How to Smoke a Ham

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Give that grocery store ham an upgrade! This smoked ham recipe has lots of hickory flavor and is finished with a sweet, spicy glaze.

Your smoker can be used for more than brisket and pork belly; it will also turn out a delicious smoked ham. This low-and-slow method of cooking makes the meat more flavorful, moist and tender. It’s a unique dish for Easter brunch, but this smoked ham recipe can be made any time of the year for a weekend meal.

Since most hams sold in stores are precooked and smoked, this smoking process isn’t cooking the ham but warming it through—and creating a twice-smoked ham in the process. Along with hickory smoke flavor, our recipe adds sweetness and moisture from a pineapple juice basting. The smoked ham is finished with a delectable sticky-sweet glaze made with pineapple juice, brown sugar and little heat, thanks to cayenne in the blend.

Learn how to cook a ham perfectly with tips from the Test Kitchen.

Our Smoked Ham Recipe

This recipe was made in a ceramic smoker—brands include Primo, Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe. However, you can also make this recipe in an electric or pellet smoker. The important thing is to keep the temperature consistent at 250°F, so the ham heats through slowly without drying out.

This recipe made with a 9- to 10-pound ham makes enough to feed about 12 people, or fewer with plenty of leftover ham for sandwiches, soups or quiche. Smoking a 10-pound ham takes about 3-1/2 hours.

Ingredients

Smoked Ham ingredientsNancy Mock for Taste of Home

  • 9 to 10 pound bone-in smoked ham
  • 3 cups pineapple juice

Glaze:

  • 1-1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Tools

  • Smoker: A ceramic smoker like this is an investment, but it’s versatile and worth every penny for serious smokers. The design and thick walls reflect heat back into food, and it’s efficient, so you get a good, long burn from your fuel.
  • Hardwood Lump Charcoal: This is the preferred charcoal for smoking food because it’s natural wood made without the chemicals found in briquettes.
  • Hickory Wood Chunks: Soak these hickory chunks in water, then add them to your smoker to infuse ham with delicious hickory smoke flavor.

Follow this Family Handyman guide to choose the best smoker for your budget.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare your smoker

If you’re using hickory or other wood chips, soak them in water for at least an hour before starting the recipe. Preheat your smoker to a temperature of 250°.

Step 2: Score the ham

Smoked HamNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Remove the ham from the packaging. Rinse off the brining liquid if it was packaged with any. Use a sharp knife to score the whole surface of the ham in a crisscross pattern. This will allow the basting liquid to penetrate to keep the meat moist.

Step 3: Put the ham in the smoker

Smoked HamNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Once the smoker is ready, place the soaked wood chips inside on the hot coals. Place the ham with the large, cut side down on the cooking grate, then close the smoker.

Step 4: Smoke and baste the ham

Smoked Ham.toh.nancy Mock 4 AdeditNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Cook the ham in the smoker. Every 30 minutes, brush the entire surface of the ham with pineapple juice to keep the meat moist during the smoking process. Smoke the ham for about 20 minutes per pound, until it registers an internal temp of 140° on a digital thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the ham (not touching the bone).

Step 5: Prepare the glaze

Smoked Ham glaze Nancy Mock for Taste of Home

While the ham is smoking, make the glaze. Combine the brown sugar, 1/2 cup of pineapple juice, butter, honey mustard, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a small saucepan. Bring it to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low. Whisk the glaze constantly (to keep it from boiling over) over low heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat. Let the glaze sit for at least 10 minutes, but longer if possible. The glaze will thicken a bit as it cools. Set aside 3/4 cup of the glaze to serve with the ham.

Step 6: Brush the ham with glaze

Smoked HamNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Once the ham has reached 140°, brush it all over with the remaining brown sugar glaze. Close the smoker and give the glazed ham 10 more minutes in the smoker so that it gets nice and sticky.

Step 7: Slice the ham and serve

Smoked HamNancy Mock for Taste of Home

Remove the ham from the smoker to a large tray or cutting board. (I used claw tools like these to lift and move the ham.) Thinly slice the ham using a sharp knife. Serve it drizzled with the reserved glaze.

Follow our guide to learn how to carve bone-in ham like an expert!

Tips for Smoking Ham

What type of ham is best for smoking?

Since the hams typically stocked at grocery stores are already smoked, this recipe will actually give you a twice-smoked ham. Not only does this process warm the ham through for serving, but it also gives you the chance to infuse the meat with extra spice, sweetness and, of course, smoky flavor.

When choosing a ham for smoking, go for a bone-in variety; they have more flavor than boneless hams. You’ll have bone-in choices of shank/leg portion or butts. The shank cut has a large, cut surface that sits flat on the grate, and only one bone which makes it easier to carve. Pork butt has more fat, can be more flavorful and is also a good choice for smoking, although harder to carve because of the larger T-shaped bone. A spiral-cut bone-in ham can also be smoked, as long as you baste it well during smoking to prevent the slices from drying out.

Find out which store-bought holiday hams our Test Kitchen tasting panel liked best.

How much ham do you need per person?

When buying a bone-in ham, plan on 3/4 to 1 pound of ham per person. This accounts for the extra weight in the ham from the bone.

What do you serve with smoked ham?

Potatoes in any form are delicious alongside smoked ham. Try classic potatoes au gratin or this easy salad made with roasted green beans and red potatoes. For a perfect springtime meal, pair your smoked ham slices with lightly cooked asparagus. Green salads, freshly baked buttermilk biscuits or airy popovers all make tasty sides for ham as well.

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Nancy Mock
Discovering restaurants, tasting bakery treats, finding inspiration in new flavors and regional specialties—no wonder Nancy loves being a food and travel writer. She and her family live in Vermont and enjoy all things food, as well as the beautiful outdoors, game nights, Avengers movies and plenty of maple syrup. Find Nancy’s writing and recipes at her website: Hungry Enough To Eat Six.