Grilled Christmas Holiday Ham Made Easy

Image: National Pork Board

Are you planning on grilling a bone-in ham for the Christmas Holidays? Don’t worry – it’s easier than you may think! Check out the helpful tips below for tasty results. The first thing to start with is a bone-in ham!

Bone-In Ham

There are all kinds of ham you can pick up at the grocery- shank, butt end, picnic, whole, whole smoked, salted-cured. For a picturesque “Christmas Style” ham then go with a bone in “half” ham. You know, the kind with a flat side known as the face and a narrow end.

Shank or Butt End: Shank end hams are from the lower part of a hog’s leg. The meat is a bit fattier and there are two bones. Butt end cuts have one bone and the meat is leaner and easier to slice. At first glance, they may look the same. Speaking of easy to slice! Check out the Chef Knives from BBQ Dragon!


Brine: Also, consider the fact that most of the hams sold in grocery store meat sections already contain a brine type solution as part of processing. You’ll see that marked on the label, so you don’t have to brine your game unless you really want to.

Here’s the good news, if you go to the store and ask the person working in the meat department for a “half bone-in ham” you’ll probably walk out with the right ham!

Easy Grilling!

This may sound almost too simple! But there are only a few basic steps to grilling a ham! The first thing to consider is that you need a covered grill and the ability to maintain a temperature of about 325 degrees for a while – so get your Premium Charcoal Ready! Here are the basic steps!

  • Set up your grill and get the heat going – 325 degrees.
  • Place your bone-in ham face down in a heavy-duty foil pan.
  • Slice an “x” pattern on the surface of the ham – about 1/4 inch deep.
  • Grill at 325 degrees, about 15 to 18 minutes per pound. Quick math, a 12-pound ham at 15 minutes equals 180 minutes which equals 3 hours approx depending on heat, outside temps, wind, etc.
  • After an hour, start basting. You can use anything from sugary sodas, orange juice, pineapple juice, beer, and sugar mixture – whatever you decide.
  • Move the foil pan around when you baste to ensure even cooking and check charcoal.
  • Use your glaze during the last half-hour of cooking/grilling… or,
  • Remove pan and ham from the grill, place the pan and ham in a pre-heated oven, and finish glazing in a more controlled environment… no – that’s not cheating!
  • There’s nothing wrong with going with the glaze packet that is included with many hams!
  • Rest, slice, and serve!

Internal Temp for Ham

The safe internal cooking temperature for ham is 145 °F degrees according to the USDA with a three-minute rest time. Many people remove their ham from the heat source at an internal temp of 14o °F degrees and cover it tightly in foil. This will allow the ham to continue cooking internally. Be sure to use your BBQ Dragon Instant Read Thermometer or Wireless Thermometers!


Both are great! However, if baking a spiral-sliced or pre-sliced ham, cover lightly with foil. Pre-sliced ham can dry-out during the cooking process. If grilling, consider using a water pan to add moisture. You can add fruit juice and other liquids to your water pan for bonus flavor.

Added Stuff

Don’t forget, you can add everything from whole cherries and pineapple slices to other fruits on the surface of your ham. You can attach at the beginning with toothpicks or about an hour into cooking. If grilling, consider adding from the beginning to limit the amount of time you have your grill lid opened or removed.

Easy Soda Brine / Marinade

Even though your game may already have been prepared with “added flavor” many people still enjoy the flavor of a “soak, brine, or marinade” so here are a few easy suggestions. A “brine” is often a salt-based liquid but people seem to enjoy sweeter and citrus flavors during the holidays when it comes to ham. The below suggestions are not salt-based.

  • First, slice the “X” pattern into the surface of the ham – not the face.
  • Place in a large stockpot or pan.
  • Use liquids such as cola, not diet, lemon-lime soda, rootbeer, beer, or even fruit-flavored wine. Plan on a couple of two-liter bottles or more if using soda.
  • Dashes of your favorite seasoning rub.
  • A dash or two of the glaze mixture if included with your purchased ham.
  • Place the entire ham in a large bowl or stockpot and pour the liquid onto the ham.
  • Cover and place in the fridge overnight.

Easy Citrus & Soda Glaze

  • 1 can of cola soda – (Coke-Cola) or even rootbeer.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade.

Heat up a deep-sided skillet and carefully add the soda and butter. Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to reduce. As the liquid reduces carefully add in the orange marmalade and stir. Remove from heat and use as a glaze on your ham, chops, kabobs, chicken, and more!

Author Bio: Kent Whitaker, also known as “The Deck Chef,” is an award-winning culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s also penned Young Reader, NASCAR and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill. You can reach out to Kent at, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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