Chalk it up to me being stingy with my time, or my money or just a little bit of both. I have never wanted to stand in line at the Honey Baked Ham store for an overpriced ham. Now, don’t get me wrong. The Honey Baked Ham is a fantastic product. You are just going to pay for it out of the nose. The Chef in me a few years ago started to think that there has to be a better way. There is and today I want to share with you, my recipe for a Honey Baked Ham from scratch.

Courtesy of the Modern Farmer

Courtesy of the Modern Farmer

Well, let’s first address the ‘from scratch’ term. From scratch means that you are getting a fresh portion of the Pig’s back leg. The question you have to ask yourself is, “Where does one get a Pig’s Back Leg or a fresh ham?” That’s a very good question, and the solution is surprisingly easy if you know where to shop. In Northern Utah (North of Salt Lake City) there are only a few local butchers still open. Don’s Meats in Syracuse is my closest butcher and I have been able to source the leg there from time-to-time. However, surprisingly the most consistent place that I find the raw ham cut is Harmons in the Station Park shopping center in Farmington. Harmon’s offers the whole, the half and the quarter portions of the leg every single year. The Roy location also has carried these same cuts. You just need to call your local grocery/mega mart and ask if they have fresh ham for sale. You will need to plan 3 (three) days ahead prior to smoking the ham as the next step is brining.

Brining has been a little bit of a passion for me. Here at Marinate Me Baby, we have Seven Rules for Brining and it’s very helpful to read these seven rules before you start this next step.

Brining is very easy, it’s just about letting the brine do its magic. Remember, we are doing this from scratch so we get to choose our flavors, we get to choose just how this thing tastes like. That’s a very good thing. However, it does take time. The recommended time for a 6 to 8-pound bone-in fresh ham is 3 (three days).

The best part of the brining process is, you just dump and mix the ingredients in a food safe container and let it hang out in the refrigerator for the three days.

Next, we Smoke! It’s important to do the following:

  • Preheat your Smoker 
    • 225 degrees F
    • Mix Hickory or Oak with a Mild fruit wood like cherry or apple pellets (50/50 blend)
  • Use a disposable aluminum roasting tray
    • Use a cookie cooling tray to lift the ham out of the juices
  • Make the Honeybaked Ham Glaze
  • Make the Sugar Blend for the Honey Baked Ham

It is important to note that you will need to smoke the ham for 4-5 hours or until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. If you are just wanting to make a ham without the honey glazed portion I would wrap the ham in aluminum foil and return it to the smoker. Pull the ham once it reaches the final temperature of 190 F and let it rest in a dry cooler that has been wrapped in old towels for a couple of hours before serving.

Fresh Ham Recipe
Serves 8
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  1. 2 cups kosher salt
  2. 2 cups sugar
  3. 6 bay leaves
  4. 1/2 cup fennel seeds
  5. 1/2 cup mustard seeds
  6. 2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
  7. 1 bunch rosemary
  8. 20 garlic cloves cut in half
  9. 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  10. 4 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  11. 2 gallons water
  12. 1 6-to-8 pound bone-in fresh ham
Honeybaked Ham Glaze
  1. 1/2 cup Orange Joice
  2. 1/2 cup Apple Juice
  3. 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
  4. 1/4 cup Honey
Sugar Blend HoneyBaked Ham
  1. 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  2. 1/2 cup Turbinado Sugar
  3. 1/2 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  4. 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
  5. 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Ground Nutmeg
  6. 1/2 teaspoon Spanish Paprika
  1. Combine all of the brine ingredients into a large food safe bucket. Submerse the ham in the brine and allow it to chill in the refrigerator for 3 days.
  2. Remove the ham from the brine, pat dry and make slices in the skin to create a diagonal cross-hatch pattern.
Honeybaked Ham Glaze
  1. Mix the ingredients for the ham glaze over a medium high heat until it reaches a low boil. Allow to reduce for 3-5 minutes while you stir occasionally.
  2. Baste the outside of the ham with the glaze. Place the glaze in a squirt bottle so you can easily apply. This step can get a bit messy, it is best to place the ham in a shallow aluminum pan and use a cooling rack to keep the ham off the bottom of the pan.
Sugar Blend
  1. Combine these ingredients in a zip-lock bag and then pour into an airtight bottle for storage.
  2. Apply the sugar blend to the outside of the ham. When choosing a shaker bottle ensure that the holes are large enough for the sugar particles to pass. Parmesan cheese shakers work best.
Smoking the Ham
  1. Smoke the ham at 225 for 4-5 hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (baste every 2 hours as needed).
  2. Use a blend of pellets of Hickory or Oak with Cherry or Apple wood (Use a 50/50 blend).
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