How to Make A Cuban Roast Leg of Pork

Every year around Christmastime, I think I'll post the instructions for how to roast a Cuban-style leg of pork. Because that's what my family (and most every Cuban family I know) eats on December 24th as we celebrate our traditional Cuban Nochebuena.

And every year when there's a garlicky, porky, fat mess in my kitchen, I forbid cameras because everything is covered in porky lard and garlic. So there's that. 

I always post the finished product somewhere on my social media with some clever caption like, "Look at my food!" I know. I'm clever that way.

My Big Fat Cuban Family - How to Make an authentic Cuban Roast Leg of Pork Recipe

But I think you deserve to know how The Magic happens in my Cuban kitchen, but without the mess. So here's the recipe for A traditional Cuban Roast Leg of Pork because Nochebuena is coming and you need this in your life.

Just trust me that you don't want my step-by-step photos. Also, they don't exist, but that's not important right now.

Roast Leg of Pork, Cuban-style


  • One 5-6 lb. leg or shoulder of pork
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup sour orange juice OR 1/4 cup regular orange juice and 1/8 cup each fresh lime and lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or cooking sherry)
  • 2 large onions, sliced thickly
  1. Start the night before. Remove any excess fat from the leg of pork and pierce the meat all over with the tip of a sharp knife.
  2. Combine garlic, oregano, salt, and cumin and mash it into a paste. You can do this in a food processor or go old school and use a mortar and pestle. (It tastes better!) 
  3. Place the pork in a large pan (non-reactive) and rub it well with the paste, sprinkle liberally with pepper, add the orange juice mixture and white wine and onions. 
  4. Cover with plastic wrap, refrigerating overnight, turning the meat several times.
  5. You'll need to start your cooking about 5 hours before serving. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  6. Remove the meat from the marinade, pat it dry, and reserve the marinade.
  7. Place the pork in an aluminum foil lined roasting pan (you line the pan with aluminum foil, in case that wasn't clear).
  8. Roast 1 hour, turning the roast at intervals to brown on all sides. Insert a meat thermometer, making sure it doesn't touch the bone. 
  9. Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Pour the reserve marinade over the roast, cover it loosely with aluminum foil, cook another 3 hours or so, turning the meat once and basting frequently with the pan juices. Meat should reach an internal temperature of at least 180 degrees F. 
  10. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of roasting, adding white wine if the meat becomes dry. 
  11. When it is done, remove the roasted leg of pork to a serving platter and allow it to rest, covered with foil until about 15 minutes before carving. 
  12. Instead of slicing, the meat should fall right off the bone, as you basically hand shred. Serve with hot Cuban Mojo Criollo (recipe follows). 

 All the Magic Cuban Flavor comes from Cuban Mojo Criollo (Garlic Sauce). 

Cuban Mojo Criollo Recipe

  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 medium sized onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sour orange juice OR 1/4 cup regular orange juice and 1/8 cup each fresh lime and lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 large onions thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup Extra Virgin olive oil - full disclosure - real lard gives it a much better flavor, but that's not important right now.
  1. In a food processor, crush the garlic, along with the salt to form a thick paste.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the garlic paste, onion and juice and let this sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or longer.
  3. A few minutes before you're ready to serve the Mojo, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a medium pan until it is very hot.
  4. Add the garlic mixture, stir and pour over the hand-shredded pork roast meat. 
My Big Fat Cuban Family authentic Cuban Pork Roast Recipe

Feliz Navidad!

Let the comelatas begin.