John D Lee is a chef and restauranteur living and working in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He's always loved to cook.
There is nothing at all wrong with enjoying some home-cured ham unsmoked. After all, when you can cure your own at home for a fraction of the cost of deli ham, and since it only takes about 5 minutes of active work to make the stuff at home, you'd be crazy not to enjoy a some whenever the mood struck you without having to go through the trouble of a hot smoke.
If you don’t know how to cure meat at home, follow these very easy instructions on home curing or brining an American ham.
But to take that leg of pork that you have so satisfyingly transformed into ham to the next level, you can always take the time, do it right, and give that ham a few hours over hardwood. Here are instructions for hot smoking a ham on a home gas BBQ grill. If you have a BBQ smoker, use as you otherwise would for the ham.
How to Smoke a Brined Ham on a Grill
Take your ham out of the brine, rinse it, and dry it off well with some paper towels. Put it on a plate (or better yet a rack) and let it dry (pellicule) overnight in the fridge. This drying step will help the smoke adhere to the meat.
Prepare your wood chips. Woods that go well with ham include:
- Most any fruit tree wood
Soak your wood chips in a bucket of water for at least half an hour, preferably longer. (A single bag of BBQ wood chips will be plenty to smoke a whole ham.)
Preheat your BBQ grill to medium. Wrap a heaping handful of soaked wood chips in a couple of sheets of tinfoil, and then poke some holes in the foil to allow the smoke to come out.
- Add your foil-wrapped chips to the BBQ. Place the foil near enough to the heat to keep it smoking.
- If you have two burner heads, turn one side off completely. On the still lit side, place your foil under the grill (or if you can remove half of the grill this makes things even easier) but on top of the lava rocks.
- When the chips start smoking, put the ham on the BBQ grate, as far from the flame source as possible.
- Cover the lid and turn the heat (only one burner) down to low. Keep the BBQ temperature at around 250.
- Check the BBQ occasionally, and add new packets of foil-wrapped wood chips when you no longer see billowing smoke.
The total cook time required depends on the precise heat of the BBQ and on the size of the ham. A large ham could take 5 or more hours, a small piece of ham only an hour. What you need is an instant-read thermometer. Take readings regularly, and take the ham off the heat once it has reached 155 degrees at its deepest internal point.
The ham can at this point be eaten straight away or refrigerated for later slicing.
I love this ham. It's perfect for an autumn BBQ when the nights are just starting to get crisp and the idea of a big ole' ham on the table (scalloped potatoes, roasted beets and carrots) sounds like a real good transition from the BBQ of summer.
It's impressive flavor, a far cry from even the best supermarket product, and there is something very primal and satisfying about curing and smoking your own meat. The best part of all is that it's easy!
Video Tutorial for Smoking a Ham
Lodis Dinwiddie on March 13, 2019:
My sis and I are going to try this. We both were reared on a farm, and our father used to cure hams, but we were not allowed to go near it. So, we both decided to try your method. Looks relatively easy.
Candy Farley on December 09, 2018:
Just about to begin my 1st ever smoke ham. Thanks for the info on the green ham. Have several to do.
Paul on March 23, 2018:
I am going to try this next week!
Donovan Dolph on December 10, 2017:
Your thoughts on using Morton Tender Quick to brine a ham????
SwardLynn on October 18, 2012:
Can you add liquid smoke to this for more flavor...or does the meat get enough flavor from the smoking? Plan on smoking a Russian boar hind this weekend, it's going in the brine soon. Wondering if liquid smoke will help.
al on September 17, 2012:
curing bear hind@ shoulder in salt brine first done los of fish @ fowl
osiris85 from Reno NV on February 28, 2012:
sure looks super! I love any type of smoked meat and will be trying this out soon. thank you for the easy to follow diretions.
Brian on November 06, 2011:
I shot three wild hogs yesterday, cleaned them up, vacuum packed the ribs, loin, and shoulders and now I am starting the cure of 6 hams. I will be smoking them next weekend. This will be my first of many batches if it turns out as good as I read here. Thanks for the information.
marimccants on May 19, 2011:
I love it.
bbqsmokersite from Winter Haven, Florida on April 14, 2011:
Man, this looks awesome. I've never tried to smoke a ham. Actually grew up on salt cured Virginia ham from the Shenandoah Valley. This hub has my creative smokin' juices going. May have to try it!
Pete on December 13, 2009:
Thanks John,It was the best ham tasted by many,now for a recipe on smoked brisket.
John D Lee (author) on December 10, 2009:
Hi Pete...I'd love to see it. Send me the pic of your ham if you want and I'll put it up on the page!
Pete on December 10, 2009:
Well the ham is done and it was good.Alittle less salt next time.Now to try bacon.If I could I would put a pic up
John D Lee (author) on December 09, 2009:
Hi Pete, let us know how your ham turns out!
Pete on December 09, 2009:
Use this method on my pinic ham,it is smoken right now and looking good