How to Grill a Ham

  • 01 of 05

    Know your Ham - Grilling Ham

    Grilling Ham Finished
    Grilling Ham Finished. Sabrina Baksh

    Taking the ham out to the grill is a great way to add flavor to this already delectable treat while freeing up space in the oven for other items. The trick is to keep the heat low and indirect and to heat the ham through without overcooking it or drying it out. I prefer to put a whole ham on the rotisserie because it roasts the surface nicely, but this can also be challenging, even with the most forgiving hams. Running a rotisserie skewer through a bone in ham takes a delicate touch and a lot of...MORE patience (followed by a lot of counterbalancing). If you've picked up a spiral cut ham then the task becomes nearly impossible. If you do manage to get the whole thing on the rod and spinning on the grill, the chances are that the slices will fall apart as soon as the chill is off the meat. Since more hams seem to be falling off the assembly line these days than coming out of smokehouses, your chances of finding an inexpensive uncut ham are slim. So for this "how to" I'm going mass market and cooking up a bone in, ready to eat, spiral cut ham from one of the big stores.

    Since the rotisserie idea is going to tax even the patience of Job, we are placing this ham straight on the grill to slow roast over an indirect fire, but first, we need to examine our ham. Choose a ham with a seasoning packet and not one already rubbed down with sugar and spice. This way we can control the flavor and get the ham nice and hot without burning up the surface. Once you have the ham unpacked, make sure that the slices are stacked nicely and the ham is compact. Cut off any hanging pieces but do little else to it (that includes excessive sampling).

    Continue to 2 of 5 below.
  • 02 of 05

    Ham on the Grill - Grilling Ham

    Grilling Ham Placement
    Grilling Ham Placement. Sabrina Baksh

    Keeping your ham moist is the most important part of cooking it. Dried out, ham gets tough and leathery. With a spiral cut ham, we want to keep the slices packed together as much as possible and protect the ham from direct heat. To keep the end from drying out, place the ham cut side down on a sheet of aluminum foil. This will help hold in the moisture while exposing the skin to the heat and flavor of the grill.

    Remember to place the ham over indirect heat. This means the burners below the ham...MORE are not on, or that there is no burning charcoal underneath it if using a charcoal grill.

    Continue to 3 of 5 below.
  • 03 of 05

    Temperature - Grilling Ham

    Grilling Ham Temperature
    Grilling Ham Temperature. Sabrina Baksh

    Keep the ham moist and flavorful by keeping the temperature low. This is very important if you choose a sugar-based glaze for your ham. Sugar burns at 265 degrees F, and if it burns it will ruin the crust on the surface of your ham. This is why I have my grill set to a temperature around 250 degrees F. This ham is ready to eat out of the package, so there is no need to hit a specific temperature to make it safe. We are talking a typical ham here, not a fresh ham (which is an uncooked, uncured...MORE pork roast). If you have a "cook before eating" ham, then you must cook it to a minimum temperature of 160 degrees F before taking it off the grill.

    There are a few strategies you can use here to heat your ham. The traditional method is to roast the ham at 325 degrees F, for 15 to 20 minutes per pound for a whole ham and 18 to 25 minutes per pound for half hams. I prefer to keep this temperature lower and increase the time if I am heating a "ready to eat ham." If the ham is a "cook before eating," then it is best to start out with a higher temperature. At the lower temperature, the "ready to eat ham" will cook at about 20 minutes per pound.

    Spiral cut hams cook faster since the heat will get in through the slices. For this ham, the cooking time will be around 15 minutes per pound. Since I'm more concerned with heating the ham through and getting a good sugary crust on the outside, I will plan on sticking to the time, but won't be too concerned with the final internal temperature.

    Continue to 4 of 5 below.
  • 04 of 05

    Basting the Ham - Grilling Ham

    Grilling Ham Basting
    Grilling Ham Basting. Sabrina Baksh

    As the ham cooks, baste it to layer on flavor while creating the groundwork for the crusty surface. The one word of warning is to start conservatively with the sugar. If you are keeping the temperature below 265 degrees F, then you won't need to worry, but since sugar will burn at higher temperatures you will need to either hold down the temperature or wait on the sugar until the end.

    Even though I am going to keep the temperature low and slow, I'm going to hold off on the sugar until the...MORE last 30 minutes, but will continue to baste. You can baste your ham with jam, preserves, fruit juice, cola, wine or beer. I am using:

    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoons ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

    Apply the baste several times during the cooking process, with the last coat going on 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Sugaring the Ham - Grilling Ham

    Grilling Ham Sugaring
    Grilling Ham Sugaring. Sabrina Baksh

    Basting the ham keeps the surface moist and sticky. Now it is time to apply the sugar directly to the skin of the ham. If you have been cooking the ham at a higher temperature, drop the grill under 265 degrees F. Applying a thick layer of sugar to a hot ham will melt the sugar creating the hard shell once the ham is removed from the heat. I will pat the sugar onto the ham several times to get form a crust. If you are not interested in the sweet surface, then cut back or simply avoid the sugar...MORE all together.

    I suggest a good "raw" sugar like a Demerara or Turbinado sugar. The larger crystals of these sugars stick on and make a thick coating.

    With the sugar applied, let the ham continue cooking until done. It should have at least 15 minutes with the sugar on it to form the crust.

    Once the ham is done, gently remove it from the grill. The sugar will harden and adhere better as it cools, but while hot it will wipe off easily. Let your ham rest for 15 minutes, carve and serve.