Whether it's for Easter, Christmas, or no particular reason at all, a ham at the dinner table is a staple of a dining experience that should be remembered.
Like a turkey, a ham has a presence – and aroma – that's unmistakable and holds a certain command that takes center stage.
The only thing better than a standard baked ham is a smoked ham, if we do say so ourselves.
Giving a unique flavor boost to a standard for special occasions – and freeing your oven for preparing other dishes – a smoked ham takes a traditional dish to the next level.
Whether you've never smoked a ham or you’ve smoked 100, here's our Smokin' Ugly Drum Smoker Sweet Brown Ham recipe:
Preparing to Smoke the Perfect Ham
Not to do the thing where you have to read a novel to get to the smoked meat recipe (jump down to the recipe), but, we did want to spend a few minutes on a couple of key items – your selections for:
- Smoking wood
1. Ham Choice
When it comes to choosing a ham for smoking, walk into any grocery store and you'll find plenty of options: raw, cooked, spiral, wet cured, dry cured, and the list goes on.
For our purposes, we're going to go with a bone-in, wet-cured ham, such as a shank-end city ham.
For starters, this is one of the most common hams you'll find in the meat section. Wet-cured hams are pre-brined and cooked – making it an easier and faster smoke that still gets great results. Ultimately, you're giving a low stake, yet big boost to the meat's flavor profile.
A quick detour – we promise.
While it's absolutely possible to achieve the same with a raw ham, the main deterrent is the amount of time it takes. To do it right, a raw ham should be cured before it hits the smoker – a process that takes about a week to complete. By no means are we knocking going the more traditional route – smoked raw hams produce a great final product. Using a pre-cooked ham just starts you closer to the finish line.
We also recommend selecting a ham that has a bit more fat on it. During the smoking process, the fat will render, but in its wake add to the meat's flavor profile.
As for the bone – it helps the ham hold its shape while still providing a good amount of flavor to the meat itself. As an added bonus, the bone does provide a guide of sorts when carving the meat.
2. Smoking Wood
When it comes to wood options for your smoker, you have several choices: applewood, hickory, oak, cherry, and more. Each has its own unique taste profile.
For our ham, we come back to the same smoking wood we use for the rest of the swine: hickory.
Its strong, hearty flavor and robust aroma work perfectly with ham's sweet yet salty natural flavor. Hickory smoke will give your ham a nice smoky flavor without overpowering it. Plus, hickory has a natural sweetness that helps balance out the salty flavors of the ham.
If hickory doesn’t whet your appetite, we suggest applewood as an alternative. Like hickory, applewood has a sweet, mild flavor and aroma that provides a subtle smokiness to the ham. It also helps to balance out the salty flavors of the ham and adds extra sweetness for an enjoyable taste. Additionally, applewood's thickness allows it to burn longer than most other smoking woods, making it perfect for smoking over long periods of time without losing intensity in flavor.
Recipe for Smoker: Sweet Brown Ham Recipe
With the prerequisites out of the way, let's get to our recipe.
Actually, one other FYI (last one, we promise) as far as difficulty goes, this is a fairly easy smoker recipe. But like all BBQ smoker recipes, the best smoker recipe is the one you come up with and enjoy. Don’t be afraid to take this recipe and tweak it to make it your own – we’d love to hear what you did and how it turned out!
- 10-14lb ham
- Sweet Brown Rub
For the Sweet Brown Rub
- 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons of garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon of ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- A pinch of sea salt
The Night Before
- Remove ham from its packaging, rinse, and pat dry.
- With a knife, score the outside of the ham in a criss-cross pattern.
- In a small bowl, combine the rub ingredients and mix well.
- Apply a thin coat of mustard to the meat (for those who have a distaste for mustard, don't worry: the mustard flavor will go away during the smoke).
- Coat the ham with your rub. Unlike with other meats, don't be afraid to work in the rub.
- Cover ham with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
The Day of
- Preheat the smoker to 225℉
- Soak hickory wood chips in warm water for at least 30 minutes before using them in the smoker.
- Place the prepared ham on the top grate of your smoker, then place 2 – 3 handfuls of wet hickory chips directly onto hot coals or over a gas burner if using a gas smoker.
- Close the lid and maintain 225℉ throughout the smoking process, adding more wood chips as needed to maintain this temperature and keep producing smoke until you reach an internal temperature of 145℉ in the thickest part of the ham when tested with an instant-read thermometer. This should take about two hours per pound of meat, but you can monitor it as it smokes to ensure you don’t overcook it or run out of fuel/wood chips too soon!
- Once you’ve reached 145℉, wrap your smoked ham in aluminum foil and allow it to rest for 30 minutes in order to continue cooking without drying out any further (it will reach its optimal temperature after resting). After resting, remove from foil and enjoy!
Sweet Brown Ham: A Crowd Pleaser
Smoking a ham is an easy way to add a wonderful flavor to your special occasion feast. Whether you're using hickory or applewood for smokey undertones, our sweet brown rub adds just enough sweetness without overpowering the natural flavors of the ham or smoke.
Want more recipes?
Download our Smokin' Ugly Cookbook