Smoked Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze

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Smoked Ham is the perfect meal for any holiday, like Christmas or Easter dinner, or even to have on hand for sandwiches. This brown sugar glaze is absolutely incredible over the top of your smoked ham recipe.

Smoked Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze on a platter
Smoked ham with a brown sugar glaze is the perfect holiday roast.

Vindulge Highlights

  • This recipe can be used with a bone-in, spiral ham, or boneless ham and is perfect for a first time holiday meal.
  • Because ham is pre-cooked it’s all about heating it up and adding a ham glaze at the end for great flavor.
  • Cooking at lower temperatures allow you to add some smoke flavor. If the ham is smoked already you can also use our double-smoked ham recipe.

Smoking precooked ham is truly easy and a simple honey glaze is a great way to add incredible flavor. This is hands down the best ham recipe I’ve ever had, and I hope you and the people you cook it for feel the same way!

Recipe Ingredients

  • Whole Ham – You want a pre-cured ham. It can be whole bone-in or boneless, or spiralized.
  • Glaze – The glaze is made in advance and then applied at the end of the cooking process.
    • Butter – Ideally unsalted butter.
    • Shallots and Garlic – Soften them in the butter.
    • Brown Sugar – You can use dark or light. The molasses adds more flavor we like versus using cane sugar.
    • Apple Cider Vinegar – The acid balances the sweet and adds more depth of flavor.
    • Honey – Adds a thickness and natural sweetness to complement the sugar.
    • Dijon Mustard – We do not recommend swapping for yellow mustard so you get the wine and acidic flavors from Dijon.
    • Cayenne Pepper – It’s a nice heat to balance the glaze.
    • Kosher Salt- Helps bring all the flavor together.

What is Ham?

The ham comes from the rear leg of pork, or pork shank, versus the pork shoulder or pork butt. A ham is leaner than the shoulder and is most often cured before purchase. This recipe is focused on precooked ham that has been cured and cooked (or smoked) versus a fresh ham (uncured raw ham).

At the grocery store this type of ham may be labeled as the following:

  • Spiral Cut (or Spiralized) – This is ham that has been machined with a spiral shaped cut around the bone and is meant to make it easier to slice and serve.
  • Whole Ham Bone-In – This is a large bone-in ham and is best for large crowds of 10-20 and takes the longest time to cook. It is so large because it includes the entire shank, thigh, and potentially part of the pelvic area of the pig.
  • Half Ham Bone-In – This is often the upper portion or “butt” portion of the ham. This is great for modest crowd sizes of 8-10 and one you see commonly in stores.
  • Boneless – Boneless hams are machined or carved to give the ham shape but without the bone. They may be seen in stores as petite, mini, or even a half ham. Boneless are cured in the same style and are simply butchered or machined to be boneless. These are great when cooking for a smaller crowd less than 8 people.

Our favorite style of ham is the whole bone-in ham from Snake River Farms. You can read more about the style of ham and Kurobuta pork here. The flavor profile is tender, refined, and has a pronounced pork or bacon like flavor that needs no additional seasoning other than a finishing glaze.

How to Smoke a Ham

Smoking a pre-cooked ham is really about heating up the ham to an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (F) and then adding any additional flavor. There is no need for a brine or other preparation.

  1. Pat dry the ham prior to smoking.
  2. Smoke at 225 – 250 degrees F. Keeping the temperature low prevents drying out the ham.
  3. Make the honey glaze as the ham smokes.
  4. Glaze once when the ham reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees F, and continue cooking to allow the glaze to caramelize a bit.
  5. Remove the ham when the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F.
  6. Add final glaze to the ham as it rests. Tent loosely with foil for up to 30 minutes and then serve.

When smoking a ham keep the temperature at low heat, between 225 and 250 degrees F, to retain the moisture of the ham.

How to Smoke on a Traeger or Pellet Grill?

For any pellet grill, follow the same steps above versus using the smoke setting. The range for smoke is 160 – 180 degrees F, and will dramatically increase the smoke time with minimal additional smoke flavor.

Also consider adding a water pan to maintain humidity in the cooking chamber.

How to Smoke Ham on a Charcoal Grill?

If using a Kettle grill, start with an indirect heat setup. Use wood chips placed on the charcoal and keep the vents mostly closed to keep the airflow to a minimum.

Then place the ham over the indirect side and follow the same instructions.

How to Smoke on a Big Green Egg or Kamado Grill?

Follow the same steps as outlined above. Because of how efficient a Big Green Egg is, no water pan is needed. Keep the daisy wheel and the bottom vent almost completely closed after warm up to keep the temperature at 225 – 250 degrees F.

How to Smoke on a Yoder or Offset Smoker?

Follow the same steps as outlined above. When preheating smoker start with lump charcoal and then cook using just wood chunks or split logs. The embers from the wood will maintain the heat while the wood adds the flavor.

We recommend a water pan in an offset smoker with the vents fully open for airflow.

Smoked Ham with brown sugar glaze slices on a serving dish

How Long to Smoke a Ham

  • Plan 20 minutes per pound for a typical half or whole smoked ham to reach 140 degrees. The smaller the ham, say a petite or quarter ham, the faster it will cook. So be mindful of the size ham selected.
  • Spiral cut ham will take less time as the amount of ham that is exposed to the heat allows the heat to get into the area closer to the bone. So judge 15 minutes per pound for spiral cut ham.

Best Tool For Monitoring Temperature

For monitoring the ongoing temperature of ham without having to open the smoker use a good digital thermometer, like the Thermoworks Smoke Unit. It has a wireless monitor and you can see two zones, the ambient temperature of the cooker, and the internal temperature of the ham.

Taking temperature of a smoked ham with a Thermoworks digital thermometer

To probe around the ham, the other recommended tool is the Thermoworks Thermapen. This instant read thermometer is a great tool to make sure all of the ham has reached the safe internal temperature, versus just one portion the Smoke unit monitors.

How to Make Brown Sugar Glaze

Some variation of a brown sugar glaze for ham is a perfect pairing for this holiday meal. This is also why we don’t season the ham with a rub. You don’t need to with this ultra flavorful glaze!

In a medium size saucepan over medium heat add butter and let melt. Add shallots and sauté to soften but not caramelize (about 6 – 8 minutes). Then add garlic and sauté for additional 1 minute just to soften.

Finally add sugar, cider, honey, Dijon, cayenne, and salt to pan, slightly increase heat and bring to a simmer. Allow glaze to simmer for up to 10 minutes, taking care to not boil. The glaze will thicken as the sugar and liquids incorporate and slightly reduce.

a spoonful of brown sugar glaze for ham
Brown sugar and honey glaze can get thick. Add water if it needs to thin out.

Want something different for your glaze? Try our Double Smoked Ham with Cherry Bourbon Glaze.

Carving a smoked ham

Wine Pairing for your Holiday Smoked Ham Dinner

This ham has a slightly smoky and savory flavor, juicy and tender meat, with a sweet caramelized glaze. Because of this profile, there’s a wide range to choose from for your holiday dinner.

If you’re craving white wine you can’t go wrong with Riesling. It’s almost meant for a ham dinner! Alternatively, Rosé and Pinot Gris (Grigio) work nicely too with their bright fruity flavors. A bold Chardonnay, from California for example, can be really interesting with the caramelized brown sugar honey notes from that glaze.

For red wine Pinot Noir is one of my favorites, followed by Gamay (think Beaujolais), or for something a little more bold and fruity try a Zinfandel.

Slices of smoked ham with brown sugar glaze with a bottle of wine

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much ham per person?

Plan on 3/4 pound of pre-smoke weight ham per person. With sides, this is a couple of slices per person.

How do you keep a smoked ham from drying out?

Avoid overcooking the ham. To best do this be sure when cooking the smoked ham you are using a leave-in meat thermometer.

Do I need to soak a smoked ham?

No. Even if a ham is pre-brined there is no need to soak it first to remove the salt. And because it’s pre-cooked you just need to heat it up.

How long to smoke a 5 pound ham?

A 5-pound ham will generally take a little over 90 minutes or 20 minutes per pound.

How long to smoke a 10-pound ham?

Following the 20 minutes per pound rule a 10 pound ham will take 200 minutes or a little over 3 hours 20 minutes.

What if my smoked ham is done early?

If your smoked ham reaches the ideal temperature earlier than you want – then remove the ham from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil. Make the glaze and then glaze the ham just before serving so it doesn’t stick to the foil.

Expert Tip

Be sure you apply the glaze toward the end of the cooking process or it can burn and get bitter in the smoker.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftover slices of smoked ham in an airtight container in your refrigerator for up to five days or consider storing and freezing in a Food saver pack. It can last up to one year frozen.

The glaze can be made ahead up to one week or store for one week after making it.

To reheat:

  • Pan Sear – In a cast iron pan with olive oil or butter over medium heat add the slices or chunks of ham. Stir until browned and warm. Remove from heat, add more glaze and serve.
  • Oven – Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Wrap the smoked ham in aluminum foil. Place in the preheated oven for 15 minute or until warm. Remove and apply the glaze and serve.

What To Serve With Smoked Ham

Explore any of our side recipes or pick from some of our favorites.

More Holiday Recipes

Check out our full list of Christmas holiday roast ideas or select from some of our favorites.

Leftover Ideas

If you have leftover ham this recipe makes for the best smoked ham sandwiches or with our smoked Cuban sandwich. Or, if you want the ultimate breakfast, try our Smoked Ham Hash.

Or try our grilled ham and cheese sliders or ham quiche.

Tried this recipe? Give us a star rating and we would love to see! Mention @vindulge or use the hashtag #vindulge on all the social media handles. And consider subscribing to our newsletter where we drop all our favorite ideas and inspirations every week.

This recipe was originally published in December of 2019, and updated in October of 2022 with an updated FAQ. The original recipe remains the same.

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About Vindulge

Mary (a certified sommelier and recipe developer) and Sean (backyard pitmaster) are co-authors of the critically acclaimed cookbook, Fire + Wine, and have been creating content for the IACP nominated website Vindulge since 2009. They live in Oregon on a farm just outside Portland.

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4.72 from 35 votes

Smoked Ham Recipe

Smoked Ham is the perfect meal for any holiday, like Christmas or Easter dinner. This brown sugar glaze is absolutely incredible over the top of your smoked ham!
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 2 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total: 3 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 8 -10 people


Brown Sugar Honey Glaze

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons diced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup Dijon Mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon dried cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


How to Smoke Ham

  • Preheat smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit using a fruit wood, like apple or cherry.
  • Pat dry the ham and place a Bluetooth Thermometer probe, like the Thermoworks Smoke Unit, into the center of the ham but not touching the bone. Place ham on the smoker flat side of the ham down.
  • Smoke ham for 2 hours, or until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 130 degrees F. Apply one round of the glaze to the ham with a silicone brush. Continue smoking an additional 30 minutes or until the ham reaches 140 degrees F and then remove.
  • Glaze the ham a second time and loosely tent with foil. Let rest 30 minutes prior to slicing. After 30 minutes slice the ham and serve.

For the Brown Sugar Honey Glaze

  • In a medium size saucepan over medium heat add butter and let melt. Add shallots and sauté to soften but not caramelize (about 6 – 8 minutes). Add garlic and sauté for additional 1 minute just to soften.
  • Add sugar, cider, honey, Dijon, cayenne, and salt to pan, slightly increase heat and bring to a simmer. Allow glaze to simmer for up to 10 minutes, taking care to not boil. The glaze will thicken as the sugar and liquids incorporate and slightly reduce.
  • Can be made while ham is close to done.



Note About the Glaze: If the glaze gets too thick, then simply add 1 tablespoon of warm water at a time to glaze and stir to desired consistency. F
If the Smoked Ham is done early: Wrap in parchment paper or foil and store in a cooler with no ice. This will keep the ham warm for up to four hours if not opened. Glaze the second time when you are about to serve. Otherwise the glaze will stick to the parchment paper or foil.


Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 95mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 49g | Vitamin A: 181IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Course: Entree, Holiday
Cuisine: American, bbq
Servings: 8 -10 people
Calories: 250
Keyword: Honey Glazed Ham, how to smoke a ham, Smoked Ham, Smoked Ham Recipe
Like this recipe? Leave a comment below!

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About Mary

I'm Mary, a wine/food/travel writer, Certified Sommelier, mom of twins, former vegetarian turned BBQ fanatic, runner, founder of Vindulge, and author of Fire + Wine cookbook. Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. The best method if it’s sliced is to use a sheet pan and a cookie drying rack if you have it. Place the cookie drying rack in the sheet pan and add a small amount of chicken stock. Add the slices of ham and cover with foil. Bake at 325 for about 12 minutes or until the ham is warm.

    1. Joe, on average it will take 20 minutes per pound to smoke a ham. So plan roughly 7 hours. However, with a 20 pound ham assuming it’s bone in, the ambient temperature of the ham will rise very quickly in the 5th hour. So take the internal temperature often at the 5th hour to see if it hits 135 to 140 and pull it as soon as it hits 140. Hold the ham in a cooler with no ice if it does get done early. Carry over cooking will still occur another 5 to 7 degrees while resting in a cooler. So pull it accordingly. That’s why the cooler is a great way to let it rest and finish because you can hold the meat for up to 4 hours.

  1. 5 stars
    This recipe was EXACTLY what I was looking for! This one is definitely my recommendation for most people looking to.

  2. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe. My ham in my Grilla Grill cam out perfect. The glaze is outstanding. My whole family loved it. Question: Do you know where I can get the cast iron basting sauce pot used in the video? I really would like to get one.

    1. Dan thank you for the feed back! The sauce pan is a Finex, we love it. Based in Portland Oregon. It’s a tank and does well over high heat like grilling.