If we ask what’s your favorite piece of pork meat, without a blink, we hear you say ‘ham’! And, we are sure most of you will agree. 

When you smoke the ham in the right way, it’s known to be one of the simplest meats to smoke in the oven. With smoked ham topping the Christmas menu, it has become a delicacy for special occasions. 

And, as you try smoking a home-cooked platter of ham this time, you’ll be your favorite chef for years to come.

“How should I prepare the ham? Do I need to make a rub? How to set the right heat? How to keep the meat moist?” We understand you have quite a few questions, but trust me that juicy smoked meat is worth all your hard work.

So, fret no more, we’ve curated some simple techniques, to help you get the fire started and your meat ready for hitting the grill.

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

Things that you need to assemble first

  • Fresh ham; it’s better to get a cut of half ham because with a larger surface area you’ll get a better seasoning and smoking done. And if you’re hosting a party, you can get a full ham and have it sliced by the butcher. However, go for a size that will fill everyone’s tummy, and it should also comfortably fit on your grill.
  • Smoker
  • Charcoal; keep a bag of it ready as you’ll require them to regulate the temperature.
  • Rub ingredients
  • Spray bottle
  • Yellow mustard
  • Pineapple juice, apple juice or apple cider
  • Brown sugar
  • Meat thermometer. And once you’re a pro at making smoked ham, you’ll understand whether the meat is cooked or not with a few finger tricks.
  • Wood chunks or chips; you can use wood chunks of your choice or even mix different types such as – cherry wood, hickory, applewood or oak wood. You need to soak these chunks an hour before you light the fire.

    But, many people often choose to soak the wood chunks overnight to avoid any trouble the following day. If you’re using wood chips, you’ll need to keep adding them more often.

How to get started?

1. Light the Smoker

To begin, each pound of fresh ham will take you about 20-30 minutes to get fully smoked. It’s generally advisable to preheat the smoker to avoid wasting time. Get the wood chunks that have been soaking in hot water. Load up your smoker with charcoal, and start the fire. 

After a few minutes, you’ll notice the coals starting to ash a little. Wait till you see the red glow in the center as that will indicate the time when you should be adding your soaked wood chunks. 

In the meantime, you can fill the water tank and place your grates. Allow the smoke and heat to build up inside the barbecue by closing the lid. When preheating and smoking a fresh cut of ham, ensure that the temperature is kept between 220-230 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Start prepping the ham

While your smoker is preheating, it’s time for you to prepare the ham. Take a sharp knife to make a grid pattern on the surface of the ham’s skin. Ensure that you make the grid formation only on the skin and avoid cutting into the meat. This creates a larger surface area for the spice rub and helps to crisp up the intact skin.

Next, you need to apply a coat of yellow mustard on the entire ham. This helps the rub to adhere correctly to the cuts on the ham. After which, you need to prepare the mixture for the spicy rub and apply it generously for full coverage. Before you start cooking, check if you’ve added the spices to all the corners of your meat.

To prepare the rub, you can use the following ingredients:

  • One tablespoon dried oregano
  • Two teaspoon paprika
  • One teaspoon chili powder
  • One tablespoon garlic powder
  • One tablespoon dried thyme
  • One tablespoon Himalayan salt
  • Two teaspoons black pepper

3. Smoke the ham

Now that your ham is fully seasoned, you can shut the lid after placing the ham on the grill grates. You’ll need to monitor the temperature by adding more charcoal, water, and wood for a steady amount of smoke. And to lower down the temperature, you can adjust the grill vents.

Within the next few hours, your ham will get a crispy outer crust, as the spices caramelize, and the meat is infused with a smokey flavor. As mentioned earlier for the meat to be smoked, it will take around 20-30 minutes per pound. And, for a 10-15 lb ham, it can take approximately 5-7 hours to smoke the entire meat. So, keep that in mind. 

You can fill the spray bottle with apple juice, pineapple juice, or apple cider. Then, roughly every hour open the lid and spray the ham down. The sugar will help to caramelize the crust, giving it an extra flavor, and the light mist prevents the rub from charring. 

When the ham is half cooked (remember it’ll take 20-30 minutes per pound), you need to insert the thermometer into the meat without hitting the bone. Keep monitoring the temperature until it reaches about 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Following which, you can briefly remove the ham from the grill to wrap it with a loose layer of aluminum foil. When wrapping the tinfoil, ensure that you keep a small opening on both ends to allow the smoke to penetrate inside.This will help prevent the skin from being directly exposed to the heat, which can also destroy your spice rub. 

Optional

Once the internal temperature reaches about 170 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to glaze your ham. Unwrap the foil from the top, but be careful to keep the juices from spilling. Now that your ham is exposed, you can sprinkle some brown sugar on the skin of the meat. As you’re done covering your ham with brown sugar, spray it over with some more pineapple or apple juice.

This step will allow the brown sugar to dissolve, and the heat from your smoker will create a delicious, beautiful glaze that gives the perfect taste of smoked ham.

After you’re done with the wrap, you can put back the ham on the grill without having to baste it any longer. And, now you can let it smoke as you continue monitoring the temperature till it reaches 190 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Let the ham rest!

Finally, when your ham has reached an internal temperature of 190 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s about time to take it off the grill. But, don’t remove the aluminum foil, let it rest at room temperature. Just like your turkey breast, steak, or the pork loin, you need to make the ham also sit for another 20-30 minutes. 

This allows the ham to become more tender as the meat fibers relax. Plus, it helps retain the gravy as the residual heat evenly redistributes the juice from the center of the ham. If you had to cut the meat after removing it from the grill directly, it would be less tender as you would lose out the juice while slicing it.

For a large slice of fresh ham, you have to keep patience and wait for around 30 minutes before you start digging in. Only after it rests, should you slice it up, and start serving this succulent smoked fresh ham.

You can use either an electric fillet knife or a meat carving knife for cutting your ham. Now that you have the best tasting smoked ham, you’ll not want to barbecue your ham in any other way. This slow-smoking process always yields a slice of better-tasting meat, and you’ll find your family and friends bragging about this recipe for years to come.

Final words

Now that you’ve got a simple recipe on your fingertips, it’s time for you to start making this delicious piece of art. Are you ready to wow your fellow mates who are joining you for the meal today?

With a little patience and the right amount of practice, you can master smoking fresh ham. And, you’ll soon start tweaking each step along the way to create an array of exciting smoked ham recipes. Go ahead and don that apron as you get the ingredients ready!

Till next time, enjoy cooking!