Maple-Glazed Smoked Ham

Delicious maple-glazed ham cooked low and slow on your backyard smoker. This boneless pork cut is smoked over applewood fire before finished with a sticky maple syrup and mustard glaze.

maple-glazed smoked ham recipe

There’s no better holiday meal than a delicious maple-glazed smoked ham sitting in the center of the table. But, you don’t have to wait until the next major holiday to enjoy this classic pork main dish.

When it comes to maple-glazed ham, barbecue smoking is often a better choice than conventional cooking if you want to maximize flavor. A sweet maple glaze will pair well with the salted, woodsy notes of smoked ham. What’s more, low and slow cooking methods such as smoking are likely to give you more tender meat than cooking in the oven.

Discover how to prepare and serve a maple-glazed smoked ham that will impress your guests every time.

maple glazed smoked ham

Ham Explained

Ham comes from the pig’s haunches (the buttocks and rear thighs) and is available with the thigh bone in or out. A whole ham will usually include the entire leg, from the pelvic or tailbone down to the tip of the thigh bone. People often glaze and cook the ham whole to preserve moisture and flavor.

For this recipe, we’ll be using boneless ham. While bone-in cuts look impressive and are great for soups and stews, boneless ham is easier to smoke consistently and slice for serving.

A quality ham cut will be fairly lean, with just a moderate amount of marbling running through the meat. Too much fat can ruin the tender consistency of the meat, causing it to be tough or chewy. Most of the fat in a cut of ham should be on the rind, making it easy to trim the edges and remove most fat before cooking.

People love the cut for its succulent flavor and tender, juicy texture. Ham gets sold either fresh or procured (we’ll use the latter for this recipe). Wet or dry curing with a mixture of spices such as onion and pepper lends ham its distinctive sweet and salty flavor.

Glaze for Smoked Ham

A good homemade BBQ glaze adds a dose of sweet flavor to each bite, and pairs perfectly with salty meats, like smoked ham. You’ve probably seen a thousand Coca-Cola smoked ham glazes but for this recipe, we’ll be using a healthy dose of maple syrup instead. Its blend of caramel and vanilla notes pairs beautifully with the salty smokiness of ham.

We’ll glaze the ham near the end of the smoke, allowing the pork to soak up barbecue smoke before we coat it in our sweet maple syrup glaze. This will enhance the ham’s natural flavor and give it extra color and a beautiful sheen when served. It will also develop a nice crust thanks to the sugars in maple syrup caramelizing during the final stage of our smoke.

How to Buy Ham for Smoking

maple glazed smoked ham

Picking out a good ham is about more than just finding the lowest price per pound. There are several different varieties that you can find at the butcher or supermarket, and not all are created equal.

The best ham you can find should contain no added water or juices. Not only will the meat be of the highest possible quality, but you won’t be paying extra for water weight. According to the USDA, meat labeled as ham must contain at least 20.5% protein.

If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, ham with natural juices is the next best choice. Though some of the weight of this type of ham is liquid, it contains a fairly high protein content and an authentic ham flavor.

Ham with water added is likely to be the lowest quality. It has less protein content than meat labeled “ham” and “ham with natural juices.” Anything with less than 17% protein content should be marked as a ham and water product.

While you can cook, grill, or smoke with this water-added ham, you’ll likely get a bland product with a soggy texture. This type of meat is best served cold or at room temperature. Instead, you should opt for meat-labeled varieties with little to no liquid added when preparing maple-glazed smoked ham.

Meat Prep

Before you smoke a maple-glazed ham, you need to prepare the meat. Doing this ensures that you get the tender texture and the rich, savory flavor you desire. It’s easy to ready a maple-glazed smoked ham for smoking in just a few easy steps.

A good ham cut should be relatively lean, but most will have a healthy layer of fat along the edges. You should remove the rind beforehand, leaving as little surface fat as possible. This fat will not penetrate meat as it cooks, so we need to remove it to give our ham the best chance of soaking up flavor. Removing the rind also means less fat on your plate when serving.

Because we’ll be using precured ham, there’s no need to brine or marinate it beforehand. All of our added flavor will instead come from just the maple glaze.

Best Smoking Wood

You can use several different types of wood when smoking ham, all of which impart various flavor notes depending on what taste you want. Some of the best wood chips to use with maple-glazed smoked ham include maple, pecan, or cherry.

For this recipe, we’ll be using applewood. It provides only a delicate amount of sweetness, giving our glaze room to breath.

Times & Temperatures

We will smoke our maple-glazed ham at an ambient temperature of 250°F (120°C), for approximately 20 minutes per pound of meat. For our 5-pound boneless ham, this means a cooking time of about 1 hour 40 minutes until we pull it for glazing.

Most cuts of whole ham come fully cooked and ready to eat, meaning that we are essentially just reheating it. As per USDA guidelines, we’ll smoke our ham to an internal temperature of 145°F (60°C). If you decide to use a fresh ham, ensure it reaches 160°F (71°C) before serving. Either way, always use a digital meat thermometer to accurately measure temperature.

Quick Tips

  1. If you are using a spiral-cut ham, apply a little water in between the slices. This will help combat moisture loss as it smokes.

FAQ

Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions about maple glazed ham.

Do You Glaze the Ham at the Start or the End?

Unlike oven-baked hams, barbecue smoked ham is best glazed near the end of the smoke (with about 30 minutes remaining) in order to allow the meat to cook and absorb flavor.

maple glazed smoked ham
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4.50 from 2 votes

Maple-Glazed Smoked Ham

Delicious maple glazed ham cooked low and slow on your backyard smoker. This boneless pork cut is smoked over applewood fire before finished with a sticky maple syrup and mustard glaze.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, BBQ
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6

Equipment

  • smoking wood chips
  • digital meat thermometer
  • aluminum foil

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs ham (boneless & cured)

Maple Glaze

  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup dark brown sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp apple juice
  • ½ tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions

  • Fire up your smoker to 250°F (120°C) and add smoking wood chips to coals/wood tray
  • Remove ham from refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature while smoker warms up
  • Once your smoker has reached target temperature, place the ham directly on the center smoker rack fat-side up, and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours
  • Prepare the maple glaze: In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Then, add the maple syrup, dark brown sugar, light brown sugar, honey, dijon mustard, apple juice, and apple cider vinegar. Use a whisk to combine as it heats for 2-3 minutes, or until the sugar and butter has dissolved.
  • Once the ham’s internal temperature reaches 130°F (55°C), remove it from the smoker and place it on a sheet of aluminum foil. Bring the sides of the foil sheet up to form a short wall around the ham.
  • Use a basting brush to apply the warm glaze to the ham. Apply generously and aim to cover as much of the meat as possible.
  • Place ham back in the smoker. Increase heat to 325°F (160°C) and smoke until pork internal temperature hits 145°F (60°C), approximately 1 hour.
  • Pull ham from the smoker and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Slice to serve.

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