Smoked ham is one of the more savory ways to enjoy pork. You can buy it in the store, but taking the time to learn how to smoke it at home yields better flavor and quality. Smoked ham works well as a main course or you can incorporate it into dishes like pasta, casseroles, or even soups. However you add it to your meal plan, follow these tips for perfect smoking results.
Part of ham’s popularity is due to how versatile it is, with so many ways to prepare and serve. Our favorite way to enjoy ham is to smoke it. While smoking ham takes a bit more preparation, it creates an incomparable flavor that is undoubtedly worth it.
Whether you choose to smoke a raw ham (one that hasn’t been cured, also called a “green ham”) or a pre-cooked and cured ham is up to you. Just be prepared to add more time to the process for the uncooked ham, as you will have to cure it first.
Curing (or brining) removes unnecessary moisture and gives ham that great salty taste and color. If you get a raw ham from your butcher, you’ll need to add a few days to brine. If you want to work with a pre-cooked ham from the grocery store, you can skip the brining step.
(Note: For this article, directions are for a 7-pound ham. For a ham that’s larger, adjust accordingly.)
Anyone wanting to know how to smoke a raw ham should get the process of brining down first. Commercial brine seasoning packets are available for purchase, but you can save money by making your own.
Here is a good ham brining recipe to use:
Put all of the above ingredients in a saucepan and simmer over medium-high heat on your stovetop until the solids (sugar and salt) have dissolved completely. Allow to cool.
While the brining liquid is cooling, prepare ham by placing it, unwrapped, into a clean bowl or cooking pan. You may also use a commercial brining bag, which is nice because it can be disposed of later.
Pour the cooled brining liquid over the ham, making sure it is completely covered by the brine. (Add up to a gallon of additional water to dilute the brine and create enough liquid.) Place food wrap or a lid on the top of the container before placing the brine container in the fridge. Store it there for seven days (or one day per pound of ham.)
You may also choose to inject the ham with some of the brine for a deeper flavor. Do this before covering the ham, and make sure you have enough brine leftover for the ham to soak in.
After brining, rinse the ham and allow it to drain on a wire rack over a container in the fridge for up to 24 hours. It will now be ready to smoke!
We recommend smoking a ham, like this Easter Ham, at 225 degrees Fahrenheit on your Traeger. Or on “Super Smoke” mode if you have it.
Once your grill or smoker reaches a temperature of 225, place the ham on the grate. If the Ham is fully cooked, smoke for one hour.
How long does it take to smoke a ham that’s uncooked? If it’s been brined and prepared, expect to smoke for up to 7 hours, until it reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ham needs to reach a safe internal temperature, of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If your ham isn’t that temperature at the thickest part, place it back inside the grill for additional time.
Once the ham is cooked, you can put away what you don’t eat for later. Reheating any leftover ham is recommended for optimal food safety. The USDA suggests heating to an internal temperature of 140 degrees if it was packaged in a commercial, USDA-inspected plant, and 165 degrees if it wasn't (such as your local butcher.)
Enthusiasts generally lean toward the “sweeter” woods to compliment the flavors of the pork. Our apple, cherry, hickory, and even pecan wood pellets will create an amazing result. Browse wood pellets.
Knowing how to smoke ham on a pellet grill gives you lots of opportunities to try out different woods. Experiment to see what your favorite wood is, or mix pellets for a custom flavor. You can also purchase mixes that combine the flavors in a carefully curated ratio for you.
Smoked ham is truly a delicacy, with no wrong way to get it on the table. Some of the more classic pairings for smoked ham include macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, or a hearty spinach salad with crusty bread. Since smoked hams are often served during the holidays, you can dish them out next to your favorite family recipes without any worry.
If you have any leftovers, you can use smoked ham in a variety of recipes, including scalloped potatoes and ham, ham and bean soup, and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. Ham is great for breakfast the next morning, along with a side of eggs and hashbrowns.
Plan on buying based on the number of people at your meal. Purchase ¼ to 1/3 pounds of boneless ham per person. Purchase 1/3 to ½ pounds of bone-in ham per person.
Uncooked and cooked ham both follow these same guidelines. If you want leftovers or to make additional meals with the recipes, do the math on how much extra you need to buy. You can easily double this recommendation for a few days worth of meals.
Is there a difference in how much ham you buy for raw versus pre-cooked hams? Pre-cooked hams have lost some of their weight and will follow the formula of 1/3 pounds per person. If the ham is raw, however, expect it to shrink up to 22% when cooking. Aim to buy 1/5 more than you would with a cooked ham to ensure everyone gets their fair share!
Are you looking for even more mouth-watering ham inspiration? These Traeger ham recipes can help you create the most memorable meal ever:
Get the big list of holiday hams for all your special occasions. Anyone learning how to smoke ham (even for the first time) will get delicious results from their Traeger grill. You can even use these directions to learn how to smoke a ham roast or ham chops.
Level up your pork with these products.
Experience the evolution of fire with Traeger's next generation of wood pellet grills.Shop Now
Take command of your grill from the couch, or on-the-go with the Traeger App. And with hundreds of recipes available, inspiration is just a tap away.Get the app