One of the questions I get most often from interviewers is “what is your favorite wild animal dish?”

I always describe this one.

From the first moment I tasted it, it earned itself a special place in the crevices of my mind.

This is a whole wild hog, marinated for days and then smoked for many hours.

There is also bacon and apples and molasses involved.

We need to talk about this…

As my friend in Arkansas always says, what’s essential in this recipe is how it is killed, where it is shot, how it is dressed and cleaned. All of that needs to be done in an impeccable way.

Cleanliness is key.

Cleanliness can be helped with a good marinade that includes a lot of acid in the form of: vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, and orange juice in any combination. The size of your pig will vary and so you have to rely on intuition when it comes to how much to use. You can marinate for 1 to 8 days. Acid cleans it, but it also imparts flavor.

You can marinate it in an ice chest if your pig is up to about 80 pounds on the hoof or 45 pounds cleaned. Or you could even use a garbage bag.

The time it will smoke varies depending on the size as well. It could be six hours, it could be twelve.

The temperature shouldn’t go above 250 degrees F in your smoker… and it’s best to get the coals going before you put the hog in to create even radiant heat.

What smoker do you use?

My friends in Arkansas recommend The Good One cooker. I’ve never tasted anything from there that hasn’t been delicious.

What should you use to heat the smoker?

Well, you can do it with charcoal, but pecan wood is best if you have it in your neck of the woods. OR use a tree indigenous to your area. In the Southwest it’s mesquite, in Washington state it’s apple wood, in the Midwest it’s the hickory tree.

How do you know when it’s done?

The densest, deepest part needs to be 160 degrees F. Under the front shoulder is usually the coolest part.

But don’t forget the best part…when it is at about 140 degrees F, add a pan of apples to the bottom of the smoker. They will begin to steam from the bottom up.

Then blanket the back of the hog with strips of bacon and cover it with molasses, which will drip down on the apples. Be generous with the molasses and pour most of it where it will drip down into the pan of apples.

Sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on the apples for good measure.

Then you serve it on a big cutting board. It is your piece de resistance.

People will love you forever. You and and your hog will have a permanent place in their minds and hearts.

Here is a pig from years past.

Here is a recipe for some killer apple juice smoked ribs.

Here are directions on how to skin a pig.

Here are directions on how to butcher a pig.

So in summary…

"Marinated and Smoked Whole Hog"

This is theory more than exact instruction. Go with your intuition and your hog
Prep Time18 hrs
Cook Time6 hrs
Total Time1 d
Servings: 15 - 50 servings


For the marinade:

  • 1 whole hog dressed, skinned, head and hooves removed
  • Worcestershire
  • Cajun salt seasoning
  • Onions peeled and cut in half
  • Garlic cloves peeled and crushed
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • White vinegar
  • Lemon juice
  • Orange juice

For the cooking:

  • Molasses
  • Granny Smith apples cut in half
  • Smoked bacon strips
  • Cinnamon


  • Marinate for 1 to 8 days. A hog that is 80 pounds on the hoof, 45 pounds cleaned, will fit well in a standard cooler. The acid cleans the meat, which is important when cooking.
  • When ready to smoke, bring the wood coals to no more than 250 degrees F in a large smoker. Use a wood that is indigenous to your area. Pecan is great, so is mesquite, apple wood and hickory. Let the coals become nice and uniform so that you have even radiant heat.
  • Smoke the hog from 6 to 12 hours, depending on its size. Once the densest part of the hog reaches 140 degrees F, add a pan of apples to the bottom of the smoker, sprinkle with cinnamon, and let them steam up under the hog.
  • At this point, also blanket the back of the hog with bacon and pour on 2-4 cups of molasses. Be generous with it and pour most of it in the area where it will drip down into the pan of apples.
  • The hog is ready to serve when the densest, deepest part is 160 degrees F. Under the front shoulder is usually the coolest part to test. Serve immediately table side as your piece de resistance.