How to Roast a Whole Pig

Picture of How to Roast a Whole Pig
There are many different ways to cook a whole pig. You might be familiar with the spit method, or the burying method. This instructable will cover the use of the Cajun Microwave for cooking your pig, including preparation, cooking, and some notes on hosting a pig roast.

What is a Cajun Microwave?
A Cajun Microwave is a wooden box with a metal tray on top. You put the pig into the box, and build a fire in the tray. Because the box holds heat well, and the cooking heat is radiant rather than direct, it's perfect for Low and Slow Southern BBQ. The exact origins of the Cajun Microwave are contested, however, a nearly identical product is available in Florida, by way of Cuba, called "La Caja China" or "The Chinese Box"

In Louisiana, it is traditional to build the box out of cypress boards and leave it unlined. Others build them with reflective metal liners, or insulation. The commercial "La Caja China" is built of plywood and lined with aluminum.

Whatever the origins of the Cajun Microwave, it is essentially a giant dutch oven, it does a great job at cooking large amounts of meat evenly and (relatively) quickly. For most of the instructable, I will just refer to the Cajun Microwave as the "Roaster".

One final disclaimer:
I am from Alaska. Everything I know about Cajun Microwaves I learned on the internet. I have been doing this for several years now, and feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the use of a Cajun Microwave to make tender pulled pork bbq. However, I make no claims to Cajun or Southern Authenticity.

On the other hand, I did eat gator once, and liked it just fine, so there you go.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Required Items

Picture of Required Items
Here is a list of things you will need:

Cajun Microwave
Bone Saw
Chef's Knife
Welding Gloves
Wired Thermometer
Serving Tongs
Turkey Roasting Pan
Turkey Baster
Marinade Injector

Kosher Salt
Cajun Rub
BBQ Sauce

I have cooked lots of pigs this way. I just fold the butterflied pig in a piece of climb proof horse fencing. The strong tight wire fencing is perfect for holding the pig together as the meat starts to slip from the bone. Just lay this fencing envelope over whatever firebox works. Even a hole in the ground with a couple pieces of rebar to hold the pig a suitable height from the coals. I started out with the pig on a spit routine but the butterfly method is, in my opinion, much, much better. Faster, more even cooking and better distribution of marinades and sauces.

monsterlego2 years ago
A meal fit for a Norseman. You have made your ancestors proud
You've got my vote.
Irock1483 years ago
i saw on youtube that youcan ust hang it on somehting and then use a flamethrower on it but not a good idea assumingthat not many people have a flame thrower just lying around
perk17153 years ago
Fantastic pig roasting overview, easily the best I've seen online! Laying out all the tools and ingredients like that really helps!

Whole pigs, pork shoulders, briskets, ribs, turkeys, salmon, you name it, it’s all great in a Caja China.

Again, great article, thanks!

- Perry

Perry P. Perkins
“La Caja China Cooking”
"La Caja China World"
LCCW Cover.jpg
slatintouch3 years ago
Nice post to be found here. You may also find caja china style pig roaster recipe ideas & instructions at Happy Roasting :-)
heelercjwww3 years ago
That was a great instructable and now you have me planning on building one. I live a bit further south then you, Texas, and i am wondering about insulation. Do you have any insulation other then the air gap? Our high for today is 109 degrees so I dont see us losing to much heat to the outside air but it seems to me that some fiberglass insulation would at least make it stay hot with less fuel meaning less wood splitting for me. Thanks again and please make an instructable for your next one.
vraam3 years ago
Does anyone have an instructabel on how to build one of these? I have looked all over the net for plans, with little success. It would be helpful to have a materials list and the exact dimensions and so forth and so on. Thanks.
This is a really cool instructable. I can't wait to try it. I'm thinking of cooking a hog or two like this for my wedding party.
MrBoB (author)  vraam3 years ago
I had intended to create an instructable for mine, but I'm not 100% satisfied with it, and it ended up being far more expensive to construct than what I felt was appropriate for instructables.

In general, there are two types:

The first is a more "down south" style, which uses no internal metal. (with the exception of the lid/firebox of course) These are often made of cypress wood, and tend to burn up after a few uses.

The second is a more upscale version which is lined in stainless steel or aluminum to reflect heat and preserve the wooden box.

There used to be a fellow selling a cdrom of plans on ebay, you might want to start there. Also try one of these search terms. "Cajun Microwave" "La Caja China" "Coonass Microwave"

Finally, the roaster shown in this instructable is made from an inner layer of aluminum sheet, a layer of cement board, a 1.75" air gap, and an outer layer of 3/4" plywood. It is indestructable, but very very heavy. I plan to rebuild using just the aluminum and plywood. When I do that, I will try to post an instructable.
pubwvj3 years ago
Actually, pigs have hair, not fur. A small technical difference but worthy of mention. Additionally, they're scalded and scraped rather than shaved as a general rule. Scald and scrap is faster, cleaner, more sanitary and gives a better result.

I second the idea of buy your pigs direct from the farm, preferably a pastured farm.
SpinWard5 years ago
Very nice! I like the idea of splitting it and getting it all smokey and tastey and DONE rather than some that seem like there is a chance of it not getting done. Well done!! I'm more of a fan of good tasting pork rather than meat that just tastes like BBQ sauce. So I'll definitely try yours over others! Now I want to see the Instructable on how to make the Cajun Microwave!!
 I agree with you on the sauce thing. I see sauce as a way to cover up a bad taste. Marinade however is different.
xtroublex5 years ago
I would like to know where one could get a whole pig? I'm a city boy so all I know is the grocery store. :0(
   I see UR a pro member i.e. you support what we love!  I live in a rural area of Maryland & have friends that raise & butcher and I enjoyed it in a younger day.  So, here's link that supposed to be local to you;

I contacted them and got one on order for my 45th birthday party! I can't wait!
MrBoB (author)  xtroublex5 years ago
It really depends, but most grocery store butcher shops would probably be able to help you. It never hurts to ask the guy behind the counter if he can order a roasting hog for you. Failing that, look for butcher shops in the phone book and call around. Not everybody has access to a local farm, but most butchers should be able to get you a whole pig. Good luck!
jeremybhm5 years ago
 I used your instructions today to cook a 45lb pig. Turned out great. I injected it with Creole Butter and seasoned the cavity pretty heavily. Cooked it for about 5.5 hours between 250 and 300, flipped it at 150 like you suggested and the skin turned out wonderful. The only issue we ran into is the roaster I was using (borrowingt) started burning on one side and we had to douse that part of the wood with water. I think it's a design flaw in that roaster, so I'll have to find some different plans when I build one of my own.

Thanks from a Alabama boy learning to roast a pig from a guy in Alaska :)
Atomman5 years ago
Where did you find the pig, as Pig (Or at least certain types) aren't common in America.
piper065 years ago
I love your "Roaster" Do you, or have you ever had your butcher inject the hog with Bhrine. That is how we do our "Whole hog"
mstefic5 years ago
in my part of the world pig goes to the spit
MrBoB (author)  mstefic5 years ago
That's the interesting thing about pig roasts, that so much regional variation exists. It seems to me that spit roasting only works in warm regions. I have used my roaster in the winter, with snow on the ground, and it worked great. I believe there are at least two other instructables demonstrating spit roasting of a pig, so I think that's well covered.
mstefic5 years ago
very god picture and very god to eat
vandal11385 years ago
I spent a good year and a half in Iraq and let me tell ya, these first 2 pics bring back some bad memories. BUT, I think about the BBQ amazingness and all is well. Good job sir, well done!
Oh, that looks so good. The pork chops I'm making tonight suddenly pale in comparison!
ItsTheHobbs5 years ago
That looks good!
rimar20005 years ago
A whole pig has hair, guts, etc. This is a butched pig (joke!). Now seriously, it's a sin to remove the skin before roasting the pig: it's very tasty. Also, if some part of the skin is burned (charred?), the loss is not so great. I think that 4-5 hours should be sufficient to roast a small-medium piglet (8-12 Kg or 16-26 pounds). Good instructable!
MrBoB (author)  rimar20005 years ago
I am avoiding giving roasting times as variations in the roaster, pig etc could result in undercooked pig if the time recommendation is followed too closely. That said, you are correct, about the 4-5 hours for small pigs. Last Thanksgiving I cooked a 25 pound turkey in about 2 hours in the roaster. As for the skin removal, I don't recall what the reasoning was, other than some "expert" had said it was important. We never did it again. Thanks for commenting!