Cuban Air Fryer Pork Shoulder is your quick way to a flavourful mid-week roast. Marinated the evening before in a quickly put together mix of lime, orange, garlic, some herbs and spices, and you’ll have dinner on the table within 1h 30min. A pretty impressive one too. Serve with Peach BBQ sauce and potatoes, a salad on the side and every meat eater in your family with be a very happy bunny.
Why You Want To Make This
Getting a huge pork shoulder from my trusted butcher A&S Meats in Portarlington, who has rather fabulous quality meat, I decided to show you two ways of preparing it, followed by 4 ways to use it for meals in the days after.
First the Marinade, which is super quick to prepare from orange and lime juice and zest, garlic, oregano and cilantro, giving the meat a wonderful flavour. The marinade recipe came from Kathy McDaniel and her slow cooker pork.
Two Methods Of Preparation
I’m not the biggest fan of meat in the slow cooker, as I find the sauce doesn’t cook down as it does in the oven or air fryer and I’m missing all the lovely crispy crackling and roasting flavour. So, for me it’s air fryer or oven anytime.
The difference here is in the texture of the meat you get in the end. While both the oven and air fryer version of Cuban pork shoulder have fantastic crispy crackling and flavourful meat, the air fryer roast is a bit firmer, can be sliced easily and very thinly, if you like. Which will come in handy later, in my Pork Banh Mi bun recipe and the Black Garlic Pork Ramen bowl.
Slow Roasted in the Oven
The slow cooked oven version however, is pull apart tender, super soft and deeply aromatic, with a yummy gravy option. I used the slow roasted Cuban pork shoulder for my Cuban Pulled Pork Salad and the Healthy Leftover Pork Tacos. All of these recipes are designed, to give you an idea what you can do with one simple roast.
For the marinade zest and juice limes and oranges, roughly chop the cilantro and smash the garlic.
In a big container or large freezer bag, mix all of it with the spices and olive oil, seal and leave in the fridge, ideally overnight.
One thing to note here: You only want the meat in the marinade, not the skin. Ideally that should remain fairly dry. So, what I did was get a large container and a freezer bag (to save cleaning and have something to seal it into), put the marinade into the bag, then laid the pork carefully into it, keeping the skin pointing up. That way, the marinade came up around the meat, but stayed clear of the top, which we later want nice and crispy, so soaking it would be counterproductive.
On the day you want to eat the Cuban Air Fryer Pork shoulder, pre-heat your air fryer to 360F/180C. And roast for 25min per lb. In my case, having 3 lb, that was 1h 15min.
Be aware of the height of your roast vs air fryer. Mine was nearly touching the hot metal bars above the basket, so got black in a tiny spot towards the end. Keep an eye on it and possibly rotate once or twice, if yours cooks unevenly.
The internal temperature should be 145F/63C in the centre of the meat when taking it out. Let it rest, covered with foil, for at least 10min.
To make a lovely gravy, check my instructions of the slow oven roasted version, as you would need to add some veggies and add them with the juices to the oven. The air fryer isn’t ideal for this, as it has a basket that doesn’t allow veggies to cook in the juices. At least mine doesn’t. It won’t start if I take out the basket.
But then, the roast simply with some roasted or boiled potatoes, a Peach BBQ sauce and some salad on the side is pretty amazing.
Due to the marinading process, Cuban Air Fryer Pork Shoulder is ideal for meal prep. You do all the (rather minimal) work the day before and just throw it into the air fryer on the day.
Leftovers from this can be used in a million ways. They make fantastic sandwiches, salad toppings, or just a reheated meal. They can be frozen too.
Are you looking for a dessert to go with this? My Lemon Poppy Sourdough Zucchini Bread with Protein goes great with the citrus theme here.
Let me Know What You Think.
Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Have you tried this? Did you enjoy it?
What other recipes would you like to see?
If you enjoyed this recipe, please share. It helps me a lot. 🙂
Cuban Air Fryer Pork Shoulder
- Air Fryer
- 3 lb pork shoulder on or off the bone. Either ask your butcher to score the skin for you or score it yourself.
- 2 tsp kosher salt for the marinade Plus more for the skin
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- Zest and Juice of 2 oranges
- Zest and juice of 2 limes
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
- 2 tsp ground coriander You can also use cumin, which would be more traditional. But I can’t eat it, so I use coriander
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- Prepare the Marinade:
- Zest and juice the oranges and limes. Roughly chop the cilantro and smash the garlic cloves.
- In a large container or a large freezer bag, combine the citrus zest and juice, chopped cilantro, smashed garlic, kosher salt, black pepper, olive oil, fresh oregano (or dried oregano), and ground coriander (or cumin).
- Add the pork shoulder to the container or bag, ensuring the meat only, but not the skin, is coated evenly with the marinade. Seal the container or bag and place it in the refrigerator. Ideally, marinate the pork overnight for the best flavor, but you can marinate it for at least a few hours if you're short on time.
- Air Fry the Pork Shoulder:
- On the day you plan to cook the Cuban Air Fryer Pork Shoulder, preheat your air fryer to 360°F (180°C).
- Remove the marinated pork shoulder from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 60 minutes. Pat the skin dry and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt and let it dry out while the meat comes to room temperature.
- Place the marinated pork shoulder into the air fryer basket and roast at 360°F (180°C) for 25 minutes per pound. Since you have a 3 lb pork shoulder, this will be a total cooking time of 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- Be mindful of the height of the roast in the air fryer. If it's close to the heating element, it may get too browned or blackened in spots. Rotate the pork shoulder once or twice during cooking if necessary to ensure even browning.
- Check the Internal Temperature:
- Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the pork shoulder. The centre of the meat should reach 145°F (63°C).
- Once the thickest part of the meat reaches the desired temperature, remove it from the air fryer. Cover the pork shoulder loosely with foil and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the juices to redistribute and the meat to become more tender.
- Serve the Cuban Air Fryer Pork Shoulder with your choice of side dishes. It pairs beautifully with roasted or boiled potatoes, a drizzle of BBQ sauce, and a fresh salad.
Protein: Approximately 25-30 grams per serving
Fat: Approximately 13-15 grams per serving
Carbohydrates: Approximately 0 grams per serving (virtually no carbs)
Fiber: 0 grams