Close this search box.

Black Bear Ham

  Of all the wild game animals that go into the frying pan (or any other method of cooking) black bear probably receives most of the bad rap about being edible. The OS FFTT team is here to offer you suggestions that will change your mind on eating black bear.

Our own Margie Nelson (The Wyld Gourmet) shares her story and experience with Black Bear.

Montana people aren’t much for bear meat, even though our regulations require the harvest of the whole animal.   Having said that, I had an opportunity to hunt bear in Idaho.  You are not required to harvest the meat in Idaho, but I was determined to prove black bear was an outstanding choice for dinner fare.   I got a nice Black sow.  Game on! 

So I hatched a plan to turn the hind quarters into ham.  I made sausage and bear shank stew and I was satisfied that bear was OK, if you were willing to spend the extra time making it that way.   

Since then I have found that fall bear is actually quite yummy. 

The small black bear I was gifted last fall really secured my idea that black bear is an excellent choice for the dinner table.  This bear had some of the tastiest back strap meat I have ever tried.  I sliced it thin and fried it in butter with garlic, being careful to cook it well to not get trichinosis.  Some say it can be cooked to a lower temperature, but I am sticking with at least 155F internally.  Nobody wants the Trich!    

This bear was quite delicious, I wished I had more.  I treated the hunters at the camp I was cooking for to some thin sliced bear with a drizzle of a smokey balsamic reduction I had worked up.  Very delicious  I also made Red curry bear with rice. Oh my, that is a winner also. (Recipe coming soon)

Here is how you can make your own ham from the hind quarters of your bear. 

We use RecTec pellet smokers/grills for all of our outdoor cooking and all of our wild game is processed using Made With Meat equipment.

Recipe by Margie Nelson

Brine Ingredients: 

  • 2 ½ cups Kosher salt 
  • 2 ½ cups brown sugar 
  • 2 ½ Tbls Pink salt #1 Nitrite 
  • One jar of pickling spices 
  • ¼ cup molasses 
  • 1 gallon water 
  • 1 gallon apple cider              




Process your animal as usual keeping the hind quarter intact with the bone.  Cut off the shanks and save for stew meat or Osso Buco.  Tie with butchers string around the meat to keep it compact during the brining and smoking process. 

In general when brining for every two pounds of meat you need to brine it one full day or more.    But when making a ham from scratch brine it for 7-10 days, or longer, in a container that fits into your refrigerator.  It needs to keep refrigerated. 

Get your smoker going at 170-180F and smoke the ham with your choice of pellets.    Smoke for 8 hours.  Place in the fridge and enjoy as is or heat it up and glaze it. 

It is amazing that bear comes out tasting just like a ham.  The texture is somewhat chewier, but the flavor is amazing. 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email