This is an easy and flavorful one dish pork ragu recipe that takes less than 30 minutes hands on time!

Braised with apples, honey and vegetables for a memorable dish you’ll make again and again. 

Pork ragu is an easy, yet absolutely delicious Italian pork dish. With just a little prep time, the rest of the magic takes place in the oven or slow cooker.

A white plate with a serving of braised pork ragu with pappardelle
Want to save this?
Enter your email below and I’ll send it to you!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Years ago, I fell in love with pork ragu at Pastaria, a local Italian restaurant by Gerard Craft in St. Louis.

This simplified recipe is easy and accessible – perfect for a Sunday supper, family dinner or just a dinner to warm you up on a cold winter day and save the rest for later!

Ragu is a large quantity of beef (try my Braised Beef Ragu) or pork braised with vegetables for several hours until flavorful and tender. It can be served in a variety of ways, but it’s most common (and delicious) on a bed of fresh pasta.

One of the many reasons it’s an Italian classic is because it can serve a large number of guests.

A plate of pork ragu served over pasta, with a cast iron skillet of sauce in the background

Pork Ragu Recipe

This incredible recipe feeds a crowd, making it great for entertaining. I often serve it on the holidays, or just our little family and savor the leftovers.

This recipe is unique, which is one of the many reasons I love it.

In addition to boneless pork shoulder, it has a granny smith apple and honey which adds a hint of sweet flavor to the sauce. The pork simmers with chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic.

Pork ragu in a cast iron pot.

Why You’ll Love It

  • Seasonal – Perfect for fall and winter.
  • One Pot Wonder – Set it and forget it! It’s a little work up front but then the cast iron does all the braising work for you.
  • Slow Cooked Perfection – While this ragu recipe is a little more time intensive than most of my recipes, don’t be intimidated, it’s so easy and if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy the process. It’s therapeutic. Just wait until your home fills with the most wonderful aroma!
A white plate with a serving of braised pork ragu with pappardelle

Ingredients and Substitutions

See printable recipe card for complete ingredients and instructions.

  • Vegetables – Carrots, celery and onion. This dish is the perfect way to sneak veggies in!
  • Granny Smith Apples – Apples work so well with pork, and add a natural sweetness to this ragu.
  • Pork Shoulder – Pork shoulder is a tough cut of meat so requires a long and slow cook. It has a coating of fat which adds to its rich flavor.
  • Garlic – Diced garlic cloves or minced garlic, whichever you prefer.
  • Thyme – Fresh thyme adds beautiful notes to this recipe and makes a pretty garnish as well.
  • Tomato Paste – Or reach for one of these tomato paste substitutes.
  • White Wine – A dry white wine works best for ragu. You can use whatever you have on hand including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or white cooking wine.
  • Chicken Stock – The liquid components help to break down the pork as well as adding flavor to the finished dish.
  • Honey – Honey adds a hint of sweetness and pairs well with this dish.
  • Champagne Vinegar – Adds bright flavor. Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar may be substituted in a pinch.
  • Mascarpone – This soft Italian soft cheese makes the ragu so creamy. You can substitute a half cup of heavy cream for mascarpone if needed.
  • Pappardelle – To serve pair with Pappardelle Pasta, a wide noodle traditionally served with ragu because it can carry the weight of the sauce.
Ingredients for a pork ragu recipe on a white countertop.

How to Make

  1. Prep – Chop vegetables and slice apple.
  2. Brown Pork – Heat olive oil in cast iron pot. Add pork, salting as directed, and add it to the cocotte to brown. Toss all apple, finely chopped vegetables, garlic and thyme around the pork as it continues to brown. 
  3. Cook Vegetables and Apple – Reduce heat and cook, stirring them until brown.
  4. Make Sauce – Add tomato paste, wine, chicken stock, vinegar and honey. Simmer.
  5. Braise – Cover and transfer to the oven to cook, flipping halfway through.
  6. Shred – Shred meat, removing any excess fat (if necessary). Stir. 
  7. Season – Stir in mascarpone and season with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy!
close up of pork ragu, garnished with stems of fresh thyme

In the Crockpot

  1. Follow above instructions 1-2 (detailed in the recipe card). Once pork is browned, transfer to a slow cooker and add remaining ingredients.
  2. Braise 3-4 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low, or until pork falls apart with a fork.
Pork ragu in a cast iron pot.

Tips

  • Brown – Browning the pork shoulder before braising it caramelizes the natural sugars and helps to lock in the flavor. Brown the pork on each side until it is a deep brown.
  • Make in Cast Iron – If at all possible, ragu is best made in cast iron. It goes from stove top, to oven to table seamlessly and offers the best flavor. Cooking in cast iron browns the meat beautifully and allows it to braise at a consistent slow simmer.
  • Wine – A hearty meat sauce like this pairs well with red wine. Truly any dry red works from a lighter Pinot Noir to a robust (red) Zinfandel or Cabernet.
A white plate with a serving of braised pork ragu with pappardelle

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between a Bolognese and a ragu?

Bolognese is technically a form of ragu, but there are several differences between these two sauces. Bolognese features more acidic white wine, while ragu specifies red wine. Ragu tends to feature more chunks of veggies, while bolognese usually does not.

Do Italians put milk in ragu?

Milk is a common ingredient in most ragu, because it helps cut the acidity of the tomatoes and adds a silky finish. Our pork ragu includes mascarpone to add even more creamy texture!

Pork ragu in a cast iron pot.

Serving Suggestions

Serve it with a loaf of crusty Homemade Bread  with a nice olive oil and bread dipping spices. I always pair pasta with a salad (try this amazing Italian Salad).

A white plate with a serving of braised pork ragu with pappardelle

How to Store

  • Room Temperature – Don’t leave your pork ragu sitting out at room temperature while serving for more than two hours!
  • Refrigerate – Not feeding a crowd? You can refrigerate pork ragu in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze – or in a freezer for up to a month, reheat and toss with pasta. If you are making the ragu ahead of time, once it has cooked, let it cool completely to room temperature before transferring to an airtight container.
A white plate with a serving of braised pork ragu with pappardelle
A white plate with a serving of braised pork ragu with pappardelle
5 from 4 votes
Click stars ↑ to rate and leave a review!

Pork Ragu

An easy and flavorful ragu recipe that takes less than 30 minutes hands on time! This Pork Ragu is braised with apples, honey and vegetables for a memorable dish you’ll make again and again. 
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 3 hours 20 minutes
Total: 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 16
Pin Rate Print
Save this recipe!
Enter your email and I’ll send it to you!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Ingredients  

  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery rib chopped
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 granny smith apples (approximately 2 cups) scored and sliced thin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3.5 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 6 ounce tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cup chicken stock
  • cup champagne vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 8 ounces mascarpone
  • 2 pounds pappardelle pasta
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Heat olive oil on medium high. Add pork, salting on both sides, add it to cocotte turning to brown all sides. 
    Turn to brown the last side and immediately toss all apple, finely chopped vegetables, garlic and thyme around the pork as it continues to brown.
  • Reduce heat to medium and cook stirring them until brown.
  • Add tomato paste. Stir until incorporated.
  • Add wine, bring to a boil.
  • Add chicken stock, vinegar and honey. Simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Cover and transfer to the oven for 1.5 hours. Turn pork and braise for another 1.5 hours.
  • Remove from oven and press on vegetables to extrude additional flavor.
  • Using two forks, shred meat, removing any excess fat (if necessary). Stir to combine with sauce.
  • Stir in mascarpone and season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh grated parmesan.

Julie’s Tips

Substitutions and Ingredient Notes

  • Garlic – Diced garlic cloves or minced garlic, whichever you prefer.
  • White Wine – A dry white wine works best for ragu. You can use whatever you have on hand including Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay or white cooking wine.
  • Champagne Vinegar – Adds bright flavor. Apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar may be substituted in a pinch.
  • Mascarpone – This soft Italian soft cheese makes the ragu so creamy. You can substitute a half cup of heavy cream for mascarpone if needed.
  • Pappardelle – Tagliatelle makes a great substitute if needed.

Tips

  • Make in cast iron, if possible. It transfers from stove top to oven, to table and offers the best flavor. Cooking in cast iron browns the meat beautifully and allows it to braise at a consistent slow simmer. 

Slow Cooker Instructions

  • Follow instructions and rather than placing it in the oven, place in a slow cooker 3 hours or until it falls apart.

To Store

  • Refrigerate – Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days
  • Freeze – Freeze in an airtight container up to a month
Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 103mg | Sodium: 199mg | Potassium: 555mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1705IU | Vitamin C: 5.6mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2.4mg

Estimated nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is not guaranteed.

Explore More

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this Recipe




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious!
    I am making it again a few days ahead to serve for a dinner party. Should I wait to add the mascarpone until I am reheating the ragu?