Pat Martin’s Holiday Ham Glaze

The celebrated pitmaster shares an easy enhancement to store-bought ham, plus other preparation tips

Photo: Courtesy of Martin’s Bar-B-Que

If there’s one thing Pat Martin is going to have on his Christmas table, it’s a smoked ham. The pitmaster and owner of Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, located in multiple Southern states, takes the holiday centerpiece seriously, smoking a ham of at least twenty pounds. “I’m not just feeding folks at the table that day but also my buddies in the days to follow,” he says. 

While Martin prefers to source his meat from a butcher (“They take the most pride in where the ham came from and how the hog was raised,” he says), procuring and smoking your own ham can be an undertaking. It’s easier to buy a prepared ham, whether from the grocery store or an online specialty purveyor such as Snake River Farms. Martin suggests opting for about one-third of a pound per person. “Kids will eat less, the big boys will eat more, and it all evens out,” he says. 

You can typically choose between a boneless or bone-in ham and one that’s sliced or spiral cut—a matter of personal preference. “I love a spiral cut, especially if you are really wanting to pack a glaze on it,” Martin says. If you go for a ham with bones, don’t forget to upcycle them in collard greens or stock. 

Of course, dressing up your store-bought ham is perfectly acceptable—encouraged, even. “A glaze with a base such as sorghum or hickory syrup is tough to beat here,” Martin says. Just don’t apply it until the last fifteen minutes of cooking, and apply some more when it comes out, allowing the ham to rest about twenty minutes before serving.


  • Hickory Ham Glaze

    • ½ cup butter

    • 1 cup hickory or sorghum syrup

    • 3 tbsp. Dijon mustard

    • 3 tbsp. orange juice

    • ¼ tsp. cinnamon

    • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves

    • 2 cloves garlic, minced


  1. In a small, heavy-bottom saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until golden brown. 

  2. Add the hickory (or sorghum) syrup, Dijon mustard, orange juice, and spices to the butter, stirring until fully combined (about 2 minutes).

  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic. Allow to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, removing from heat before the garlic begins to brown.