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Apple Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

March 29, 2023

The most iconic fruit of the season is present in this hearty cider-braised pork shoulder recipe in not one, but three forms—apple cider vinegar, unfiltered apple cider, and fresh apples.


apple cider braised pork shoulder with apple cider vinegar and fresh apples

A Pork Roast Feast Fit For The Season

Leaning hard into the shorter, cooler days, sweaters, rainboots and crunchy leaves, we created a cider pork roast recipe that embodies the way we want to cook right now—low, slow, and with all of the flavors of the harvest season. Apples are literally falling off the trees around us, and we were determined to capture that bounty in a recipe that concentrates their complex taste and myriad uses into a slab of hearty, braised pork shoulder. So when you’re at the pumpkin patch this month, and you see those gallons of unfiltered apple cider for sale, go ahead and buy one or two—we’ve got just the recipe for you.

ingredients laid out for cider braised pork shoulder, apples, shallots, fennel, garlic, vinegar, olive oil

What Is Pork Shoulder?

And, while we’re on the topic, is pork shoulder the same as pork butt? In short, “pork shoulder” is a term that is sometimes applied to a two different cuts of pork, pork butt (AKA Boston butt) and the “picnic shoulder” both of which come from the front quarter of a pig. (Yes, the pork butt actually comes from the shoulder, and yes, that’s kind of confusing.) Although a lot of people love fat-marbled pork butt for braising—us included—for this particular recipe, a pork butt would be too fatty. Instead, look for something called a “pork shoulder roast” which is boneless and skinless and not as fatty as a pork butt.

raw pork shoulder on parchment paper, sprinkled with kosher salt
pork shoulder browned in a large black pot

Everything You’ll Need To Make Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

Now that you know how to buy a pork shoulder roast, all you have to do is load up on other fall flavors—apples, shallots and fennel will infuse that tender, juicy pork with their autumnal goodness and your home will smell exactly the way you’d want it to this time of year. Here’s everything you’ll need to make this cider pork roast:

  • Pork shoulder roast
  • Shallots
  • Fennel bulb
  • Garlic
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Fennel seeds
  • Unfiltered apple cider
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Chicken stock
  • Apples
Shallots, Fennel bulb and Garlic in a soup pot
Pork shoulder roast in a large pot shallots, with fennel, Garlic, apple cider, Apple cider vinegar, Chicken stock and Apples
Pork shoulder roast in a large pot shallots, with fennel, Garlic, apple cider, Apple cider vinegar, Chicken stock and Apples
Pork shoulder roast in a large pot shallots, with fennel, Garlic, apple cider, Apple cider vinegar, Chicken stock and Apples

How To Make Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

  1. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel and salt the shoulder thoroughly.
  2. Brown the pork shoulder until it’s brown on all sides. Set it aside.
  3. Sauté shallots and fennel for a few minutes, then add some garlic. Sauté a bit more, then set them aside.
  4. Pour apple cider, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock, pepper, cayenne and fennel seeds, into your Dutch oven. Set the browned pork in there, too, and bring it to a boil.
  5. Cover the pot and pop it into the oven. Time to braise!
  6. After about two hours in the oven, pull the pot out and nestle the apples, fennel and shallots into the pot. As for how long to cook the pork shoulder? As always, a meat thermometer is really important to have on-hand for a recipe like this. Keep cooking for about 2 ½ hours, or until you get a reading of at least 145°F on a meat thermometer.
Pork shoulder roast in a large pot shallots, with fennel, Garlic, apple cider, Apple cider vinegar, Chicken stock and Apples

Tools You’ll Need

More Autumnal Pork Recipes To Try

There’s something about this season that makes us hungry for the “other white meat”. If you find yourself in the same predicament, here are a few recipes you might really love:

Pork shoulder roast in a large pot shallots, with fennel, Garlic, apple cider, Apple cider vinegar, Chicken stock and Apples

Apple Cider Braised EVERYTHING

The arrival of apple season and the autumnal flavors that accompany it make us glad that summer is behind us—and that’s a pretty incredible thing to say! But we really do love nothing more than a cozy meal like this, simmering away in the oven, perfuming our homes and whetting our appetites.Try the recipe, and let us know how you like it, OK? Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

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Apple Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  30 min
  • Cook Time:  2 hrs 30 min
  • Calories: 540


  • 1 (3 lb) pork shoulder roast
  • 1 tbsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, sliced
  • 1 small head of fennel, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp Fennel seeds (optional)
  • 2 cups Unfiltered apple cider
  • 2 tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 apples cored and quartered


  1. Heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Pat the pork dry with a paper towel. Evenly salt all sides of the pork.
  3. Heat the oil in a large (oven proof) dutch oven set over high heat. Brown the pork shoulder roast until brown on all sides, about 4 minutes each side.
  4. Transfer pork to a plate when the browning step is complete.
  5. Add shallots and fennel to the oil and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 5 minutes. (deglaze the pan with 1/4 cup chicken stock if it is browning to quickly) Add in garlic and cook for 1 more minute. (Scoop out as many of the veggies as you can onto a plate and set aside.)
  6. Add the pepper, cayenne, fennel seeds, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, chicken stock and stir to combine. Add just the pork back to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat.
  7. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid. Place the meat in the oven for 2 ½ hours.
  8. About 30 minutes before the meat is done, add the apples, fennel and shallots to the pot, nestling them down into the liquid. Place the lid back on and continue cooking until done.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories540
  • Protein42 g
  • Carbohydrates24 g
  • Total Fat21 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium322 mg
  • Total Sugars17 g

Apple Cider-Braised Pork Shoulder

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • April

    Can I cook this recipe in a slow cooker?

    Sure! I would still brown the pork! Not exactly sure how long it will take, But it will work!

  • Janet

    Is the meat with or without the rind (fat)?

    You can trim some of the fat off. Hope you enjoy Janet!

  • Emma

    What kind of cider is called for? Hard cider or apple juice?

    Unfiltered apple cider. Hope you enjoy Emma!

  • Cassidy

    This feels like a silly question, but do you serve the meat with the veggies and apples as part of the meal?

    Yes! Hope you enjoy Cassidy!

  • Mary

    What type of apples do you use?
    Granny Smith, Gala, Fuji, Ambrosia?

    Any of those will do fine in this recipe!

  • E

    I had to make a few adjustments to methods here, but I used this recipe to cater dinner for 400 people....rave reviews all around. Solid! Might do it for Thanksgiving.

    WOW! NIIIIICE work. So glad everyone enjoyed it!



    Thank you, so happy you loved it!

  • Alex

    This was absolutely stunning and the best warm-up meal after being out in the cold all day.

    Yay! So glad to hear!

  • Morgan

    Made this yesterday - delicious!! I halved the cayenne for kids’ pallets and it left the ‘hum’ without too much spice. I served with buttered egg noodles and a big green salad. I kept the green fennel leaves from the bulbs and garnished with that instead of parsley. This was a stunner, definitely keeping this one as a regular Sunday night meal!!

    Amazing. So glad you loved it!

  • Lynn