Savory Apple Cider Braised Pork

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Imagine a dish that combines the rich flavors of tender pork with the tangy sweetness of apple cider. It’s a culinary creation that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight. This Savory Apple Cider Braised Pork recipe captures the perfect balance between sweet and savory, resulting in a dish that is both comforting and satisfying. With every bite, you’ll be transported to a cozy autumn evening, savoring the flavorful marriage of succulent pork and the unmistakable essence of apple cider. Get ready to impress your family and friends with this mouthwatering dish that is sure to become a favorite in your kitchen.

Savory Apple Cider Braised Pork


To make apple cider braised pork, you will need the following ingredients:

Pork shoulder

The star of this dish is a tender and succulent pork shoulder. It is a flavorful cut of meat that becomes incredibly tender when slowly braised in apple cider.

Apple cider

Apple cider adds a delightful sweetness and tanginess to the braising liquid. It infuses the pork with a subtle apple flavor and gives the dish a distinct autumnal taste.


Onions provide a savory and aromatic base for the braising liquid. They add depth of flavor and complement the sweetness of the apple cider beautifully.


Garlic adds a pungent and aromatic element to the dish. It enhances the flavors of the other ingredients and adds a warm and comforting aroma to the braising liquid.


Sliced apples are used to enhance the apple flavor of the dish. They become soft and tender as they cook alongside the pork shoulder, adding a hint of sweetness to every bite.

Fresh thyme

Fresh thyme leaves bring a refreshing herbal note to the dish. They add complexity to the flavor profile and balance out the richness of the pork shoulder and apple cider.


Salt is essential to bring out the flavors of all the ingredients. It enhances the savory aspect of the dish and ensures a well-seasoned and delicious end result.


Ground black pepper adds a subtle spiciness to the dish. It pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the apple cider and the earthiness of the pork shoulder.

Olive oil

Olive oil is used for searing the pork shoulder and sautéing the aromatics. It adds a touch of richness and helps to develop a beautiful golden crust on the meat.


Flour is used to thicken the braising liquid and create a luscious sauce for the pork shoulder. It helps to bind and emulsify the flavors together, resulting in a velvety texture.


Preparing the pork shoulder

Before you start cooking, you need to ensure that your pork shoulder is prepared properly. Trim any excess fat from the surface and cut the shoulder into manageable-sized pieces. This will ensure even cooking and allow the flavors to penetrate the meat more effectively.

Searing the pork shoulder

To develop a delicious crust, heat some olive oil in a large Dutch oven or oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Generously season the pork shoulder with salt and pepper. Place the pork shoulder pieces into the hot oil and sear them on all sides until they are browned and caramelized. This will add depth of flavor to the final dish.

Sautéing the aromatics

Once the pork shoulder is seared, remove it from the pot and set it aside momentarily. Add the diced onions and minced garlic to the pot, and sauté them until they become translucent and fragrant. This process will release their flavors and create a savory base for the braising liquid.

Adding apple cider and seasonings

Deglaze the pot by pouring the apple cider into it and using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom. This will enhance the flavor of the braising liquid. Add the sliced apples and fresh thyme leaves to the pot, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir everything together to combine the flavors.

Braising the pork shoulder

Return the seared pork shoulder to the pot, nestling it into the apple cider mixture. Cover the pot with a lid and transfer it to the preheated oven. Allow the pork shoulder to braise for several hours until it becomes tender and can be easily shredded with a fork. The slow cooking process will result in melt-in-your-mouth meat with intense flavors.

Removing and shredding the pork

Once the pork shoulder is done braising, carefully remove it from the oven and transfer it to a cutting board. Use two forks to shred the meat, discarding any fatty or tough bits. The shredded pork will soak up the flavorful braising liquid, making it even more delectable.

Reducing the braising liquid

After removing the pork, return the pot with the braising liquid to the stovetop. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook, uncovered, until it reduces and thickens slightly. This will concentrate the flavors and create a luscious sauce to drizzle over the shredded pork.

Combining the pork and braising liquid

Once the braising liquid has reduced, add the shredded pork back into the pot, stirring it well to coat the meat evenly. This step ensures that every mouthful of the dish is packed with the apple-infused flavors. The pork and braising liquid can now be served together, ready to be savored.

Serving Suggestions

Now that your apple cider braised pork is ready to enjoy, here are some delicious serving suggestions to enhance your meal:

Mashed potatoes

Creamy and buttery mashed potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to apple cider braised pork. The rich and velvety texture of the potatoes pairs beautifully with the tender shredded pork and its flavorful sauce.

Roasted vegetables

Roasting a medley of seasonal vegetables, such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes, is a fantastic way to add color and texture to your plate. The caramelized edges of the roasted vegetables complement the sweetness of the pork and provide a healthy and satisfying side dish.

Crispy apple slaw

For a refreshing and crunchy contrast to the tender pork, consider making a crispy apple slaw. Toss thinly sliced apples, cabbage, and carrots with a tangy vinaigrette and serve it alongside the braised pork. The combination of textures and flavors will take your meal to the next level.

Warm dinner rolls

Soft and warm dinner rolls are the perfect vessel for enjoying the apple cider braised pork. Tear off a piece of roll, load it up with juicy pork and a spoonful of the braising liquid, and take a bite. The pillowy texture of the roll will soak up the flavors and create a delightful bite.


Here are some frequently asked questions about apple cider braised pork:

Can I use a different cut of pork?

While pork shoulder is ideal for braising due to its marbling and tenderness, you can also use other cuts of pork, such as pork butt or pork loin. Just keep in mind that the cooking time may vary, and leaner cuts may not result in the same succulence as a well-marbled pork shoulder.

Can I use a different type of apple cider?

Absolutely! Different types of apple cider may have varying levels of sweetness and acidity. Experiment with different brands and varieties to find the flavor profile that you enjoy the most. You can even make your own homemade apple cider for a truly personal touch.

Can I make this recipe in a slow cooker?

Yes, you can adapt this recipe for a slow cooker. Follow the steps for searing the pork shoulder and sautéing the aromatics on the stovetop, then transfer everything to your slow cooker. Cook on low heat for 6-8 hours or on high heat for 3-4 hours, until the pork is tender and easily shredded.

Can I make this dish ahead of time?

Apple cider braised pork can be made ahead of time and reheated when you are ready to serve. Store the shredded pork and braising liquid separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator. When ready to serve, gently reheat the pork in a saucepan while reheat the braising liquid separately. Once heated through, combine the two and serve.

How should I store the leftovers?

To store leftover apple cider braised pork, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate within two hours of cooking. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days. When reheating, add a splash of apple cider or chicken broth to prevent the pork from drying out.

Savory Apple Cider Braised Pork

Tips and Tricks

To make the most out of your apple cider braised pork, keep these tips and tricks in mind:

Choosing the right pork shoulder

Look for a pork shoulder with a good amount of marbling. This will ensure that the meat stays moist and tender during the long cooking process. Avoid cuts that are too lean, as they may become dry and tough.

Using homemade apple cider

If you have the time and inclination, try making your own apple cider for an even more flavorful dish. Use a variety of apples to achieve the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness. Simmer the apple pieces with water, sugar, and spices, then strain the mixture and use the homemade cider in your braising liquid.

Creating a flavorful crust

Take the time to properly sear the pork shoulder before braising. This step not only enhances the flavor of the meat but also creates a beautiful caramelized crust that adds depth to the dish.

Adding a touch of sweetness

If you prefer a sweeter flavor profile, consider adding a drizzle of honey or maple syrup to the braising liquid. It will amplify the sweetness of the apples and create a delightful balance between sweet and savory.

Enhancing the braising liquid

To take the flavors to the next level, add some additional aromatics to the braising liquid. Experiment with ingredients like bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, or star anise. These spices will infuse the liquid with warm and fragrant notes.

Adjusting the seasoning

Taste and adjust the seasonings as you go along. The amounts provided in the recipe are a guideline, but everyone has different preferences when it comes to salt and pepper. Keep tasting and adding seasonings until the flavors are perfectly balanced.

Creating a crispy finish

For an added textural element, transfer the shredded pork to a baking sheet and broil it for a few minutes until the top becomes crispy and slightly caramelized. This will provide a delightful contrast to the tender and juicy meat.


While apple cider braised pork is delicious on its own, you can also experiment with different variations to suit your taste buds. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Apple cider glazed pork chops

For a quicker meal, you can adapt the recipe by using bone-in pork chops. Marinate the chops in apple cider, garlic, and herbs, then sear them in a hot skillet. Baste the chops with the cider marinade and cook them until they are glazed and caramelized.

Apple cider pulled pork sliders

Shredded apple cider braised pork makes the perfect filling for sliders. Place the shredded pork on mini buns, and top it with your favorite coleslaw or pickles. These bite-sized delights are perfect for parties or casual gatherings.

Apple cider braised pork tacos

Transform your apple cider braised pork into a Mexican-inspired feast. Fill warm tortillas with the tender shredded pork, and top them with salsa, guacamole, and a squeeze of lime. The combination of flavors is sure to be a hit!

Apple cider braised pork stir-fry

For an Asian twist, use the shredded pork in a stir-fry. Sauté some colorful vegetables in a hot wok, then add the shredded pork and a mixture of soy sauce, apple cider, and ginger. Toss everything together until heated through, and serve over steamed rice.

Health Benefits

Apple cider braised pork offers more than just fantastic flavors. Here are some health benefits you can enjoy when indulging in this dish:

Lean protein

Pork shoulder is a protein-packed cut of meat, making it an excellent choice for those looking to incorporate more protein into their diet. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, and it helps to keep you feeling full and satisfied.

Vitamins and minerals from apple

The addition of apples to the braising liquid provides a dose of vitamins and minerals. Apples are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and dietary fiber. These nutrients support a healthy immune system and promote digestion.

Antioxidant-rich ingredients

Both pork shoulder and apples contain antioxidants that help to combat the damaging effects of free radicals in the body. Antioxidants are essential for protecting your cells and promoting overall health and well-being.

Reduced sodium option

By making your apple cider braised pork from scratch, you have control over the amount of salt added to the dish. This allows you to enjoy a flavorful meal with reduced sodium, which is beneficial for those watching their salt intake.

Potential weight management

When enjoyed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet, apple cider braised pork can be a satisfying and nutritious option for weight management. The protein and fiber content of the dish contribute to feelings of fullness, preventing overeating.

History of Apple Cider Braised Pork

Origins of apple cider braising

The technique of braising meat in apple cider can be traced back to early European cooking traditions. Apples have long been used in savory recipes to add sweetness and depth to dishes. The slow, gentle cooking of the pork in apple cider allows the flavors to meld together and creates a succulent and flavorful result.

Evolution of the recipe

Over the years, apple cider braised pork has evolved and adapted to different culinary traditions. In the United States, it has become a popular dish for fall and winter meals, often served during holiday gatherings and special occasions. The flavors of the dish are reminiscent of the comforting and aromatic dishes enjoyed during the cooler months.

Traditional vs. modern variations

While traditional apple cider braised pork recipes focus on simplicity and highlighting the natural flavors of the ingredients, modern variations have started to incorporate additional spices and seasonings to create more complex flavors. This allows for a wide range of possibilities when it comes to customizing the dish to suit individual tastes.

Best Apples for Apple Cider Braised Pork

When choosing apples for apple cider braised pork, consider the following varieties:

Tart apple varieties

Tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Braeburn, provide a slightly sour note that balances out the sweetness of the cider and the richness of the pork shoulder. Their crisp texture holds up well during the braising process, and they add a refreshing element to the dish.

Sweet and tangy apple varieties

If you prefer a sweeter flavor profile, opt for sweet and tangy apple varieties like Honeycrisp or Fuji. These apples bring a natural sweetness to the dish and complement the apple cider beautifully. Their juiciness helps to keep the pork moist and flavorful.

Crisp and juicy apple varieties

Crisp and juicy apple varieties, such as Gala or Pink Lady, add a delightful texture to the dish. Their fresh and slightly acidic flavor pairs well with the savory elements of the braised pork, creating a harmonious balance of flavors.


Apple cider braised pork is a delightful and comforting dish that brings together the rich flavors of pork shoulder and the sweetness of apple cider. The slow braising process infuses the pork with intense flavors and results in a tender and melt-in-your-mouth texture. With its versatile serving suggestions and a variety of variations to explore, this dish is sure to become a favorite in your kitchen. So gather the ingredients, follow the step-by-step instructions, and savor the incredible taste of apple cider braised pork today!