How To Smoke A Ham On A Pellet Grill: The Ultimate Guide | Rock the Grill

How To Smoke A Ham On A Pellet Grill: The Ultimate Guide

Lucas
LucasPublished: August 2, 2023
How To Smoke A Ham On A Pellet Grill: The Ultimate Guide

There's something undeniably tantalizing about the aroma of a beautifully smoked ham, with its tender and juicy meat infused with rich, smoky flavors. Whether you're a seasoned pitmaster or a beginner, this ultimate guide will show you how to smoke a ham on a pellet grill, so you can impress your friends and family with a mouthwatering centerpiece for your next gathering.

Get ready to brine, season, marinate, and set up your pellet grill for a smoking session that will leave your taste buds dancing with delight.

Choosing the right ham for smoking on a pellet grill.

When you smoke a ham on a pellet grill, choosing the right ham is crucial. You want a ham that is flavorful, tender, and ready to take on that smoky goodness. 

We've found that the best ham for the smoker is a fresh, uncured ham.

Visit a local butcher or grocery store and find a fresh ham without any added seasonings or curing agents. The fresh ham will absorb the smoky flavors beautifully and typically turn out incredibly tender. The smokiness enhances the meat's natural flavors, creating a truly mouthwatering experience.

So, when choosing a ham for smoking on a pellet grill, opt for a fresh, uncured ham whenever possible. This makes the meat a canvas for smokiness, resulting in a more flavorful and enjoyable ham.

Don't be afraid to explore local butchers or specialty meat shops to find the perfect ham for your smoking adventure!

Preparing the ham for smoking: Brining, seasoning, and marinating.

When smoking ham on a pellet grill, a key step in achieving maximum flavor and tenderness lies in the preparation. Before the ham even hits the grill, it's essential to brine, season, and marinate it to ensure a delicious result. This is where all of the flavor comes from, so be creative when creating your brine, seasoning, and marinade.

Brining the ham.

This step involves soaking the ham in water, salt, spices, and seasonings. The brine not only helps to infuse the meat with flavor but also helps to tenderize it, ensuring every bite is juicy and succulent. Here's what we use to create our brine. Of course, yours may be different depending on how you like your ham.

  • Water.
  • Salt.
  • Coriander seeds.
  • A cinnamon stick.
  • Peppercorns.
  • Garlic powder.
  • Brown sugar.

Seasoning the ham.

After the brining process, it's time to season the ham. Create a flavorful rub by combining herbs, spices, and sweetness. The key is to use a combination of dry and wet ingredients to create a sticky and aromatic coating that would enhance the flavor of the ham as it is cooked. Once you've prepared the rub, gently apply it all over the ham, pressing it in to ensure it adheres well.

If slapping together your own rub isn't your thing, don't worry. There are plenty of rubs at your local grocery store. Chances are, you already have a favorite. 

Marinading the ham.

At this point, marinate the ham for a few hours to take the flavor profile to the next level. You can prepare a marinade using a combination of fruit juices, honey, and a hint of acidity. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat deeply while adding a subtle sweetness that would complement the smoky undertones from the pellet grill.

Here are a few of our favorite ingredients when it comes to a marinade.  But as we mentioned - get creative!

  • Brown sugar.
  • Honey.
  • Dijon mustard.
  • Apple cider vinegar.
  • Garlic cloves.
  • Fresh thyme.
  • Ground black pepper.
  • Soy sauce.
  • Orange juice.
  • Worcestershire sauce.

Smoking the ham: Temperature, time, and wood selection.

Wood Pellets for a Smoker Grill

When smoking ham on a pellet grill, nailing the right temperature, timing, and wood selection is key. Let me tell you, if you get these elements right, you'll end up with a mouthwatering ham that'll have your taste buds doing a happy dance.


Pro Tip: Be sure to clean your pellet grill before you get started. Remove any leftover ash or food particles from the grill grates and the inside of the grill. This will prevent any unwanted flavors from affecting your ham.


Temperature.

You want to aim for a consistent temperature of around 225°F to 250°F (107°C to 121°C) for smoking your ham. This low and slow cooking method develops the flavors beautifully and ensures a tender, juicy ham. Remember that every pellet grill is different, so use an internal meat thermometer to monitor the temperature accurately.

Time.

Smoking a ham typically takes about 4 to 6 hours, depending on the size and thickness of the ham. We've found a good rule of thumb is 20 minutes per pound

It's important to remember that this is just an estimate, and the most accurate way to determine if your ham is ready is by checking its internal temperature. You want the ham to reach an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for safe consumption.

Wood pellet selection.

The type of wood you use will significantly impact the flavor of your smoked ham. Traditionally, hickory is the go-to choice for smoking hams. Its smoky flavor pairs perfectly with the rich, savory taste of the ham. However, feel free to get creative and experiment with different woods like apple, cherry, or even a mix of other woods to add a unique twist to your smoked ham.

Remember, when it comes to smoking a ham on a pellet grill, maintaining the right temperature, allowing sufficient cooking time, and selecting the right wood for flavor are the key ingredients to success. It may take a bit of practice, but once you've mastered it, you'll be the hero of any barbecue gathering.

Monitoring and maintaining the temperature while smoking the ham.

Monitoring and maintaining the temperature while smoking the ham is crucial to achieving that perfect, juicy, and flavorful result. It's like balancing between a sizzle and a slow burn.

Keeping a close eye on the temperature is essential. You want to ensure it stays within the optimal range for smoking, typically between 225°F and 250°F. Any lower, and you risk not cooking the ham thoroughly; any higher, you might dry it out. It's like finding the sweet spot on a roller coaster ride – too slow, and it's boring; too fast, and it's overwhelming.

To monitor the temperature, having a reliable digital meat thermometer handy is a game-changer. Insert the probe into the thickest part of the ham, ensuring it's not touching the bone. This allows you to track the temperature accurately and react accordingly. Imagine a pilot constantly checking the instrument panel to ensure a smooth flight.

Maintaining a steady temperature requires some attention and adjustments. Check the pellet hopper regularly to ensure a consistent fuel supply. Remember that the pellets burn slowly and steadily, adding smoky goodness to your ham. It's like adding fuel to the fire – you don't want it to burn out, but you don't want it to go haywire.

By monitoring and maintaining the temperature on your pellet grill, you'll be well on your way to achieving that mouthwatering, perfectly smoked ham that will leave your guests asking for seconds. It's like conducting a symphony – with a bit of finesse and attention; you'll create a masterpiece on your plate.

Basting and glazing the ham for added flavor.

Glazed Ham on a Smoker

Now that your ham is smoking beautifully on the pellet grill, it's time to take it to the next level of flavor by basting and glazing. This step is crucial for adding a delicious and mouthwatering caramelized crust to your ham. Trust me; it's worth the effort!

One of my favorite ways to baste a ham is with a simple mixture of honey, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard. The sweetness of the honey and brown sugar pairs perfectly with the tanginess of the mustard, creating a delectable combination of flavors. Feel free to create your own using the flavors you want.

To apply the glaze, use a basting brush or a spoon to generously coat the surface of the ham with the mixture. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies to distribute even flavor.

The glaze will caramelize as the ham continues to smoke, creating a beautiful golden brown crust. The aroma wafting from the grill will make your neighbors crave what's cooking! But don't be too hasty. Remember to baste the ham every 30 minutes to ensure it stays moist and flavorful throughout the smoking process.


Pro Tip: Experiment with different glaze variations if you're feeling adventurous. Add a touch of bourbon or pineapple juice to the mixture for an extra layer of complexity. The key is to find a glaze that complements the natural flavors of the ham without overpowering them.


Resting and carving the smoked ham: Tips for the perfect finish.

Resting and carving the smoked ham is the final step to achieving that perfect finish. Here are some tips and tricks to make this process a breeze—

  • Allow the ham to rest. After removing the smoked ham from the pellet grill, rest for 15-20 minutes. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a moist and flavorful ham.
  • Carve against the grain. When carving the smoked ham, slice against the grain. This ensures tender and easy-to-eat slices. Look for the natural lines in the meat and cut perpendicular to them.
  • Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife is essential for clean and precise slices. Dull knives can tear the meat and make carving a problematic task. Invest in a quality carving knife to make the process easier.
  • Mind the thickness. Aim for slices about ¼ to ½ inch thick. This thickness allows for a perfect balance of texture and flavor. Too thin, the meat may become dry; too thick and overly chewy.
  • Serve with pan juices. If you collected any pan juices while resting the ham, drizzle them over the sliced meat. These juices add a layer of flavor and keep the ham moist.
  • Garnish and serve. Finally, garnish your smoked ham with fresh herbs or citrus zest to add a pop of color and freshness. Serve alongside your favorite sides and enjoy a mouthwatering, smoky ham feast!

Following these tips, you can serve a beautifully carved, flavorful, and tender smoked ham that will impress your family and friends. 

You're ready to start smoking a ham!

Smoking ham on a pellet grill is an epicurean journey that delivers impressive results. It's a cooking technique that imbues the ham with an irresistible smokiness, resulting in a delectable dish that will undoubtedly excite your taste buds.

To achieve this culinary masterpiece, carefully select the finest ham, brine it to achieve optimum tenderness, season it to perfection, and meticulously set up the pellet grill. Paying close attention to the temperature, expertly basting and glazing the ham, and allowing it the perfect rest time will ensure a succulent and flavorsome outcome that will leave your guests craving more.

Yet beyond the technical aspects, smoking ham on a pellet grill offers an experience that brings people together. It's a chance to gather with loved ones, ignite the grill's flames, and create enduring memories. The inviting aroma of the smoldering wood, the sizzling sounds that emanate from the grill, and the exciting anticipation of that first mouthwatering bite—it's an adventure that extends beyond the boundaries of the kitchen, forging moments of joy and connection.

Lucas

Lucas

BBQ Master

Lucas holds a degree in Culinary Arts from the Dallas Culinary Arts School, where he specialized in grilling techniques. He has spent over a decade in the culinary industry, working in high-end steakhouses and hosting popular BBQ events. His passion lies in experimenting with different grilling methods and sharing his knowledge with others. Lucas’ expertise ensures that every recipe he shares has been tested and perfected on the grill.