Known as a ‘Pig Pickin’ in the South, because you literally pick the meat off the pig when it’s time to eat.
This suckling pig is an absolute showstopper, not to mention the most juicy, tender pork you’ll ever eat.
Whether you’re planning a backyard BBQ, a birthday party, or whatever the special event is, roasting an entire pig needs to be on the menu.
Smoked Suckling Pig Recipe
Ingredients you’ll need
- Suckling pig – finding a suckling pig locally might be hard, but thankfully, you can order them online. If you can source one locally, we recommend that, as you will most likely be able to pick a bigger size pig, if desired.
- BBQ Rub – Smoke Kitchen’s Pitmasters Pick is a great option because it gives you flavors that a traditional BBQ rub will but also adds a touch of heat, which pairs nicely with the BBQ sauce we’re making.
Equipment you’ll need
- Smoker – use your favorite smoker to cook low and slow. My preference is my Pitboss 850 competition series pellet smoker.
- Trimming knife
- Injector – something like this will work perfectly.
- Internal temperature probe
What is a suckling pig?
A suckling pig is a baby pig, typically 2-6 weeks old. The term ‘suckling pig’ comes from the piglets still suckling (nursing) versus a whole hog that is typically grain-fed.
Because of their young age, suckling pigs are known for being juicy, tender, and moist due to the extra collagen and are perfect for a backyard BBQ.
I ordered my suckling pig for this recipe from wildforkfoods.com and it came to $183 with free shipping.
How to Cook A Suckling Pig
My suckling pig came frozen, so the first thing I did was place it on a large baking sheet and place it into the fridge uncovered for three days.
By placing it uncovered, as the pig starts to thaw out, the skin will dry out, which will result in a golden brown, crispy skin while cooking.
Be sure to whipe up any excess liquid that spills onto the cookie sheet to keep the pig as dry as possible.
Once your pig is completely thawed, it’s time to get it ready for the smoker.
My pig came with the underneath split open, which made prep really easy. I simply removed any excess silver skin and fat from the underneath to help expose as much meat as possible.
Once the trimming is done, it’s time to season the pig. Because you’re cooking a whole pig with the skin on vs a Boston butt, this is your only time to add flavor to the meat itself.
Using 2 cups of apple juice, inject the pig in the hams (back legs), shoulders (front legs), and anywhere that will hold liquid.
If there is any excess liquid from injecting the pig, go ahead and wipe it up.
Don’t worry about over-seasoning the pig, it can handle it.
3. Fire up the smoker
While the rub adheres, go ahead and fire up the smoker. We’re going to be cooking this at 250°F, which should only take 10-15 minutes to preheat.
I prefer to use my Pitboss 850 Competition Pellet grill for this cook because you can set it and forget it, however, you can also use any smoker or indirect cooker that is big enough to fit the suckling pig.
Before placing the pig in the smoker wrap some foil around the snout and ears to stop them from burning.
Cooking the pig is pretty easy because once it’s on the grill, there isn’t much to do until it’s done.
Place your pig on the grill skin side up, with its hind legs tucked under the body and the front legs stretched out in front.
Once the pig is set, close the lid and let it smoke.
I don’t open the lid for the first 3 hours, and then once I do, I spray the skin with canola oil to help crisp up the skin even more.
Spray every hour until the pig hits an internal temperature of 190°F. For me, that was roughly 5.15 hours, but depending on your smoker or the size of your pig, it may vary.
Once the pig is done, set it on a large baking sheet for 30 minutes before pulling.
How to serve the pig
To cut open the pig, cut along the spine and then down the sides toward the cavity to create a large rectangle that can be peeled down, revealing the meat.
Pick the meat from the belly and ribs before moving on to the hams and shoulders and anywhere else that has meat. As you pick it, remove any unwanted fat.
You can serve the pork at this stage, or you can take the pulled pork and chop it into smaller pieces.
Serve it with homemade vinegar BBQ sauce, and enjoy!
Like the idea of smoking whole animals? Check out our guide on how to smoke a whole lamb.
- 10 lb suckling pig
- 2 cups apple juice
- 4 tbsp Smoke Kitchen Pitmasters Pick
Vinegar BBQ Sauce
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup hot sauce
- 1.5 tbsp black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- Preheat the smoker to 250°F.
- Trim any excess fat and silver skin from the cavity of the pig.
- Inject the pig with apple juice into the hams, shoulders, and ribs.
- Season the cavity of the pig liberally with BBQ rub, keeping the skin side clean and dry.
- Cover ears and snout with foil, making sure the skin is completely dry.
- Place pig on smoker skin side up. However you place the pig now is how it will cook, so now is the time to adjust it.
- Let it cook for 3 hours. After 3 hours, spray outside with canola oil every hour.
- Once the pig hits an internal temperature of 190°F, pull it off and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- To serve, cut the outside by the ribs to expose the meat, and start to pull the pork. Chop it up finely and serve with vinegar BBQ sauce.
Vinegar BBQ Rub
- Combine apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, black pepper, and salt.