Recipe By Chef John
Published Nov 3rd
Chef John’s Pumpkin-Braised Pork
Prep 15m Cook 4h 15m Additional 8h 15m Ready In 12h 45m
Servings 10 servings Calories 348.2

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.

Recipe Ingredients

  • 3 ½ pounds boneless pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • ⅓ 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

Cooking Directions

  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.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories 348.2
  • Carbohydrate 29.3 g
  • Cholesterol 62.5 mg
  • Fat 16.6 g
  • Fiber 2.1 g
  • Protein 20.2 g
  • Saturated Fat 5.8 g
  • Sodium 631.9 mg
  • Sugar 8.2 g

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.


  1. Made this up with four cheese Mac and cheese. No leftovers in sight which I was rather looking forward to. Have made it three or four more times, took a short cut and put it all in a crockpot. Just cut the pumpkin into pieces.
  2. Made it in small pie pumpkins & it turned out amazing. Didn t need to cook as long and the meat was very tender!
  3. Though my kids don’t like pumpkin (at all) they loved the pork and ate everything but the pumpkin. Hubby and I loved this. After mixing the pork and marinating ingredients I put the pork mix in a tub and froze it. So when I fancied eating/cooking this dish I just had to defrost and cook - Read more ...
  4. This was absolutely divine . everybody loved it even the little kids. The pork was battery tender, so flavorful with all the wonderful spices. I can’t wait to make this again.
  5. I made this for my family. The meat turned out very tender and edible but we didn’t care for the flavors.
  6. 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.
  7. 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 actually turned out better since I filled two of them and then had more of the savory-sweet pumpkin to go with the - Read more ...
  8. 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 seasonings and braising liquid were from the stew recipe. After browning the pork I stuffed as - Read more ...
  9. 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 with the tenderness of the meat. My husband was surprised how nice the pumpkin tastes (cross between a - Read more ...