Smoked Ham: Easy 5-Step Smoking Recipe

Ham is a piece of pig leg that may be brined or smoked. It is a versatile pork cut that can be prepared in a variety of ways, including smoking, baking, roasting, etc. That’s why it is so popular at cookouts.

I’ve smoked ham for years and developed my own special recipe by combining the best recipes I’ve tried.  Although cooking ham requires a little more preparation than other pork cuts, the unmatched flavor it produces is unquestionably worth it. So, without further ado, here’s my special smoked ham recipe.

How to Smoke Ham – My Special Recipe

The smoking procedure will vary depending on whether you bought a pre-cooked ham or a raw ham. Pre-cooked ham has already been cured, so you may skip the curing phase and go straight to the smoking step. The smoking method is otherwise identical. So, let’s start by detailing how to cook raw ham.

Honey Smoked Ham With Sides

How to Smoke Raw Ham?

Main Ingredients

  • 5-pound fresh bone-in ham
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

Brine Ingredients

  • 24 cups of cold water
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves

Glaze Ingredients

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard


Step 1: Prepare the Ham

The process of brining ham imparts a tasty salty flavor and color while removing extra moisture. Remember that you don’t need to brine the ham if you purchased pre-cooked cut from the store.

Note: If you’re choosing ham with the skin still on, cut a crisscross pattern approximately half an inch deep into the skin to allow the smoke to permeate.

Step 2: Prepare the Brine

To prepare the brine, combine the brine ingredients with half of the water in a large instant pot big enough to completely submerge the ham in the brine.

Once the water starts boiling, stir the ingredients, allowing the brown sugar and salt to dissolve more easily. Then, turn the heat off and add the remaining portion of water and allow the brine to cool. Afterward, put the ham in the brine, making sure the liquid covers it fully. Cover the pot, then place it in the fridge for about seven hours.

Take the ham out of the brine once the time has elapsed and properly rinse it under water. Then, pat it dry with paper towels, and place it on a rack to finish drying in the refrigerator for 2-3 more hours or overnight. 

Before placing the meat in the smoker, mix the dry rub ingredients (salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder) in a bowl and thoroughly rub the meat.

Step 3: Preheat the Smoker 

Prepare your pellet grill, then raise the temperature to 250 degrees F. Now, it’s time to place the ham in the smoker. Throughout the smoking process, add about one cup of apple wood chips every 45 minutes, or less frequently for a lighter smoke flavor.

Step 4: Smoking Time

Smoke the meat until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 F. I recommend using an instant read thermometer for precise readings. Based on my rough estimate, the ham should take about an hour per pound to cook. So, our 5-pound ham should take around 5 hours to cook.

It’s best to glaze the smoked ham with brown sugar, maple syrup and mustard once the meat’s internal temperature reads 135 F. To make the brown sugar ham glaze, mix maple syrup, spicy brown mustard, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Then, evenly apply the glaze all over the chunk of meat.

Step 5: Rest and Serve

Take the glazed ham out of the smoker, slather on another layer of my smoked ham glaze recipe and wrap in aluminum foil as soon as the internal temperature reaches 145 F. Wrapping the meat in aluminum prevents it from drying out. Let the wrapped ham rest for about 10–20 minutes, then you’re ready to slice and serve!

Sliced Prosciutto Pork Ham Slices with Tomatoes

How to Smoke a Precooked Ham?

As earlier mentioned, the only difference between this recipe and the previous one is the 10-20 min/lb shorter cooking time—because the meat is pre-cooked— and there is no need to brine the meat. You should smoke the ham until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Remember that the ham has already been cooked, so don’t cook it past 145 degrees Fahrenheit or it will become dry.

Similar to raw ham, if you’re adding the brown sugar glaze to a double smoked ham, smoke it until the internal temperature reaches around 130°F. Then brush the smoked ham with brown sugar glaze and continue smoking until the temperature hits 145°F . Then, move the ham to a tray, apply another layer of the brown sugar glaze, cover with foil, and let it set for about 10 minutes before serving. 

Tips for Smoking Ham

You don’t need to be an expert to make the perfect smoked ham. These pointers can help you grill the best ham.

  1. Cook to temperature, not time. The cooking time for your delicious piece of ham can vary depending on various factors. For this reason, it’s important to keep a meat thermometer handy and measure the internal temperature of the meat at regular intervals. Just ensure your meat reads 145 degrees once you stick in the probe, and you’re good to go!
  2. Maintain a steady cooking temperature. Throughout the cooking process, pay close attention to the smoker’s temperature. Extreme temperature changes may cause meat to cook unevenly, with a burnt or dry top and an under-cooked interior.
  3. Use a variety of seasonings. Feel free to experiment with different seasonings. Add more spiciness by using ingredients like ground chili, red pepper flakes, or add tang by rubbing mustard all over the smoked ham before applying it. In addition, you can spritz the smoked ham with apple juice or apple cider vinegar during smoking for extra moisture and sweetness. Lastly, don’t forget the glaze after smoking for even more incredible flavor. 
  4. Use a broiler. After applying the glaze, place the glazed ham under the broiler in a prepared oven if you desire a thicker glaze on the exterior of the smoked ham. 

How to Choose the Right Cut of Ham?

There are several straightforward indicators to watch out for before buying ham. Let’s discuss a few.

  • Smell: Ham should smell meaty, and slightly salty. Don’t buy the ham if it smells sour, foul, or sulfurous.
  • Appearance: Whole ham should appear pinkish or beige. Discard any ham cut that looks discolored.
  • Texture: Ideally, you want your ham to be slightly firm, moist, and full of juices and fats. Stay away if the pork feels slimy.

Smoked Ham Cuts

Typically, there are three options to pick from when buying ham at a butcher shop. Let’s explore the options and differences between these cuts. 

Smoked Ham With Green Olives and Lettuce

Bone-in Cuts

The most flavorful and juicy pork cut to smoke is the bone-in ham. It’s also the most difficult to carve.


This cut is simpler to carve because the shank bone is removed. The leg bone remains intact to make the ham firm.


The boneless ham smokes more quickly, takes up less space, and is easier to slice than other cuts.  However, there is something to be said about how the bone affects the taste of the final product. So, boneless hams may not be the ideal option for a BBQ purist.

What to Serve with Smoked Ham?

Smoked ham can be enjoyed with different side dishes. This piece of meat tastes great with dishes like:

  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Sweet potato casserole
  • Spinach salad 

If you have any leftover smoked ham, you can make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, eggs and hash-browns, potatoes, baked beans, and so on. 

The Best Wood for Smoked Ham

For this recipe, I use apple wood chips because they don’t add an overwhelmingly smokey flavor and they impart fruity notes. Hickory or cherry wood are some other excellent options. Feel free to experiment with other types of wood chips and pellets for a unique flavor. You can also buy mixed blends that have a more special flavor.

The Best Smokers for Smoked Ham

Smoked ham tastes great whether you cook it on a pellet smoker, electric smoker, or charcoal smoker. My favorite is a pellet smoker; however, the alternatives also offer excellent results. Here’s more on these smokers:

Pellet Grill

A pellet grill offer the easiest smoking experience. The smoker automatically feeds flavored pellets into the heater and expels the heat through the chamber. This smoker offers impressive versatility, so you can tailor the taste of the ham to your preference. Another great benefit of the pellet grill is that you only need to periodically check the smoked ham at set intervals. So there is no need to babysit the pound of meat.

Charcoal Smoker

Another fantastic option for smoking a pork loin is a charcoal grill. This grill produces a lot of smokiness. So you can expect a tasty smoke flavor once you’re done smoking. The charcoal smoker is also compact, which is a plus for BBQs with little backyard space. Moreover, the charcoal smoker won’t cost you an arm and a leg and is quite easy to clean.

A charcoal grill uses charcoal to provide a low, direct heat that is great for cooking ham. You can also use flavored wood chips for added flavor. However, remember that smoking with this grill can get messy.

Electric Smoker

Electric smokers use heating rods to create smoke and use wood chunks, chips as a fuel source. The meat inside the smoker is also convection smoked, which gives it a distinct flavor.

Electric grills often cook at a lower temperature for a longer period. You won’t have an open fire with this smoker., I enjoy electric smokers since they are user-friendly and frequently have the newest features, such as an inbuilt thermometer.

Grilling Parma Ham On the Hot Grill

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Should I Smoke Twice Smoked Ham and Raw Ham?

If it is twice smoked ham, you may only need to cook it for about 15 – 20 minutes per pound. How about uncooked ham? Expect to smoke a pound of ham for 25 to 40 minutes per pound. So, a 7-pound ham should cook for about 5 hours.

2. Should I Cover the Ham When Smoking It?

You don’t need to cover the ham in the smoker. However, note that you must close the lid of the smoker.

3. How Can I Tell if I Have a Fresh or Smoked Ham?

Generally, meat manufacturers label raw ham as “fresh” while cooked ham that requires extra cooking is labeled “cook thoroughly .” 

For instance, the ham in this dish is uncooked. Read the package if you are purchasing it from a supermarket. Alternatively, you can ask the farmer or butcher if you are buying from them!

4. How Much Ham Do I Serve Per Person?

How much smoked ham you need to buy depends on the number of guests. For boneless ham, buy about a quarter pound or one-third of a pound of boneless ham per guest. For bone-in ham, buy between 1/3 and 1/2 pounds per guest.

These principles apply to both raw and cooked ham. Carefully calculate how much more food you’ll need to buy if you plan to have leftover ham or prepare future meals using this approach.


Smoked ham is flavorful, juicy, and simple to prepare. This dish can be made at home and is a true fan favorite among smokers. So, remember to follow my delicious smoked ham recipe. Also, don’t be shy about experimenting with different glazes and spices. Before you know it, you’ll have your own unique ham recipe you can share with your family and friends.