How to Smoke a Fresh Ham: A Complete Method

Fresh smoked ham, also called a green ham, is different from the ones that you can buy at the supermarket. It’s a cut from the pork’s hind leg, and it can be cooked whole.

After reading this article, you’ll know how to cook a green ham. It’s one of the best meats for smoking during the festive season. How long is the process? What temperature is ideal for smoking green ham? And can you use an electric smoker? Let’s dive into it one by one, so you can make delicious and flavorful smoked fresh ham just in time for the holidays.

How Long Does it Take to Cook?

Christmas ham

As Christmas is nearing, there’s no doubt you’re already preparing for a festive meal. You might have finally baked that perfect Yorkshire pudding. And the heirloom recipe of Christmas pudding will always be a sweet ending to a full meal. And of course, a fresh smoked ham– Christmas won’t be complete without a tender and juicy slice of it!

Smoking a raw ham may seem intimidating, but it’s not. You just need to know the proper techniques. After all, there’s always something special with a homemade meal.

Why smoke your ham? Because you can!

Let’s see how long does it take to cook one festive piece of pork. Get ready because it’s going to be a long but gastronomically fulfilling day!

The length of cooking time mostly depends on how big the cut of the meat is. A large one would entail more cooking time. It’s crucial to cook the meat thoroughly. Eating undercooked hams can put you at risk of getting pork tapeworms, among others. You surely wouldn’t want your guests to get any gastrointestinal problems as well. Undercooked pork, like a bad meat or steak, can be a home to a ton of bacteria and microorganisms.

So to be sure that your ham is cooked to perfection (and can be eaten safely too), follow the USDA chart below:

Cut of uncooked fresh hamWeight (lbs)Minutes/lb
Whole leg, bone-in12-1622-26
Whole leg, boneless10-1424-28
Half, bone-in5-835-40

Cooking the raw ham at the recommended time is just as important as the temperature. At what temperature should you smoke green ham? Keep scrolling.

At What Temperature do you Smoke Raw Ham?

raw ham

Smoking the raw ham at the recommended temperature is exceptionally crucial. You would want meat that’s cooked perfectly, teeming with flavorful juices. Smoking it above the recommended degrees can result in a tough meat that has lost its flavor. And, you wouldn’t get the desired flavor with an undercooked ham. A specific temperature is needed to extract all the meaty juices: the result is a tender and juicy smoked food filled with wonderful roasted pork flavors.

You should smoke uncooked hams at around 225 degrees Fahrenheit. That should be the temperature of your smoker- you should maintain this temperature at all times. Either you add more wood chips to increase it or open the vent once it gets too hot. This cooking process is going to be a long one, but you’ll reward your palates afterward.

Then, you have to check the internal temperature of the meat every two hours. The internal temperature should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. You can check it by inserting a cooking thermometer at the deepest part of the meat (just make sure not to touch the bone). Usually, this will take about 4-5 hours, but it will also depend on the cut of the meat that you used. Once it reached the 160-degree mark, pull it out of the oven, wrap it in aluminum foil, and smoke again for the glaze.

You need to check the temperature every hour. And once it hits 190 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the oven and let cool. If you want to add a sweet note to it, glaze it: simply brush the syrup on top of the pork 30 minutes before taking it out of the smoker.

Now let’s smoke some good old fashioned fresh ham! Your electric smoker can do just the trick.

How to Smoke Fresh Ham in an Electric Smoker

Smoking raw fresh ham may take a bit more time. It also requires checking the temperature from time to time. But mouthwatering and tender meat is well worth the struggles. When everyone else is just buying cured hams from the grocery, you’ll be making yours. That, on its own, is already an accomplishment.

How to cook ham? Just follow these simple steps:

1. Prepare the meat

Rinse the pork thoroughly. Pat dry. Make sure that you remove all the excess moisture.

To prepare the pork, you have to infuse it with flavors. There are two ways to do that – dry brining and wet brining. What differentiates the former from the latter? Wet brining requires a liquid agent, hence the name.

Flavor the meat using dry brining


How do you brine meat? A simple dry spice rub consists of kosher salt, thyme, ground pepper, and powdered garlic, but you may also use any spices that you want. Or you may let your palates dictate what flavors you’d want to add to your ham. After all, it’s your homemade recipe.

Apart from ham, you may also use pork loin cuts. It has less fat than the ham, so it’s perfect for those looking for a leaner alternative.

With a sharp knife, cut diamond shape patterns on top of the meat, from the skin to the fat. That would be around 1.4 inches deep. Just make sure not to touch the meat itself. The diamond shape cuts add more contact surface area to the meat- meaning, more room for all those amazing flavors to cling. Now all you have to do is apply the dry rub mixture to the flesh. Make sure that you cover all the nooks and crannies!

Infusing flavors with a wet brine


A simple brine mixture would consist of water, kosher salt, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, apple juice, and maple syrup. You can use any of the ingredients to mix up a concoction according to your preference.

You can use a wet brine in two ways. One, by soaking the entire raw ham into the brine. Best to leave it for at least a day in the fridge, for that will soak up all those amazing flavors. And two, you can inject the brine solution into the meat before smoking.

2. It’s now time to cook

charcoal grill

Time to cook the green ham!

Set your electric smoker to the desired temperature, making sure that you maintain it at all times. Once the temperature reaches 225 degrees, put the meat in the smoker, and shut the lid.

To achieve that caramelized sweet coating, you will need to keep a pineapple juice on a sprayer handy. Every one hour or so, carefully open the lid and mist the top of the meat with the liquid. As the tasty juices flow out of the pork and the pineapple caramelizes, it’s going to bring out a classic roasted flavor.

3. Final glaze


Make sure to check the internal temperature of the meat for doneness. You can add pineapple glaze to the pork 30 minutes before it’s fully cooked. Not only would this impart additional flavor, but it would also make it look more festive. You can also decorate it with fresh pineapple rounds and cherries to make it more holiday-worthy. Although the taste itself is enough for the yuletide season, it won’t hurt to add a little bit more Christmas feel to it.

Once it reaches the desired temperature, then you have a festive ham waiting for you for dinner. Remember to let it rest for 5 minutes before serving it- never cut it while it’s still hot. Doing so may result in the loss of flavors that you worked so hard to produce. If you can’t wait to devour it, you may dry cool it: just wrap it in cold towels to take the temperature down a notch.

Wrapping Up

Nothing’s better than home-cooked, succulent fresh smoked ham. While the cured hams from the grocery can be quite convenient, it can be too salty too. Smoking your meat gives you more liberty- it gives you options on what flavors to use. And it also allows you to grant everyone’s wish for a festive holiday meal.

No Christmas would be complete without a piece of fresh ham at the dinner table. You can cook it in big batches too. Then you’ll have more smoked pork for your pulled pork sandwich. It’s quite a tasty meal.

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