American-style Brown-Sugar-Glazed Holiday Ham

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This is the classic American baked ham, like the honey-baked ham most are familiar with—as worthy a ham tradition as those of Europe. The ham is brined, then hot-smoked and glazed, after which it can be eaten cold or baked in a low oven to rewarm.

16 to 18 servings

Cooking Methodbrining, smoking


Total Timea day or more

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free


Mealbrunch, dinner


Taste and Texturemeaty, savory, smoky, spiced, sweet


  • 1 gallon/4 liters water
  • 1 ½ cups/350 grams kosher salt
  • 2 packed cups/360 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ ounces/42 grams pink salt (8 teaspoons)
  • One 12- to 15-pound/5.5 to 6.75-kilogram fresh ham, skin and aitch-bone removed
  • 1 ½ packed cups/270 grams dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup/185 milliliters Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon/20 grams minced garlic


  1. Combine all the brine ingredients in a container large enough to hold the ham and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Submerge the ham in the brine, weight it down to keep it completely submerged and soak for 6 to 8 days (half a day per pound/450 grams).

  2. Remove the ham, rinse it under cool water, and pat dry. Place it on a rack set on a baking sheet and refrigerate it, uncovered for 12 to 24 hours.

  3. Hot-smoke the ham at 200 degrees F/93 C for 2 hours.

  4. Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar, Dijon, and garlic in a bowl until smooth. Brush the ham with glaze (reserve the remainder) return it to the smoker, and smoke until it reaches an internal temperature of 155 degrees F/68 degrees C.

  5. Remove the ham from the smoker and brush with the remaining glaze. Allow to cool, and refrigerate.

  6. To serve, slice and serve cold, or reheat it in 275-degree-F/140-degree-C oven until warm in the center (test with a metal skewer).

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This ham glaze is a staple in our house. Every holiday we use the glaze to make a ham that everyone raves about because of the crispy texture and gooey deliciousness. Everyone asks for the recipe and goes on about how great the ham is for days. Great glaze post!

Glad you liked it, SissieSass!

Does the ham need to be refrigerated during the 7-8 day brining process? Seem likely, but the recipe clearly indicates refrigeration at other steps and not here.


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