What Kind of Ham to Get for Smoking?

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Are you wondering what type of ham to smoke? There are so many types, from cured ham to fresh ham! We will explain the types of hams and then let you know the best one for smoking!


Which Of The Types Of Ham Are Better To Smoke?

Each kind of ham has its benefits for smoking.

Pre-cooked ham, only to be smoked again (twice smoked) is great if you love a smoky flavor.

Dry-cured ham is perfect if you want balance and more control over the smokiness flavor.

Fresh meat ham lets you control the process for the flavor you want!

Sometimes, using the word ‘best’ can be misleading, especially in cooking and smoking! Our tastes and creativity are so subjective, so I recommend picking the type that stands out for you.

I will also note that pre-cooked ham is more widely accessible and available. Sometimes convenience is best, especially when cooking large holiday meals!

What Are Three Types Of Ham Available To Smoke?

Below are the 3 main types of ham you will find available to smoke.


Pre-Cooked Ham (Cured & Smoked)

Pre-cooked ham is cured and smoked by the manufacturer and is the most popular type.It is widely accessible and relatively cheap, with delicious pink meat and a salty flavor.

We will cover the curing process later and for now, it’s the smoking process we should focus on.

A pre-smoked ham smoked again is known as a twice-smoked ham. Twice-smoked ham is… Smoky!

Recipe for smoked ham

Smoked Spiral Ham with Glaze

Wet Or Dry-Cured Ham

Cured ham is still considered a cooked product because it goes through a curing process.This process consists of salt, nitrates, and flavorings and is applied to the meat. There is two types of curing wet and dry and I have explained them more in depth below

Wet Cure

A wet cure is when the pork meat is submerged in a water solution and curing ingredients to form a brine.

Then completely submerged in the brine for up to 48 hours.

Dry Cure

Dry curing is when the external surface is covered with the curing ingredients such as salt and aromatics.


Fresh Meat Ham

Fresh ham is the raw form of the pig’s hind leg. It tends to be more expensive from a specialist butcher.

Fresh meat ham is best smoked if you enjoy the time and effort of the process, as you can completely control the flavors.


Other Considerations When Picking Ham To Smoke

Get your thinking caps on, as we’ll get a little deeper! Other things will affect the type of ham to smoke.


Picking The Perfect Ham

There are lots of available and common types of hams to choose from, like your traditional west country hams, spiral-sliced ham, and pre-sliced boneless meat.

When choosing pre-cooked ham, look at the ingredients on the food label. Choose a meat percentage higher than 90% and the fewer nitrates the better. Oh, and trust the bigger names and brands that have been in the game for longer.

Quality all the way!


Bone-In Or Bone-Out?

Bone-in ham will have a richer flavor from the minerals and fat surrounding and in the bone. It is also cheaper as it hasn’t been as processed as much during the manufacturing.

Boneless ham is easier to cut because you don’t have to navigate around the bone. If you like a challenge or want a deeper flavor then go with bone-in… Did I mention the bone contains minerals and fats for a richer flavor? You can keep the bone for a delicious stock!

Wood Pellets Or Wood Chips?

Wood pellets are compact sawdust that has been processed to food-grade acceptability. Wood chips are pieces of wood offcuts that have also been processed and food-graded.

When smoking ham, I reccomend pellets if you have an electric pellet smoker. But more of that in a second… Pellets are cheaper and burn slowly to produce medium heat.

Chips are fine if you have a charcoal grill or smoker but they burn much quicker and require attention. Did you know you can extend the smoking time of wood chips? They can be soaked for 24 hours before igniting. So make sure you pick the type of fuel is based on your personal preference and what you have available.


My Favorite Type Of Wood For Smoking Ham

There are many different types of wood you can choose to smoke your ham so I have highlighted below my 3 top picks… Producing a light, mild, and stronger smoke taste.

Apple Wood Chips

Apple wood chips are a great choice for smoking ham, as they impart a subtly sweet and fruity flavor.

This wood has a natural taste, producing a light smoky flavor.

Note: Apple wood is the most common wood to smoke ham. A pre-smoked and cured ham likely has kissed apple smoke!

Maple Wood Chips

The flavor profile of maple pellets is mild and sweet, with hints of caramel and brown sugar. This mild smoke naturally pairs well if you use maple syrup in your glaze ingredients.


Hickory Wood Chips

One of the stronger flavored woods available which gives off a dense hearty smoke flavor. The bold hickory hardwood flavor will elevate any traditional pork products.


Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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