Best wood to smoke your whole hog + smoking tricks

by Joost Nusselder | Last Updated:  January 10, 2023

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Every good smoker knows that many factors go into making the best-smoked pork, such as the size, the freshness of the meat, the seasoning, and, of course, the wood.

When smoking whole hog you need smoke that can penetrate the dense meat of the pork. Hickory smoke gets deep into the meat and has an earthy flavor profile while oak too gets enough smoke flavor for a large piece of meat like the hog with a slightly lighter profile.

In this article, I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned after many tests.

Best wood for smoking whole hog

Even if it doesn’t seem like it, the choice of wood will determine the cooking time, the flavor notes, and the special taste that only the best smoked hog has. 

After a lot of research and testing different types of wood, exploring which ones are the best, what effects they have on the flavor, how long it takes to roast a whole pig, and which woods you should avoid for roasting I have finally found it.

Which wood is the best to smoke whole hog?

There are some regional preferences, according to the availability of woods but almost all cooking wood is hardwood (check this chart) because it burns hotter, longer and has little resin.

So, try to investigate which woods are popularly used to smoke. Also, remember the size of the firebox chamber of your smoker because that is the decisive factor to choose the type of wood to use. 

If you want to smoke the whole hog, or ribs for that matter, hickory and oak are the best and top choices because back ribs or spare can handle a heavier smoke. 

Hickory smoke will penetrate deep into the ribs. To obtain the perfect cooking, follow the color until it gets dark mahogany. If you see that the ribs are getting dry or dark, wrap them to avoid unnecessary smoke exposure. 

Oak gives a less earthy tone than hickory and generates a lot of smoke. This type of wood generates a lot of smoke, so, be careful about the time and the weight of the ribs. 

Both types of woods will add to the ribs a deep and noticeable smoke flavor.

For pork butt or whole hog is needed a deep and heady smoke penetrates the dense meat. Again, hickory and oak are the best choices. Hickory smoke penetrates deep into the meat, breaking down the intramuscular fat and connective tissue and adding the perfect smoke flavor. 

You can use other types of wood, but it will have a light smoke flavor. Like hickory, oak cooks good pork butt and a whole hog because gives smoke throughout the meat, making it tastier. 

Tips and tricks to smoke a whole hog

You will need the best smoker, especially for larger animals. Don’t forget to take a look at the Lakeside Smokers, which will satisfy your cooking needs. 

Hickory and oak are woods that maintain the heat and generate smoke. Make sure you have good airflow because it allows the smoke to pass over the meat instead of smothering it. 

About the temperature, there are different cooking styles: low and slow, hot and fast, or the larger pig with lower heat. We suggest a target temperature of 225 to 225 degrees. If you want a tastier hog, mop it every 30 minutes with a flavourful mop sauce.

The cooking time isn’t equal always because it depends on temperature, pig size and wood burning, among others. For a perfect whole smoked hog, you will need about 1 hour for every 10 pounds of pig. 

For the perfect serving, use insulated rubber gloves and separate the big pieces of meat from the bones. Cut the ribs into individual bones and transfer them to a cutting board. Then chip it with a heavy cleaver. 

The skin is one of the best parts of the smoked whole hog because in the smoking process the skin becomes tough, leathery, and highly infused with wood smoke. When you serve, put apart the skin, cut it into squares and grill them until crisp. Another option is to fry it in hot oil.


Now you know everything that you need to prepare the best smoked whole hog. Remember that choosing adequate wood is crucial to obtain a tasty and well-cooked smoked hog. Lakeside smokers offer you the best smokers options to make your cooking experience better and more enjoyable. 

As you can see, cooking the perfect smoked whole hog is easier than it seems. There’s no need to be an expert chef because, with the right decisions, know-how, and the use of adequate tools and utensils, it’s more than enough to do it by yourself and host the best barbecue ever.

Joost Nusselder, the founder of Lakeside Smokers is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with BBQ Smoking (& Japanese food!) at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.