How to Cook a Suckling Pig

A suckling pig is a piglet that has only been fed on its mother's milk. The pig is killed between the ages of two and six weeks. Recipes for suckling pigs are mentioned in early writings from China, Rome and Celtic Europe. For centuries, the technique was to cook the whole pig over the red hot coals of a roasting pit or a fireplace. Today, the easiest way to roast a suckling pig is in the oven, if it will fit. Whole pigs can be purchased from the butcher oven-ready.

Thoroughly wash the pig inside and out with fresh water. Place water, salt and sugar in the garbage bag and stir. Place the pig in the bag. Tie bag tightly, and put it in refrigerator. Allow the pig to chill in brine for at least twelve hours.

In a saucepan, cook onions, carrots, celery, garlic and thyme in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until the onions are translucent.

Remove the pig from the garbage bag and discard the brine solution. Dry the pig and stuff it with the sautéed vegetables. Use skewers and string to sew the stomach flaps shut as you would a turkey.

Put the pig in the roasting pan. Position its hind legs close to the stomach. Place the forelegs so they point ahead, with the head between them. Place a ball of foil the size of the apple in its mouth. Thoroughly coat the pig with olive oil.

Cover the roasting pan and place the pig in the oven, which has been preheated to 177 degrees C. Baste with olive oil every 30 minutes. Cook until the internal temperature is 71.1 degrees C., or about 2 1/2 hours.

When done, carefully remove the pig from the oven and put it on a serving platter. Replace the ball of foil in the pig's mouth with an apple. Let the suckling pig sit twenty minutes before carving.


If the pig does not stay in position in the roasting pan, string can be used to tie it.


Since some plastic garbage bags are treated with triclosan, an antibacterial and anti-fungal chemical, wash the garbage bags thoroughly with fresh water before putting fresh food in them. Since the pig can break apart once cooked, be careful removing the pig from pan.

Things You'll Need

  • Whole suckling pig, oven ready (4.54 to 6.8kg.)
  • 10 quarts water
  • 6 cups coarse salt
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large garbage bag
  • Large saucepan
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 2 heads peeled garlic
  • 1/4 cup sage or thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Skewers and string
  • Olive oil
  • large roasting pan
  • Serving platter
  • 1 apple
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About the Author

Brian Burhoe has been writing professionally since 1971. His stories have appeared in "World of If Magazine," "Fantastic Stories" and "Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year." He cooks in Atlantic Coast restaurants and he is a graduate of the Holland College Culinary Course and holds a Canadian Culinary Federation chef's certificate.