How to Cook a Ham

How to Cook a Ham

Almost as iconic as the Thanksgiving turkey, a baked ham makes an impressive and delicious centerpiece at any celebration. Let’s take a look at how to choose, cook and serve this crowd-pleasing cut of meat.

How to Choose a Ham

Depending on how many people you’ll be serving, choose a whole or half ham. Whole hams typically weigh about 18-20 pounds and can feed around 20 people, whereas a half ham will feed around 9-10 guests. You’ll also need to choose between a boneless or bone-in ham. As with most meats, the boneless style is often a more convenient option, while bone-in typically offers slightly better flavor. Finally, choose between a spiral-cut ham, which is “pre-carved” and has the bone intact, or a ham that’ll need to be carved after cooking.

How to Cook a Ham in the Oven

Not sure how to make ham or where to start? No problem! For a warm, juicy meal, preheat the oven to 350°F and bake pre-cooked ham for 10 minutes per pound, and raw ham for 20 minutes per pound. The ham is ready to eat when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 145°F. Before serving, cover the ham with foil and let it rest for 10 minutes. Though you can certainly enjoy it as-is, make your meat even more delicious by adding a glaze.

How to Glaze a Ham

Enhance your ham’s flavor, color and sheen by brushing it with a homemade glaze while it’s cooking. Whether you’re going for the perfect combination of sweet and salty or adding a tangy twist, a glaze is an easy way to enhance your holiday ham. If you have extra glaze, serve it on the side as a dip or additional sauce.

Ham Glaze Recipes

From sweet to savory to fruity, there are countless ham glaze recipes to choose from. Looking for a new flavor combination to try? Here are a few options to tempt your taste buds. No matter which glaze you choose, you’ll want to brush or spoon your concoction over the ham during the last 45 minutes of cooking.

  • Brown Sugar & Bourbon Glaze: Mix together ⅓ cup bourbon, ½ cup brown sugar and 2 teaspoons dry mustard.
  • Honey, Sriracha, Brown Sugar & Garlic Glaze: Stir together ½ cup honey, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons sriracha and 1 clove garlic, finely chopped.
  • Maple Syrup, Grainy Mustard and Rosemary Glaze: Whisk together ½ cup real maple syrup, 2 tablespoons grainy mustard, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped.
  • Root Beer, Brown Sugar & Barbecue Sauce Glaze: Whisk together ¾ cup root beer, ½ cup barbecue sauce and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.
  • Tangy Balsamic & Mustard Glaze: Mix 2 tablespoons good-quality balsamic vinegar, 1½ tablespoons Dijon mustard and ¼ cup brown sugar.
  • Spicy No-Sugar Glaze: Whisk together 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 teaspoons black pepper and 1 teaspoon dried mustard.

How to Cut a Ham

To slice a boneless ham, simply cut vertically to your desired thickness. For a bone-in ham, cut a few slices off one side to create a base. Lay the ham flat and make vertical cuts perpendicular to the bone, starting at the narrow end and working back towards the thicker section. Cut along the bone horizontally to release the slices. Slice only as much as you need. Since spiral-cut ham comes pre-sliced, you can simply cut along the seams to carve.

What to Do with Leftover Ham

One of the best things about ham is the amazing leftover potential. You can add ham to scrambled eggs or omelets, make sandwiches and salads, add a slice to a grilled cheese, whip up a ham and scalloped potato casserole or use the bone to add deep, smoky flavor to split-pea soup. Store the leftover ham tightly wrapped in the fridge for 3-5 days or stash in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Ready to ham it up with friends and family? After your big dinner, try whipping up some of these delicious leftover ham recipes below. For more holiday meal inspiration, check out our full recipe collection. For more ham how-to, learn how to cook a bone in ham.

Fresh Hams

Glaze Ingredients

Cooking Essentials

Leftover Ham Ideas