Last Updated on October 5, 2023 by Carne Diem
Origin: Spanish, European
Method: Grill or Smoker, RotisserieJump to Recipe
One of my favorite memories in my travels through Spain was the first time I tried Cochinillo Asado. While I was hesitant at first to try the freshly roasted suckling pig, I finally gave it a try and was met with one of the most tender and juicy portions of meat that I had even had. The dish was surprisingly simple but elegant and is now the first dish I seek out when in Spain.
Table of contents
Background on Cochinillo Asado?
Cochinillo Asado is a famous Spanish dish consisting of roasted suckling pig. The young suckling pigs are roasted until the meat is extremely tender and the skin is crispy. The dish is most famous in the town of Segovia, in the Castille region of Spain, where the chefs show of the tenderness of the roasted pig by cutting it tableside with a plate. Here we will show you step by step how to make cochinillo asado at home on your BBQ grill.
Making Cochinillo Asado on your Grill or Smoker
Selecting a Suckling Pig
One of the most important aspects to making a roasted Spanish piglet at home is selecting the pig. You want to try to order from a reliable butcher to make sure the piglet is high quality. In addition, you want to check and double check the size of the suckling pig and double check the dimensions of your smoker, because there is nothing worse than discovering that your suckling pig does not fit on your smoker.
Suckling pigs are piglets that have not been weaned from their mother's milk and are typically taken to slaughter while under 6 weeks of age. You want to select a pig that is between 9-20 pounds. Some of that will be determined by the number of people you want to feed and the size of your smoker. For a roast suckling pig, figure about 1.5 pound per person being fed, when determining the dead weight of the pig you want to cook.
Suckling pig is considered a specialty item so you may have to have your butcher order it for you or order it online. We bought our suckling pig from Wild Fork Foods and we were very happy with the pig we received. This was a 10-pound pig and was even imported from Spain.
For more great pork recipes to make on your grill or smokers be sure to check out some of our favorites:
- Kalua Pork: Hawaiian Pulled Pork
- Eastern North Carolina Pulled Pork
- Cochinita Pibil on your Grill or Smoker
- Smoked Pernil- Puerto Rican Roast Pork Shoulder
- Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
- Grilled Pork Banh Mi
How to Prep a Piglet
Prepping a suckling pig for Cochinillo Asado is pretty straight forward. Thaw your pig in a refrigerator if it is frozen. This will typically take about 3-4 days depending on the size of your pig. On the day of the cook, rinse the pig well and wipe down with paper towels to remove any dirt or debris. If any organs, such as kidneys, are still present remove them. Most of the time they have already been removed, but occasionally they are still present.
Dry the pig thoroughly, then rub the pig down with oil or lard. We used a Spanish olive oil for this which has a nuttier flavor than Italian olive oil. Next, liberally season the inside and outside of the pig with coarse salt and some black pepper. That is all there is to it. No additional seasonings are needed for suckling pig. Let the meat be the star.
Next, you will want to wrap the ears, tail and feet in foil to prevent them from burning. If you are using a rotisserie, secure the feet together and then secure the legs so they remain up close to the body. Secure the pig to the rotisserie skewer. Butcher's twine works great for this purpose.
If you are roasting the pig in a pan, place the pig in a "racing position" with the front legs stretched in front of the pig and the hind legs folded up under the body.
Cooking Suckling Pig on your Grill or Smoker
Prepare your grill or smoker to 250-275 degrees. For this recipe we cooked the pig on a rotisserie on our Big Green Egg. If you are roasting the pig on a pan, you will want to set up the grill for indirect heat. Check the progress of the pig about every 45 minutes. Be sure to monitor the cook with an instant read thermometer.
When the skin is nice and golden begin spraying the pig with cooking oil to help preserve the color and keep the skin from getting too dark. Roast the pig until it reaches an internal temperature of about 165 degrees in the shoulder and ham. At this point increase the temp of the grill or smoker to 400-450 degrees and cook for another 20-30 minutes, until the skin is crispy. Watch carefully to make sure the skin is not burning.
The skin is perfect when you can tap it and it sounds hollow. You should be also to easily poke through the skin with a fork and it will give a crackling sound, like crumbling a potato chip.
Serving Cochinillo Asado
Once the roasted Spanish piglet is done, remove it from the grill or rotisserie and place it on a serving platter. Tent with foil and allow to rest for about 20 minutes. As desired decorate your platter and serve.
Traditional cochinillo asado is served as the centerpiece of a meal. If you cooked the pig on a roasting pan, you could use the drippings to make a fantastic gravy to serve with the pig. Roasted potatoes and veggies are also common.
For another one of our Spanish classics be sure to check out our Wood-Fired Seafood Paella.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cochinillo Asado is a famous Spanish dish consisting of roasted suckling pig. The young suckling pigs are roasted until the meat is extremely tender and the skin is crispy. The dish is most famous in the town of Segovia, in the Castille region of Spain, where the chefs show of the tenderness of the Cochinillo Asado by cutting it tableside with a plate.
Cook times will vary depending on the size of your suckling pig and grill or smoker type, but a suckling pig typically takes about 2-3 hours at roasting temps, and can take considerably longer if you are smoking at lower temperatures.
To achieve that perfect crispy skin on your cochinillo asado, first make sure the skin is as dry as possible prior to roasting. Bumping the cook temperature up to 400-450 degrees Fahrenheit for the last 20 minutes of the cook will also help crisp up the skin.
Suckling pigs are typically taken to slaughter at under 6 weeks and typically will weigh 9-20 pounds.
Typically figure about 1.5 pounds per person dead weight for the suckling pig. A 10-pound piglet will typically serve about 6-7 people.
No, unlike pork butt or other cuts used for pulled pork that come from adult pigs, suckling pig will be tender at temperatures well below 200 degrees. They do not contain a lot of fat and collagen to break down so a suckling big will be tender at temperatures of 165-175 degrees.
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Cochinillo Asado: Spanish Roasted Suckling Pig
- Grill or Smoker
- Rotisserie optional
- 10-20 pound Suckling Pig
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Coarse Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon Fresh cracked black pepper
- Thaw the suckling pig in the refrigerator, if frozen.
- Remove any organs, if present. Thoroughly rinse the suckling pig then dry off with paper towels.
- Once dry, rub the outside of the suckling pig with olive oil then season the inside and outside of the pig with salt and pepper.
- Secure the pig to the rotisserie and cover the tail, feet, and ears with foil. If cooking in a roasting pan, position the pig with the front legs facing forward and the rear legs up under the pig. See above for more details.
- Roast the pig at 275 degrees until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees in the shoulders and hams. Check on the pig about every 45 minutes, and when the skin color is to your liking, begin spraying the pig with cooking oil. This step typically takes about 2-3 hours but will vary, based on the size of your pig.
- Once the internal temperature has reached 165, bump the temperature up to 400-450 degrees to crisp up the skin. This typically takes about 20-30 minutes but keep an eye on the progress to make sure the skin does not burn.
- Remove from the grill, rotisserie, or oven and tent with foil. Allow to rest for about 20 minutes before serving.