Smoked Ham Recipe - with Apple Glaze and Marinade
Looking for a great smoked ham recipe? With Thanksgiving not too far in the future, you might be thinking about Thanksgiving Day recipes. This smoked ham is so yummy that you’ll want to add it to your great Thanksgiving recipes. Of course, it would also be the perfect Christmas ham. Hubby and I made one of these today, and the daughters, sons-in-laws, and grandkids came over for lunch. We cooked just a half ham – the butt portion, and it was more than enough to feed everyone, with leftovers. That’s eight adults and eight kids. Number nine grandchild is too young to chew. A ham is a great way to feed a crowd, especially when you can find them on sale. This one, a bone in ham, was $1.29 per pound. I think that’s a real bargain, and it’s even better when the sale price drops to .99 per pound, which it does, occasionally. That’s when I buy a couple for the freezer. We even love the leftovers – for sandwiches, soups, salads, casseroles, and to stuff into hot biscuits. You’ll find this yummy smoked ham recipe below.
Cooking a Smoked Ham
Want to know how to cook a ham? If you’re not experienced with cooking a smoked ham, there are a couple of methods you can use. Most people like baking it in the oven. If the ham is sliced, you might prefer frying it in a skillet. Of course, you can’t do that with a whole or half ham, so you basically have two choices for how to cook a big ham – oven baked or on a meat smoker. If you have a smoker, I strongly suggest using it for your ham.
If you’re cooking a smoked ham in the oven, it needs to cook to an internal temperature of 145 degrees and rest at room temperature for at least 5 minutes before carving. Bake in the oven at 325 degrees. A whole bone in ham should cook for about 20 minutes per pound, and a half ham with the bone needs to cook for around 35 minutes per pound. Checking the internal temperature is a better way to know when your ham is safe to eat. According to the USDA guidelines, 145 degrees is the safe internal temperature for ham, along with a few minutes at room temperature.
Baked ham is good, but after you learn how to cook a ham on a smoker, that’s the only way you’re going to want to do it. I find that cooking meats on the smoker are great Thanksgiving recipes. Not only do they taste great, but it also leaves my oven free for cooking side dishes and desserts. My husband is lost in the kitchen, but he sure is handy with a meat smoker!
Smoking a Ham in a Smoker
Smoking a ham in a smoker is the best way to cook a ham, in my opinion. Believe me – I have many, many people who have sampled this smoked ham recipe who will all agree heartily with this assertion. You might be thinking that smoking a ham in a smoker when the ham has already been smoked or cured is redundant, right? That’s sort of what I thought when I heard about this process years ago, but after tasting a ham cooked this way, I was completely sold. In fact, it’s extremely rare for me to bake a bone in ham in the oven now.
Smoking a ham in a smoker gives the pork a wonderful smokiness. Even when you buy a smoked ham that’s supposedly already been smoked, the smoke flavor can be mild or practically nonexistent. That’s because some “smoked” hams don’t really spend much, if any, time in a smokehouse. They might contain only smoke flavoring. On a smoker, the meat is exposed to real wood smoke. What type of wood you use is a matter of personal preference. We use pecan twigs because they're free, and they give the meat a really nice flavor.
When we cook a ham on our smoker, we use moist heat, accomplished with a water pan. The ham smokes low and slow, as it’s bathed in the vapors from the water pan. You can use water, of course, or you can choose something that will give your smoked ham even more flavor. For this particular recipe, we fill the pan with apple juice. The apple flavor is subtle, but it’s definitely present.
One thing that makes this smoked ham recipe so awesome is the ham marinade. I don’t know why more cooks don’t use a good ham marinade when they’re cooking a smoked ham. It sure does make a difference! Not only does it add flavor, it also keeps the ham super moist. By the way, I leave the ham in the marinade all night.
Most marinades contain an acidic liquid to act as a tenderizer, but ham is already tender, so this ham marinade doesn’t need a lot of acid. Marinades for drier meats might use some type of oil, too, but ham usually contains enough fat to ensure that it doesn’t get dry when being cooked. Because of that, ham marinade doesn’t need any oil, either.
Ham Marinade Recipe
This ham marinade recipe is enough for a half ham. If you're cooking a whole ham, double the recipe, but I don't recommend this. A half ham has more surface area, so it soaks up more marinade. If you've purchased a whole ham, have the butcher cut it in half for you. Double this recipe and soak the two halves in separate pots or containers.
2 quarts apple juice
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cloves
Directions: Combine all three ingredients in a tall pot. Stir until brown sugar dissolves.
Place ham in pot. Marinate in fridge for 8-12 hours or overnight. Halfway through, turn the ham over so the other half can marinate.
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- 1/2 bone in ham, either portion
- ham marinade, (recipe above)
- apple juice
- wood chips, chunks, or twigs
- ham glaze, (recipe below)
- Remove the hide from the ham, if present. This is the tough, thick skin. Trim it closely, leaving on the layer of fat. The fat will help keep the meat juicy.
- Make the ham marinade from the above recipe. Place the ham in a pot with the marinade and cover loosely with foil. Leave in refrigerator for at least 8 hours. Turn ham over halfway through.
- An hour before you’re ready to start the smoker, soak the wood in apple juice or water. The wood needs to soak for about one hour. After a good soak, place the wood on the smoker’s burner.
- Fill the smoker’s water pan with apple juice or water. Start the smoker.
- Remove the ham from the marinade and let excess drip away. Let meat sit at room temp for about 15 minutes.
- When the smoker is going good, place ham on top rack and close lid. Depending on your smoker and on the size of the smoked ham, it’ll take 8-12 hours to cook. Use a meat thermometer to know when it’s ready. The internal temp should reach 140 degrees. Safe temp for eating is 145 degrees, but the ham is going in the oven for a short trip, so the temperature will rise.
- Once the ham reaches 140 degrees, remove it from the smoker and place on a shallow baking pan lined with heavy foil. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Brush ham liberally with ham glaze and put the ham in the oven.
- After 15 minutes in the oven, brush on more glaze and cook for another 15 minutes. Add more glaze.
- Remove ham from oven and cover loosely with a foil tent. Allow meat to sit at room temp for 10 minutes.
- Remove foil and add one final layer of ham glaze.
Recipe for Ham Glaze
This recipe for ham glaze is pretty quick and easy to make, and the ingredients are simple. In fact, there are only four ingredients. As you cook the glaze, it will thicken. You need to brush several layers on the ham to ensure a thick covering. As it cools some, the glaze will harden somewhat. Just be sure to stir the mixture constantly once it begins to boil. You don’t want to scorch the sugar.
½ cup apple juice
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons ground cloves
Directions: Add ingredients to a small pan and turn burner on medium-high. When mixture begins to boil, reduce heat to medium. Stir constantly. Boil slowly for five minutes. Remove from heat.