Whether you’re hosting a gaggle of relatives for the holiday or planning a special night for you and your sweetie: Go ahead and bake a ham. As the late Marion Cunningham put it, “Baked ham is an ideal main dish for beginning cooks and the best answer for the harried cook.” Any leftovers freeze beautifully (hi, hello sandwiches, sautéed greens, fried rice). And what’s more festive than a honking roast? Today, we’re covering ham 101 and answering FAQ.
Just like steak (ribeye! flank! bone-in! dry-aged!), the world of ham is full of terms. Let’s break down the important ones:
Big! Figure 10 to 15 pounds—note, this could serve 30 people or then some. (Estimate ⅓ to ⅔ pound per person.) If you’re a smaller group and don’t want to freeze that many leftovers, consider buying a partial ham.
Nope. You can find most hams—whether whole or partial—without a bone. That said, these boneless cuts are preferable for eating immediately (compared to glazing then baking), so they may be more processed. Be wary of added ingredients, such as water, on the label.
First things first, ask your ham. As The Joy of Cooking notes, “Hams are usually labeled ‘partially cooked’ or ‘fully cooked.’ Whichever you buy, follow the instructions scrupulously.”
For partially cooked ham, you should cook it until the center reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. For fully cooked ham, which may be marked as ready to eat or something similar, you just want to warm it up to about 145°F.
Heat the oven anywhere from 300°F to 350°F. The ham will be very happy on a rack set in a roasting pan (but if you don’t have a rack, that’s okay too). There’s no need to cover it with foil, but you could if you want (some sources argue that this avoids any drying out). Just make sure you uncover before glazing.
Yes! This method is fuss-free and hands-off. According to The Kitchn, you can cook an 8- to 10-pound fully-cooked ham in a slow cooker on low for 4 to 5 hours. On the other hand, AllRecipes recommends that the same size ham cook for 8 hours. Which is to say, you do you! Since you’re starting with something that’s already cooked, it’s hard to go wrong.
With the oven at 325°F, The Joy of Cooking recommends the following cook times:
A glaze is a great way to make your ham your own. Maple-chipotle? Ginger-clove? Paprika-honey? You tell me! It’s also makes the roast super glossy and beautiful. Just keep these tips in mind:
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