Blog Glazed Baked Ham Recipe

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A big baked ham is one of the easiest things to prepare for a holiday celebration. It’s economical—even a half-ham can feed a dozen people with leftovers. Full hams typically go on sale the week before the holidays, bringing the per-person cost down even more.

There’s very little in the way of actual cooking that needs to happen, which makes the prep a lot simpler, too.

How To Choose a Holiday Ham

You have a lot of different choices at the store for buying ham:

  • Whole ham vs. half ham
  • Shank vs. butt
  • Unsliced vs. spiral cut
  • Bone-in vs. boneless
  • Fully-cooked vs. partially cooked or uncooked

For this recipe, and for most holiday occasions, we prefer an un-sliced bone-in half ham, preferably from the shank end. A half a ham will comfortably feed at least a dozen people, and cooking it un-sliced means that it’s less likely to dry out. (Though see our tips below if you prefer to buy a spiral-cut ham.) Bone-in hams are more flavorful, and you can use the ham bone to make soup.

Half hams are also either cut from the shank end or from the butt end. The butt end may have more meat, but because of the shape of the bone at that end, is more difficult to cut. The hams pictured here are both from the shank end.

Most hams you buy at the grocery store are already fully cooked. If your ham is a partially cooked ham or an uncooked ham, it will say so on the package. Follow the cooking directions on the package to cook. The directions in this recipe are for a regular, fully-cooked ham.

Lori Rice

How To Prepare Baked Ham

Since most hams you buy are already cooked, all you have to do is heat the ham, and if you want, apply a simple glaze.

Prepare the ham by scoring a diamond pattern into the fat and skin, taking care not to cut into the meat itself. This scoring will allow the glaze to soak into the meat and flavor it.

Apply the glaze just before putting it into the oven to bake. Remember, the ham is already cooked, so all we’re doing here is warming it back up again with the glaze. Use a meat thermometer and warm it to 110°F to 120°F.

To finish, baste the ham with its juices and put it under the broiler to brown the skin. Then slice and serve.

Lori Rice

Tips for the Best Baked Ham

Ham is easy to cook, but here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure your ham turns out beautifully:

  • Let it sit at room temp: You need to let the ham sit at room temp for a couple of hours before cooking, otherwise the inside will still be cool when the outside is properly heated.
  • Don’t over-cook the ham: Many package instructions say to heat the ham to 140°F. That’s just asking for a dry ham. Remember, the ham is already cooked! You are just warming it up.
  • If you are working with a partially cooked or uncooked ham, and not a ready-to-eat ham, follow the cooking directions on the package, most suggest cooking a partially cooked ham to 150°F.
  • If cooking a spiral-cut ham, wrap tightly in foil: If you use an already sliced (spiral cut) ham and if you don’t wrap it tightly enough with foil, the outer areas can dry out.

One Recipe, Two Glazes

For this recipe, my friend Suzanne and I baked two hams, one with Suzanne’s favorite sweet hot honey mustard glaze, and one with an intriguing honey thyme glaze from an old issue of Gourmet magazine.

We used regular non-spiral cut hams, scored them first in a diamond pattern, applied a glaze, cooked, basted with glaze, and finished browning in the broiler. Both hams turned out beautifully.

Ideas for Other Glazes

The two glazes we used are both honey-based, though you could use other things for a sweetened glaze, such as pineapple juice, marmalade, or maple syrup. Also try our recipes for Cranberry Glazed Ham or Brown Sugar Glazed Ham.

Do you have a favorite glazed ham glaze? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.

Lori Rice

Storing and Freezing Leftover Ham

Leftover ham will keep, well wrapped, in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. You can freeze it, wrapped and put in a ziptop bag or airtight container, for 3 to 4 months.

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