A ham is nothing but a fresh pork leg, cured for about a week in a salt water solution, similar to what happens to bacon. If you do it right, it will be the moistest, tastiest piece of pig you have ever eaten!

First thing you need to do is get a fresh ham and remove the skin and most of the fat. You can turn the skin into cracklins and cook the fat down to lard should you wish. Makes the kitchen smell like holy hell, but it is very good.

Next, get a 5 gallon food grade bucket, or line a plastic bucket with a turkey roasting bag. Make your brine by mixing together 3 gallons of water, 2 cups of kosher salt and 3 tablespoons of Prague Powder #1, or pink salt. Not to be confused with Himalayan salt, pink salt is the active ingredient that turns your pig into ham.

Inject your fresh ham with the salt water solution to cover every square inch of the ham. If you don’t thoroughly inject the ham, you will just get roast pork, which isn’t bad, but it’s not ham. Place the injected ham with brining solution in the bucket or bag and refrigerate for 7-10 days. When the ham is ready to go, the brine should be relatively clear.

Once the curing is complete, smoke for about 5 hours at 325F, or until it reaches 145F. During the last hour, you can glaze the ham with your favorite glaze or BBQ sauce. Cut, serve, and enjoy the best ham only Honeybaked could dream about!


Smoked cheese is the bomb, however, it can be tricky to do. Traeger used to sell a cold smoker attachment, that would bolt on to the end of the grill after you relocated the stack to the cold smoker. It has a damper in the bottom that allows cooler, ambient air to mix with the exhaust air in the smoker to create a cooler environment to smoke your cheese in.

I am fortunate that I live in the midwest, so smoking cheese in the winter is not a problem. Anytime the outside temperature is under 40F, I can maintain 150 in the grill and around 70-80 in the cold smoker. Any cheese can be smoked, but the soft cheeses, like Mozzarella and Havarti, absorb the most smoke.

I typically let them go for about 3 hours, but you need to watch them closely to ensure they don’t start melting. The lower 2 pieces come from a brick of Mozzarella and are starting to melt. Time to pull the cheese. I’ve also been able to take Mozzarella string cheese and smoke it, works really well.

Another option to smoke is to get a pellet tube and just let it smolder in any grill. Adds smoke, but no heat. Takes a bit longer, but will get the job done.

The hardest part is letting the cheese age after smoking. It tastes so damn good on day one, it’s hard to believe it gets better overtime, but it does. I usually let mine sit in the fridge for 3 months before consuming. Regardless, it is the best thing, ever!

Baby Back Ribs

Simple, yet delicious. And a relatively quick cook, typically finishing in 6 hours or so. Good choice for tailgate parties if you have the time.

You can make these as simple or as complicated as you want, using store bought rubs and sauces, or choosing to make your own. You can also choose to have the meat fall off the bones, or leave it with a little bit of a tug off the bone.

Start with as many slabs of baby back ribs as you want to cook. I typically get the 3 pack from Costco. Remove the membrane on the back of the ribs. The easiest way I have found to do so is to peel a corner up with a sharp knife, then grasp it with a paper towel and pull to remove. Those Costco ribs don’t have much of a membrane to start with, but those from a local butcher typically do.

Rub both sides of the ribs with your favorite rub, or use my pulled pork rub recipe. Wrap the ribs in plastic and let rest in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to cook, set your smoker for 225. Place the ribs on a rib rack, fat side up. Let them cook for 3 hours without touching them. After 3 hours, you’ve got a decision to make. If you want them to have a bit of a pull, leave them on the rib racks and start spritzing with a mix of pineapple juice, water and white vinegar. Use 2 parts juice to 1 part water and 1/2 part white vinegar. If you are cooking 3 racks, I would use 1C juice, 1/2C water and 1/4C vinegar. If you want them to fall off the bone, wrap each rack in a double layer of foil. Before sealing the foil, add about 1C brown sugar to each rack and drizzle with honey and about 1/4C of pineapple juice.

If you wrapped the ribs, after 2 1/2 hours of being wrapped (5 1/2 hours into the cook), remove from the foil and place back on the grill. If you left them in the rib rack the entire time, remove them from the rack and lay flat on the grill. Sauce up one side using your favorite BBQ sauce, or make this one from scratch. Let cook for 15 minutes before flipping, saucing and cooking the other side.

Eat immediately after pulling from the grill.

Beef Jerky

Jerky made from beef brisket.

A meal in every stick! You can make out of Flank Steak or Beef Brisket.

You can make beef jerky as simple as applying a dry rub and go, or marinating overnight. If you want to go the long way, give this a try:

  • 5 pounds flank steak or beef brisket flat
  • 3/4 C Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2C A-1 steak sauce
  • 1/4C soy sauce
  • 2t chili paste
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1T salt
  • 1T Cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1T onion salt
  • 1t lemon pepper

Cut the meat against the grain. Use flank steak if you want a tender and tasty jerky. Use beef brisket if you want a meatier meal in a stick. Whichever you choose, cut them about 1/4″ thick.

Combine all the dry ingredients with the liquids and blend well. Mix in the meat slices and marinate for 24 hours.

Drain well and pat dry before cooking. Place in smoker at lowest level (150-170F) for 5 hours. Make sure the meat does not touch the other pieces. You can hang from an upper rack using a skewer and threading the meat through the grill grate. After 5 hours, turn the heat up to 225 and cook until done. You’re looking for the meat to be dry, but chewy. Watch the jerky closely, as it will continue to cook after you pull it off the grill. Allow to cool and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Flank steak jerky. Top shelf was dry rubbed, bottom was marinated. Just starting the smoking process.

Smoked Chicken Wings

The best chicken wing you’ll ever have is the one off your own grill. I have been experimenting with different methods and recipes for smoked wings. What I describe here is now my tried and true recipe for the best wings ever! This is my go-to for tailgate parties. For large groups, I typically complete Step 1 days or weeks before the event, then finish with Steps 2 and 3 at the event. It is a 3-step process.

Step 1

Start with whole, fresh wings, not just drums or wings, but the whole piece. Season with your favorite poultry rub. I use McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Rub. Place on your smoker at it’s lowest setting (smoke in the case of my Traeger) and let go for 5 hours.

Once smoked, you can remove, vacuum seal and freeze until ready to eat. Or, you can go right to the finishing step.

Step 2

Crank up the heat. Get your grill as hot as it can go. I use direct heat on my Weber Genesis gas grill. Grill the wings until they are charred and crisp. If they just came off the smoker, about 4 minutes, flipping every minute so they don’t become charcoal. If you are cooking from the freezer, it could take 8-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can deep fry them for a few minutes at 375. You could also use indirect heat on the smoker, setting the grill for as hot as it will go. However, this method will not char the wing. The point is, you need to crisp up the skin. High heat is the only way to do that.

Step 3

Once crisp, you can chow down on the seasoned wing, or toss it in your favorite sauce. My go to is a hot garlic wing sauce you can make with this recipe. You can either toss and serve the wings in the sauce, or return them to the grill for a couple of minutes/side to set up the sauce.

Hot Garlic Buffalo Wing Sauce

The most tasty and delicious wing sauce ever!

  • 1/2C butter
  • 1/3C chopped garlic
  • 1 bottle ketchup
  • 1 bottle Frank’s red sauce
  • Hot sauce to taste

Melt the butter and sauté the chopped garlic for about 5-10 minutes, until fragrant. Add the ketchup and Franks, bringing to a simmer, but do not boil. Add hot sauce until you get to the spice level you want.

I keep leftovers in the aforementioned ketchup bottle in the fridge for weeks, putting it on salads, chicken breasts, tenders, anything.

Smoked Chicken

One of the easiest, and quickest, foods you can cook on your smoker. To get the skin crisp, you need to crank up the heat, but in less than 90 minutes you will be tasting some of the juiciest chicken you’ve ever tasted!

Start with setting your smoker on high. That means about 400-450 for my Traeger. Season a whole bird with your favorite poultry seasoning. I love Traeger’s Chicken Rub, though McCormick & Schmidt’s Rotisserie Chicken rub is good, too. Set the bird in the smoker until the breast gets to 165, about 90 minutes depending on the size of the bird.

You can play around with a chicken throne, or beer can chicken. Theoretically, they are supposed to keep the chicken moist. However, I can’t tell the difference between one done on a throne vs. not.

Pulled Pork Mop

A great mop for pork butts. Recipe makes enough for 2 large butts (about 10 pounds each).

  • 3 Cups Hogs Breath Sauce (if you are in a pinch, use your favorite BBQ sauce)
  • 3 Cups white vinegar
  • 3/4 C Franks Red Sauce
  • 3/4 C Pick-a-Pepper Sauce
  • 6T Pulled Pork Rub

Combine all ingredients, blending well. Heat slowly to a slight simmer, but do not boil. Hold warm for mopping.

Pulled Pork

One of the tastiest cooks you can have…it just takes a long time! Depending on the size of your pork butts, this can be an 8-12 hour cook. I typically buy the cryosealed pack of pork butts from Costco. They come 2 in a package and are each about 10#. It takes no more effort to cook 2 than it takes to cook 1. Just vacuum seal and freeze what you don’t eat.

About 2 hours before you are ready to start cooking, season the butt liberally with pulled pork rub. There is salt in the rub, which turns your pork into ham over time, so don’t allow the rub to rest overnight, just 2 hours before you cook.

Start your smoker at 250. Place fat side up and add 1 cup of brown sugar to the top. Smoke them for 3 hours before starting to baste to ensure a nice crust/bark on the outer edges.

After 3 hours, baste the butt with the pulled pork mop every hour. Continue to smoke another 6 hours or until the internal temp hits 160. Once there, wrap the butt in foil, add any left over mop, seal tightly and continue to cook until internal temperature reaches 200 (about 3 more hours).

Let the butt rest in foil for 15 minutes, then carefully open the foil package, reserving the mop & juices. Shred the butt and mix the juices back into the pulled pork. You can also season with some of the rub. Enjoy!

Smoked Turkey

Not just for Thanksgiving, a smoked turkey is the gift that keeps on giving. The effort to cook 20# is the same as that for 10#. Get yourself a big ‘ol bird and get creative with leftovers!

Start your cook 2 days before you want to eat, by brining the bird for 2 days. I take a 5 gallon bucket and line it with a turkey roasting bag. Mix together:

  • 2 gallons water
  • 1 1/2C canning salt
  • 3T minced garlic
  • 1T back pepper
  • 1/4C Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3C brown sugar

Place the turkey in the bag in the bucket. Add the brine solution, making sure it covers the entire bird. Leave the bucket and turkey in the refrigerator for 2 days before cooking.

For the cook, you want:

  • 20# turkey
  • 8 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4T seasoning salt
  • 1C butter
  • 4 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 2 apples, quartered
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 2T garlic powder
  • 2T salt
  • 2T black pepper

Rinse the turkey after you take it out of the brine. Rub the crushed garlic over the outside of the bird, and sprinkle with seasoning salt. Set directly on your smoker at 225 for 3 hours. Don’t touch it, don’t look at it, don’t spritz it. Just let it go. This allows the bird to absorb as much smoke as possible.

After 3 hours, put in a roasting pan and fill the turkey cavity with with butter, Dr. Pepper, apple, onion, garlic powder and black pepper. Cover loosely with foil.

Turn the smoker up to 250 and smoke for an additional 7-10 hours. Good rule of thumb is 30-40 minutes/pound. You want the thigh to get to 180 and the breast at 165. Baste the bird every hour with the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan. If the cook is moving along faster than expected, just turn the heat back down to 225 and baste more often.