Smoking a Fresh Ham

There is a difference between smoking a fresh ham (or a “green ham”)- which is going to give you something more like barbecue. And smoking a cured hamwhich is going to give you a more traditional Thanksgiving “Ham”.

But if you want to smoke a fresh ham, I cook it just like I cook a whole shoulder. Hams are a leaner cut than shoulder but they typically cook in the same amount of time. You see a lot of North Carolina Q joints using fresh hams instead of shoulder. It’s a regional thing.

Here’s how I cook a Fresh Ham:

Rub wit h a light coat of mustard, and apply dry rub – The BBQ Rub if you want the best 🙂

Inject with my pork injection recipe:

  • 1 cup Apple Juice
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Salt
  • 1 TBS Soy Sauce
  • 1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce

Smoke at 225 for 4-5 hours until it hits 160 degrees (baste every 2 hours as needed). Then once it hits 160 I wrap in aluminum foil and return to the smoker.

Pull it off when the final temp hits 190 and let it rest in a dry cooler wrapped in old towels for a couple hours.

Then it’s ready to pull and serve.

You can add an extra step in there and apply a glaze (a simple brown-sugar glaze is my favorite) after it hits 190.  Just pull back the foil, add your glaze and let it caramelize on top for 30 minutes… then it’s ready for a solid rest before serving.

Now if your looking for a more traditional Thanksgiving Ham…

You can always buy one that has already been cured and add smoke to it… Most people will buy these hams and bring them up to temp in an oven. But if you put the right glaze on one and bring it up to temp in your smoker, it’s a whole new world.

Here is my recipe for smoking a “Holiday Ham” 

Both types of hams are going to be delicious if you cook them properly, it just depends on what you want to cook this Thanksgiving.

Malcom Reed
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Comments 12

  1. Brining and curing my first whole ham this weekend. I have the whole back leg about 20lbs. Its been 12 days or so now and ready for Sunday. I Read that you can cook it at 325 to prevent the stall and the outcome will be the same in less time (4 to 5hrs). Just wondering if you’ve tried this on a green ham before and if so what the results were? Thanks.

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  2. Why do you go all the way to 190? Food Safety says it is fine at 165. Just wondering. Thinking about doing this to 170. Love your cooking.

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    2. When you take it to 190 or 205 it just makes the meat fall apart more easy what it does at 200 to 205 or 212 it just breaks the fat down turns it to liquid

  3. Hello

    Great Post! I have a 7lb fresh ham. Trying to plan out my times. Any idea of a proximate time for this size?

    Thank you.

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