Smoking a “Running Style” Whole Hog

Whole Hog BBQ – How To Smoke A Running Style Whole Hog

#wholehog #wholehogbbq #howtobbqright

– Whole Hog sourced from Ramon’s Meat Market
– Swine Life Mississippi Grind
– Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub
– Thermoworks DOT
– Red Handle Trimming Knife
– Hickory and Cherry Wood from

My favorite thing to smoke, hands down, is whole hog. For me it’s about hanging out with my friends doing something that we all love. Tales are told, good times are had, and the best part is we get to enjoy and share the fruits of our labor because a whole hog yields a ton of delicious barbecue.

This hog cookin’ is all about smoking a pig “racing” or “running” style. That means we lay the hog on his belly skin up in the smoker instead of on his back – belly up.

First I had to source the pig. I called my buddy TK at Ramon’s Meat Market in Memphis, TN and told him I needed one. Picking up a 150lb pig is no small job so make sure you have a cooler that can handle it. I invited my friends Mark and Jamie Williams from Swine Life BBQ over to help.

The next important thing you’ll need a smoker big enough so we broke out my big pit for this cook. It’s an Ole Hickory EL-EDX. The main mistake I see people make when attempting to cook a hog is not having a smoker big enough. Just because it fits in your smoker doesn’t meat there’s adequate air flow for it to cook properly and you’ll end up running into problems.

For a racing hog we start out with the hog on his back so the cavity is exposed. Any sinew (silver skin) or excess fat is trimmed away and we coat the inside with a light layer of mustard and bbq seasonings. We used Swine Life’s MS Grind and my Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub. The seasoning aren’t going to get to the majority of the meat on a racing pig, so to get flavor spread throughout the pig we inject it. I mixed up some apple and white grape peach juice along with a good dose of brown sugar and salt. It’s pretty much a brine and we pump as much as we can into the hog hitting all the major areas hams, loins, ribs, belly, and shoulders.

The hog is then flipped over into the racing position. To support the back we wrapped a concrete block with aluminum foil and placed it in the cavity. This keeps the back straight and prevents the hog from sagging during the cook. The ears are wrapped with foil to prevent them from burning up and the skin is wiped completely dry so it will tighten during the cooking process.

Moving the hog from the prep table to the smoker is the next big task, but Ole Hickory has really made this easy by developing a specialized hog rack. They call it a “Lazy Suey” because when it’s loaded into the pit, you can spin in around with ease just like the old lazy Susan’s.

The hard work is pretty much done once you get the hog into the cooker. Now is the time to kick back and maintain the fire. We ran the Ole Hickory at 225 degrees the entire time using Royal Oak charcoal and hickory and cherry wood from my buddy Jimmy at

The first few hours are all about getting the skin right. It will start to brown and tighten and then vegetable oil is applied to the outside. The oil really turns the skin golden brown. Once the skin is right (about 6 hours into the cook) we place foil over the hog to protect it. It’s not wrapped tight just shielded with the foil. This will keep the skin from getting darker. At this point we also start monitoring the internal temps in the hams and shoulders.

The remainder of the cook is all about smoker temperature. Keep the pit steady and add coals as needed. There’s no rushing a whole hog. It’s done when the hams and shoulders reach 190 degrees and you can expect it to take anywhere between 16-18 hours (I even had some take as much as 20 plus hours)

Once we reach desired temp, it’s time to check on the pig. The foil is removed exposing that beautiful tan we worked so hard on. At this point it needs to rest. Kill the pit and let it sit with the door open so it’ll cool down.

We garnished the hog with kale, pineapples, peppers, etc for looks. When you cook a hog like this I guarantee folks are going to want to take a ton of pictures.

When it comes to breaking the hog down, use a stiff bladed knife and cut down along the back and across the hams and shoulders. The skin will peel right down exposing the meat and you can easily “pick” the goodness off the bones. A hog this size will yield about 75lbs of pulled meat so it’ll feed a crowd!

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