What to do with a Fresh Ham

I'm not the only person googling for a fresh ham recipe, but most of the recipes I found don't turn out like a smoked ham. I learned the hard way that you have to smoke the ham if you want it to taste like something for Sunday dinner.

I ordered our ham from the butcher and thought fresh was fine. It was not fine. Fresh hams and fresh ham steaks are nothing like what we know. If you cook a fresh ham steak in the oven, it turns out white and tough. Don't do it.

This is what I do:


  • 1 Cup of non-iodized salt (I think I've used iodized salt in a pinch).
  • 1 cup of sugar (brown sugar is good for this too)
  • 1 Gallon of water
  • You want to make enough brine to submerge the ham. You might need two gallons of brine.


  • Combine ingredients in a saucepan, and cook on low until sugar and salt are dissolved.
  • Let it cool.
  • Pour brine over ham until brine covers it.
  • Cover with lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.
  • Smoke the ham on a grill with the temperature at 275 degrees until the ham steak reaches 150 or so degrees. I use charcoal so the temperature fluctuates a bit. 
  • You can cut the ham down to make it smaller if you want it to cook faster or need to fit it in a smaller grill.
  • I recommend buying or borrowing an electric smoker if you are smoking a ham this way. That way you can set it up and forget it.
  • If you are ordering a hog, at the very least get it cut in half. A whole ham is enormous.

(The picture below is my Weber grill set up to smoke some pork belly from that same hog.)


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