in the recipe.
- Choose a fatty cut. Make sure to get a pork shoulder with lots of fat on top. This will make your lechon asado extra juicy and tender as the fat cooks and melts into the meat.
- Don’t raise the heat. Let it cook low and slow. Raising the oven’s temperature will result in tough pork.
- Meat Thermometer: I highly recommend using a meat thermometer that you can insert and leave in the pork while it cooks. This will make sure you do not over cook the pork.
- Cover it. Don’t forget to add aluminum foil to cover the pork according to the recipe instructions to keep your pork from drying out.
What to Serve with Mojo Pork
Serve this Cuban pork with all your favorite Latin dishes! Since we live in a mixed household, we don’t always follow the rules and will mix different Latin cuisines together, so don’t feel you have to stick to just traditional Cuban sides! Here are a few of my favorite side dishes to go with this mojo pork:
- Rice and Beans: Of course, rice and beans is the perfect side dish to go along side just about every Latin meal. Arroz Blanco (white rice), Mexican Rice, or even Arroz con Gandules would all be delicious. As for beans, black beans are most traditional, but serve whatever kind of beans you like best…maybe even some Charro Beans?
- Plantains: Tostones (crispy fried plantains) or Maduros (sweet pan fried plantains) would both be delicious!
- Yuca: Boiled or fried, yuca is always welcome on our plates!
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
Once fully cooled, refrigerate this Cuban pork in an airtight container for up to 4 days. To reheat it, sprinkle the pork with 1/2-1 teaspoon of water and microwave it in 30-second intervals until warm. You can also heat it in a pan over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.
More Pork Recipes
- Colorado Green Chili (Chili Verde)
- Ensalada de Coditos con Jamon (Macaroni Salad with Ham)
- Chuleta Frita
- Baked Ham with Orange Ham Glaze
- Stuffed Pork Loin
- 6-8 lb pork bone-in shoulder roast
- 2 heads of garlic, peeled and divided
- 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
- 1 ½ cups olive oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, bitter/sour oranges are best!
- 2 small limes, juiced
- 1 medium lemon, juiced
- Place garlic (reserving 10 garlic cloves for later) and onion in a food processor and pulse until you make a paste.
- To prepare the Mojo marinade, heat the olive oil in a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat. Make sure to not boil the oil. When the oil is heated, add the onion and garlic mixture and cook in the oil for 2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add in the oregano, sea salt and pepper. Stir to combine and remove from the heat source. Carefully stir in the orange juice and freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice. Stir to combine.
- Place the roast in a large baking dish with the fat layer facing up. With a sharp knife carefully detach the fat layer from the meat, making sure to keep the last 1⁄3 attached. (This will help get a crispy layer on top.) With the sharp knife, poke roughly 10 holes deep into the meat. Stuff a garlic clove in each hole.
- Pour all but 1 cup of the mojo marinade evenly over the top of the roast, making sure to push some of the marinade down into the holes and under the skin.
- Cover the roasting pan with foil and place it in the refrigerator to marinade a minimum of 4 hours, or overnight for the most flavor.
- When ready to roast, preheat the oven to 450°F. Roast uncovered for 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to 225°F and cook for an additional 25 minutes per pound, or until you reach an internal temperature of 145°F on a meat thermometer. About 2 hours into the roasting time, loosely tent the pork with foil.
- Take the pork out of the oven and keep the foil on top. Allow the meat to rest for 20 minutes before slicing or shredding.
- Serve pork with the cooked juices and/or extra reserved mojo sauce on the side.
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