How to Cook a Whole Pig on a Smoker

Smoke a whole hog for your next party or event and "wow" your guests.
Smoke a whole hog for your next party or event and "wow" your guests. (Image: Hemera Technologies/ Images)

A whole, smoked pig can be a truly wonderful thing to behold and eat. As long as you have a smoker big enough to accommodate the size of your pig, smoking it whole shouldn't be enormously difficult. Brine the hog using a sugar, salt and vinegar combination to impart moisture and to soften its muscle fibers. You can also fill your swine with fruit, herbs, vegetables and various seasonings to enhance the flavor of the meat. A little patience and time is all that is needed for an excellent smoked pig.

Things You'll Need

  • Whole pig (60 lbs, approximately)
  • 2 gallons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 lbs. brown sugar
  • 1 lb. kosher salt
  • 2 gallons water
  • 2 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 5 heads garlic
  • 4 large sweet onions
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • Large stock pot
  • Long handled spoon
  • Sharp knife
  • Cutting board
  • Large tub or bucket (large enough to accommodate the entire pig)
  • 8 apples
  • 1 bunch oregano
  • 1 bunche sage
  • 1 bunch rosemary
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 pineapple (optional)
  • Tin foil
  • Large bore needle
  • Twine
  • 10 lbs. smoke chips
  • Meat thermometer

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Prepping the Brine

Pour 2 gallons of water, 2 lbs of brown sugar and 1 lb of kosher salt into a large stock pot. Bring this mixture to a soft boil and stir until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved.

Add 2 tbsp. of black peppercorns, six whole cloves and two cinnamon sticks to the boiling liquid and process for ten minutes.

Remove the pot from the heating element and allow it to cool completely. Pour the liquid and spice mixture into a large bucket or tub and add two gallons of apple cider vinegar to it. Stir well to combine.

Slice the top off two garlic heads, roughly chop two sweet onions (with the skin on) and slice one fennel bulb into 1/4 inch pieces. Add all of this to the tub containing the brine.

Brining the Pig

Wash the butchered pig with cold water and rinse out the cavity.

Place the pig in the tub containing the brine, cut side down. Splay the sides of the cut pig to expose the inner flesh to the brine.

Brine the pig for 24 hours (at least) and store the tub, covered, in a cold location. The pig will take on more moisture if it is allowed to brine for two whole days.

Smoking the Pig

Pre-soak your smoking chips before placing them in the smoker. Most smoking chips should be soaked overnight (at least)

Preheat the smoker to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the pig from the brine and pat the outside dry. Wrap the ears and tail in tin foil to prevent blackening during the smoking process.

Roughly chop 1 bunch each: oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage. Cut eight apples in half, peel and roughly slice two sweet onions, remove the tops from three whole garlic heads and stuff this combined with the chopped herbs inside the open pig cavity.

Sew the cavity closed using a large bore needle and twine that has been soaked overnight in water. A double stitch might be necessary to keep the cavity closed. Stuff the mouth with either a large apple or pineapple half. This will allow the smoke to get inside the cavity. Place the pig inside the smoker and process at a low temperature for approximately nine hours or until the internal temperature of the smoked pig reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Depending on the type of smoker you use, a drip pan might be necessary.
  • Experiment with different smoking chips, stuffing ingredients and brines to achieve different results.
  • Larger pigs will need a greater amount of brine and will have a longer smoking time. Brine larger pigs for at least two days to properly permeate the meat.
  • Browse BBQ forums to find different tried and true recipes from experienced whole hog smokers. Http:/// is a good resource.


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