Cold smoke a whole leg of pork

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Original poster
Mar 25, 2015
Najac Southern France
Hi All

I would like to brine and cold smoke a whole leg of Pork around 20lb for Christmas. Can anyone help in regard to the % Brine, how many days per pound in the cure and the cold smoke time. Looking forward to hearing from you. Thanks Austyn
I have made picnics into ham and hot smoked them...   They can be cold smoked but must be cooked thoroughly after... 

Are you planning on oven cooking the ham after cold smoking ??
A good place for you to start would be Pop's Brine

Like Dave mentions you will need to cook the ham after curing it and cold smoking it if you use the method above. This is the only method that if you start right now will have you eating ham for Christmas.

Now if you are looking to do a Country cured ham you aren't going to have it for Christmas, maybe Easter at the earliest. It takes a minimum of 6 months to make this happen.

Then there's this method that can take 1-2 years
Pops brine would work best (in my opinion). Cold smoke time? As much as you like (days)...I like smoky. Make sure you account for some rest time after smoking. The longer the better. Good luck and post pics.
Make sure you inject Pops brine/cure into the meat and especially around the bones and joints...   Keep in the remaining brine/cure AND refrigerated for 3-4 weeks....

Curing times vary with meat, but generally overnight to 2-3 days for chickens and turkeys, 8-10 days buckboard bacon, 10-14 days belly bacon, pork shoulder, whole butts, 3-4 weeks whole hams, 10-20 days corned beef (fresh beef roasts, briskets, rolled rib roasts, etc.)   If whole muscle is more than 2" thick, then inject so it can cure i/o as well as o/i, and/or in and around bone structures, etc.
Yes - cold smoke first and then either boil or oven cook?

Since you need this done by Christmas, pops brine is your best bet and then hot smoke it. You aren't going to have enough time to accomplish a cold smoke and there's no point if you are going to use Pops brine.

Boil a ham?????? Ughhhhh.....
Definitely use Pop's brine. I have used it to make about 7 hams now and countless other things.

You can look up it but here is my modified version of Pop's brine: Base pops brine is 1 gal, 1 cup salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup white sugar, 1 heaping tbs cure #1/pink curing salt

My recipie:

1 gal water

1/3 cup salt plus 2 tbs

1 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups dark raw honey

1 heaping tbs cure #1

I just started my Christmas ham this week(and some Canadian bacon). I plan to pull it out of the brine about 3-4 days before Xmas and let it start drying a bit. Then I usually cold smoke it for about 3 hours and then shift over to hot smoke and cook it to 165IT

Thanks for the reply - much appreciated!

A couple of questions if I may?

If you have just started your ham then I assume that it will be in the brine for about 30 days, what weight is it as I have been told that you need to brine on the basis of 1.5/2 dys per pound?

Do you tunnel bone the joint or leave it in?

Looking forward to hearing from you


Brining is calculated on "inches of thickness" of the meat...  ~7 days per inch...   If the ham is ~8" across, then that's 4" for the cure/brine to penetrate from all sides...  = 28 days or so... 

Curing should NOT be calculated by weight... . a 5# steak that is 1" thick takes less time than a 5# roast....  make sense ??

Austyn, my ham this time is about 22lbs. I don't debone it, but I do inject the brine in many spots throughout the meat as well as around all of the bones. Pops posted a great tutorial with step by step pictures. I think the post was "from hog leg to easter ham" or something close to that.
No problem and good luck! It's still not too late if you want to do a ham for Xmas. It is getting closeish though. As long as you start it by Thanksgiving you should be good. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.