The easiest pork shoulder recipe! Quick prep and then relax while your oven does the work. Tender pork shoulder, braised with onions and apples makes an elegant comforting meal. Slow cooker and Instant Pot directions included!
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As the weather is turning colder we turn to a braise as our favorite way to prepare both pork and beef. Serve with our creamy mashed potatoes and sauteed swiss chard for the perfect cold weather Sunday dinner.
📖Why This Recipe Works
Braising is a cooking technique that involves a quick sear in a hot pan, followed by a slow simmer in a flavorful liquid, such as stock, wine, or beer, in a covered pot.
The low temperature and slow cooking allows the collagen in the meat to break down making tough cuts, like this pork shoulder, tender and succulent.
Not enough time for slow cooking today? Save this recipe for later and try our pork chop skillet dinner instead.
Boneless Pork Shoulder Roast- Also called a boston butt or pork butt, you will need a 3 to 4-pound piece of meat. You can also use a pork loin roast for this recipe.
Bacon- A nice streaky bacon will add fat, instead of olive oil or butter, and a bit of smoke for flavor.
Apples- See below for pairing apples with pork.
Onion- I only included one onion, yellow or white, but feel free to increase the amount
Hard Apple Cider- For a non-alcoholic version try apple cider or a 50/50 mix of chicken stock and unsweetened apple juice.
Seasonings- Apple cider vinegar, fresh sage leaves, and dijon mustard
🍎Best Apples for Pork
The best variety of apples to cook with pork are Winesaps, Braeburns, Jonagold, Fuji, and Cortland apples. These varieties of apples are firm, so they hold up well to cooking. The apples range from semi-sweet to tart.
For this pork roast recipe, we chose locally grown Winesap apples. Mr. Peel typically says fruit cooked with meat is a travesty but even he agreed, this was the best pork roast with apples ever!
I think it was the Winesaps that won him over.
⏲️How to Braise Pork Shoulder in the Oven
This recipe follows the standard sear and braises in the oven. But we wove in a few unique ingredients to give this pork roast a big flavor.
Step 1- Sear
Crisp bacon pieces in a large roasting pan or a dutch oven. Once crispy, remove the bacon and set aside.
Select a pork shoulder with good marbling. Preferably boneless but bone-in works as well. Thoroughly dry the pork roast with paper towels and generously season with salt and pepper.
In the same pan, sear the pork shoulder in the bacon fat. Be sure to take your time and sear the pork on all sides. The pork should be a deep golden brown.
Transfer the pork shoulder to a plate.
Step 2- Saute
Your onions should be cut into half moon pieces, about ¼ inch wide. Add them to the pan. Saute the onions until they just begin to soften
Deglaze the pan with the hard apple cider and vinegar. Add back the pork roast to the pan along with the fresh herbs.
Step 3- Braise
Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours or until fork tender. Turning the pork roast halfway through.
The pan should have plenty of liquid, but if it begins to dry out add ½ cup to 1 cup of water to the pan.
Step 4- Sauce
Remove the pork roast from the pan. Skim off excess fat and reduce the liquid by ⅓.
Finally, it is time for the apples! Add the apples and cook until just softened. Stir in the reserved bacon and Dijon mustard.
To serve, tear the pork roast into large rustic pieces. Top with apples and a small amount of the pan sauce. Serve the additional pan sauce on the side.
💭Slow Cooker Instructions
This pork roast recipe can be easily adapted to be made in a slow cooker. The initial prep is the same but can be done a day before.
- Fry up the bacon in a heavy bottom pan until crispy and set aside.
- In the same pan, brown the seasoned pork shoulder, then place in the crockpot with the onions, sage, hard apple cider, and apple cider vinegar.
- Cook on low for 6 hours. Add the apples, bacon, and Dijon, cook for an additional two hours. Alternatively, you can add the apples and Dijon and turn the slow cooker up to high for one hour.
- Remove the sage sprigs and serve.
💭Instant Pot Instructions
Don't have a crockpot? No worries! We called the Instant Pot queen for some help. Our friend Sandy from Simply Happy Foodie put together detailed instructions for making our pork roast with apples in your Instant Pot.
- Cut the pork roast into 3 or 4 equal sized (1 lb) pieces (depending on the weight of your pork roast. A
3 lb roast, cut in 3 pieces, 4 lb roast in 4 pieces, etc.). Pat dry with a paper towel and generously
season with salt & pepper on all sides.
- Turn on the Sauté setting and add the bacon pieces. Cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp. Remove
the bacon to a paper towel and set aside.
- Add the pork to the pot and brown on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side to get good color. Remove
to a plate and set aside. Add the onions and cook them until they just start turning translucent. If the bottom of the pot starts
to get a bit dry, add a splash of the hard cider.
- our in the hard cider and the vinegar. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to
deglaze it. Get all of the browned bits (fond) off of the bottom of the pot.
- Transfer the pork roast back into the pot along with the fresh sage leaves.
- Place the lid on the pot and set the steam release knob to the Sealing position. Cancel the Sauté
- Press the Pressure Cook (or Manual) button, or dial on Ultra. Then press the +/- button or dial to
select 65 minutes. The pot will take several minutes to come to pressure.
- When the cook cycle is finished and it beeps, let the pot sit undisturbed for 15 minutes (15 minute
Natural Release). Then turn the steam release knob to the Venting position to do a Quick Release of
the remaining steam/pressure (if for some reason the pork is not tender enough, put the lid back on,
seal it, and cook for an additional 10 minutes. If you precut the pork you should be good to go.).
- When the pin in the lid drops down, open the lid and remove the pork to a plate and tent it with foil.
Discard the sage leaves. Skim off the excess fat from the pot liquid.
- Turn on the Sauté setting and simmer the liquid until it reduces by ⅓. Add the apples and cook until
just softened. Stir in the reserved bacon and Dijon mustard. Turn off the pot.
- To serve, tear the pork into large, rustic pieces. Top with apples and a small amount of the pan sauce.
Garnish with parsley. Serve the additional pan sauce on the side.
Please show Sandy some love by visiting her site and definitely be sure to check out all her Instant Pot recipes! I have had my eye on this Instant Pot and the first thing I am going to be making is Sandy's Instant Pot Low Country Shimp Boil.
🥗What to Serve with Braised Pork Shoulder
I always like a creamy side like polenta, pureed celeriac, or Boursin cheese mashed potatoes to pour the sauce over.
Pair that with a crunchy green veggie, like our quick sauteed greens or fresh green beans.
Both my garlic green beans and my curry powder green beans are a good pairing. There is something about the light curry flavor with the apples that I adore.
Leftover pork shoulder should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The pork will keep for 3 to 4 days but the apples may get a little mushy.
You can reheat the pork in the braising liquid on the stovetop or in the oven.
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Tough cuts of meat like pork loin, shoulder (Boston butt), and ribs are the best for braising. You can also braise pork belly but that typically requires a reverse sear.
Three things contribute to the tenderness of the pork shoulder. They are time, heat, and moisture. If your pork should is still tough it likely needed more liquid or more time. Keeping the lid on your dutch oven and the oven door shut will help retain moisture.
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Braised Pork Shoulder with Apples
- 3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast also called a boston butt
- kosher salt and pepper
- 4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ¼ in pieces
- 1 large white onion, paper removed, halved and sliced
- 1 12oz bottle hard apple cider
- 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 sprigs fresh sage
- ⅓ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3 tart apples, cut into 6-8 wedges each seeds/ core removed
- fresh parsley, chopped optional
- Preheat oven to 325 F degrees. Liberally salt and pepper the pork shoulder on all sides.3-4 lb boneless pork shoulder roast, kosher salt and pepper
- Heat an ovenproof pot large enough to fit your pork shoulder on medium heat. Add bacon. Cook until crispy. Remove bacon, set aside.4 slices thick cut bacon, cut into ¼ in pieces
- Increase heat to medium-high. Cook pork shoulder, reducing heat as needed to prevent over-browning, until brown on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pork shoulder to a plate.
- Add onion to pot and cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.1 large white onion, paper removed, halved and sliced
- Reduce heat and add hard apple cider and stir, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar.1 12oz bottle hard apple cider, 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Bring to a simmer, then return pork shoulder to pot. Tuck in sage sprigs around the pork roast.2-3 sprigs fresh sage
- Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise pork shoulder, turning after 1 hour, until fork-tender, about 2 hours.
- Using tongs, transfer pork to a deep platter. Discard sage sprigs. Place the pot over medium heat on the stove and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the liquid by ⅓.
- Stir in apples. Cook until just soft 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in dijon mustard and reserved bacon.3 tart apples, cut into 6-8 wedges each, ⅓ teaspoon dijon mustard
- Arrange pork, onions, and apples on a large platter. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with parsley.fresh parsley, chopped
Made this tonight and it was very good, except for the waste? There is so much fat and such. Made it as a trial for a large.group of 11. I think I will make the day beforehand and reheat the night of, any hints? Do you think it will work out? I was also thinking about adding dried cranberries
Jen Wooster says
Yes, can make this recipe in advance.Make through step 7- don't add the apples until the day you want to serve. Reheat in oven at 300 F degrees until warmed through.Then add the apples and finish the recipe.
You can definitely add fresh cranberries for a tart element. I would be worried that dried cranberries might be too sweet.
Made this tonight, using the instant pot version. Used pink lady apples, as that was what looked best at my local grocery store. Also used unfiltered cider, as I didn’t have any hard cider. Got rave reviews all around, the cooked apple slices especially all disappeared. Served a roasted root mash left from thanksgiving as a side.
Next time, I might add a little cornstarch diluted in a bit of water towards the end to thicken the sauce a bit into more of a gravy, and roast some root veggies to serve on the side, but overall this worked really well.
Thank you for trying our recipe! Glad you enjoyed.
Definitely want to try this.
Ben Myhre says
Apples are such a complement to pork. It helps with a recipe that is spot on and you have that covered. This looks absolutely delectable and I will be eating this in the near future. Thank you for sharing.
This is the epitome of a fall meal! Can't wait for cooler weather!
Oooh all the fall flavors in here! Perfect timing
Beth Neels says
pork and apples is always a winning combination! I love that this one is roasted! The outside of the pork looks nice and crispy!
Pam Greer says
Wow, this looks so good! I love that you gave so many options for cooking it! Even though I love my Instant Pot, I love roasting pork in the oven, so I'll use your oven method.
Tayler Ross says
Pork and apples is such a great combo! I love this recipe!