Just a few simple steps is all it takes to learn How to Make Double Smoked Ham for the holidays. The extra smoke along with the Bourbon Glaze makes this ham the showcase of any holiday table with minimal effort for the chef.
🍽️ Why This Works
Simple | This ham will be one of the easiest things you will ever smoke. The meat is prepped from the butcher so you only have to spend 2-3 minutes to get it ready for the smoker. This is pre-smoked and pre-cooked ham so you are simply adding in additional smoke and glaze to take it up a couple of notches in flavor.
Perfect for Holidays | Put this smoked ham recipe on the top of your list when you want to make the main dish for holidays. Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Years and Easter all quickly come to mind as times when we gather friends and family and want those show-stopper meals. This one never disappoints.
Flexible Glaze | Whether you like this Bourbon glaze or have a tried and true Grandma’s favorite, learning the techniques of twice smoking is all you really need to make this family favorite. You can always experiment with the glaze ingredients for new and exciting flavors!
⏲️ Equipment and Tools
Smoker or Grill – We usually rely on the Big Green Egg or the Traeger. Other models such as Camp Chef, Char Broil, Costco Smoker, or Masterbuilt will get the job done. You can even use a pellet grill, a gas grill, or a charcoal grill as long as they are equipped with a smoker box.
Cast Iron Skillet – This is the most used tool in my BBQ kit. They are inexpensive and last forever! If you don’t want to clean up afterward, use a disposable aluminum pan instead. When you are done, just throw it away.
Wood Chips – I recommend sticking with a fruitwood like apple or cherry, but if you have smoked ham before, and want to try something a bit more robust, go for hickory, pecan, or even mesquite.
Ham | Order a whole or half ham that is labeled “pre-cooked” or “ready to eat” to know you are getting a true precooked cut. If you are unsure, ask the butcher what version it is. We chose to go straight to the butcher for this one vs picking one up from Costco. We did love that the ham wasn’t as salty as some can be, but we have smoked ham from Costco as well and they turn out fabulous.
Note: You can choose a bone-in ham or boneless. This technique can be used for a spiral cut ham as well. You wouldn’t cross hatch it, obviously but I would consider tenting it with aluminum foil as there are so many places for it to dry out.
Bourbon | We love to use Bourbon in our recipes as it gives them a nice sweet flavor with a little punch. If you don’t want to use bourbon, leave it out and substitute extra fluids from either apple or orange juice. You can use some honey as well for some additional sweetness.
Orange | The oranges in this recipe will infuse a little (but not a lot, so lower expectations that it will have an orange taste all over) flavor to the bottom of the ham where it rests on the cast iron skillet. If you want more of an orange flavor, substitute the orange juice for the apple that is called for so you can achieve a stronger taste.
🍖What Is Ham?
Ham is pork meat that comes from the rear leg of the animal. Typically ham is cured, but it can also be smoked, and/or seasoned.
You can find several varieties of ham in grocery stores and butcher shops: boneless, bone-in, sliced, or spiral cut.
For bone-in, there are two types of hams: shank hams and butt end hams. The butt end ham often sold as a “half ham bone-in” is fattier and more flavorful. The T-shaped bone makes it more difficult to cut around.
For this recipe, we’re using pre-cooked bone-in ham, hence the name “double smoked”.
Step One: Heat the smoker up to 225°F. Choose your favorite smoking wood. Always remember that hickory and mesquite are going to infuse the strongest smoke flavor. If you have questions, refer to the Wood Smoking Cheatsheet.
Step Two: Slice oranges and lay in the bottom of the cast iron skillet. Pour the apple juice over the top.
Step Three: If the ham is in plastic wrapping, remove it and pat the ham dry with paper towels. Cross hatch slice the ham about two inches deep in a diamond pattern to allow more surface area to achieve the smoke taste. If your ham is spiral sliced, skip this step. Place the ham on top of orange slices. Place the entire cast iron on the grill and smoke uncovered for about two hours.
If you would be smoking this ham directly on the grill grates, it would have to be on indirect heat. With our method, the cast iron which is an excellent heat conductor will cook the ham but also shield it from direct heat.
Step Four: Combine the brown sugar, bourbon, orange juice, cinnamon and orange zest into a bowl and stir.
Note: If you want it thicker, heat it in a small saucepan over medium heat on the stove to allow it to thicken. Bring it to a boil and let it cool. Once it is cooled, the glaze will thicken. We love it thin as it sneaks into all the crevices on the ham as it smokes. It’s all up to you.
Step Five: At the two-hour mark, increase the temperature to 300°F and continue to smoke the ham for an additional two hours or until the meat thermometer reaches about 115-120 degrees. At this point, start brushing the ham glaze multiple times and allow the ham to absorb it. Brush the glaze on a couple of times as it will get sticky and really pack on the flavor. Remove and tent for 10-15 minutes.
❗ Expert Tips
The orange slices (you can use lemon as well) will elevate the ham off the bottom of the cast iron skillet to allow it to gently absorb the orange flavor. The cast iron will get very hot and the ham may dry out if it is resting directly on the metal. The orange slices keep it from contacting the pan directly. It also allows it to gently steam to keep the ham moist while not immersing the ham in the fluid.
Another way to smoke the ham is on a rack placed on a baking sheet or even directly on the grill grates. We love how the orange slices in the cast iron skillet flavor the ham and keep it moist, but feel free to experiment with these different smoking methods!
Choose your wood-smoking chips wisely. We mention that a lot because a simple change of the wood chips will completely change the smoky flavor of the meat. We chose a fruit wood this time but if you like a hearty smoke, try mesquite or hickory.
Check the packaging to make sure you are buying pre-cooked ham (sometimes labeled “ready to eat”) so you know it is already smoked and not raw ham.
Ham from the butcher usually has less salt than the vacuum-sealed ones you find in the supermarket. I find it really makes a big difference in the end result.
Choosing a ham with a bone-in is up to you. I find the marrow in the bone adds more flavor.
🌶️Additions and Substitutions
For a thicker glaze, use honey or maple syrup instead of brown sugar or bourbon. The ham glaze will be thicker and will stick to the ham easier.
Add a tablespoon of Dijon mustard to the glaze for some extra tanginess. The mustard really complements the sweetness of the bourbon and brown sugar.
Add in a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar as well. This will offset the sweetness and balance the flavor profile nicely.
Add some melted butter to the glaze for a richer flavor.
Keep the ham bone for soups. That marrow adds a tremendous flavor!
👪How Much Ham Per Person?
For bone-in ham, a regular serving is 1/2-3/4 pound per person. The 8-pound ham we used yielded about 16 servings.
The serving size for boneless ham is 1/4-1/3 pound per person.
Use the low end if you’re serving other main dishes, or the high end if ham is the only one or you want leftovers.
🍱Storage And Reheating
Leftover double smoked ham is amazing to have! You might be wondering how long does ham last in the fridge.
Plan ahead and make sure you have storage materials handy. Keep them in a covered container in the fridge for 3-5 days or freeze them in a freezer-safe bag for up to two months.
I like to cut single serving sizes, wrap them in Saran, and then add them to a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag. When I want to use the leftovers, I can easily grab the amount I want from the freezer bag and reheat them for sandwiches or stir-fries.
Note: You can also freeze a whole, cooked ham, and it can be enjoyed at its best for 3-4 months.
Since this is a great holiday treat, smoked whole sweet potatoes or smoked baked potatoes are the perfect side dishes to pair it with. These are extremely easy and will sit right on the grill grate as you are making the double-smoked ham.
Pair it with some out-of-this-world smoked mac and cheese if you’re not counting calories.
Note: When you cut the ham for storing, make sure that each portion has a little bit of the skin. That is the most flavorful, smoke-infused section.
♨️How To Smoke A Raw Ham
Fresh ham is simply raw meat, and the first step towards smoking is to cure it.
For this, you’ll need a brine, which is a solution of water, salt, sugar (or another sweetener such as honey), and curing salts. Herbs and spices can also be added to enhance flavor.
How long the ham needs to brine depends on its size. As a general thumb rule, aim for 1 day per 2 pounds of meat.
After brining, rinse the ham really well to remove any residual salt. Take your time when doing this to make sure it doesn’t turn out too salty.
Place the ham on a rack in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the moisture drain. Wipe off any excess liquid using paper towels.
For smoking and glazing, follow the instructions above. Fresh ham will take longer to smoke, but the main goal is to reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
🐖More Smoked Pork Recipes
There are so many pork cuts you can smoke and they’re just as easy to pull of as smoked ham!
Smoke a pork crown roast for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any other holiday or special occasion. It will nicely fill the center spot of your festive table. This will feed a large crowd but I’m sure you won’t mind if you get some leftovers. They’re so versatile!
A smoked pork roast encrusted with garlic cloves will look and smell so gorgeous it will be impossible to refuse.
Smoked pork loin is ready in about 2 hours and our Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce added a delicious tangy flavor. You can also go crazy with dry rub blends and various BBQ sauces for smoked St Louis style ribs, which are ready in about the same time.
Or, make some smoked Tomahawk pork chops for a BBQ-restaurant quality meal that needs just one hour in the smoker.
Cook based on temperature instead of time. When the internal temp reaches
140 °F, it is ready to be removed from the grill. We use thermometers to check this in a couple of different areas. It took us about three hours to reach that temp.
I usually keep it for 3-5 days. If you won’t eat it in that time, remove it, wrap individual servings in Saran, and place in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag for storing in the freezer. Continuously frozen, cooked ham will last for 1-2 months.
So many things can factor into why your smoker won’t stay at temperature. Before smoking, make sure that you don’t have too much excess charcoal inside from prior smokes. If it is a cold winter day, it is going to be harder to keep up, if the wind is howling, it will be a challenge.
If you want to do this, up the temperature to 300 degrees and it will smoke up quickly to 140 degrees. Because the temperature is higher, it will take less time to smoke and less time exposed to smoke. The apple juice will still keep it moist. If you want to do this, consider a small foil tent to make sure it doesn’t get dry.
For twice smoked ham it makes sense to choose a mild flavor like apple (adds sweetness), peach (light and sweet), or cherry wood (deepens the color of the ham). Raw ham could benefit from more potent smoking wood such as pecan (adds a subtle nutty taste), maple (sweet and fruity), oak (medium smoke flavor), or hickory (intense smoke flavor).
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Double Smoked Ham with Orange Bourbon Glaze
- Cast Iron Skillet
Double Smoked Cured Ham
- 8 lb Ham cured, bone in
- 1 cup Apple Juice
- 4 slices Oranges
- 1 cup Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Orange Juice
- ¼ cup Bourbon
- ¼ tsp Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Orange Zest
Double Smoked Ham
- Heat smoker up to 225 °F. Choose the smoking wood of your choice.
- Slice oranges and lay in the bottom of the cast iron skillet. Pour the apple juice over the top.
- Cross hatch slice the ham about two inches deep to allow more smoke to go inside. If your ham is spiral sliced, skip this step. Place ham on top of orange slices. Place the entire cast iron on grill and smoke uncovered for about two hours.
- At the 2 hour mark, increase the temperature to 300 degrees and continue to cook the ham for an additional 1-2 hours or until the meat thermometer reaches about 1115-120 °F. At this point, start brushing the glaze on the ham multiple times and allow the ham to continue cooking. Reapply a couple times as the glaze will get sticky and the temp of the ham increases to 140 °F. Remove and tent for 10-15 minutes.
- Combine the brown sugar, bourbon, orange juice cinnamon and orange zest into a bowl and stir. If you want it thicker, combine it in a small saucepan and heat over a medium heat on the stove to allow to thicken even more. As it simmers, it will thicken.