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Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
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Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

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This Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder is an easy one-pot dinner recipe that is so cozy and perfect for the fall months. Tender pork cooked low and slow in a bath of fresh apple cider, onions, apples, and fresh herbs. Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder is fall-apart tender and packed with all the flavor.

There’s just something about a cozy braised meat served over mashed potatoes that is so perfect for fall. Truly, braised pork or beef over mashed potatoes is my number 1 favorite meal ever. This is such a delightful and delicious seasonal recipe that I know you’ll turn to again and again.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder: Autumn Comfort Food

I’m a firm believer that autumn is the best time of year, especially as someone who loves food. After all, it’s pretty hard to beat gorgeous fall produce & richly cozy comfort food!

There’s just something about the weather getting cooler and breaking out sweaters that makes me want all the comfy foods. This is the time of year that I dive deep into hearty soups and braised meat dinners.

The slowly simmered apple cider braised pork shoulder is fall-apart tender, taking on sweet tanginess from the apple cider braising liquid. Plus, it’s a pretty all-purpose recipe!

You can use the pork to make the most epic fall sandwiches, sliders, or grilled cheeses for a tailgate or game day. Or you can spoon it over egg noodles/spaetzle or mashed potatoes for the ultimate cozy fall dinner.

The contrast between the savory pork and the apples and fresh herbs makes for an incredibly flavorful and delicious dinner.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

Easy – This is not an involved recipe! A bit of chopping, mixing, simmering, and then the oven does most of the work. It’s a bit of up front work while being mostly hands-off leaving you free to work on other things!

Budget friendly – Pork Shoulder is an affordable cut of meat that can easily feed a crowd! This dinner feels impressive while still being low effort and low cost.

One Pot – I love an easy dinner that all comes together in one pot! All the searing, sautéing, and braising is one in one dutch oven or braiser that goes straight from stovetop to oven. No muss, no fuss!

The Coziest Dinner – There’s just something about braising when the weather is chilly and looking forward to a warm stew-like dinner. This is honestly my favorite dinner to enjoy this time of year. Just load me up with all the Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder over mashed potatoes and I’m one happy gal.

What is Braising?

Braising is a combination cooking technique that features both wet and dry heat. First, you sear the pork shoulder in the pan for flavor and color and then you add liquid to the pot and transfer the covered pot to the oven. In the oven, the pork cooks slowly at a lower temperature.

The resulting meat is exceedingly tender. Braising is particularly effective for tough cuts of meat (brisket, chuck, pork shoulder, etc). Cooking tough meats low and slow in liquid allows the muscle tissue and collagen to slowly break down.

Any liquid can be used to braise, but the apple cider really adds that extra depth of flavor and that fall-flavor goodness!

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

How to Make Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

This recipe is not at all complicated to make and only requires a handful of ingredients! I do recommend investing in a large dutch oven, like the one linked below. All my braises happen in large braisers or dutch ovens!

Tools Needed

Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Pork Shoulder. Also referred to as Pork butt or Boston but. Opt for high-quality pork. Boneless or bone-in, it’s up to you!
  • Apple cider. Fresh apple cider is seasonal, fresh pressed, unfiltered, and unpasteurized. It’s bright and fresh and pairs perfectly with the pork. Look for it in the refrigerated produce section.
  • Apples. Pick firm, and slightly tart apples so that the dish doesn’t get too sweet. Honey crisp and pink lady are my favorites!
  • Onion. I love red onion here, but you could swap in any onion.
  • Chicken broth. Chicken broth helps cut some of the sweetness of the apple cider. Homemade is always best, but store bought is fine too.
  • Dijon mustard. Dijon is the absolute best with pork and really bolsters the braising liquid with flavor.
  • Garlic. You’re going to use a whole head here and just cut off the top of the garlic opposite the root. You’ll end up with rich roasted garlic flavor that we’ll squeeze into the liquid.
  • Spices. I love a little dehydrated onion here to really drive the savory flavor home.
  • Herbs. Rosemary and thyme give all the fall flavors here.

The Process

  1. Cube your pork. You want the pieces to be at least 4 inch pieces. If you’re going bone-in pork, cut the pork into 2 large pieces, working around the bone.
  2. Season everything. Pat your pork really dry (helps with browning). These are thick pieces of pork so season all sides really well with salt and pepper.
  3. Sear the pork. This is a crucial step! Sear the pork really well on all sides until deeply golden brown.
  4. Add the cider and stock. Whisk together the apple cider, chicken stock, dijon, and dehydrated onion in a measuring cup until smooth. Pour the liquid over the pork. Add the herbs tied in a bundle into the pot. Cover and place in the oven.
  5. Oven time! Braise for about 3 hours, flipping the pork halfway through, until the pork is almost fork-tender. Remove from the oven and add the apples and onion slices, arranging them around the pork. Return the pot to the oven for 45 min – 1 hour, until the pork is tender. Let the pork rest in the juices for 30 minutes before serving.

Boneless vs Bone-In

Obviously, pork shoulder can be found both boneless and bone-in. So which best for Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder?

Bone – in. I am personally ALWAYS pro bone-in pork shoulder. As the pork slowly cooks, the marrow, collagen, and gelatin in the bones slowly breaks down and makes the sauce extra rich and flavorful. There is a noticeable difference in the texture and thickness of the sauce.

That being said, there are a couple of drawbacks. Bone-in meat cooks more slowly since you can’t cut it into small pieces, so prepare for that. I used bone-in pork shoulder and was only able to cut the meat in two.

Boneless. Boneless pork shoulder is always a great choice, too! Because you can cut it into smaller pieces, it cooks more quickly and a bit more evenly. If time is a constraint for you, boneless is the way to go. That being said, you sacrifice a lot of flavor that the bone gives by going boneless.

Either way, you’ll have a delicious dinner on your hand! Choose whichever option works best for you.

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

In the event that you have leftovers, Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder is easy to store and freeze!

To store Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder: Let the pork and liquid cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for 4-6 days in the fridge.

Freezing cider pork: You can very easily freeze cider braised pork! Let the pork and liquid cool to room temperature and then store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Try to press most of the air out of the bag while sealing, this helps prevent freezer burn. Label and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight in the fridge.

Reheating: Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder is best reheated in a skillet or dutch oven. Add the pork and liquid to a dutch oven or skillet, adding a little extra broth or water as needed. Cover and simmer on low until the pork is tender and warmed through.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

Alternate Cooking Methods for Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

I love taking my time braising in the oven, but that’s not always feasible with time constraints. Here are some other methods for cooking up Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder.

Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker – Follow the recipe as written, using the saute function on your instant pot. Let the pan get nice and hot before searing the pork using the ‘high’ setting for saute. Add the broth mixture, garlic, and herbs to the pot. Set the Instant Pot to ‘pressure cook’ for 60 minutes, with natural release. After the lid has released, add the onions and apples and set to ‘pressure cook’ on high for 5 minutes using a quick release.

Slow Cooker – Use another pan or pot to sear the pork before adding it to the slow cooker. Seriously, don’t skip this step because it adds SO much flavor! Once the pork is seared, add it to the slow cooker and pour the braising liquid over the top. Add the onions, apples, and fresh herbs. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 7-8 hours.

What to Serve with Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

If you’re throwing a dinner party or just want a nice dinner to enjoy, here are some of my favorite dishes to serve with Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder.

Leafy salad – I love starting a meal with a big leafy salad! My recipe for KALE CAESAR SALAD is one of my favorite salads ever and pairs so well with any braised meat. You’re going to love the homemade caesar dressing!

Mashed potatoes – Who doesn’t love piling tender pork and juices on a bed of mashed potatoes? If you want a classic version, try my CREME FRAICHE MASHED POTATOES. If you want to try something new, my CARAMELIZED ONION AND BACON MASHED POTATOES are a show stopper!

Dinner Rolls – I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for warm dinner rolls! I love sopping up any extra juices with a warm piece of bread. Try my foolproof FLUFFY DINNER ROLLS!

Dessert – No dinner party or gathering is complete without some dessert, am I right? Some of my favorite low effort/high reward desserts are my Apple Cider Donut CakeSKILLET APPLE CRISP, and TEXAS SHEET CAKE.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

Next time you’re in the mood for a cozy & comforting fall meal, try this Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder. It’s one of our fall favorites, and I know you will love it just as much as we do! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @jennygoycochea on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your SMF creations!

More Braising Recipes to Try Now

Coconut Milk Braised Chicken
Beer Braised Brisket
Beer Braised Carnitas

This post contains affiliate links from which I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links allow me to keep providing great recipes for free and I never recommend products that I don’t love and personally own.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder - Ideas for Easter Dinner
Main Course

Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder

This Apple Cider Braised Pork Shoulder is an easy one-pot dinner recipe that is so cozy and perfect for the fall months. Tender pork cooked low and slow in a bath of fresh apple cider, onions, apples, and fresh herbs.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes
Makes: 6 – 8 servings


  • 4-5 lb pork shoulder, cut into large chunks (boneless or bone-in)
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil
  • 2 cups fresh apple cider
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon dehydrated minced onion
  • 1 head of garlic, top sliced off opposite of the root end
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 red onion, cut into thick slices
  • 2 firm and slightly tart apples*, peeled and cut into wedges
  • kosher salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper


  • Preheat an oven to 325 F.
  • Pat the pork pieces dry with a paper towel and season liberally all over with kosher salt and pepper. If you're using boneless pork, aim for 4 large pieces of pork. If you're using bone-in, opt for 2 large pieces, cutting around the bone.
  • Heat the oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, arrange the pork in a single layer. Sear for 4-5 minutes per side until the pork is deeply browned. Repeat on all sides. Depending on the size of your dutch oven, you may need to do this in batches.
  • While the pork is searing, whisk together the cider, broth, dijon, and dehydrated minced onion together and set aside. Use kitchen twine to tie the rosemary and thyme together in a small bundle.
  • Once the pork is browned all over, pour in the braising liquid. Arrange the herbs and garlic head in the pot with the pork, cover and place in the oven.
  • Braise for 3 hours or so (start checking at 2 and a half hours for boneless), flipping the pork halfway through. Once the pork is just shy of fork tender, remove the pork from the oven and arrange the onions and apples around the pork. Cover and return to the oven for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. The pork should be very tender at this point.
  • Remove the pork and let it rest in its juices for 30 minutes before serving. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the husk into the broth or onto the pork.


*for notes on whether to use boneless or bone-in pork, refer to the above blog post.
* the best apples are firm, tart apples like Honeycrisp, Pink Lady, Gala, etc. 
Please know that apple cider is NOT the same as apple cider vinegar–do not use vinegar in place of apple cider for this recipe. 

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    • Hi! On the recipe card I put 6-8 servings, but that is really dependent on how large your piece of pork is, what else you’re serving with it, and how much each individual guest eats. It’s a rough estimate–hope that helps!

  1. 5 stars
    This was amazing, oh my goodness. Next time I’m going to skip the apples just because they weren’t really needed and brown the pork on low-medium, my oil was getting burnt:/ my insta pot worked just fine, I only missed the smell of the food in my kitchen!!

    • So happy you enjoyed! However, searing really needs to happen at a higher heat so I recommend using an oil with a high smoke point like canola, refined avocado, ghee, sunflower oil, etc. Hope that helps!

    • Hi! Essentially, yes. You want to cut the top of the head off (opposite the root end) just to expose the cloves. Then they’ll cook low and slow with the pork and you’ll have slow-roasted garlic by the end that you can squeeze out of the paper husk and into the broth. Hope that helps!

  2. Hi! I don’t have a Dutch oven or braiser…could I just use an oven safe pot and cover with foil? I’d rather do the oven method than the other methods mentioned. It sounds soo delicious! Thanks!

    • Yes! Just make sure to check the liquid levels every so often in case it evaporates more quickly due to only being topped with foil. Add more broth and cider as needed to keep the pork about halfway submerged. Hope that helps!

    • Because the pork is cooked in liquid, there wouldn’t be much point to that unless you wanted to lightly smoke the pork for flavor, before braising.

  3. 5 stars
    Made this yesterday for Sunday dinner and the entire family loved it! I thought the flavors were rich and just complex enough (though I couldn’t find onion pieces and subbed onion powder) and exactly right for September. I served over mashed potatoes as suggested and a little steamed broccoli on the side. We will definitely make this one again! Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    Perfect fall dinner, made with a boneless pork shoulder and served with the bacon caramelized onion mashed potatoes, followed both recipes exactly and will absolutely make this again

    • Totally hear you! I would go with short ribs or a nicely marbled beef chuck roast (prime if you can get it!). The apple cider flavor won’t be as strong as it competes with the beef, but it will still be delicious. I would consider skipping the apple pieces as well.

  5. Made this in the crockpot following the instructions. The house smelled wonderful, but the pork didn’t have as much flavor as I was expecting – it was also quite dry. Such a bummer. I think I’ll try it again and cook it for a shorter period of time.

    • Hi Theresa,

      It’s possible to make this in the crockpot but it’s my least favorite method. Pork can be easily overcooked if left for too long–I recommend giving the recipe a try in the oven, as written, for better results. Also, because the pork pieces are large, be liberal with the salt and pepper on the pork. I hope that helps your next attempt!

  6. Could this be made the day before and reheated? I might want to take dinner somewhere but not spend hours there for it to cook. TIA! ?

    • Chelsea,

      You could definitely do chicken! I would recommend bone-in, skin on chicken leg quarters. I would do less liquid and you should only need to braise for about an hour to 90 minutes—hope that helps!

  7. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was DELICIOUS!!! I used boneless pork since it was all the local store had, but it was amazing! The pork was fall apart tender and super juicy. Served over mashed potatoes. Yum yum yum!

  8. I’m super excited to make this once the temperature goes down a touch. Question about the garlic. It seems we are roasting it, do we roast it in the pan? When do we add the roasted garlic to the sauce?

    • Hi Natashia!

      You cut the top off the head of garlic so the cloves are exposed and then it goes in with the pork as it braises. Once the pork is done, you can squeeze the cloves out over the pork, or you can even add them to some mashed potatoes for extra flavor. Totally up to you! Hope that helps.

  9. I’m wanting to try this recipe as it looks delicious. I just have a few questions – I don’t have dehydrated onion, can you sub with onion powder and if so how much? Also do you take the herb bundle out when you add the apple and red onion or does it stay until then end?

    For serving, do you shred the pork up or leave it in the 2 large chunks? I’m not sure how best to serve this to guests.

    Thank you!

    • Hi Lisa!

      You can use onion powder, I would say 1 1/2 tsp. I leave the herb bundle all the way to the end. How you serve it is up to you! Once the meat is tender, I break the two chunks into smaller, but still whole pieces and serve over mashed potatoes. You can also shred it into big shreds and serve that way. Hope that helps!

  10. 5 stars
    So yummy! Used unfiltered, fresh pressed apple juice in lieu of cider and turned out so delicious. I’ll add more apple next time 🙂

  11. Hi, when you say apple cider, do you mean apple juice? In Europe cider is the alcoholic stuff, and yes, it gets used in dishes like this too

    • All the information regarding the use of apple cider is in the blog post. Apple cider, in the US, is an unfiltered, fresh pressed apple juice without added sugar. It’s generally seasonal in the fall so in its absence, you can definitely use an alcoholic cider. Just be sure to pick one that’s dry and not too sweet. Hope that helps!

  12. Love this recipe but the sauce made by Cooks Country looks like it was great, chicken broth, cornstarch, apple butter, wow what a sauce to serve with it

    • Hi Paige!

      You could use pork loin in theory, but it just doesn’t have the same fat content as shoulder and so I fear that it’ll end up dry and stringy. You could definitely give it a shot and if you do, I’d love to hear how it turns out!

  13. Can you make this in a crock pot? If so, do you have any instructions for this recipe? Thank You ~ Genell

  14. 5 stars
    I made this for dinner tonight and it was absolutely amazing! I followed the recipe exactly and it turned out perfectly. Thanks so much for sharing!

  15. This recipe sounds amazing! I’m making this tonight for dinner in my Instant Pot. Do I pressure cook on high for 60 minutes? Or on low?

  16. 5 stars
    Have someone who won’t eat pork (why you ask ? ????? very fussy eater) – think throwing in a chicken breast with everything else would work ? Plan on browning meat first then into slow cooker.

  17. 5 stars
    I made this a few nights ago, followed the recipe and tips to the T, it was a HUGE hit!! My husband raved….it’s definitely going into the regular rotation!

  18. 5 stars
    So I stumbled upon this recipe (in March, in Texas, while it’s been 75 degrees) but I’m a winter girl through & through so I just had to try this. Holy Moly, I’m so glad we did! The flavors are so vibrant and compliment one another throughout the whole dish. Definitely adding to our fall/winter rotation. ?

  19. 5 stars
    So fantastic! I’m slowly learning how to cook things other than pasta and eggs and I think I nailed it. Easy to follow the instructions and so delicious!

  20. 5 stars
    This was insanely delicious! Ultimate flavor and comfort. My foodie friends loved it as well. Will keep this recipe on hand for sure

  21. 5 stars
    Amazing! Used a bone-in pork shoulder and cooked in a Dutch oven according to directions. So good and easy!

  22. I’ve read the recipe over many times and still come up with 4.5 hours cooking and rest time unless you mean that 2.5-3 hours is the total cook time, INCLUDING the onions/apples.

    • The rest time is not included in the cook time. And the total braising time is anywhere from 3-3.75 hours depending on the size of the pork. The braise times are a suggestion as everyone’s oven behaves differently. The goal is simply to have tender pork and that may take a little more time or a little less than what I’ve suggested. Hope that helps!

  23. Can I sub the red onion with yellow onions? Since the yellow have a stronger flavor I was wondering. I don’t want to alter the tart with a stronger flavored onion. Cooking tonight for tomorrow’s dinner. Looking forward to it.

    • Hi Kelli!

      Yes you can sub any onion. Also you can always reference the “ingredients and substitutions” section of the blog post and I answer all ingredients related questions there. 🙂

  24. Hi, can I sub the apple cider with apple juice? Or do you have a preferred subs for the cider? Here where I live I can only get apple cider vinegar and apple juice. Thanks!

    • Hi Chris!

      My recommendation would be to try and get fresh pressed apple juice (or juice apples with skin if you have a juicer!). Otherwise, look for unsweetened apple juice or a shelf stable apple cider like the honey crisp cider from Trader Joe’s. Hope that helps!

  25. 5 stars
    We made this last night for the 1st time and it was so easy and delicious! Could only find boneless pork and it tasted divine. We served with cheesy grits.
    Will definitely be making again and again. Thanks!

  26. This is a must!! Also, so easy a caveman could do it. I’ve been happily eating pulled pork with everything this week.

  27. 5 stars
    This was so freaking good! Perfect for the first actual cold weather we’ve had this season. The apples and onions were such a great add in to the pork!