Cold Weather Tips for La Caja China

Whole Roast Pig La Caja China

Our friend Ehren asks:

Hello…I am roasting my first pig on the La Caja China #2 tomorrow and was looking for some tips. First off the hog I have is about 102lbs and the weather is suppose to only be 35* or so.

I am wondering would it be a good idea to allow some extra time for cooking and also because of the size of the hog should I put foil over the hams, shoulders etc. Any suggestions would be much appreciated and thanks for your time!… ~ Ehren



Thanks for your email! That’s a big pig you’ve got there, and 35 is pretty cool. I would definitely add 30-60 minutes into the plan for the possibility of a prolonged roasting time.

It’s a lot easier to keep the pig warm if it’s done early, than to asks your guests to wait. (Believe me, I know…lol).

A couple of tips…

Make sure your La Caja China is in a draft free area. Cold wind, especially under the box, can really drop the internal temp. It might not be a bad idea, with those low temps, to use a digital probe thermometer to track the internal temp of the box while roasting your whole pig.(<– See our step by step video on roasting a pig).

Cut a potato in half, around the middle, and push the thermometer all the way through, so at least an inch of the tip is exposed on the far side. Place the potato, cut side down, in the box, making sure that the probe isn’t touching anything. Run the thermometer wire under the nearest top-rail, and out of the box.

You want box temps of 225-250ish.

Second, be sure your pig is fully thawed and close to room temp (I usually leave in on a table for 2-4 hours before roasting.)

Lastly, yes…have some foil on hand, but don’t add it until necessary, as it really deflects a lot of heat. Then, just use pieces just big enough to cover the trouble spots but no more.

If you have questions during your roast, feel free to post them on my Facebook page, or text me at 503-831-8707

Good luck…let us know how it goes!

Chef Perry

Have you watched our video, “How to Roast a Pig in La Caja China” yet? 300,000 viewers can’t be wrong!


La Caja China Cookbooks



Filed under Q & A, Technique, Tips & Tricks

4 responses to “Cold Weather Tips for La Caja China

  1. Steven Spurgeon

    I just wasted a 100lbs hog because of la caja china…. the directions never talk about cold weather…. I am I Atlanta GA and I started my pig at 3pm, pig was room temp from sitting on my dinning table, put the racks on and pig in the box….. that was at 3pm, it is 5:40am and many many of bags of charcoal and the temp of my pig has only reached 140 degrees! It was new years all my guest left hungry and here I am still cooking the pig……. I’m about to take it out of the box, cut it into pieces and go ish cooking it in my oven! What a waste of money and time! My new years went way wrong and sucked. Because the la caja China. Horrible waste of money unless you plan to use it in the summer only!

  2. ChefPerry

    Steven, I’m sorry to hear that, man, how frustrating! 15 hours of roasting and several bags of charcoal should certainly have brought the heat higher than 140! I don’t even know how it’s possible to only be 140, after all that time.

    I’ve roasted several whole pigs in my boxes in temps as low as 20F, and never had an issues. It might have added an hour or so to the cook time, but no more. In fact, in the 250+ pigs I’ve cooked in La Caja China, I’ve never had one take longer that 7 hours (and that was totally my user error!)

    I’ve actually covered cold-weather, and slow roasting time issues, a couple of times here on the blog:

    There are also sections on each in La Caja China Cooking.

    What a bummer!

    What were the temps outside while you were cooking? Did you remove the ashes from the grate, as directed?

    Did you take any pictures while cooking?

    I’m really puzzled by this! Please post more details, and I’ll see if I can figure it out.

    Chef Perry

  3. Colin

    Hey just curious could a guy use this in a large heated shop or garage? I live in Saskatchewan Canada and during winter we hit minus 30° C especially around the holidays. Right now we get our whole hogs catered but they charge more than enough for them that it becomes cost prohibited. Anyway if you could let me know if it’s possible be greatly appreciated


  4. ChefPerry

    Colin, thanks for asking!

    Okay…given the litigious nature of our society, lol, I have to be careful here. I cannot, and DO NOT, recommend using a roasting box, or any form of grill, indoors, as it can be a serious health and fire risk.

    NOW…What I CAN say, is this

    I, personally, have used my La Caja China, in my large, well ventilated RV barn (concrete floor) will no evident ill effects. I take precautions: windows and doors remain open, the floor is cleared at least 10ft in all directions around the box, and a wind-break is in place to lessen the risk of flying sparks or embers. I also keep a tested fire extinguisher nearby, as well as a garden hose with a spray attachment. Lastly, I keep no fuel, or any type of combustible liquids in the barn when I’m cooking, nor do I stay in the barn during the cooking period.

    Again, I cannot recommend or guarantee the safety of any of these precautions, and am simply sharing my own personal experience.


    ~Chef Perry

    Be sure to sign up for my CajaCookin’ newsletter! ~

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *