How to Build a Hog Roaster

By Thomas Pope , last updated January 19, 2012

Building your own hog roaster may sound intimidating, but can be a simple task and give you a whole new way of cooking. Roasting a whole pig at home doesn’t mean shelling out thousands for a commercial roaster that’s bigger than your first apartment. Unless you plan on throwing a luau every weekend, you’re better off fashioning your own roaster and cementing your reputation as a barbecue god.

A roaster can be divided into the three components: the drum, the stand, and the rotisserie. Depending on your skill level, you can fabricate each component or easily find them online or at a hardware store. Make sure you set up your roaster on a hard, flat surface, clear of a house or other structure, and always have a fire extinguisher on hand.

The Drum

The most popular vessel is the 55-gallon steel drum. If you find a used one, make certain it contained organic material such as cooking oil. If you don’t know what was inside, don’t risk it and find another vessel.

Cut the drum in half length-wise and mount hinges to create a lid. Drill a hole in the lid and insert a thermometer. Cut large holes or vents in either end of the bottom half to provide air flow. Drill another hole in the bottom to allow grease to drain into a pan or old coffee can.

The Stand

Your stand should be stable, solid, and heat-resistant. In general, homemade roasters work best for suckling pigs, which weigh about 20lbs. If you plan on roasting an adult (100lbs or more!), make sure your stand can support the weight before lighting the fire.

The Rotisserie

Mount a steel rod to either the drum or the stand, and bracket it so it can spin easily. Since a hog takes several hours to roast, a hand-crank isn’t recommended. Any small motor can handle the workload of turning your pig at 1 or 2 RPM (provided you skewer the pig so its weight is balanced).

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