How To Prepare Puerto Rican Lechon

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No matter if you’re visiting Le Ruta de Lechon (The Pork Highway) or find an eatery that hosts their roast of pigs, Lechon is a popular dish all year round – however, Christmas is not complete without Lechon.

The name derives from the word Leche, which means milk because the suckling pigs were used in the past. However, as the popularity and appetite increased, so did the size of the porks.

At first, they were was known as Lechon en la Varita because of the “wand” or spit used for cooking. Most lechoneras today utilize spits made of metal over open fires or cooked using metal roasters. Slow roasting produces a succulent and tender delight often served with Arroz con-gandules, mamposteao or yuca salad. 

Ingredients to make Lechon

  • One tablespoon of whole black pepper 
  • 1 tablespoon cumin 
  • 1 tablespoon of oregano 
  • 1 bay leaf Crushed 
  • Two tablespoons of salt from kosher. 
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne 
  • Five large cloves of garlic, mashed 
  • 1/4 cup sour orange juice 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil 
  • Three to four pounds bone-in pork butt, or shoulder with the skin or a good layer of fat 


  1. Mix the cumin, black pepper, oregano, black pepper, and bay leaf. Blend to a fine powder using the spice mill. In a small bowl, mix the spice mixture, including salt, garlic powder, and cayenne. Add the garlic cloves mashed along with sour orange juice and olive oil until you’ve created an extremely loose paste. Wrap the pork in the paste and put it in the glass bowl or other non-reactive container. Refrigerate for at least a night. 
  2. The next day you can pull the pork from the refrigerator and let it cool to the room’s temperature while you heat your oven until it reaches 325 degF. 
  3. Place the pork in the roasting pan, then place inside the oven. The pork should cook until the meat’s temperature reaches 160 degF (about 40 minutes for each pound). 
  4. Remove the roast out of the oven, and cover it with foil. It should sit for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve it with beans and rice or cut it thinly and place it in sandwiches.  
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