How to Cook a Ham

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Everything you need to know about how to cook a ham for your holiday dinner. Start with a spiralized ham and make a homemade honey ham glaze for a deliciously flavorful tender & juicy ham.

We LOVE making a comforting country ham dinner. Here we’re sharing a complete guide on how to cook a ham with a sweet glaze. Find a recipe for honey baked hams and cranberry ham on our site also. Both holiday hams are delicious, but this is everything you need to know about how to bake a ham.

brushing glaze over spiral ham

Easy Baked Ham Recipe

For the first 10 years of our married life I cooked everything in the slow cooker. Have a roast? Slow cook it. Pork chops? With gravy in the slow cooker. Stew? Yes, you guessed it….pull out the slow cooker. Since starting this website over 5 years ago, I’ve loved learning how to cook a tender roast in the oven, grill a perfect steak and cook stew in the dutch oven.

Learning how to cook a ham is no different. Don’t get me wrong…I still love a good slow-cooker ham. But for a special occasion like a holiday meal I buy a spiral sliced ham and let it do its “slow cooking” in the oven. After all, it will look gorgeous on your Christmas dinner table! We’re talking today about how to make a tender, juicy ham with delicious glaze.

Prepping for Easter? Check out our complete Easter dinner menu.

How to Choose a Ham

There are three types of ham you’ll generally find in a grocery store: spiral cut ham, bone-in ham, boneless hams. Bone-in unsliced hams allow you to cut slices to your own desired thickness. Boneless hams obviously have the bone removed, then during the curing process the ham is pressed back together to get a uniform shape. Sometimes boneless ham will have a slightly different texture than traditional spiral-cut ham.

My favorite type of ham is spiral sliced. They are super easy because it comes perfectly sliced in sizes ideal for sandwiches or serving. It also makes a beautiful centerpiece on your dinner table. Spiral sliced hams often come with a packet of glaze. I normally throw that packet away and make my own glaze, which we’ll talk about next.

Shank end vs Butt-end

The shank end of the ham is the lower part of the leg while the butt-end is the higher part. The shank end is the funnel-shaped piece of ham that is lean and makes a beautiful presentation. You are most likely familiar with the shank end for an Easter ham dinner. That is the cut featured in this post.

The butt-end cut is rounder and has a t-shaped bone in it. It is a fattier meat which means it is flavorful and rich.

Ham Glaze Recipe

I like to make a brown sugar glaze for my spiral-sliced ham with my 3 favorite sweeteners: honey, brown sugar and maple syrup. Add a touch of dijon mustard and black pepper for just a little spice. 

If you’d like you can add ¼ teaspoon of cloves or ginger. I’ve done this occasionally to give the ham a “Christmas” flavor, but most of the time I leave out those two spices.

easy honey ham glaze recipe with a pastry brush in it

How to Cook a Ham

Baking a ham is easier than you may think. Follow these simple steps:

  • Place the ham in a shallow roasting pan (or 9×13″ pan), I don’t use a rack in my pan because I want the ham to soak in the added and natural juices, but you can if you’d like.
  • Pour a cup of ginger ale and a cup of orange juice overtop the ham. This not only adds to the flavor but helps keep the ham juicy while it cooks.
  • Cover either the ham itself or the pan with aluminum foil. Make sure it is covered well so the ham doesn’t dry out.
  • Set the oven to 350ºF and bake the ham, basting every 15-20 minutes. Uncover the ham when you baste it, but then cover it back up when you put it back in the oven.

How Long to Bake Ham

It will take about 10-15 minutes per pound to heat the spiral sliced ham to 140ºF. In a 350ºF oven, plan for it to take about 1 ½ to 2 hours for a 10 pound ham.

**We LOVE our Thermoworks instant-read thermometer to quickly test burger temperatures. This probe meat thermometer is AMAZING.  Get it here.**

a closeup of spiral sliced ham

Slow Cooker Ham

You can make this ham in the slow cooker. Set the slow cooker to low, place the ham in the crockpot, and pour the ginger ale and orange juice overtop. Then I mix up the glaze and pour it over the ham. After about 4-5 hours the ham should be warmed through. 

Baste it several times while it cooks so that those delicious flavors get distributed all through the meat. The part of the ham that is soaking in the juices will have the most flavor though. You could always turn the ham over part way through cooking so the whole ham has time to simmer in the juices.

Slow cooker ham will not look as pretty as oven baked ham, but it will be tender and flavorful.

how to cook a ham
how to cook a ham

How to Cook a Ham

4.71 from 172 votes
Everything you need to know about how to cook a ham for your holiday dinner. Start with a spiralized ham and make a homemade honey ham glaze for a deliciously flavorful tender & juicy ham.
Servings 30
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes

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Ingredients
 

  • 10 pound fully cooked spiral sliced ham (weight is approximate)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 cup ginger ale

Ham Glaze

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • To prepare: Remove the ham from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  • Place the ham sliced side up in a large roasting pan. Pour the orange juice and ginger ale overtop the ham.
  • Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  • In a small bowl, combine the syrup, honey, sugar, mustard and pepper to make the simple glaze. Mix well.
  • Baste the surface of the ham with juices and brush with ham glaze. Bake again for 20 minutes. (Be sure to leave about ½ cup of ham glaze for basting again right before serving.)
  • Continue baking the ham, basting the outside of the ham with the honey glaze every 15 minutes until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The cook time is about 10-15 minutes per pound of fully cooked ham. Plan for about 90-120 minutes of cooking for a ham.
  • Remove the ham from the oven and allow it to rest covered for 10-15 minutes. Baste with the remaining glaze right before serving.

Video

Notes

Other Seasoning ideas: For extra flavor, use pineapple juice and whole cloves.
 

Nutrition

Calories: 420kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1808mg | Potassium: 471mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 17IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 420
Keyword christmas dinner, easter dinner, ham dinner

How to Use the Ham Bone

Once you’re done serving the ham, you can use the leftover bone to make one of these two delicious soups.

Side Dishes for Ham

Leftover Ham Recipes

Try one of our popular leftover ham recipes:

And you should also try our leftover ham soup!

About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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Heidi
4 years ago

5 stars
Well it turned out amazing!! My family is big bbq sauce buffs so I added Heniz Hawaii bbq sauce the last 5 mins… that’s why the glaze looks a wee bit different. Thank you so much for your help today!!!!

Heidi
4 years ago

5 stars
Ok I’m excited and nervous, first time “cooking” ham. I have chosen the crock pot, I figure if I screw up I have a better chance saving it in there then the oven (under the foil). I wish you had a few more details on how to do it in the crockpot, I think I have a pretty good idea. I’ll post tonight and let you know if Mr. Porky made it through or if I really butchered him. (Ha ha).

Anonymous
3 years ago

5 stars
I use cloves and baste with ginger ale….delicious!

Anonymous
3 years ago

Is is okay to use a ham that is not sliced

Eliza Phillips
3 years ago

5 stars
Made this during the quarantine, absolutely loved it and I had everything I needed already in my kitchen. A hit with everyone in the house!

Anonymous
3 years ago

All I had was plain mustard not Dijon , is that ok ??

Bruce
3 years ago

4 stars
I wrap my ham tightly with foil but leave it so you can open the top of it to baste. It seems to keep from drying out and i baste and glaze half way through cook time then 15 min. before end i baste and glaze , when i remove it from oven i glaze again. Never had a dry ham….

Sarah
4 years ago

I cook a country ham, and I’m always looking for some way to make it a little juicier. I soak mine for for 24 hours before baking and I need a little help with a recipe for glazing.

Becca
4 years ago

Should ham be sitting on a rack in roasting pan?

Brenda
1 year ago

5 stars
Best Ham EVER! I didn’t make the glaze, but I did put my 11 lb. Ham in my roaster and poured one cup of orange juice and one cup of ginger ale on it and baked at 350 for 3 or 4 hours covered in foil. It was delicious. More/most importantly it was delicious 2 days afterward ad you can microwave to reheat, skillet reheat, however you want to reheat it is great! It’s moist and tasty – I mean delicious. I’m going to do this from now on!

Tatyana
1 year ago

5 stars
I’ve made this recipe before and it was delicious. My boyfriends mom bought the butt of the ham and I am supposed to cook it. Will this work with the butt of the ham as well?

Laura D
2 years ago

5 stars
Omg this looks so DELICIOUS 😋 I’m gonna try it, can this be cooked In the crockpot 🤔 I love cooking in my Crock-Pot it makes meat turn out so tender…..

Mary Steinmetz
2 years ago

can i use diet gingerale

Becka chandler
2 years ago

What if I don’t have orange juice and ginger ale

Diane VanBuskirk
3 years ago

Do you keep the ham covered with foil the entire time, or baste and leave open to the oven heat while cooking for 2-3 hours? I haven’t tried yet, I just have a question.