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Perfect Pairings: Discover the Best 7 Sides for Pernil

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Pork can be cooked in so many different ways that you can always surprise your loved ones.

One of these pork recipes stands out – the pernil.

Mostly based on shoulder or leg, pernil is marinated and slow-roasted.

The dish is quite common in South American cuisines, but it is seen as a special occasion meal.

Most people will cook it around Christmas.

However, there are no rules.

If you truly want to impress your family, pernil will make a difference.

Now, figuring out what to serve with pernil is a bit more complicated.

Here is what you have to know.

Why Consider Serving Side Dishes with Pernil?

why consider serving side dishes with pernil

You can have pernil alone if you truly like it, but chances are you will feel a bit heavy and disgusted after a while.

Plain meat is not too comfortable to eat and can cause nausea.

A few bites are alright, but a proper meal requires a side dish.

The same rule applies whether you cook for yourself or you have some guests over.

When you expect someone, chances are they will not even start eating until you put a side out as well.

It could be anything – even plain bread is better than nothing.

What to Serve with Pernil? 7 BEST Side Dishes

Here are some good ideas when not sure what to serve with pernil.

1. Brazilian Refried Beans

brazilian refried beans

Brazilian refried beans work with more dishes, but they stand out when served with anything based on pork – such as pernil.

If you love beans, this dish will hit differently.

It is based on pureed beans, which feature a soft texture – great for the pork, which is crispy on the outside.

The dish is also thickened a bit with flour.

The hearty aroma will complement the meaty pernil.

You can also bring in a bit of smokiness by mixing small pieces of bacon in the puree.

2. Brazilian Potato Salad

brazilian potato salad

The Brazilian potato salad takes less than 10 minutes to prepare, hence its popularity in multiple cuisines.

Potatoes have a unique flavor that can be enhanced with some spices or herbs.

They become a bit tangy, which feels great when mixed with marinated pork.

There are numerous variations of this recipe.

For example, you could also add some peas or beans.

The texture is great because it feels a bit crispy.

Now, potatoes and meat may make you feel a bit heavy.

But then, this is why most people add a few veggies as well – both crunchy and refreshing.

3. Smoky Farofa

smoky farofa

Farofa is another popular dish in more Latin American cuisines – excellent with meat.

So, what do you have in terms of taste? The toasted flour has a hearty flavor, while the taste is a bit salty.

The dish feels super smoky, which makes the marinated pernil taste even better.

The dish can be served in two different ways – sprinkled on top of pernil or just placed aside.

While it has a proper aroma when tasted alone, it is not so strong if mixed with something else.

It will not overcome your pernil, but it will accentuate the flavors.

Besides, you can get this side dish done in 10 minutes.

4. Sweet Balsamic Leeks

sweet balsamic leeks

Leeks have a strong and unique flavor that can complement any meat-based dish – and the marinated pork in pernil makes no exception either.

This dish will make leeks feel like more than just big onions.

When soft-cooked, their texture changes straight away – they feel like spaghetti.

Soft and tender, they complement the crispy pernil on the outside – as well as the matching interior.

The sweet balsamic glaze will work well with the marinated pork too.

However, make sure you do not exaggerate, as it can overcome the main dish.

5. Fluffy Rice

fluffy rice

Pernil has an interesting texture.

While the taste is the most significant aspect, the truth is you need to consider every aspect in the process for a great impression.

To tackle the texture, opt for fluffy rice.

You need to ensure the right proportions there.

Plain rice might feel a bit tasteless, though, hence the necessity of flavorings.

Garlic, salt and onions work well with the marinated meat, so you cannot go wrong there.

All in all, since both pernil and rice are fulfilling, this dish combo feels a bit heavy.

But then, it is delicious, so no one really cares.

6. Garlicky Collard Greens

garlicky collard greens

Those who are not familiar with Brazilian cuisine will find this side dish extremely appealing – it looks cute, but it tastes even better.

Collard greens cook quickly and can absorb crushed garlic and olive oil.

They add a bit of color to the table, but they are also healthy and bring in some vitamins and minerals.

Garlicky collard greens in this cuisine are similar to the crispy seaweed in Chinese cuisine – they work with anything.

It pays off preparing more than what you actually need because this salad goes in no time.

7. Cheesy Bread

cheesy bread

Bread has always worked well with meaty dishes because it makes them feel less nauseous by absorbing juices and fats.

However, this type of bread is different and must be homemade.

Prepare it in small buns – about the size of a golf ball – and make sure there is plenty of grated cheese in the dough.

Not only will the bread absorb everything, but the melting cheese on the inside will make it taste better than the actual pernil.

When preparing this side dish, make sure you have plenty – your guests will devour it.

It may take up to an hour to prepare enough cheesy bread for a large meal.


Bottom line, deciding what to serve with pernil is not as difficult as it may seem just because this dish has a sophisticated name for marinated pork.

In theory, you could use anything that works with pork – make sure it works with the marinade too.

The above-mentioned dishes are special because they are also inspired from South American cuisines.

Another good news is most of them can be prepared in no time.

What to Serve with Pernil? 7 BEST Side Dishes

Recipe by Andrew Gray Course: Side Dishes


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  • Brazilian Refried Beans

  • Brazilian Potato Salad

  • Smoky Farofa

  • Sweet Balsamic Leeks

  • Fluffy Rice

  • Garlicky Collard Greens

  • Cheesy Bread


  • Pick your favorite recipe from the article.
  • Organize your ingredients and utensils.
  • Follow the detailed instructions in the recipe to make your side dish.
  • Prepare and serve for delicious meal!

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