I Made Dolly Parton’s Recipe for Hickory-Grilled Ham—Here’s What I Thought

Learn how to make Dolly Parton's famous family recipe for a juicy, glazed hickory ham fit for any holiday table.

Dolly Parton's Recipe for Hickory-Grilled HamGetty Images, Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

“Jolene, Jolene, Jolene, Jolene…oh, I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man ham.”

OK, so we may have taken some liberties with the song lyrics, but after trying Dolly Parton’s recipe for her family’s hickory ham, we think Dolly would approve of our revisions to her legendary song.

Glazed with a simple brown sugar and Dijon mustard glaze and slowly smoked over hickory wood in a charcoal grill with whole cloves, this easy ham recipe is one Dolly’s father made each year for the holidays.

“Daddy always reserved the best pork shoulder from the slaughterhouse for our holidays, which always made us feel special,” says Parton of this treasured recipe.

Trusting Dolly knows just as much about great ham as she does about country music, we wanted to put this tantalizing holiday recipe for grilled ham to the test.

Dolly Parton’s Hickory-Grilled Ham Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 6-lb smoked ham, fully cooked with bone in (shank or butt half)
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 large pineapple
  • 4-5 tennis ball-sized hickory wood chunks

Directions

Step 1: Soak

soaking hickory chunksLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In a large bowl, cover the hickory chunks with water and soak for 1 to 24 hours.

Step 2: Stir

stirring ham glazeLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

In a small bowl, stir together the mustard, brown sugar and water until smooth.

Step 3: Glaze

glazing hamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Brush 1/4 of the glaze all over the outside of the ham. (Don’t miss our guide on how to choose a ham.)

Editor’s Tip: Dolly suggests cutting the ham bone loose from the meat but not removing it. This makes slicing easier after grilling. If you don’t have confidence in your abilities to do this yourself, ask your butcher to do this step for you. Many will offer this service for free.

Step 4: Prepare the grill

preparing grill for hamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Prepare your charcoal grill with hot coals, then drain the hickory chunks and arrange them around the outside edges of the grill. Adjust your grill’s temperature to low heat (250º to 300ºF).

Step 5: Cook and glaze

grilling hamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

With your grill rack positioned about 8 inches over the coals, place the ham on the rack and close the cover. Cook for 1 hour, brushing the ham every 15 minutes with additional glaze.

Step 6: Score

scored hamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Remove the ham from the grill and score the ham diagonally to create a diamond pattern on the skin. Insert a clove into the middle of each diamond.

Editor’s Tip: When scoring a ham, you should cut about a quarter-inch to a half-inch into the meat.

Step 7: Finish cooking

Dolly Parton's Recipe for Hickory-Grilled HamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Return the ham to the grill. Cook until the center of the meat registers 140º on an instant-read meat thermometer. Remove to a carving board.

Editor’s Note: The total time it will take your ham to reach 140º will vary depending on the weight and thickness of your ham. In testing, our ham took close to an hour to come to temperature.

Step 8: Grill the pineapple

grilled pineappleLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Meanwhile, slice a pineapple into 12 wedges, keeping the skin and leaves intact. Grill until charred, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Step 9: Carve

carved hamLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Remove the bone and carve the ham. Enjoy!

How to Serve Dolly’s Hickory-Grilled Ham

We served our ham, as directed by Dolly, with plenty of caramelized grilled pineapple. It was the perfect pairing to this holiday classic. Baked macaroni and cheese, roasted Brussels sprouts, or scalloped potatoes are other great choices to consider. (Have leftovers? Don’t miss these top leftover ham recipes.)

Here’s What I Thought

I loved the smoky infusion of hickory flavor in this ham paired with its sweet, yet tangy brown sugar and mustard glaze. The ham was perfectly juicy, and despite the hassle of needing to soak the hickory chunks and preparing the grill, I appreciated that this recipe freed up the oven for other holiday side dishes.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.