Schweinebraten is a traditional German pork roast, and in many cases, as here, it's cooked with beer which helps make a delicious sauce. The seasonings are simple but the result is a deliciously tender, flavorful main.
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There's no denying that German cooking has a pretty large amount of pork in it. Even side dishes like German green beans have a little bit of ham in there. But as a favorite meat, it's also one that German cuisine knows how to make the most of it.
This roast is a perfect example. The seasonings on the pork are pretty simple, but they are just enough to add that bit of extra flavor as the pork cooks. With delicious results.
While "Schweinebraten" translates as roast pork, it is arguably semi-braised. Some recipes use broth for this but I use the other common liquid, beer. It somehow feels more "Germanic" and it definitely adds to the flavor.
This dish is traditional to Bavaria in the South of Germany and neighboring Austria. The dark beer sauce from the braising liquid is more typical in Bavaria. It's the kind of dish you might have with family for Sunday dinner with a range of sides. It works well to scale up or down with different sized pieces of meat.
What cut of pork should you use?
This dish can be made with a few different cuts. The most common are neck or shoulder. If you can get a shoulder joint with skin, you can make this with a crispy crust, which is always a bonus.
You can use a leaner cut like loin, but you will need to adjust how you cook it. Loin doesn't need the slower cook to tenderize and instead may become dry, so you are better to cook at a slightly higher heat for less time.
The seasonings on the meat can vary but tend to be minimal. In some cases, it's simply salt and pepper but also often caraway and sometimes cumin, garlic, mustard or marjoram. Here I kept it relatively simple with some caraway, as such a core Germanic flavor, and garlic since it's never a bad idea.
A classic part of this dish is using vegetables in with the braising liquid. At least onion and carrot are always in there, then additional vegetables can include celery, parsnip or celeriac (celery root).
Primarily, the vegetables are there to add a little extra flavor as the meat cooks, but I do recommend you try eating them as well. Especially when cooked in beer as here, they are wonderfully tender and delicious.
The beer used to cook the meat makes a wonderfully tasty gravy for serving as well. You simply strain off the fat and thicken slightly before serving.
What to serve with this tasty pork
The classic sides for this are Sauerkraut (pickled cabbage) or Krautsalat (coleslaw). You'll also typically have this with Semmelknödel (bread dumplings) and/or Erdäpfelknödeln (potato dumplings) which are great for soaking up the gravy.
Here rather than sauerkraut or coleslaw, I served red cabbage which while maybe slightly less popular is still another common choice (and really good, too). Instead of dumplings, you could opt for some bread, spaetzle or mashed potato which while less traditional would work in much the same way.
Schweinebraten is a delicious German pork roast that makes a wonderfully flavorful main as part of a comforting meal. It would be perfect for an Oktoberfest celebration, but equally good really any time you choose.
Try these other traditional German dishes:
- Beef rouladen (beef rolls with bacon, mustard and pickles)
- Sauerbraten (a beef roast that has a wine marinade)
- Pflaumenkuchen (German plum cake - arguably more of a bar but delicious)
- Dampfnudel (a sweet dumpling served with vanilla sauce as a dessert)
- Plus get more German recipes in the archives.
Schweinebraten - German pork roast
- 2 lb pork shoulder roast 900g, ideally with skin
- ½ teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 clove garlic
- ¾ teaspoon salt divided
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 parsnip (or 2 if smaller)
- 12 oz dark beer 355ml
- 1 tablespoon butter 14g
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 350F/175C.
- Score the skin of the pork (if it has skin) in a crossed pattern, cutting through the skin but not deeper into the pork itself. Pat dry the pork.
- Grind the caraway seeds with a pestle and mortar or chop them as finely as you can with a knife. Grate or crush the garlic. Mix both together with ½tsp salt, the pepper and oil into a paste then rub the mixture all over the pork, both into the scores in the skin and over the exposed pork.
- Peel and roughly dice the onion, carrot and parsnip. Place the pork, skin side down, in a Dutch oven or other roasting dish with a lid and place the chopped vegetables around the pork.
- Pour most of the beer over both the pork and vegetables then roast for around 45 minutes, covered.
- Turn over the pork so the skin side is up and pour over the remaining beer. Rub the extra salt over the skin then return to the oven and roast for another 1 ¼hour, approximately, uncovered, until it is starting to look crisp on top (and meat thermometer gives an internal reading of 165F/74C).
- Once the pork is cooked, place the meat on a tray and finish off under an overhead broiler/grill to crisp skin slightly more, if needed, then cover to rest before cutting. Keep an eye on it as the skin crisps as it may quickly turn from crisp to burnt.
- As the pork is resting, make the gravy. Strain the beer mixture from the roasting dish. Once it has settled a minute, starin off the fat from the top. Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour and stir to form a paste. Add the strained beet and stir to reduce slightly and thicken a bit.
- Remove the pork skin and serve in chunks alongside slices of pork, topped with the beer gravy with your choice of sides.