How to Smoke A Fresh Ham in A Smoker (Curing, Smoking, and More)

I am sure that smoked ham is a familiar dish to everyone; the memory of that one piece of delicious smoked ham from last Thanksgiving dinner alone is enough to kick start your salivation.

That was probably the reason that caused your curiosity on how to recreate such a masterpiece, thus leading you to the doorway of my article.

If you have just such curiosity in mind, this article is for you. It will guide you through with the most straightforward way and tips on how to smoke a fresh ham.

For folks who find the whole thing laborious and just want a quick and easy way, don’t worry, you are also within the covered range of a reader.

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How to Cure a Ham: The Important Step for a Masterpiece of Smoked Ham

Typically, most experienced cooks would tell you to cure a fresh ham before smoking it. Truth is you can smoke it with or without curing the ham. 

Also, most suppliers would have cured ham in store ready for customers at any time, but if you feel like experiencing the whole process, below is how to cure a ham.

Please note that these portions of ingredients are for an approximate 18 lbs of pork leg.

how to smoke a fresh ham roast

1. Ingredients

  • Fresh pork leg
  • 2 cups of brown sugar
  • 1.5 cups of kosher salt
  • 8 cups of water 
  • 7 tbsp of pink salt/ Prague power
  • 1tbs of coriander 
  • 1 tbsp of mustard powder
  • ½ tbs of garlic powder
  • ½ tbs of onion powder
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • ½ tbsp of dried oregano (optional)
  • 2 tbsp of paprika (optional)
  • 12 cloves

2. My Step-by-Step Guide

  • First of all, remove all the skin and leave the layer of fat on.
  • Now boil the 8 cups of water. Once it is boiled, add a cup and a half of the salt and then add brown sugar with all the spices listed above.
  • Lastly, add 7 tablespoons of the Prague powder. Give them a gentle stir.
  • Next, pour these hot mixtures into another 8 cups of cold water and mix them up till the hot mixtures are cooled down.
  • Once all the mixtures are ready, use the big needle and inject proportionately all over the pork leg
  • Then, place the pork leg in the brine bag or food bucket and fill up with the leftover mixtures in. Please make sure the liquid covers all over the leg.
  • Leave this in a fridge for 48 hours, and you will be ready for the next part of smoking the ham.

“Too much effort! Can I just eat an uncured ham without cooking it?” 

Sure, if you don’t mind visiting the toilet ten times per day, go for it. Although I have seen people who actually like it uncured. So you never know if you don’t try, I guess.

However, I won’t be responsible for your medical bills.

How to Smoke a Fresh Ham. Method 1: Smoking a Cured Ham

how to smoke a fresh ham on a pellet smoker

Ingredients

  • A cured ham
  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • 2 cups of water
  • An offset smoker
  • Applewood (Hickory, Red Oak, Cherry Wood, etc.)

Step 1 - Prepare The Meat

Start by slicing lines on the surface of the pork, just on the fat layer but not a deep cut into the meat. This makes it looks nicer and easier to absorb all the smoke and flavors.

Place the pork on the roasting pan; pour 2 cups water underneath and 1 cup of apple juice right over the top of the meat.

Step 2 - Prepare the Offset Smoker and Wood

Next, set up the offset smoker with charcoal for indirect cooking. You will need to add your favorite hardwood.

Different type of wood will bring a different taste for the ham you smoke. It really depends on your personal preferences.

You can consider cherry wood to amplify the color, red oak to offset the intense flavor of lamb or hickory for bitterness in the bite, etc

Step 3 - Smoke the Meat

Let’s begin to have it smoked by placing the ham on the roasting pan on the grill at 300 degrees for 2 hours.

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During the 2-hour wait, you can prepare the honey mustard glaze with

  • 1/3 cups of honey
  • A ½ cup of yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cups of brown sugar
  • 1/3 cups of apple juice
  • 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar

You will need to mix these mixtures well in a hot pan. After that, they are ready to be applied in the first 2 hours of smoking.

Step 4 - Add More Wood and Coal

After 2 hours, the top part of the ham will look brownish, and you will rub the first layer of the honey mustard mixtures all over the surface of the ham and increase the temperature to 325 degrees.

How long would the process take? Well, about 3 to 5 hours from my experience.

Cook until the temperature of the inner part reaches 150-155 degrees, remove it from the heat and leave it for 30 minutes minimum. It is then ready to be served.

Serving Tips

1. Please do not rush to cut it right after removing from the heat. This could affect the juiciness if you cut it too soon. Leave it for 30 minutes or one hour, depending on the size of the ham. You can keep this up to 6 months or longer if it is sealed adequately.

2. Serving smoked ham with chips and a glass of wine is the best.


How to Smoke a Fresh Ham. Method 2: Smoking an Uncured Ham

how to smoke a fresh ham in a masterbuilt smoker

I am guessing the reason why you don’t want to cure your ham is either, (A) you are lazy, or (B) you do not like too much seasoning. Either way, both reasons dictate that you desire a much simpler method.

Ingredients

  • Ham (seriously, it can’t be less than this)

Step 1 - Prepare the Wood and Smoker

Even for this method, there is still some preparations needed. To ensure that wood chunks burn and smoke properly, pre-soak half of them for at least an hour and a half. 

Also, since you don’t want any seasoning, mix up the wood type to create unique flavors without much seasoning.

Then, start the smoker as per instruction and heat it until it reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2 - Add in the Wood

When the charcoal seems ready enough, place the pre-soaked and mixed wood chunks together with the charcoal to have it smoldered. 

Remember to fill the water or place a pan of water on the rack to keep the ham moist. Then place the ham on the rack with the fat side facing up.

Step 3 - Smoke The Ham

Throw in more wood chunks and charcoal as much as needed within an interval of three to four hours. 

Keep an eye on the temperature until it reaches 165 - 175 degrees Fahrenheit, and then voila - the ham is done.

Time to Smoke and Dig in!

By following all the steps and ingredients from this article, you will be able to hold a family dinner, or a special event with a pro served of smoked ham, and act like Gordon Ramsay!

Also, if you receive compliments from family members and friends, or whoever it is that you are cooking for, please share this article on how to smoke a fresh ham to others too. 

Share the feeling of being a master chef! And if you need more cooking tips, send me an email, and I might pick yours for the next article.

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