Master the Art of Smoking Ham With Our Step-by-Step Guide

Oct 16, 2023 / MIN READ

Make your next mealtime masterpiece with our step-by-step guide to preparing smoked ham at home. A fresh ham with a mouthwatering smoke flavor — made in the comfort of your own kitchen — is a hearty dinner that the whole family can relish.

Read on to unveil the secrets to perfecting a smoked ham recipe, from choosing premium pork to infusing irresistible flavor.

Selecting the right ham and gathering essential equipment

When choosing the right ham, it's important to consider your family's preferences and budget. Here's a closer look at the options to consider:

  • Uncured ham: Also called "fresh ham," an uncured cut is unprocessed and is essentially a blank canvas for flavor experimentation. An option like Hatfield® No Antibiotics Ever Uncured Original Boneless Ham is great if you prefer to season and smoke raw ham from scratch.
  • Cured ham: Cured hams, on the other hand, are soaked in brine or dry-cured with salt and spices, giving them a distinct flavor profile. If you're looking for a well-seasoned, ready-to-smoke ham, this is a great option.
  • Bone-in ham: This alternative is popular because of its rich, full flavor. While the bone can add extra taste, it's a bit more complicated to prepare — making it an ideal selection for an experienced ham smoker.
  • Boneless ham: Because of its convenience and quality, a boneless option like Hatfield® Hardwood Smoked Boneless Ham is our top recommendation for smoking. This ensures every slice is pure, succulent meat. Plus, if you run a hectic household, you can rest assured that it's easier to carve, store and serve.

Remember that cooking with high-quality pork is essential not only for taste but for the safety of your loved ones. Pork products from Hatfield® are always top-tier to ensure you're using the best ingredients. This sets the stage for a safe and delicious smoked ham that your family will savor.

Ready to get started? Head to your local grocery store to pick up your favorite Hatfield® pork products today!

The equipment you need before getting started

Before jumping in, there are a few critical pieces of equipment you'll need to gather, including:

  • A smoker: Make sure you have a reliable smoker at home, whether that be an electric smoker or one that requires wood pellets. This is where the magic happens.
  • Wood chips: Not only are wood chips crucial for the cooking process, but they're also your secret to flavor — infusing that irresistible smokiness into the meat.
  • A meat thermometer: To ensure you end up with a fully cooked ham, it's important to have a meat thermometer on hand to check the ham's internal temperature.
  • Meat tongs and a drip pan: For a smooth mealtime adventure with minimal mess, don't forget quality meat tongs and a drip pan.

Preparing your ham and smoking it to perfection

Here are the steps to bring a delicious smoked ham recipe to life:

  • Step 1: Once you've chosen your ham, get started by setting up your smoker — ensuring it's clean and in good working condition. If you're using a wood pellet smoker, complete this step by choosing and adding your desired wood chips.
  • Step 2: Now, preheat your smoker to medium heat, maintaining a temperature range of 225°F to 250°F.
  • Step 3: If you're starting with an unseasoned ham, now's the time for seasoning or brining. Use a blend of your family's favorite spices and herbs or make a dry rub to add flavor before smoking begins.
  • Step 4: Next, place your boneless ham in the smoker, positioning it on the cooking grate.
  • Step 5: At this point, it's critical that you monitor and maintain a consistent smoker temperature throughout the cooking process, continuing to add wood pellets to generate a steady stream of smoke. Take care not to overcook your ham or it'll likely have a bitter taste.
  • Step 6: Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the ham to ensure it's safe consumption, and that is has optimal texture. A boneless smoked ham should be cooked slowly on medium heat until it reaches an internal temp of 145 °F.
  • Step 7: After this, you have an option to baste your ham to enhance its smoky flavor. This can be any glaze or sauce that caters to the preferences of your household.
  • Step 8: Remove your ham from the smoker and allow it to rest for five to 10 minutes; to help redistribute juices for the most succulent result. Finally, slice and serve your smoked boneless ham.

Keep in mind that the cooking time can vary based on the size and thickness of your ham, along with the smoker's temperature. A meat thermometer is the best way to ensure food safety every time. And when life gets busy and you don't have time to start with an unseasoned ham, you can opt for a pre-marinated option. This way, you can find the perfect flavor and save time cooking to spend it with the people who matter most.

Delicious smoked ham recipes to try

Discover new recipes to try the next time your loved ones are in the mood for mouthwatering smoked ham:

Recipe 1: Smoked Ham With Brown Sugar Glaze
You can't go wrong with a brown sugar glaze for smoked ham. The sweet flavor of brown sugar and maple syrup mixed with a savory blend of spices is smoked to perfection on cherry wood chips. You can expect an unforgettable result, whether you're looking to make a special holiday ham or an everyday dinner. This hassle-free recipe is sure to leave everyone wanting more.

Recipe 2: Ham With Pineapple and Cherries
For something equally sweet, consider a recipe for smoked ham with pineapple and cherries. This timeless pairing is a flavor explosion that the whole family can enjoy — even the pickiest eaters in your household. The secret ingredient? Soda; transforming the glaze into a caramelized masterpiece. If you're bringing this ham to a family event or holiday get-together, you can use whole cloves and toothpicks for an elevated presentation.

A sliced ham topped with pineapples and cherries sits in a panHam With Pineapple and Cherries.

Recipe 3: Hickory Smoked Ham
Looking for a deep, rich flavor? This recipe for hickory smoked ham, with a harmonious blend of brown sugar glaze and BBQ spice dry rub, is sweet and savory perfection. Whether you're smoking pre-cooked or fresh ham, you can use this guide to create a centerpiece for your next celebration or get-together.

Recipe 4: Southern Pecan Glazed Ham
With a mouthwatering blend of brown sugar, spicy mustard, honey and ground cloves, this recipe is a homemade masterpiece. Once you top the finished ham with a generous amount of pecans, you can serve this dish as the focal point of your next holiday feast or a random weeknight meal.

Tips and tricks for the best results

When you've found the perfect smoked ham recipe to try, keep the following considerations in mind for the best results.

Choosing the right wood for smoking ham

It might seem like a simple part of the process, but the type of wood chips you choose plays an important role in determining the flavor of your smoked ham. Some of the most popular wood types used for smoking ham include hickory, apple, cherry, maple and pecan. Because each wood gives ham a unique aroma and taste, it's best to choose an option that matches your family's preferences.

The importance of monitoring internal temperature

Food safety is always a priority when it comes to cooking for your loved ones. To be sure you're serving fully cooked ham, insert your meat thermometer into the thickest part of the ham and check for an internal temp of 145 °F.

It's also important to keep a close eye on your smoker's temperature throughout the smoking process because fluctuations can affect your results. Aim to maintain a steady temperature within the recommended range and for the correct cook time.

How to store leftover ham properly

If you're starting with an entire ham, you might be lucky enough to end up with leftovers at the end of the night. Leftover ham is an easy addition to school lunches or you can always throw it in another ham recipe later in the week. But, storing meat properly is essential to maintain freshness and flavor.

Make sure your smoked ham has cooled to room temperature, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, aluminum foil or an airtight container and refrigerate. This will stay good for up to three to four days. Or, if you plan to keep your cooked ham longer, freeze it for two to three months.

Avoiding common missteps along the way

For a novice smoker, it can be easy to overcook a smoked ham. You can prevent this by making sure you follow the recommended smoking times and temperatures, while continuously checking your ham to make adjustments as needed. What's more, keeping an eye on your fuel source helps you prevent flare-ups that can lead to uneven cooking or charring.

Find your flavor with high-quality pork from Hatfield®

Now that you have everything you need to make a delectable smoked ham at home, remember that the quality of the pork you choose matters: Top-of-the-line pork products set the stage for the best dining experience for you and your loved ones.

Hatfield® provides a wide range of pre-seasoned, high-quality pork products that guarantee to deliver both appetizing flavors and dependable results for every smoked ham recipe. And when your schedule gets busy, you can choose a pre-marinated option, like Hatfield® Honey Roasted Boneless Ham or Hatfield® Sweet Brown Sugar Quarter Pre-Sliced Ham, for added convenience and equally delicious culinary creations.

Ready to get started? You can use our store locator to find your favorite Hatfield® pork products at a supermarket or grocery store near you!