This easy double smoked ham has a perfectly sweet glaze thanks to a mustard whiskey binder and a spiced brown sugar rub. If you’re looking for a fantastic, flavorful, and juicy smoked ham recipe to make on the pellet grill for the holidays, try this easy smoked ham!
The holiday season is upon us, and what better way to impress your guests than with a succulent smoked ham prepared on your pellet grill?
But how do you incorporate delicious flavor into something that’s already fully cooked? That’s the conundrum with most holiday hams. Since you buy them already cooked and ready to eat at the grocery store, there’s not much opportunity to add flavor, except in the form of a too-sweet ham glaze.
But this smoked ham recipe combines the smoke flavor of the pellet grill with a homemade brown sugar and whiskey “glaze” for the ultimate pellet grill ham!
The subtle taste that you get from the whiskey mustard binder tones down the sweetness from the brown sugar rub, and when you smoke the ham on a sheet tray, you catch all of those flavorful drippings to create the perfect glaze. This double smoked ham recipe is truly a recipe for a successful holiday dinner!
Here’s how to make your new favorite pellet grilled ham:
Why is it called Double Smoked Ham?
Double smoked ham, also known as “twice-smoked ham,” is a culinary technique that involves smoking a pre-cooked ham for a second time. Similarly to how twice smoked potatoes are baked or smoked initially to cook them through, and then smoked on the grill a second time to add extra flavor.
The ham portions that you buy in the grocery store come pre-cooked, so the ham is already partially or fully cooked, depending on which you purchase. The double smoking process on the pellet grill imparts a unique smoky flavor and enhances the texture, resulting in a deliciously tender and flavorful ham.
Plus, by smoking the pre-cooked ham, you’re able to customize the flavors with your own seasoning, rub, or glaze, like the sweet whiskey rub that we did here.
Ingredients for Smoked Ham on the Pellet Grill
Other than the actual ham, the only ingredients that you need are those for the homemade glaze or rub. We’ve smoked many ham portions on the pellet grill using a variety of quick and easy glaze recipes, but the brown sugar whiskey glaze that we made for our holiday smoked ham this year was a hit with our family!
For the smoked ham glaze and rub that we used, you will need:
- sweet ‘n spicy sandwich mustard – We personally use and love Woeber’s Sweet & Spicy Mustard, and that’s what we used as the binder for our sweet ham rub.
- whiskey or bourbon – Optional, see note below.
- brown sugar
- ground clove
- all spice
*NOTE – If you don’t have whiskey or bourbon, then you can omit the alcohol altogether and just use the mustard by itself as a binder. We’ve used the sweet mustard-only binder to make this recipe, and it’s still fantastic!
Notes for Double Smoked Ham
- Pellet Grill Temp – 275 degrees F until the ham reaches an internal temp of 120-125 degrees F, then 425 degrees F to get a nice caramelization on the glaze
- Wood Pellets Used – combination of Bear Mountain Hickory wood pellets and Pecan wood pellets
- Smoking Time – 3 hours at 275 degrees F, then 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes
- Pellet Grill Used – Lone Star Grillz 42″ Pellet Smoker
- Notes – Be sure to smoke your ham on a wire rack lined baking sheet to catch all of the drippings to make the glaze.
Choosing the Correct Ham
Before we dive into the double smoking process, it’s crucial to select the right ham. Opt for a fully cooked, bone-in ham for the best results. A bone-in ham not only adds flavor but also helps retain moisture during the smoking process. Look for hams labeled as “smoked” or “fully cooked” to ensure they’ve undergone the initial curing and smoking.
The ham that I used for this recipe was a 7 pound bone-in cut labeled as “hickory smoked butt portion ham”. The package also said “ready to eat”, indicating that the ham was fully cooked.
How to Make Smoked Ham on a Pellet Grill
Preparing the Ham
To start, you’ll need to prepare your ham for the smoker. This includes patting it dry with a paper towel, and scoring the fat cap. Scoring the fat cap involves making shallow cuts in a diamond-shaped pattern on the surface, about 1/4″ to 1/2″ deep. This allows the smoke flavor and seasoning to penetrate deeper into the meat, and it helps with even cooking.
Pat your ham dry first with a wad of paper towels, then make shallow slits across the fattier area of the ham like this:
You’ll notice in the photo above, I only scored the fattiest area of the ham. You can tell where the fat build up is greatest by looking at the cut side of your ham. The large white chunks on the outside are the fatty areas that I scored into a diamond pattern.
Making the Binder and Rub for Smoked Ham
Next, make a simple binder and rub for the smoked ham. This is a two step process: the binder is used to help the seasoning stick to the meat, and the rub is where the majority of your flavor comes from.
And when the whiskey from the binder and the brown sugar and spices from the rub combine while the ham is smoking, you get fantastic pan drippings that make the perfect glaze!
For this smoked ham recipe, I used my favorite sweet and spicy sandwich mustard mixed with a bit of Whiskey to make a quick binder. The sweet ham rub was made with brown sugar and typical holiday spices for the perfect Thanksgiving or Christmas ham.
Just mix the binder and rub in separate bowls like this:
Then, use a basting brush or spoon to slather the binder all over the ham.
*If you’re not a fan of mustard, don’t worry! Mustard is a fantastic binder because the strong mustard flavors will cook off, so your meat won’t actually taste like mustard. In fact, I often use mustard as a binder for other meats and even my favorite fried fish. And, unlike mayonnaise, mustard doesn’t add a lot of excess fat.
The next step is to evenly sprinkle or “rub” the brown sugar spice mixture into the binder. I like to use barbecue gloves (one of my must-have pellet grill accessories) for this, because it can get messy.
Be sure to season the ham liberally. Remember, it’s a big cut of meat, so it can handle a hefty dose of seasoning. And, the pan drippings created by the whiskey binder and the brown sugar will create an awesome glaze later in the cooking process!
*The rub ingredient amounts in the smoked ham recipe below are perfect for a 7 pound ham. If your ham is larger, you will probably need to adjust the amounts.
Smoking Ham on the Pellet Grill
Once you’ve got the ham prepped, this double smoked ham recipe is really only about monitoring the temperatures of your pellet grill and the meat.
I chose to smoke my whiskey brown sugar ham at 275 degrees F, and then crank up the heat towards the end of the cook to get some nice caramelization on the outer crust.
This is what my ham butt looked like when I put it on the pellet grill:
And this is what my double smoked ham looked like about 3 hours later, before glazing it:
After about 3 hours, the internal temperature of the ham had reached about 120 degrees F. Then, I took it off the grill and adjusted the pellet grill temp up to 425 degrees F. *Make sure that you take the ham off the grill while the temperature adjusts – if not, then you won’t have as much time to cook the smoked ham at the higher temp.
This is one of the benefits of a pellet grill in my opinion – the ability to smoke at lower temperatures with different wood flavors and then easily crank up the grill temperature for searing, or in this case, caramelizing the glaze and getting a beautiful sweet crust.
If your pellet grill has the ability to do so, then I also recommend opening the “sear plate” to allow the flames to come through a bit. You’ll get more direct heat cooking and a nicer outer glazed crust. *That’s one of the features that I LOVE about both the Lone Star Grillz Pellet Smoker and the Pit Boss Navigator – both of them allow you to open up vents in the heat deflector plate to let the flames kiss your meat above.
Making the Smoked Ham Glaze from the Pan Drippings
Smoking the ham on a wire rack lined sheet tray does two things: 1) it keeps the inside of your smoker cleaner and prevents the sugary sauce from dripping down on your defuser plate and 2) it allows you to catch all of those sweet whiskey drippings to use as a glaze.
Once the ham has hit an internal temp of about 120 degrees F, you should have a good amount of pan drippings in the sheet tray. Simply pour that beautiful liquid into a bowl while the pellet grill is heating up to 425 degrees, and your glaze is ready to go.
Before you put the smoked ham back on the pellet grill to finish off at the higher temp, go ahead and use a pastry brush to brush on a layer of the glaze like this:
Caramelizing the Glaze and Finishing the Double Smoked Ham
Your brown sugar and whiskey glazed ham is almost ready to serve!
Once the grill is up to temp, place the ham back on the grill and cook at 425 degrees F until the internal temp reaches about 140-143 degrees F. Remember, since you’re finishing the cooking process at a higher temp, you will have more carryover cooking than if you finish cooking the ham at a lower grill temp of 250 or 275 degrees.
While the ham is cooking at this higher temp, brush on a fresh layer of the glaze about every 10-15 minutes. You may want to rotate the ham on the pellet grill every 10-15 minutes also so that it cooks evenly on all sides.
When your ham is done cooking, it should look something like this:
The sugars from that beautiful glaze will caramelize at the higher cook temps, and you’ll get a fantastic not-too-sweet candy exterior with a subtle hint of whiskey flavor… truly one of the best holiday hams that I’ve ever made!
Serving Smoked Ham
As with most meats that you cook on the grill, you’ll want to let your ham rest for about 15 minutes so that the juices can redistribute. Then, slice the ham into slices that are about 1/4″ thick, or slightly thinner, based on personal preference.
And get ready to impress your holiday dinner guests!
By bringing the internal temp of the meat up slowly, you’ll have a perfectly cooked and tender ham. And the fantastic combination of smoke from the pellet grill, the saltiness from the brined and cooked ham, and the sweetness from the caramelized brown sugar and whiskey pan dripping glaze is a recipe for success!
Want to take advantage of the pellet grill while it’s on and smoke a side dish? This smoked mac and cheese is fantastic, and it would be perfect served with this sweet glazed ham! You could even cut up leftover ham into chunks and add it to the mac and cheese.
FAQ’s about Smoking Ham
Can I use a spiral cut ham for smoked ham?
I’m personally not a fan of spiral cut hams, because I feel like they tend to dry out more quickly during the cooking process. That’s because the outside areas of the slices reach the proper internal temp before the inside has a chance to cook, so you’re often left with dry ham.
Instead, I recommend scoring the fat cap, and smoking the ham portion whole. Then, slicing it once it is done cooking and resting.
How long to cook smoked ham on the pellet grill?
This really depends on the temperature of your pellet grill and the size of your ham. But you can plan for about 25-30 minutes per pound. The most important part is to smoke the ham until it reaches an internal temp of about 140-145 degrees F.
I also recommend cooking it at a lower temp to start with, bringing the internal temp of the ham up slowly, and then cranking up the heat for a nice caramelized crust at the end.
Can I use a boneless ham for double smoking?
Bone-in hams tend to be more flavorful and juicy, but you can still use a boneless ham for double smoking. Keep in mind that boneless hams may cook faster, so adjust your cooking times accordingly.
What pellets should I use for smoked ham?
The choice of smoking wood pellets depends on personal preference. Fruitwoods like apple or cherry impart a milder, sweeter flavor, while hickory offers a more robust and traditional smokiness.
I personally feel like the hickory wood pellets complimented the subtle notes of whiskey and the sweetness of the glaze, but feel free to experiment with different wood flavors to discover your favorite combination.
Double Smoked Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze
- 7 lb bone-in ham
- ¼ cup sweet and spicy mustard *We like Woeber's Sandwich Pal Sweet & Spicy Mustard.
- 2½ tablespoons whiskey Optional – see notes
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground clove
- Preheat grill to 275℉. Add your favorite wood pellets for ham.
- Prepare the ham. Pat ham dry with paper towels. Use a knife to score the fattier area of the ham.
- Make the binder and brown sugar rub. In a medium bowl, stir together mustard and whiskey until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves until well combined. Set the ham on a wire rack. Use a pastry brush to apply the mustard binder to the entire outside of the ham. Then, liberally sprinkle on the brown sugar spice rub, taking care to evenly cover the entire outside of the ham. Set the wire rack with the ham on top of a baking sheet.
- Smoke the ham. Set the prepared ham on the preheated pellet grill on the wire rack lined baking sheet. Smoke at 275℉ with the grill lid closed until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 120℉. Then, remove the ham from the grill, and turn the grill temp up to 425℉.
- Prepare the glaze. While the pellet grill is heating to 425℉, remove the smoked ham from the baking sheet. Pour the pan drippings from the baking sheet into a bowl. Place the ham back on the wire rack. Use a pastry brush or spoon to apply a layer of glaze to the outside of the ham.
- Caramelize the glaze and finish cooking the smoked ham. Place the ham back on the pellet grill at 425℉. Cook until internal temp reaches 140-142℉, rotating the ham every 10 minutes and applying a fresh layer of glaze every 10 minutes.
- Rest and serve. When the smoked ham has reached the proper internal temp, remove from the grill and let rest for about 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
- The rub ingredient amounts in the smoked ham recipe are perfect for a 7 pound ham. If your ham is larger, you will probably need to adjust the amounts.
- If you don’t have whiskey or bourbon, then you can omit the alcohol altogether and just use the mustard by itself as a binder. We’ve used the sweet mustard-only binder to make this recipe, and it’s still fantastic!
- If you’re not a fan of mustard, don’t worry! Mustard is a fantastic binder because the strong mustard flavors will cook off, so your meat won’t actually taste like mustard. In fact, I often use mustard as a binder for other meats and even my favorite fried fish. And, unlike mayonnaise, mustard doesn’t add a lot of excess fat.
- Make sure that you take the ham off the grill while the temperature adjusts – if not, then you won’t have as much time to cook the smoked ham at the higher temp.