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a pig roast in the backyard

How to Roast a Pig in Your Backyard

Learn step by step how to prepare and roast a pig, or whole hog, right in your backyard. You can use either a La Caja China as shown in the video or create your own budget friendly cinder block oven to roast your pig.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 hrs
Cook Time 10 hrs
Resting and Carving Time 1 hr
Total Time 13 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Australian, barbecue, BBQ, Cuban, Hawaiian, Smoked
Servings 40 servings


  • A Large extra refrigerator to store the pig until you are ready to prep and roast
  • La Caja China Pig Roaster (or build a DIY oven with cinder blocks, see below)
  • An Extra Large Charcoal Chimney
  • Multi Probe Leave in Thermometer
  • Heavy Duty High Temperature Resistant Grilling Gloves
  • A Long Handled Charcoal Rake
  • A Quality Meat Carving/Slicing knife set
  • A Heavy Duty Meat Injector Syringe
  • A Large table covered in plastic wrap and then newspapers for resting and carving the whole hog.


  • 48 Cinder Blocks if not using a La Caja China
  • 1 Heavy Duty Aluminum Metal Wire Rack (NOT galvanized steel - toxic), roughly 24" x 48" if not using a La Caja China
  • 1 Large piece of Aluminum Sheet Metal to cover the cinder block oven, roughly 40" x 88". if not using a La Caja China
  • 2 Smaller pieces of plywood or sheet metal, roughly 12" x 24", to control air flow. if not using a La Caja China
  • 6 Bags Charcoal the more on hand, the better
  • 1 70 lb Whole Hog scalded and scraped, and preferably already butterflied
  • Seasonings, marinades, and BBQ sauce for serving


Prepare the Pig for Roasting

  • Remove your whole hog from the refrigerator and ideally bring it to room temperature a few hours before you plan to start cooking.
  • Butterfly the pig down the belly from the chin to between the legs and spread apart as flat as you can get it. You may need to separate some ribs from the spine to flatten them out more , this is ok.
  • Inject the hams, shoulders and loins (running along the ribs) with your favorite bbq pork marinade injection.
  • Apply your favorite pork rub or marinade to all the inside and outside areas of the whole hog.
  • Place the pig on the wire rack and position your leave in thermometer probes into one of the shoulders and one of the hams.

Option 1: Use a La Caja China

  • Use a chimney starter to light about 6 pounds of good quality charcoal.
  • Place the pig into the La Caja China with the skin side DOWN, and place the lid and Caja China metal rack that holds the charcoal on top.
    roasting a pig in a caja china
  • Create 2 piles on unlit briquettes on top of the la caja china, one on either end.
    charcoal on a caja china roasting a pig
  • When the charcoal chimney of briquettes is lit, pour half of them on top each pile to help light the other briquettes.
  • After about 20 minutes, spread the charcoal over the entire top of the cover using a long handled charcoal rake.
  • Add about 6 – 7 pounds of unlit charcoal every 30 minutes on top of the hot coals for the next three hours or until the internal temperature probes in the ham and shoulders reads 187°F.
  • Push the hot ashes into a metal trash using the BBQ tongs and lift off the lid while wearing heavy duty high temperature grilling gloves.
  • While wearing the heat-proof BBQ gloves, flip over the wire rack. Cut an ‘X’ on the skin inside each of the rack grids.
  • Replace the lid and let the pig continue to cook until the skin crisps up, about 30 – 40 more minutes.

Option 2: Use a DIY Cinder Block Oven

  • Make sure to build your cinder block oven in an open area cleared of all vegetation with a nice flat dirt surface as a base.
  • Build the perimeter of the oven with the cinder blocks about 4 cinder blocks lengthwise and 2 cinder blocks widthwise, and 4-5 cinderblock high, adjusting as necessary to accommodate the size of the butterflied pig you are roasting. On either short end of base, position one of the cinder blocks so that the open cavities are visible to allow airflow through the oven from one end to the other. (See picture).
    cinder block oven for roasting a pig in a backyard
  • Stack a column of cinder blocks inside each interior corner about halfway up the height of the oven to act as support posts for the metal rack that will hold the whole hog to roast. Create 2 more columns halfway down each long side if necessary as well for added support
  • Light an extra large chimney of charcoal.
  • Spread a ring of charcoal around the inside perimeter of the cinder block oven, about 3-4 briquettes high and wide, but NOT directly below where the pig will be positioned.
  • When the charcoal in the chimney is lit, pour about half the lit briquets on top of the ring at one short end and half on top of the ring at the other short end. This will create e low and slow burn towards the center of each long side.
  • Wearing protective gloves, place the aluminum wire rack and pig, skin side DOWN, on the support columns in the cinder block oven.
  • Make sure your temperature probe sare in place in the shoulder and ham and place another temperature probe near the pig to monitor the cinder block oven chamber cooking temperature.
  • Place the large aluminum sheet metal on top of the cinder block oven with a brick or two on top to keep it from blowing off.
  • Position your smaller sheet metal or plywood prices near the open cinder block cavities to positioned at either short end of the base. Start with them covering the openings about halfway and adjust as necessary to maintain a cooking chamber temperature between about 225°F and 275°F.
  • You will need to remove the lid and add additional charcoal to the corners and inside perimeter every 1-2 hours as necessary. Depending on the size if your rack you may need to lift it up temporarily with the hep of some friends wearing protective gloves, or sprinkle the charcoal in around the edges between the rack and the cinder blocks if there's room.
  • Continue roasting the pig until the internal temperature probes in the ham and shoulders reads 180°F.
  • At this point, open the cinder block oven and flip the pig over carefully with the help of some friends. Score the pigs skin with a sharp knife and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the hams and shoulders reaches 187°F.

Remove, Rest, and Carve the Roasted Pig

  • Once the internal temperatures read 187°F, remove the whole hog from the La Caja China or Cinder Block Oven carefully, with help from others, while wearing protective gloves.
    a pig roast in the backyard
  • Place the whole hog on a large table, skin side down, ad let it rest for 30-60 minutes.
  • Carve the roasted whole hog removing portions of the hams, the shoulder, the back loin, and the ribs.
    carving a roast pig
  • You can serve these individually to guests or chop them into a carolina style whole hog mixture using a good chopping knife.
    chopped roast pig whole hog style
  • Serve with a vinegar based BBQ or mustard sauce on the side for your guests.



Video courtesy of the Miami Herald
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