Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

I was talking with my friend Chris about perfect meals for entertaining, and we went though the usual suspects: lasagnas, chili, tenderloins, and then he mentioned to me that his favorite  go-to entertaining dish was a pork butt or shoulder.  We talked about the best way to cook a pork shoulder roast: basically just letting it slow cook in the oven for ages at a very low temperature so  that it practically falls apart.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder Roast

Chris told me that long ago a chef has explained to him that meat likes to be cooked at around the temperature that it reached when it is done.

Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

While I don’t think that is always the case at all (flame kissed steaks and burgers anyone?), it made nice sense when I thought about it in terms of a big tough hunk of meat, like this boneless pork shoulder roast, which needs low and slow cooking to make it turn from impossibly tough to tender.  No amount of trying to rush the process will help, you’ve got to keep the heat low and the time long. 

Pork Butt Roast

You can also make this recipe and others like it with a pork butt roast or Boston Butt pork roast, which are actually also from the shoulder area, a little further up, but essentially a similar cut of meat.  

Slow Cooking Pork

When you slow cook pork shoulder in the oven, boneless or bone-in, you have a lot of flexibility, which is a delightful thing when entertaining.  In fact, the cooking time at this low temp could be stretched by an hour or two, and the roast wouldn’t be any worse for the wear.  So you can literally plunk it on the table whenever everyone is ready to eat. 

And even though this recipe calls for boneless pork shoulder, which is a bit easier to cut, you can use bone-in pork shoulder which will cook in about the same amount of time. The instructions call for the fat side to be down in the pan, which give the top the chance to get a nice crust, but it really doesn’t matter. Some people like the fat on the top, which kind of bastes the pork as it cooks, but then you have less crusty surface. Your call, you won’t go wrong.

Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

The best part?   This is free time you can spend reading, dancing, sleeping, cleaning a closet, saving kittens from trees.

A super tender slow cooked marinated pork shoulder roast recipe that is amazing on its own, and also can be used in so many ways.

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Low and Slow and Flexible

It bears repeating, because it’s one of the best things about this recipe: you can leave the roast in the very low oven for another hour or two or even three with no repercussions.  The pork is roasted uncovered so that it gets a wonderful crusty brown exterior, while the inside becomes fall-apart tender.

If you feel like it needs a bit more browning or caramelization at the end, turn the heat up to 450°F. for 15 minutes before pulling it out of the oven, and then do make sure to let it rest for a bit so that the fibers can relax a bit, and the juices re-group.

And do know that if all has gone as planned, the meat will be so tender that the slices won’t hold together.  That’s part of the appeal.

For a Smaller Pork Shoulder Roast

If your roast is smaller than 6 pounds, say 3 to 4 pounds, you can still use the recipes fully successfully, just shorten the cooking time slightly. You still want to start it at high heat, in a preheated 450°F oven. Roast the pork for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 250°F and continue to cook for 4 to 7 hours until the middle of the roast registers 180°F. on an internal thermometer, and as you slide the thermometer in you can feel that the meat is very tender throughout.

Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

What to Serve with Pork Shoulder Roast:

Leftovers are brilliant.  So endlessly useful to make amazing quesadillas, enchiladas, burritos, soups, stews, sandwiches, and so on.

Serve Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic with:

Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

Other Pork Recipes:

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Fall-Apart Roasted Pork Shoulder with Rosemary, Mustard and Garlic

A super tender slow cooked marinated pork shoulder or butt roast recipe that is amazing on its own, and also can be used in so many ways. One of my go-to dishes for casual crowd entertaining.
Yield: 12 People
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 6 hours 20 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 3 anchovies, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coarse Dijon mustard
  • 1 6-pound boneless pork shoulder trimmed of excess fat and tied


  • In a small food processor combine the garlic, anchovies, rosemary, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and process until it forms a paste, scraping down the sides. Remove the blade and use a fork or spoon to stir in the mustard. Rub the paste all over the pork shoulder, loosely cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate from 2 to 24 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F and bring the pork to room temperature while the oven heats. Place the pork in a shallow roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the top starts to brown a bit. Turn the heat down to 250°F and continue to cook, uncovered, for 6 to 8 hours until the middle of the roast registers 180°F. on an internal thermometer, and as you slide the thermometer in you can feel that the meat is very tender throughout. If there are juices in the pan (and I have found that sometimes there are and sometimes none) pour off the juices from the pan into a heatproof container, like a Pyrex measuring cup. Place this in the fridge, where the fat will rise to the top, while the meat rests.
  • When the meat is cooked, if you think that the outside of the roast could use a bit more crust/brownness, turn the heat back up to 450°F and let it cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, to give the outside a bit more of a crunchy texture.
  • Remove from the oven and let sit for about 20 minutes. Spoon the fat off the reserved juices in the fridge and pour the cooking juices into a serving pitcher or bowl (warm it a bit in the microwave or in a small pot if you like). Slice the pork as thinly or thickly as you like, knowing the meat will fall apart at least slightly. Sprinkle the sliced meat with a bit of salt before serving, and pass the pan juices on the side to drizzle over.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 333.64kcal | Carbohydrates: 0.75g | Protein: 51.55g | Fat: 12.39g | Saturated Fat: 3.09g | Cholesterol: 136.68mg | Sodium: 539.9mg | Potassium: 869.92mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.04g | Vitamin A: 9.75IU | Vitamin C: 0.49mg | Calcium: 22.27mg | Iron: 2.17mg

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  1. I have been searching for the best way to cook a petite pork shoulder and this is it!! I found this recipe in the morning before we we’re heading out to ski, so I didn’t use the anchovies, used dried rosemary, plain Dijon and slathered it with the marinade and put it right in the oven and it was still THE BEST pork we’ve ever had!!!! Next time I’ll try to follow the recipe completely but even with the shortcuts it was amazing! So happy to have found this, thank you!!

    1. Just put my small, 2.3 lb roast in for the 30 min start at 450. I, too, used dried rosemary (crushed up a bit), garlic, pepper and dijon. Based on your results, I’m assured and EXPECT it will turn out equally excellent

      1. I cooked this dish yesterday and it was delicious! My wife said it was the best meal I have ever cooked in our 34 years of marriage and she is right.
        I used all the right ingredients, except anchovies.
        It reminded me of a wonderful piece of prime rib, only tastier.
        Thank you!!!

  2. My roast was about 3 lbs. I started on high heat as recommended then went to 250. Unfortunately I took it out after 2hrs of low heat since it was smaller. It’s very tasty but not fall apart great. I let cool and put in fridge. Can I continue to cook at 250 today to get it to fall apart great?

    1. Give it a shot…though you might have to chalk it up to a learning experience. Make sure it is covered this time, to keep it from drying out, and give it another hour or two. You could also add 1/2 cup broth or other liquid to the pan before covering it with foil.

  3. I’m paranoid about overcooked pork! I know that the new guidelines have the safe internal temp of pork at 145 degrees…would it still be juicy and tender at 180? Thank you! It’s in the oven now and smells heavenly!

    1. This was really excellent. Of course no anchovies or even Rosemary in the house but I did h have Dijon mustard plus maple syrup and Herbs de Provence and it was a French-Canadian miracle!

      1. Hello Katie, I was going to cover mine in its Dutch oven. no?also please will it come out just as good if I slow cook but don’t want it well done? Rather medium, but is it a tough piece of meat to only have it well done fall apart? Thank you Rhonda

        1. it has to be cooked through and thoroughly to be fall apart tender. a pork loin or tenderloin can be cooked to 140°F and still be safe to eat, but there kind of is no such things as medium fall apart pork shoulder!

  4. I followed this exactly, just made adjustments for a larger roast. It was the best pork ive ever eaten. And ive been working in california restaurants for a decade.

  5. I have been cooking for 50 years and this was the most helpful recipe. Thank you for sharing your culinary delights!

  6. Great recipe, thanks! I couldn’t find anchovies for some reason so I substituted with sardine fillets. Delicious, everyone loved it. Its a keeper!

  7. Horrible! It was so incredibly difficult not to eat the entire roast while it was cooking. After a couple of hours I couldn’t take it anymore, I sliced off a piece while it was still cooking, then another, and another. This roast turned out beautifully, well, what was left of it. Juicy, moist, wonderful flavor, very easy recipe. I plan on using the leftovers for tacos.

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