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 Connect on Facebook Follow me on Twitter Subscribe to my YouTube Channel Find me on Google+ Follow me on Instagram Buy Killer Hogs Products Here

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21 responses to “Smoking a Fresh Ham”

  1. Jeff says:

    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.

  2. Staci says:

    How long do you think a 20 lb ham will take? Does it stall like a pork shoulder?

  3. Matt says:

    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.

    • Malcom Reed says:

      For a fresh ham you can take it to 165 – but it will be tough. I like to take it to a higher temp so it will really render all the fat and pull (like pulled pork BBQ).

      • Al Robinette says:

        Hi Malcom,
        I am smoking my first raw ham that we want for Easter and want to slice it and not pull it. Would you still recommend taking it to 190? This is my first time doing this. Also this has skin on which is a new twist for me. Thank for all you do I have learned a ton from your videos and podcast.

    • Scott Hastings says:

      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

  4. Vinnie Andrews says:


    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.

  5. Tracy Woody says:

    Do you need to brine a fresh ham before smoking?

  6. Bill Haynie says:

    Malcom, I love all your videos and I go to them each time I cook something different just to see how you do it. I’ve never have had a bad piece of meat to turn out bad unless I try and add a little something to it. I have learned to do it like you say. I look forward to meeting you some day.

    Smokin in Arkansas
    Bill H

  7. Don says:

    If I combine a green ham with a pork shoulder will it give me something akin to whole hog pulled pork?

    • Malcom Reed says:

      You could. I think the whole shoulder by it self will produce better pulled pork. You could leave some skin on the whole shoulder and cook it low and slow to render as much as possible and turn out a great product. You can’t go wrong either way.

  8. GEORGE says:

    Do you use that injection right before smoking?

  9. Steve says:

    I cured a 18 lb ham getting ready to put on smoker. The cure pack came with plastic netting what temp would you recommend. Using brinkman electric vertical smoker. ( will netting melt if to hot?)

  10. William Edward Kahler says:

    Do you have a video on this one? This is different then your Chipotle spiral sliced ham correct? We get ham from our hogs and they “smoke and cure” them at the butcher but they always turn out dry. Thinking I need to try your injection make will solve my problem, any input?

  11. Ron williams says:

    Thanks so much love your cooking

  12. Norma says:

    I have a 2.12 lb green ham steak from my 1/2 pig. Can I just follow the instructions, but smoke for around 1.5 hours, then rest for about 1 hour? Thoughts? Thanks!

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