How to Smoke a Fresh Ham? – Perfect Method

When you finish smoking a fresh ham, it should be caramelized, meaty, succulent, and bursting with tastiness. A fresh ham is not only large, but it also gives you countless ways to season it. It may be daunting to think of all required in smoking. What dry rub do you use, what is the best cut to smoke? Should I add any seasonings? What smoker do I need?

In today’s guide, we put all your fears to rest. We will walk you through the tips, ingredients, and the best way to smoke a fresh ham. Let’s start by setting some things straight.

What is fresh Ham?

With many available types of Ham, it’s easy to get confused. In simple terms, fresh Ham, also known as green Ham, is a type of cut that’s not cured, smoked, or cooked in any way. Basically, it’s raw, straight from the farm. That’s why it is vital to ensure that you cook the fresh Ham until the inside temperature is right.

Fresh Ham is sold in two halves from the rear leg of a pig. The two halves are known as the shank portion ham and the butt portion ham. The shank portion ham has a larger backbone while the butt portion ham is meatier.

How long does it take to smoke a fresh ham?

As earlier stated, you need to thoroughly cook fresh Ham as it is raw. Smoking a fresh ham can take up to 5 hours, depending on the size you are using—the one thing to put in mind when cooking is the temperatures. 

Your smoker’s recommended temperature should be between 225- 230 F for the fresh Ham to cook perfectly without burning. Temperatures should reach 160- 170 F for the internal to cook thoroughly. 

What will you need to smoke a perfect fresh ham?

As with any cooking, having the right equipment saves you time and helps your cooking turn out as you hoped. For smoking a fresh ham, some equipment is crucial to have. Here is what you will need for smoking.

Smoker– For this recipe, we will be using a charcoal smoker. You could also opt to use your pellet, electric, or gas smoker. 

A big bag of charcoal. Make sure to set aside enough as you may need to add some more. A fresh ham does take a considerable amount to cook. You want to ensure that there’s enough fire to cook it all.

Meat thermometer– It’s essential to ensure that you hit the right internal temperature for your fresh smoked Ham. Raw meat is not a pretty gift to your health!

Wood chunks– To get a smokey, succulent tasting meat, you will need something to build up the smoke. Wood chunks are an ideal choice. For the flavors, pecan, applewood, and cherry wood chunks are a popular choice. What you use depends on the smokey flavors that you want to achieve. Alternatively, you can get creative and use a mixture of different flavored wood chunks.

Injector– This is optional equipment, but one we recommend. It allows you to get your flavorings, deep, all through a fresh ham for better-tasting meat.

Uncured fresh Ham– try to buy a boneless cut.

How to smoke a fresh ham: A simple charcoal smoker method

Course: Snack

Cuisine: American

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 5 hours

Total time: 5hrs 30 minutes

serves: 5  people

Step 1: Prepare your smoker.

Using a charcoal chimney starter to light your smoker is efficient, saves you time and frustrations. Add in ample charcoal amounts to your smoker and wait until ash starts to form over it, and the charcoal turns red hot. Add your soaked wood chunks and close the lid. The temperatures should be between 225-230 F when smoking a fresh ham.

Note: We need to soak the wood chunks overnight or 30 minutes before adding them to the smoker. Soaking ensures that they keep smoking without burning.

To prevent the Ham from drying out, put a pan of water on one of the racks. If your smoker has an in-built water pan, add the water.

Step 2: Get your fresh Ham ready for smoking.

The first step is to ensure that the Ham is clean. Rinse it and pat dry to remove all the moisture. Next, you need to infuse flavors. Cut ¼ inch deep shapes on the fresh Ham’s skin without cutting the meat.

These cuttings will let the flavors infuse into the meat and give out a fantastic taste. Next, apply dry rub ingredients of your choice, and coat the Ham entirely.

For the dry rub, use:

  • 1tbs kosher salt
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • 1tbsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp onion powder
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • Any other spice that fits your preference.

Alternatively, use an injector to infuse wet brine flavors into the Ham. This allows for the Ham, including the inside, to soak up all the flavors. This is optional, but we recommend trying it out.

What to use in the injection recipe

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • 2tbs honey

Step 3: It’s time to smoke your fresh Ham.

To start, ensure that the temperature is around 225 F. Now, place the Ham on the grate and close the smoker’s lid. Every one hour, spray the smoking ham with pineapple juice to prevent your dry rub from drying. The juice also adds more sugar and enables the skin to caramelize into a deep golden brown color.

Add charcoal and wood chunks as necessary.

Step 4: Wrap with foil.

When the internal temperature hits 160 F, wrap your smoked Ham with aluminum foil and continue cooking on the smoker. This will help the inside to be cooked evenly without burning the caramelized skin.

Step 5: Remove, cool, and serve

Once the temperatures are at the recommended point, remove the smoked Ham, and rest for 10 minutes. This helps to distribute the meat juices evenly and gives you tender meat when carving. After the 10 minutes are over, it’s time to serve the smoked fresh Ham.


There you have it—a simple method of preparing smoked fresh Ham. As long as you get the temperatures right and use a good combination of ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong with this recipe.

Did you try out the recipe? Let us know how your recipe turned out in the comments.