How to Keep a Smoked Ham Warm After Cooking: 3 Simple Methods

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Nothing is better than the tasty and tender meat from a perfectly cooked ham. But how can you keep a cooked ham warm once it’s finished?

You might be waiting for your last guest to arrive, or maybe you didn’t calculate correctly how long it would take. Let’s look at how to store and keep a smoked ham warm to eat later.

Effective Methods for Keeping Smoked Ham Warm

Here are my methods for keeping a smoked and pre-cooked ham warm.

You will notice a time stamp for each of my instructions; the time stamp is for how long you roughly think you need until the meal will be served. This will help you figure out which one best applies to you.

I will note that smoked ham is delicious, hot, or cold, so, as a last resort, you can always cheat and serve the ham cold as if nothing happened!

Wrap & Rest the Smoked Ham in Tin Foil (1 Hour or Less)

You should plan some time after cooking to rest; while a ham might not need as long as a turkey or brisket, it is still important.

This crucial stage will allow the juices to be absorbed into the meat proteins, so you don’t lose it when carving, which causes dry meat. You don’t want the ham to go below 140°F for over two hours.

I recommend resting at least 5 minutes per pound.

– Check the correct internal temperatures have been met.

– Remove the ham from your smoker or oven space.

– Place on a wire rack in an oven tray.

– Double wrap with foil.

– Make

Oven Method (1 hour)

A preheated oven on low or medium setting will keep your ham warm! But be careful not to keep it in for an extended time as it can dry out your meat.

– Wrap the ham in a double layer of foil.

– Switch your oven to the lowest temp setting.

– Monitor the internal temperature to make sure it doesn’t continue cooking.

Slow Cooker Method (2-3 hours)

A slow cooker or crockpot is an easy way to reheat your smoked ham. This will slowly reheat your ham and ensure it stays moist and juicy.

– You can place your smoked ham into the cooker.

– Pour some liquid over top, like chicken broth or apple juice.

– Set the cooker to medium heat.

Note: Adding extra glaze or a couple of cups of water will stop the meat from drying out.

The ‘Faux Cambro’ Cooler Method (4 hours)

Below is my last and recommended warming technique.

Professional pit masters use it to maintain temperatures for cuts of meat.

Equipment Required

– A clean and good quality insulated cooler. (Big enough for your smoked ham)

– A clean towel(s).

– Heavy-duty aluminum foil.

– Hot water.

– Temperature probes.

Step 1 – Prepare the Cooler

– Wash the cooler thoroughly.

– Fill with hot tap water & close the lid.

– Wait 30 minutes.

– Dump out the water.

Step 2 – Prepare the Ham

– Insert the temperature probes into the thickest part of your ham. (Avoid the bone if there is one)

– Wrap the ham in a double layer of aluminum foil.

– Isolate the cooler’s bottom, top, and sides with towels.

– Cover the wrapped ham with more towels.

Step 3 – Insert the Ham & Keep Warm

– Place the whole ham in the cooler.

– Cover again with a top layer of towels.

– Monitor the internal temperatures to ensure they don’t drop below the danger zone of 140°F for more than two hours.

Note: We will further cover the role of a temperature probe and the danger zone.

Serve the Smoked Ham Cold

So you’ve had to postpone your holiday meal, but your ham is in the smoker; this isn’t the end of the world!

Smoked ham is just as delicious cold as it is hot. It may be better to serve cold to avoid the risk of contamination or dry meat.

Allowing the meat to cool helps ensure that temperatures stay consistent, minimizing bacteria growth.

– Follow the above instructions when resting the ham.

– Monitor the internal temperature from 165°F down to 140°F.

– Slice into portions and pour over any lost natural juices when carving.

– Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

What Temperature Does Pork Need to Reach Before It’s Ready To Eat?

The thermometer in the meat should read 165°F before you remove it from the smoker or oven.

Carry On Cooking When Maintaining the Warmth of the Ham

On average the internal temp will raise 10°F when resting or keeping warm. Bear that in mind when monitoring the above temperatures for the meat.

Smoked Country Ham – What You Need to Know Before Keeping It Warm

Food Safety – The Growth of Harmful Bacteria

Food poisoning from pork is no joke.

The ‘Danger Zone’ – Check for Food Safety!

It is important to note the safe temperature range when keeping warm. Dangerous bacteria will multiply in temps below 140°F for over two hours.

Why a Meat Thermometer Is Crucial for Keeping Ham Warm

A thermometer is the key piece of cooking equipment (apart from a heat source). It allows you to accurately monitor the proper temperature.

We touched on the temperature parameters to avoid bacteria growth or overcooking. So prepared and know the actual temperature in your cooking and warming methods.

Other Factors to Consider When Keeping Food Warm

Keep the Right Internal Temperature to Avoid Dry Meat & Illness

We touched on maintaining a safe temperature to avoid illness.

But there is also a cap on the higher end.

Keep the ham between 140°F and 180°F. If you go above 180°F, you are effectively still cooking the ham meat. This heating process will dry out the pre-cooked meat completely.

How Long Does It Need to Stay Warm?

I recommend using the below methods for a maximum of 3 hours. Any longer and maintaining those temperatures will be tricky.

Is it going to be longer? You might want to consider a reheating process or serving your cooked product cold.

Food Safety for Keeping Food Hot

– Pay attention and wash any surfaces or utensils you have used when handling raw meat.

– Don’t leave raw or cooked meat in the refrigerator for more than 30 minutes.

– Use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperatures accurately.

– The equipment to keep the finished product warm should be sanitized.

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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