Smoked ham is succulent, juicy, and super easy. This recipe is truly a fan favorite among smoking enthusiasts, and you can do it at home. What’s not to love about this dish? It has super tender meat, a succulent layer of fat, and sweet juices oozing in every slice. You’ll fall head over heels with the first bite of this lip-smacking dish!
My besties and I often go to each other’s houses and enjoy a movie marathon. This weekend, it’s my turn to host, and luckily I have everything ready.
Since this only happens every once in a while, I’m going to serve up my crowd-pleasing smoked ham recipe.
Whenever I make a dish from scratch, I’m sure to give it my flavor signature. Of course, I have to make a little extra because my friends have already asked me for take-out boxes. Today, I’ll share my tips so you can also stand out for your girl-time gathering!
Smoked Ham for the Holidays
I know a lot of you love ham, especially during the holidays. However, I love a good ham even when there’s no holiday in sight. Talk about delicious ham and cheese sliders for a quick snack or lunch! Today, we’ll be using raw ham because I want to show you how easy it is to make from scratch.
Picking the Right Ham to Smoke
So, how do we buy fresh ham? Well, there are simple signs to look for before making the purchase. I follow these simple points using the nose, eyes, and touch.
- Nose – Good ham should smell like, well, ham—salty, smokey, but not much else. If it smells sour, funky, or sulfur-like, drop it and run.
- Eyes – A good ham cut should be slightly pinkish or beige, similar to a fresh pork loin. If it’s discolored (green, black, or bruised brown), it’s time to get rid of it.
- Touch – Of course, you want your ham to be plump and moist with all the natural fats and juices. However, I’d steer away from the slimy pieces of pork.
Bone-in, Semi-Boneless, or Boneless?
What’s the difference between the three? Whenever I buy whole meats from the butcher’s or the grocery store, I always have three choices for my ham. These are:
- Bone-in – The bone-in ham for smoking is the most flavorful and moist. However, you’re paying for bone, too (bone broth👍🏾). And it’s also the hardest to carve.
- Semi-Boneless – Is there even such a thing? Well, in the wonderful world of ham, there is! The shank bone has been removed, making it easier to carve. Only the leg bone remains to provide us with the firmness, flavor, and moisture everyone looks for in a ham.
- Boneless – Not my favorite, but it will do in a pinch. Why? It cooks faster, takes less room, and is easier to slice. However, there’s something to be said for the effect the bone has on the quality of the end product. So it’s not the best choice for a purist.
What You Need
- Ham – The leading player can be bone-in or boneless, cooked or uncooked.
- Buttery Glaze – Butter, brown sugar, honey, and Dijon mustard are the perfect combination to coat the delectable ham.
- Seasonings – Orange juice, pineapple juice, garlic, Creole seasoning, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and fresh-squeezed lemon juice kick up the basic glaze to make a spectacular and flavor-packed dinner.
How to Glaze and Smoke Ham
Prepare the Ham
- Unwrap the Ham – Remove ham from its packaging and discard the flavoring packet (if included). If using a bone-in ham, check the end of the bone for a plastic cap and, if present, discard. Let it come to room temperature for 2 hours – if time permits. (Photo 1)
- Preheat the smoker to 250℉/121℃.
Make the Glaze
- Mix Glaze Ingredients – In a saucepan, whisk together butter, brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, minced garlic, Creole seasoning, allspice, ginger, cloves, and lemon juice over medium heat. (Photo 2)
- Gently Heat – Let the butter mixture melt, stirring often, until brown sugar dissolves, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside. (Double the glaze if you want extra to serve. You may also adjust the spices to suit taste buds, especially the sugar content.)
Smoke the Ham
- Position the Ham – Place ham in a disposable aluminum pan, cut side down in the pan.
- Glaze the Ham – When the sugar and honey mixture is ready, generously spread the mixture all over the ham and place the flat side down in the aluminum pan (reserve about a ⅓ cup for basting).
- Smoke It – Place the pan in the smoker (or put it directly on the middle rack) and cook for 2-3 hours, basting every 30-45 minutes with its own juice just until warmed through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham reads 140℉/60℃. (Photo 3-6)
- Ready to Go – Remove ham and place on a serving platter. Serve with roasted potatoes and gravy or your favorite side. Enjoy!
Which smoker to use?
Lots of smoking methods work for ham. I really don’t think there’s no one specific way to perfectly smoke ham. I like mixing and matching different aromas and flavors to get the best smokey taste.
Following are some of my preferred techniques for this recipe:
My Choice: Pellet Smoker
- Craft Your Flavor – It takes a while to smoke meats using this smoker, but it’s totally worth the wait. Flavored woodchips infuse your desired flavor down to the meat’s core.
- Flavored Wood Chips – Pellets are primarily compressed and flavored wood chips that smoke the ham in a closed chamber.
- Indirect Heat – This smoker uses indirect heat far enough away from the meat to get an even slow smoking experience.
- The unit is bulky – Who needs another appliance taking up space?
How to use a pellet smoker?
- Placing the Meat – Simply place the ham on a rack in the middle of the smoker. That will ensure that your meat cooks evenly without burning on one side.
- Install the Water Pan – Add half a cup of water to the pan in the smoking chamber so your ham doesn’t dry out. This method also infuses the woodchip flavor into the meat better. (Personally, I think apple, peach, or cherry are great for ham but feel free to mix and match.)
- Keep in the Heat – Shut the lid to trap that flavorful smoke and heat.
Verdict – This way is by far the easiest to smoke. It automatically feeds pellets into the heater and fans the heat throughout the chamber. No need to get dirty; just check the meat from time to time!👍
I love my Traeger Pellet Smoker because it’s one of the most versatile cookers on the market. Traeger also offers a wide range of woodchip flavors. Yum!
- Compact Unit – The small size is truly convenient.
- Go Green– Enjoy your favorite smoked dish while in the great outdoors without using electricity.
- Low Cost – Its low cost, price, and maintenance make it more affordable. Plus, it’s waaay easier to clean!
- Direct Heat – The charcoal is in the same chamber as the ham, so technically, it’s direct heat. That can lead to roasting rather than smoking, which can burn one side of the meat if you don’t keep an eye on it.
A straightforward, compact charcoal grill can also be used for smoking. This smoker is perfect if you don’t have much space in your backyard. However, you’ll be dealing with hot coals, which can also be a little dirty.
Charcoal cooks the meat with low but direct heat. You can also use flavored wood for this method to infuse a smoky aroma to the bone!
Barbecuing vs. Smoking – Smoking uses slow and indirect heat so that all sides cook perfectly, while BBQs use that wonderful open fire.
How your charcoal grill doubles as a smoker
- Heat the Charcoals – Place the hot charcoal on one extreme side of the grill.
- Save those Juices – A tin catch below the grill catches any juices that drip off.
- Placement – Place the ham on the side of the grill furthest from the coals and put the water pan beside it.
- Trap the Heat – Shut the lid and start smoking.
Verdict: I like this method because it’s convenient, with no bulky unit in my backyard. 👍🏾 Just add my favorite wood flavor to the charcoal, and I’m ready to go.
- Indirect Heat – We won’t be using an open fire for this smoker, just woodchips and some heating rods.
- Its own Thermometer – It has a built-in thermometer to tell the smoker’s internal temperature.
- Takes Longer – It cooks longer and slower because of the low maximum temperature. Of course, this could be listed as a pro, too.
- Electric Consumption – Your electric bill may be higher when using this smoker.
- Tastes Slightly Different – Without the authentic smoke from a burning woodchip, you’ll taste a slight difference. Also, you may taste a bit of manufacturing plastic residue if you don’t preheat the smoker before using it the first time.
Electric smokers use wood chips to create smoke via heating rods. The lack of real fire may also give your ham a different flavor. It’s similar to a bullet smoker with the wood tray substituting the fire chamber.
How to use an electric smoker?
- Preheat the Smoker – Pre-smoke the unit with the woodchips of your choice.
- Attach the Water Pan – Place the water pan inside the unit’s lowest space once it reaches the desired temperature.
- Start Cooking – Place the ham on the racks and close the lid or door.
NOTE: If you’re using this unit for the first time, I suggest seasoning your grill with cooking oil. That removes manufacturing residue and results in a better-tasting smoked ham.
Verdict – Electric grills may take longer because they cook at lower temperatures.
Pro Tip: If you need to hang your ham for smoking, simply remove the detachable racks and use a meat hook to hang it on.
It usually takes about 3-5 hours, depending on the size. But you want to make sure the internal temperature reaches 170℉/76℉ if using a raw ham, and 140℉/60℃ if using a pre-cooked one. After you take it out, let rest for at least 10 minutes.
Ham is already super delicious, but smoking it adds another dimension of deliciousness. You can glaze it, too, about 20 minutes before you think it will be done.
Cured pork, in general, turns pink because the nitrate solution often used for curing creates a chemical reaction with the meat’s protein. No worries, it’s all good.
Your favorite meat cut comes from the back leg of the pig. If you go to the market today, you will see two kinds of ham, fresh or raw and cured or pre-cooked.
See, it’s easy to prepare this holiday favorite even if it’s not the holidays. You can make it even better with tasty side dishes for a purely satisfying smoked ham dinner.
More Delicious Ham Recipes
- Stuffed Pork Loin Roast
- Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork)
- Smoked Prime Rib
- Slow Cooker Ham
- Brown Sugar Glazed Ham
Choosing your ideal ham and the smoking method will give you the perfect smoked ham. Oh yeah! Your family and guests will be super impressed. Which smoker do you use? Comment below and share your experience. Thanks:)
- 1 8-10-pound (3.6 – 4.5 kg) cooked cured ham, shank end
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter
- 1 cup (150 g) brown sugar, or more
- ½ cup (170 g) honey
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) Dijon mustard, or more
- ¼ cup (62 ml) orange juice
- ½ cup (125 ml) pineapple juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons (8 g) Creole seasoning
- 1 teaspoon (2 g) allspice
- ½-1 teaspoon (1-2 g) ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon (0.5 g) cloves
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) nutmeg
- ½ fresh lemon, squeezed (about 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice)
- Remove ham from the packaging and discard any flavoring packet. If using a bone-in ham, check the end of the bone for a plastic cap and, if present, discard. Let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours – if time permits.
- Preheat the smoker to 250℉/121℃.
- In a saucepan, whisk together butter, brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, orange juice, pineapple juice, minced garlic, Creole seasoning, allspice, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and lemon juice over medium heat.
- Let the butter mixture melt, stirring often, until brown sugar dissolves, about 1-2 minutes. Set aside. (Double the glaze if you want extra to serve. You may also adjust the spices to suit taste buds, especially the sugar content.)
- Place ham in a disposable aluminum pan, cut side down in the pan.
- When the sugar and honey mixture is ready, generously spread the mixture all over the ham and place the flat side down in the aluminum pan (reserve about a ⅓ cup for basting).
- Place the pan in the smoker (or put it directly on the middle rack) and cook for 2-3 hours, basting every 30-45 minutes with its own juice just until warmed through and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham reads 140℉/60℃.
Tips & Notes:
- The ham is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham reads 140℉/60℃.
- Please keep in mind that the nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used in the recipe.