(Classic) Slow-Cooker Cuban Pork | Make Ahead Mondays Highlight


Back in March of 2009, this blogging novice posted a recipe that remains one of the most popular ever here on Foodie With Family. And let me tell you, it deserves every bit of its popularity. Slow-Cooked Cuban Pork is one of those crazy recipes that somehow manages to be dead simple, insanely inexpensive, habit-formingly delicious, almost infinitely customizable, and wickedly versatile. This is the original Foodie With Family unicorn recipe.

A testament to how fabulous this recipe actually is is the fact that so many of you made it even though I split the recipe into two different posts and made you go to two places to print it. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. I was a newbie. So today, for Make Ahead Mondays, I am finally righting my wrong against you all with a bright, shiny, easy printable version of this classic recipe. I’m doing a little roasting two pigs with one post action, too… because in the last several months the readership here has grown explosively AND I LOVE YOU ALL MADLY FOR IT but that means that some of ye who are new around these parts may not have yet seen the Slow-Cooked Cuban Pork and in a wild display of run-on-sentence-ery, I’m here to tell you that you must, must, MUST make one or several.

If the five reasons given above weren’t good enough to convince you to make this at the soonest possible moment, I have a couple more to persuade you.

  1. It makes a massive amount which makes it good for…
  2. FREEZING. I realize I’m type-screaming a lot with the all-caps today, but I’m very excited to share this recipe again.

This is truly Make Ahead Monday friendly. You get a gigantic amount of shredded pork to eat off of and freeze into individual portions. Win/win!

We use leftovers from this recipe for Barbecue Pulled Pork Sliders, Barbecue Pulled Pork Pizza, and Hot TexMess among other things. A couple containers of this pork in the freezer is the best guarantee against the “I have no idea what to make for dinner” syndrome.

Over the past three years, I’ve received all sorts of emails from people who have up-sized the Cuban Pork enough to feed a couple hundred people at church suppers, wedding receptions, and down-sized it to feed a singleton or a couple. If you’ve been around here for a while, and you’re one of the many who HAVE tried the recipe, would you tell us how you made it? Did you serve it for a special occasion?  Did you make any changes to it? Add anything to it that you absolutely love? Fill me in!

If you prefer the old posts along with the photo tutorial, they’re still there and here, but I, for one, will be using this brand-spanking new all-in-one, easy-print version below.

(Classic) Slow-Cooker Cuban Pork | Make Ahead Mondays Highlight
Of all the recipes published here on Foodie With Family over the years, this remains one of the best loved and for good reason. Fragrant, garlicky, moist and yet crispy, this mouth-watering pork is as easy to make as it is wonderful and habit forming. The recipe yields a large amount making it perfect to feed a crowd or freeze for quick meals in the future.
Step 1:
  • 1 (8-10 pound) bone-in pork shoulder, make sure it fits into your slow-cooker. Cut to fit if necessary.
  • ½ cup frozen 100% orange juice concentrate
  • ⅓ cup lime juice (fresh squeezed or bottled)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 whole peeled cloves fresh garlic (or 1 Tablespoon granulated dried garlic)
  • 1 Tablespoon (or more, to taste) ground cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon dry oregano leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon or more fresh ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • if available, 2 stems (no leaves, just stems) fresh cilantro
Step 2:
  • Slow-cooked pork shoulder, thoroughly chilled
  • Cooking juices from slow-cooked pork shoulder
  • 2 Tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine or cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon dried mustard powder
  • 2 drops liquid smoke, optional
Step 1:
  1. Drizzle the olive oil in the slow-cooker bowl. Place untrimmed pork, fat side down in the bowl then flip fat side up. Toss garlic cloves in around the roast and sprinkle with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Use a spoon to dollop the frozen orange juice concentrate over the top of the roast. Pour the lime juice around the edges of the roast, toss on cilantro stems- if using, cover, and turn cooker to ‘HIGH’. Allow to cook for 1 hour, turn the heat to ’LOW’ and continue cooking for another 12 hours or until meat falls apart when prodded with a fork. When the meat is tender, turn off slow cooker and place the slow cooker bowl in the fridge. (If your slow-cooker doesn’t have a removable insert, transfer the contents to a large container with a tight-fitting lid and pop that into the fridge.
Step 2:
  1. Use a spoon to remove the congealed fat from around the pork shoulder. Discard the fat. Transfer pork shoulder to a large cutting board, preferably one with a groove to catch juices. Otherwise, keep the paper towels handy! Let sit while attending to the pan juices.
  2. Pour the cooking juices that surrounded the pork through a fine mesh strainer positioned over a saucepan. Remove and discard any solids left in the strainer. Add the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, red pepper flakes, dried mustard powder and liquid smoke to the cooking juices. Whisk until evenly combined and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Allow to boil (while working on shredding the pork) until reduced to about ¼ of the starting volume. Set aside until pork is fully shredded.
  3. Pull the bone out of the pork and discard. Scrape as much fat as you can from the outside of the pork shoulder. Throw away the fat or give it to your spoiled and lazy dogs. Pull large chunks of the shoulder apart. It should naturally come apart at places where there is additional fat you can remove. Take as much of the fat out as you can without wasting meat.
  4. Using your hands -or two forks- shred the meat into small pieces. When you’ve shredded all the meat, you can leave it as is or chop through it quickly with a knife to ensure that you have small bite-sized pieces. It depends on what you’ll do with the pork. I usually run through it with the knife since I have so many little mouths eating it. When pork is fully shredded (and chopped, if desired) transfer to a 9? x 13? baking dish with sides. Pour the reduced pan juices over the pork and toss. Tightly cover the pan with foil. If you plan on serving it immediately, put into a preheated 350ºF oven and heat for 25 minutes, or until hot all the way through. If you are preparing this ahead of time you can either place the pan directly into the freezer or into the fridge.
  5. To reheat from chilled:
  6. Place, still covered in foil, in a preheated 350ºF oven for 30 minutes, or until heated through.
  7. To heat from frozen:
  8. Place, still covered in foil, in a preheated 350ºF for 45 minutes, or until heated through.


  1. says

    MY FAVORITE. I’ve made it for just me and Steve, for small gatherings at my house (4-6 people) and for about 25 last year at Steve’s birthday party last year. Never fails to please. It will likely be what I make when Steve’s family comes to a housewarming party for us later this year. Love love love.

    Thank you so much for putting it in one printable post! YAY!!

  2. AJ says


    This was the inspiration for my smoked pork loin. I use the same ingredients, with fresh cilantro leaves and a full head of garlic (separated). Toss it in a food processor to puree it and then marinate my pork loin for 3-4 days. Smoke it on the grill, let it rest…. I had a vegetarian of 15 years almost convert back based on the smell…

  3. Mignon says

    Looks so good! I put a pork butt in the oven this morning for carnitas. Next time I have the proper pork cut I will make this! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  4. Valerie in Colorado says

    Does it have to be pork shoulder? Could you use pork butt? I don’t know my meat cuts, which is obvious, what’s the difference between the two? (Aside from the obvious….one being from the top and the other the bottom :0)

    • Sachi says

      Hey there, just thought i’d let you know that pork BUTT and Pork SHOULDER are the same cut of meat. I’m not really sure why they sometimes refer to it as a butt considering the cut is actually from the shoulder.

      The main thing that distinguishes pork butt/shoulder from other cuts is that it has a tremendously delicious amount of fat marbling inside and coating the outside of the meat(often referred to as a fat-cap). As you know – Fat equals flavor! (and less known, it also equals moisture!) That is why the thigh is the creamiest and most flavorful part of the chicken (fat) and doesn’t dry out as easily (fat) and it does the very same thing in the pork shoulder, just on a grander and more delicious scale! The loin, for example, is very lean. Which means it can dry out VERY easily (like chicken breast, for example) and needs a more deft touch, you need to pull it before it gets over cooked.

      But pork butt/shoulder thrives under a slow cook. Its much more forgiving if you don’t have the time of experience to watch it or know when its going dry. Its perfect for dishes where you are slow cooking under a lower heat. That time allows all of the tougher fat and fibers to disolve and become that wonderful type of gristle that melts in your mouth even if you are toothless!! That fat melts along with any other tough fibers, causing the meat to fall apart at the gentlest of fork-ing – but it doesn’t dry out and in fact remains savory and creamy, one might even say buttery. If you slow cook in the oven, you can also crisp up that fat-cap at the end creating probably one of the absolutely best flavors of all time!! Crispy Pork Fat (like chicharones without the skin part lol)

      If you are new to cooking, a slow cooked pork butt/shoulder is a great choice. It soaks up any added flavors well, is very forgiving and even with very little cooking experience you can come out looking like quite the foodie Hero.

      And… if you wana get a lil more adventuresome – you can toss some of the melted pork fat left in your pan of pork diliciousness into a large frying pan with some pinto beans to make the absolute worlds best refried beans. That fresh pork fat makes home made refried beans absolutely out of this world – you will be totally shocked you’ve previously accepted canned or Taco-Bell beans as “Real”

      Its also, as the poster said, a WONDERFUL thing to make ahead of time, freeze, and thaw as needed for burrito wednessdays or taco tuesdays.

      Sometimes the best dishes are deceptively easy. And pork butt/shoulder in most forms will certainly impress at any party. Even i you’re a Foodie Newbie :)

  5. says

    Any new-to-me way of preparing pork shoulder in a slow cooker is a winner with me. We are big fans of pork in this house, and you can never go wrong with a Cuban influence. This shall me my next Pork Project.

  6. MrsB says

    Help! The recipe sounds great, but alas, we do not eat pork! Is there a cut of beef that can be used in a desperate substitution?? Thanks for any suggestions. BTW – I am new around here, and I LOVE your writings, not to mention the recipes…

  7. Andie says

    This actually looks interesting and I am hoping to share this to my friends and see if they can make one on their own.. I might actually try this on weekends..

  8. Karyn says

    Pork butt is not from the back end, but is the same as the Pork shoulder butt. I just made this last week in preparation for our extended family vacation and it’s my turn to make dinner. It made a large pan and I put it in the freezer. I also made several last year for my daughter’s HS grad party. Everyone loved it.

    • Valerie in Colorado says

      See Karyn, I wasn’t kidding when I said I didn’t know my meat cuts. Thanks for a bit of education! Hope your vacation is wonderfu!

  9. Aggie says

    I am so glad you deposited this. It sounds so delicious! Am loving that sauce.

    Whenever I’ve made pulled pork I’ve used a rimmed cookie sheet for the pulling process to keep the juices from going all over the place. It keeps things a bit neater! :)

  10. Susan in Louisville says

    I stumbled upon this recipe after searching for a cuban-pork-in-the-slow-cooker recipe online. I had used a different recipe before where the citrus juices were a little too overwelming. I made this for a football party I attended because I needed something to help feed a large crowd. I had purchased a bone-in pork shoulder that was a little over 10 lbs before I found this recipe so I had to cut it into quarters and it barely fit into my slow cooker. I did not have orange juice concentrate so I substituted 1 cup of fresh squeezed orange juice and added some orange extract. Midway through the cooking, I had to scoop out some of the excess liquid (which I reserved) because it would have boiled out of the cooker. I must say that the finished results were fantastic! I put the the shredded meat back into cooker and poured the liquid over the top and let it simmer on low until time to eat. My sister made black beans and mango salsa to accompany the pork and I made a Bobby Flay sour orange/red cabbage/jicama slaw as another option. The college kids in attendence were in heaven! There was also beef brisket that the hostess made but there was nothing left of the pork and this made a TON. This is definitely a keeper!

  11. Ann says

    Holy cow (or, err…pig) this looks amazing! My friends and family love my current recipe for pulled pork but I have to try this! I always like to make a large amount so we not only have sandwiches but also pork nachos, pork pizza, and pork to just eat by the fork full because I can’t wait to make it into anything else. I wonder if anyone would mind if we had Cuban Pork for Christmas this year…? Trying this ASAP! (along with your version of the Cuban Sandwich because – OMG – that looks amazing! ) We were in Key West, Fl earlier this year and had a Cuban sandwich and my husband said the one we found in Seattle was better. I bet your version will blow his mind. Plus, it’s the most fun written recipe I’ve seen in a long, long time. Pork, pickles, and mustard between crispy crunchy bread? Yes, please!

  12. Sara says

    One, I love you. This looks amazing. Two, I’m so proud of myself for reading the actual RECIPE ahead of time and not just the ingredients list…..it was the “part 1″ and “part 2″ that did it. I’m going to start making this today so we can have delicious pork yumminess this week. The crazy this is that I’m also making a roast today! And cookies. Shoot. I better get started on those cookies, since I’m gonna need the oven.

  13. Penny says

    Delicious. And dead easy. But how could you forget to make Cuban sandwiches with the leftovers? Ham, pickles, pulled pork, cheese, mayo, and spicy mustard all on some airy Cuban bread (or soft baguette) and pressed in the Panini maker (or George Foreman grill for those without a million kitchen gadgets at their disposal). I could only get a 6.5lb boston butt roast, which was amply cooked in a total of ~8 hours, making it a single-day dish (hooray!).

    Thank you for my new favorite dish. :)

  14. Brenda Ayers says

    Hi There,
    This pork recipe looks amazing, but I don’t see the fruit sauce that you have on top of the pork recipe. I would love to have that too.
    Thank you,

    • says

      Hi Brenda! That fruit salsa you see on top is FMC Mango Salsa and the link should be in the body of the post. If it isn’t, it’s definitely in my recipe index!

  15. aldridk says

    Your recipe sounds great with two exceptions. We Cubans, don’t use “red pepper” flakes anywhere near our pork dishes. Moreover, there are only a handful of traditional Cuban recipes that are actually spicy, Rabo Encendido and Camarones Enchilados (the latter depending on taste), that’s about the only two I can think of. Finally, I’m not sure where the fruit dressing came from either. Not sure why some people think that all tropical cuisine involves mangos and other fruits. Again, not one of the Cuban meat dishes I can think of has any kind of fruit, especially mangos over or in it. Afro-Cuban dishes involve lots of plantains (green) and some meats. The rest of the Cuban cuisine have been adaptations of Spaniard cuisine.

    • says

      Maybe, but it still tastes darned good! (Actually, I got the combo of oregano/orange/garlic/a little spice from a Cuban friend, so maybe we should take her to task? :) )

      • aldridk says

        Hmm, I was born in Cuba- third generation-first time I come across this. If your friend is Cuban then you can ask her about that. You can also look at the Nitza Villapol book (which is kind of like a Cuban bible of recipes for Cubans) and you’re not going to see any red pepper in there-you can go to any Cuban website that has recipes and check for the red pepper flakes- Puerto Ricans don’t use that either. I’m not saying it’s not tasty- but I’ve never eaten roast pork at a Cuban place with red pepper in it. I think if I served that to my family for noche buena they’d think I lost it. :)

        • says

          I’m not arguing with you, as I’m CLEARLY not Cuban 😀 I’m just saying a Cuban friend clued me in. I think there’s always room for different tastebuds!

          • aldridk says

            Hi Rebecca,
            This is not about whether your pork recipe is tasty or not. It’s about the fact that you labeled your recipe as “classic” when it simply and factually isn’t.

            I’m certain your friend’s twist might be tasty- but that doesn’t make it classic.
            Again, you’re welcomed to check any number of Cuban sites for the roast pork recipe. You will find no red pepper flakes anywhere in the list of condiments.

  16. aldridk says

    Sorry- but if you’re going to add ingredients that are not part of our cuisine- then you should relabel your recipe to: Cuban Style or flare Roast pork.

      • Aldridk says

        Rebecca- I’m not doubting your pork is tasty. Myself, I love spicy foods. However, if I want to eat spicy, I’ll go to Indian, Mexican or Peruvian place-not Cuban. Cuban cuisine- like argentine is not known for spicy dishes. All I’m saying is that your recipe title of “Classic” is factually immaculate & misleading because the “classic” Cuban roast pork recipe does not have red pepper flakes in it nor is red pepper flakes a traditional Cuban condiment. The recipe might be a tasty twist from your Cuban friend- but that doesn’t make it classic.

        • says

          Classic -in this case- is referring to the fact that it is from my archives here on the blog. I think you may be taking this far too seriously. I hope your day improves.

          • aldridk says

            Ah- Well, I came across your blog while doing some research online on this. I think to most visitors and general web traffic, the placement of “classic” on the title doesn’t signal or imply archive files in blog.

            Just wanted to clarify info on your recipe.

            If you’re going to publicly post online, should handle critical commentaries a bit better -I’m having a great day- not sure the relevance of your last comment is.

          • Jonathan says

            Rebecca- I found this fantastic recipe through google and so far I’ve made it twice. I usually cook it for 12-18 hours. I just made it Thursday-Friday and it’s fab! Just cooking for two (wife and self). For all of the bitterhearts who say it isn’t Cuban, well I have friends who are Cuban, not Miamians who are of Cuban descent and they say that there are all styles of Cuban cooking, just like there are different types of Italian cooking, French etc. So get over yourselves people. The idea in this recipe are the spices. If you want it to be Cuban then put into it what you would usually put in a Cuban meat/pork dish! Simple. Just being negative on someone’s blog isn’t proper netiquette. In any event lovelovelove this recipe.

          • says

            Aw, thanks Jonathan! I’m so glad you like the dish so much. We sure love it! There will always be someone who will question food’s “authenticity”. It’s a tricky subject because food is so integral to all of us and crosses borders so easily. I appreciate your support!

  17. Sadie says

    It is so strange that when I google ‘Cuban cuisine with mango and red pepper flakes’ a TON of recipes come up for Cuban restaurants and bloggers. With these ingredients.

  18. Elizabeth says

    Made this for my family and served it with some leftover black beans and rice and fried plantains.. We loved it. Four native Miamians give this the seal of approval!

  19. Molly says

    Someone may have already mentioned this (isn’t it a testament to how awesome this recipe is that my lazy self won’t read all of the raving comments?) but I L.O.V.E using “Mexican” Oregano instead of regular Oregano in the recipe (which I have made to impress/wow out of Townes and also my family. So. dang. good.


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