How to Smoke a Ham on a Charcoal Grill for a Flavorful Feast

If you've ever wondered how to smoke a ham on a charcoal grill, you've come to the right place.

As an ardent outdoor enthusiast and today, we'll embark on a flavorful journey together.

This article is here to transform your grilling experience and take your home-cooked ham to the next level.

I promise you, the smoky, succulent taste of a well-smoked ham can make any feast unforgettable!

Just like the magic of campfires and forest rains, smoking a ham can transport you back to nature, all from your backyard.

So, buckle up, fellow food and outdoor lovers, let's fire up the charcoal grill and make some magic!

Understanding Ham and Its Types

Today, we'll dive into the mouth-watering world of ham and how to achieve that incredible smoky flavor using a charcoal grill. So, let's get started!

What is Ham: A Brief Introduction

To the uninitiated, ‘ham' is simply a common fixture on holiday tables or a simple sandwich filling. But to those of us who have a true passion for food, it's so much more. Ham, in essence, is a cut of meat from a hog's hind leg. While fresh ham is somewhat similar to a pork roast, what we typically refer to as ‘ham' is a leg that has been cured, and often smoked, which gives it a distinct flavor profile.

Types of Ham Suitable for Smoking

When it comes to smoking a ham, not all types are created equal. Some of the best candidates for your charcoal grill include:

  • City Ham: Also known as a wet-cured ham, city ham is brined and often partially or fully cooked before you even buy it. It's moist, flavorful, and a great candidate for smoking as the process can enhance its existing flavors.
  • Country Ham: A dry-cured ham that's typically smoked and aged. This Southern favorite is saltier and firmer than city ham, and smoking it can help to balance out its intense flavor.
  • Spiral Cut Ham: A pre-cooked and pre-sliced city ham, this variety's slices absorb the smoke beautifully and make serving a breeze.

Understanding Your Ingredients and Equipment

So, you're all set to smoke a ham on your charcoal grill. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's take a moment to better understand the key ingredients and tools that you'll need. Ensuring you're well-prepared can be the difference between a good ham and an unforgettable one!

Choosing Your Ham

If you're new to this, a city ham or a spiral-cut ham could be your best bet. They are pre-cooked, allowing you to focus more on perfecting the smoking process and less on the cooking itself. But if you're ready for a challenge, a fresh, uncooked country ham can provide a rich, savory flavor that's truly hard to beat.

Understanding Charcoal Grilling

Charcoal grilling is preferred for smoking ham due to the distinct, smoky flavor it imparts. This style of grilling is all about controlling heat and smoke. The charcoal provides a steady heat source, and by adding soaked wood chips, you can introduce that desirable smoky flavor. Plus, it allows for “indirect grilling” – a method where the food is cooked away from the direct heat, ideal for slow and low cooking like smoking a ham.

Necessary Equipment and Ingredients

To successfully smoke a ham on a charcoal grill, here's what you'll need:

  1. Charcoal Grill: A good-sized charcoal grill will provide you with the control you need for a perfect smoke.
  2. Charcoal: You'll need enough to maintain a consistent temperature for a few hours. Lump charcoal is a good choice due to its long burn time.
  3. Wood Chips: These add flavor to your smoke. Choices like hickory, apple, or mesquite can complement the flavor of the ham.
  4. Ham: Of course, the star of the show!
  5. Thermometer: A reliable meat thermometer ensures your ham is cooked to perfection.
  6. Tongs: For handling charcoals and wood chips.
  7. Aluminum Foil: Useful for wrapping the ham if it’s cooking too fast or for resting it after it's cooked.

Prepping Your Ham for Smoking

Preparing the ham for smoking is a pivotal part of the process. The preparation stage can greatly influence the end result, both in terms of taste and texture.

Preparing the Ham

First things first, rinse your ham under cold water and pat it dry. Scoring the ham (making shallow cuts in a diamond pattern across the surface) allows your chosen marinade or rub to penetrate deeper, thereby infusing more flavor. As for the marinade or rub itself, it can be as simple or complex as you like. A basic mix of honey, mustard, and some spices can work wonders. Apply it generously over your scored ham and let it marinate for a few hours, or better yet, overnight.

Preparing the Charcoal Grill

For the ideal smoking conditions, arrange your charcoal for indirect grilling. This means piling the charcoal on one side of the grill to create a hot zone and a cooler zone. Your ham will go on the cooler side, away from the direct heat. Control your grill's temperature by adjusting the air vents. For smoking a ham, you're aiming to maintain a temperature of around 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're using wood chips, soak them in water for about 30 minutes beforehand, then add them to the charcoal just before you're ready to start smoking. The chips will smolder, producing that smoky flavor we all love.

Step-By-Step Guide to Smoke a Ham on a Charcoal Grill

Ready to bring that mouth-watering, smoky, and deliciously glazed ham to your dinner table? Let's walk through the steps together, from prepping to smoking, to ensure you achieve that perfect, tender, and juicy ham on your charcoal grill.

Preparing Your Ham

How to Properly Season and Marinade Ham

First, score your ham in a diamond pattern. Then apply your marinade or rub generously. Remember, it's all about personal preference here. You can stick to a simple honey and mustard mixture or spice it up with some herbs and spices. Allow the ham to absorb the marinade for at least a few hours. Overnight is even better!

Preheating the Charcoal Grill

Preheat your grill by lighting the charcoal. Allow it to heat up until the charcoal is covered with white ash. This preheating process usually takes around 15-20 minutes.

Setting Up Your Charcoal Grill for Smoking

Charcoal Arrangement and Temperature Management

Arrange the charcoal on one side of the grill to create a two-zone grilling area: one hot, one cool. Place an aluminum pan filled with water in the cool zone to keep the ham moist during the smoking process. Regulate the temperature using your grill's vents. Aim for a steady temperature of around 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Adding Wood Chips for Smoke Flavor

Drain your soaked wood chips and add them to the hot coals. The smoldering wood chips will produce the smoke that flavors your ham.

Smoking Your Ham

Placing the Ham on the Grill

Place the ham on the cool side of the grill, away from the direct heat. Cover the grill and let the smoking begin.

Monitoring Temperature and Smoke Level

Check the grill temperature regularly to ensure it remains consistent. If it drops, add more charcoal. If it's too high, adjust the vents to limit airflow. Ensure the grill is always producing smoke. If it stops, add more wood chips.

Estimated Smoking Time

The smoking time depends on the size of your ham, but a good rule of thumb is about 20 minutes per pound. So, a 10-pound ham will roughly take 3.5 hours to smoke.

Checking the Ham’s Internal Temperature

Importance of Correct Internal Temperature

A key aspect of smoking ham is ensuring it reaches the correct internal temperature. This guarantees it's cooked to perfection and safe to eat.

How to Use a Meat Thermometer

Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the ham, without touching the bone. For a fully cooked ham, you're aiming for an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're smoking a fresh or “raw” ham, aim for an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Checking for Doneness

To check for doneness, in addition to verifying the temperature, look at the overall appearance and texture. The ham should have a deep brown color and the meat should feel firm to the touch. The juices should also run clear when pierced with a knife.

Resting and Slicing the Ham

Importance of Resting Time

Once your ham is smoked to perfection, remove it from the grill and let it rest for 15-20 minutes. This resting time allows the juices to redistribute throughout the ham, making it moist and flavorful.

Techniques for Properly Slicing the Smoked Ham

When slicing, use a sharp carving knife and cut perpendicular to the bone. If it's a spiral-cut ham, simply follow the existing cut lines. Serve your perfectly smoked ham with your favorite sides and enjoy!

Smoking a ham on a charcoal grill might seem like a challenging task, but with careful preparation and patient cooking, you'll have a tender, juicy, and cooked and cured ham that's well worth the effort.

After hours of patient smoking on the grill, the finished grilled ham glistened enticingly, promising a feast of incredible flavors and textures.

In short, to smoke a ham on a charcoal grill, you first prepare your ham and marinade, preheat your grill, manage the charcoal arrangement for optimal smoking, monitor the ham's internal temperature with a meat thermometer, and allow it to rest before carving.

Smoked Ham Recipe

Smoked Ham Recipe

Follow this straightforward recipe to create an unforgettable BBQ smoked ham experience right in your backyard!


To make your sensational smoked ham, you'll need:

  • 1 whole bone-in ham (10 to 12 pounds)
  • 2 cups of apple juice
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup of honey
  • 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

Preparation Method:

Before we venture into the heart of the cooking process, preparation is key. Start by scoring the surface of the ham in a diamond pattern, which helps the flavors penetrate deeper into the meat. Next, prepare the glaze. Combine the brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt in a saucepan. Heat it over medium heat until it is well combined and forms a thick glaze. Set this glaze aside – it will be our secret weapon to transform the ham into a succulent treat.

Step-by-step Instructions to Cook:

  1. Preheat your smoker: Get your smoker ready by preheating it to 225°F (107°C). Remember, low and slow is the mantra for smoking a perfect ham.
  2. Prep the Ham: Take the scored ham and place it in a disposable aluminum pan. This pan will catch any drippings and keep your smoker clean.
  3. Start the Smoking Process: Place the pan with the ham in the preheated smoker. Pour the apple juice into the pan around the ham – this will keep the ham moist during the smoking process.
  4. Smoke the Ham: Close the smoker and let the ham smoke for about 5 hours. The goal here is to get the internal temperature of the ham to 140°F (60°C). You can use a meat thermometer to keep track.
  5. Apply the Glaze: Now it's time for the glaze to make its grand entrance. Take the ham out of the smoker and apply the glaze all over its surface. Be generous – this glaze is what will give our ham its unique, mouthwatering flavor.
  6. Smoke Again: Return the glazed ham to the smoker and continue to cook for another hour until the glaze is beautifully caramelized and the internal temperature reaches 145°F (63°C).
  7. Rest and Serve: Remove the ham from the smoker and let it rest for about 15 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the ham, ensuring it's juicy and tender. After resting, slice and serve your masterpiece!

Number of Servings and Serving Size:

This Smoked Ham recipe serves around 10-12 people, depending on appetite, and is perfect for a family gathering or festive occasion.

Nutrition Facts Table:

For every serving, this fully cooked Smoked Ham dish offers the following nutritional values:

  • Calories: 500 kcal
  • Protein: 35g
  • Fat: 20g
  • Carbohydrates: 45g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 35g

Remember, these are approximate values, and individual needs may vary.

Post-Smoking Steps

Now that you've mastered the art of smoking a ham on a charcoal grill, let's delve into the post-smoking steps. From carving your masterpiece to preserving leftovers, these steps are just as crucial to ensure a delightful eating experience.

Resting and Carving Your Smoked Ham

After the smoking process, it's tempting to immediately dive into your succulent smoked ham. But patience, my friend! It's important to let the ham rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, enhancing its flavor and tenderness.

As for carving, ensure you use a sharp knife and cut perpendicular to the bone for the best slices. If you're dealing with a spiral-cut ham, follow the pre-cut lines.

Storing Leftover Smoked Ham

Proper storage of your leftover smoked ham is essential for maintaining its flavor and ensuring it's safe to eat later. You can refrigerate your leftover ham in airtight containers or tightly wrapped in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. It should keep well for 3-5 days. For longer storage, you can freeze it for up to 3-4 months.

Additional Tips for a Perfect Smoked Ham

Congratulations, you're nearly a pro at smoking ham on a charcoal grill! To help you level up, here are some additional pointers.

Common Problems When Smoking Ham and How to Solve Them

If you're experiencing trouble maintaining a consistent temperature on your charcoal grill, remember to adjust the vents. Wide open vents mean more oxygen, leading to higher heat. Partially closed vents restrict oxygen, reducing the heat.

Experiencing flare-ups? This could be due to fat drippings hitting the charcoals. To prevent this, ensure your ham is positioned in the cooler zone of your grill, away from direct heat.

Top Tips for Smoking Ham on a Charcoal Grill Like a Pro

  • Always preheat your grill for 15-20 minutes for optimal temperature.
  • Invest in a good meat thermometer. This is key for achieving the perfect internal temperature.
  • Don't skip the resting time after smoking. It's crucial for juicy, flavorful ham.

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How long does it take to smoke a ham with charcoal?

Smoking a ham with charcoal typically takes about 20 minutes per pound, so a 10-pound ham would require approximately 3 to 4 hours.

How do you smoke a precooked ham on a charcoal grill?

To smoke a precooked ham on a charcoal grill, preheat your grill to 225°F, place the ham directly on the grill grates, and maintain a consistent temperature until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 140°F.

Do you wrap a ham in foil to smoke?

While it's not necessary to wrap a ham in foil for smoking, doing so can help keep the ham moist and prevent the outside from burning or drying out.


Smoking a ham on a charcoal grill is not just about the destination (a delicious, smoky ham), but also about the journey (the joy of outdoor cooking and mastering a new skill).

So, what's next? Take these insights, tips, and guidelines, and start experimenting! Try different marinades, experiment with various types of wood chips for new flavors, or smoke a different type of meat.

Remember, the key to a perfect smoked ham is patience, practice, and your personal touch. Now, it's your turn to create memorable, smoky, and delectable dishes. Happy grilling, and let's savor the flavor of life, one smoked ham at a time!

Read next: How to Grill Pork Tenderloin

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Hey there, fellow explorers! This is Ovi Tanchangya, passionate blogger and avid outdoorsman. I want to share my thoughts about my past outdoor experiences, and of course, I will continue to do so. The past is very practical and can't be forgotten. I don't know which is unique about camping, but I can't forget the campfire smoke and the smell of the camp foods. When I am in mechanical society, I try to recall my memories by watching various camp videos and listening to the sound of the forest raining. And this is me.

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