Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork

  • Recipe By
  • Published Nov 2nd
  • Ready In12h 45m
  • Servings10
  • Calories348
You'll see this titled 'Pig in a Pumpkin' on the blog even though we're not using a whole pig, we're using a whole pumpkin! If you're looking for a fun, and very seasonably appropriate way to cook some pork shoulder, I can't think of a better, or more beautiful one, which is why I really hope you give this a try soon. Season the pork any way you want. I plated mine up with buttery mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts.

Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork Ingredients

The following are the ingredients needed to make delicious Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork for 10 servings:

  • 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 volleyball-sized sugar pumpkin
  • 2 cups hard apple cider, or more as needed

Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork Cooking Instructions

  • Prep15m
  • Cook4h 15m
  • Ready In12h 45m

To cook Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork, you need about 15 minutes of preparation time. The time needed to cook this Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork is about 4 hours 15 minutes , and you can serve your Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork within 12 hours 45 minutes . The following are the steps to cook Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork easily:

  1. 1 Cut pork into large chunks. Place in a bowl. Add salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme, fennel seeds, rosemary, and shallots. Mix thoroughly and cover pork with parchment paper. Refrigerate to let flavors develop, 8 hours to overnight.
  2. 2 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  3. 3 Add flour to pork and mix to coat. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork in 2 batches until browned, about 3 minutes per side.
  4. 4 Insert the tip of a knife at a 45-degree angle into the top half of the pumpkin. Slowly cut all the way around to remove the 'lid'. Scrape seeds and fibers off the bottom of the lid and inside of the pumpkin using a large spoon or ice cream scoop.
  5. 5 Line the bottom of a baking pan with parchment paper and place pumpkin on top. Stuff the pumpkin with the browned pork; pour in cider. Cover with the top.
  6. 6 Bake in the preheated oven until pork is very tender, about 4 hours. Pour in a little more cider after a few hours in the oven, since a lot of it evaporates. Remove from the oven and let rest; brush pumpkin with some of the rendered fat from the bottom of the pan.
  7. 7 Scoop pork onto serving plates and cut out pieces of pumpkin to serve alongside. Combine remaining rendered fat with cooking liquid from inside the pumpkin. Let sauce rest for a few minutes so you can skim off most of the fat. Spoon sauce over the pork.


  • Chef's Notes:
  • While this would work in any pumpkin, try to find ones sold as 'sugar,' or 'pie' pumpkins, since they have a thicker, sweeter flesh, compared to the ornamental ones sold for jack-o'-lantering. I believe the variety I used was called 'cannonball,' but simply look for round, heavy-feeling varieties about the size of a volleyball.
  • You can use up to 4 pounds of pork.
  • Thanks to the little bit of flour on the pork, the sauce should have a nice thickness, but you can always adjust that with some more roux.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 348 calories; 16.6 grams of fat; 29.3 grams of carbohydrates; 20.2 grams of protein; 62 milligrams of cholesterol; 632 milligrams of sodium.

  1. Sep 20th 2019

    Simple, beautiful, impressive to present.I tested using two smaller squash. One baked per the recipe while the second I added apple, grapes & sweet peppers so I cooked everything sepa ...

  2. Dec 14th 2018

    Easy to follow the pork was very tender and full of flavor. The cider never evaporated like the directions said it would but it turned out great will make it again.

  3. Nov 8th 2018

    This is definitely going to be an autumn tradition in our house from now on. Made pretty much according to the recipe except that my grocery store only had smaller pie pumpkins. This actua ...

  4. Nov 7th 2018

    This was a really fun, easy recipe! I had in-laws coming over and for dinner was making Chef John’s Creamy Pork stew. Since I had pork and an extra pumpkin on hand, I gave it a try. The se ...

  5. Nov 5th 2018

    Happy to try this recipe and use a pie pumpkin in a different recipe other than pumpkin bread or pie. Made as written and was happy with the flavor of the meat using fennel seeds and pleased ...