Cooking Delicious Bone-In Ham: A Complete Guide

Cooking ham is not only a delicious way to serve up a great meal, but it’s also a perfect go-to dish for family gatherings, holidays or any special occasion. This complete guide will provide you with expert tips on how to cook a delicious bone-in ham. From choosing the right cut and preparing the ham to cooking and serving it, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or trying ham for the first time, this guide will help you create an amazing dish that everyone will love.

Cooking Delicious Bone-In Ham: A Complete Guide | Eat Urban Garden
Cooking Delicious Bone-In Ham: A Complete Guide

The History of Ham

Ham has been a popular meat throughout history and has been enjoyed by many cultures around the world. The origin of the word “ham” is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have emerged from the Old English word “hamm,” which used to mean the back of the leg of animals.

Ancient History

Ham has been a source of food for people for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks ate ham during their spring festivals, while the Romans also considered it an essential part of their diet. The Romans even spread the love of ham throughout Europe, and by the Middle Ages, ham had become a staple food in many European countries.

The South’s Love for Ham

Ham is particularly popular in the southern regions of the United States, where it serves as a centerpiece during big family dinners and holidays. In some parts of the South, ham has become a symbol of hospitality, and it is often given as a gift to friends and family members.

  • The popularity of ham has also given rise to a wide variety of ham-based dishes.
  • Some Southern favorites include ham biscuits, ham salad, and boiled ham with mustard sauce.

Types of Ham

Ham is a versatile and flavorful meat that can be used in various dishes. However, before you start cooking, it’s essential to understand the different types of ham available in the market. Some of the most popular types of ham include:

1. Country Ham

Country ham, also known as Southern ham, is a salt-cured ham that is dry-aged for several months. It has a deep, smoky flavor and a chewy texture. This ham is typically served in thin slices and is a popular breakfast item in the South.

2. City Ham

City ham, also known as wet-cured ham, is brined in a mixture of salt, sugar, and other seasonings. It’s a milder option compared to country ham and is a popular choice for holiday feasts. City ham can be served in thick or thin slices and goes well with glazes or fruit-based sauces.

  • Hickory-smoked city ham is a popular variation that has a smoky flavor.

3. Prosciutto

Prosciutto is an Italian cured ham that is made by dry-aging the meat for a minimum of twelve months. It has a delicate flavor and a tender texture and is usually served in paper-thin slices. Prosciutto is a versatile ingredient that can be used in sandwiches, salads, and as a pizza topping.

Tip: When buying ham, make sure to read the label carefully to understand the type of ham and its preparation method.

How to Choose the Right Ham

When it comes to cooking delicious bone-in ham, selecting the right ham is the first and most important step to ensuring a mouth-watering meal. Here are some tips on how to choose the right ham for your recipe:

Consider the Size

The first thing to consider when choosing a ham is the size. Determine how many people you will be serving and whether you want leftovers. As a general rule, plan on 1/2 pound of ham per person for bone-in ham. If you want leftovers, add an additional 1/4 to 1/2 pound per person. For bone-in spiral-cut ham, plan for 3/4 to 1 pound per person, as the slices are smaller.

Choose the Type of Ham

When it comes to choosing the type of ham, there are a few options available. One is a fully cooked ham, which only needs to be heated through. Another is a partially cooked ham, which needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. Finally, there is a fresh ham, which needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F. Choose the type of ham based on your preferences and cooking time.

Consider the Flavor

There are many different flavors of ham available, from honey-glazed to smoked. Consider what flavors will complement your recipe and choose accordingly. For a classic bone-in ham, a traditional smoked flavor is a safe choice.

Preparing and Seasoning Your Ham

Ham is a classic dish that can be served on any occasion. Whether you’re preparing it for a special holiday meal or a casual dinner, learning how to cook a bone-in ham can be the perfect recipe. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare and season your ham to perfection.

Step 1: Select and Purchase Your Ham

Before you start cooking your ham, you need to make sure you have the right cut of meat. A good rule of thumb when purchasing ham is to allow about 3/4 to 1 pound per person. Consider buying a bone-in ham because it will provide more flavor and moisture. When you’re selecting your ham, look for meat that is pinkish-brown in color and has a good marbling of fat. A fresh ham should smell fresh and clean. Frozen hams should be solid and free of any ice crystals.

Step 2: Thaw Your Ham (if frozen)

If you purchased a frozen ham, you will need to thaw it in advance. The best way to thaw a ham is to place it in the refrigerator for a day or two. Allow enough time to thaw the ham completely before cooking it. If you’re in a hurry, you can thaw the ham more quickly by placing it in a sink or large bowl filled with cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes to keep the temperature down and allow it to thaw more quickly.

Step 3: Score the Surface

Scoring the surface of the ham will help it cook evenly and allow the glaze to penetrate the meat. Use a sharp knife to cut diagonal lines into the surface of the ham, about 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart. Then, repeat the process in the opposite direction, creating a diamond pattern. Be careful not to cut too deeply into the meat.

Step 4: Apply the Glaze and Seasoning

A good glaze is the key to a delicious ham. You can buy a ready-made glaze or make one from scratch. Brush the glaze over the surface of the ham, making sure to get it into the cuts you made earlier. Next, season the ham with salt, pepper, and any other spices you may like, such as garlic or thyme. These will enhance the flavor of your ham and create a savory crust.

  • To make the glaze:

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of honey, 1/4 cup of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Whisk the ingredients together until they are well combined.

Now that you know how to prepare and season your ham, it’s time to cook it. See our Complete Guide on How to Cook Ham for more information on cooking times and temperatures.

Cooking Techniques for Ham

Ham is a versatile meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways. The cooking technique you choose will depend on the type of ham you have and the recipe you want to make. Here are some popular methods for cooking delicious bone-in ham:


Baking is one of the most popular ways to cook bone-in ham. To bake a ham, preheat your oven to 325°F. Score the ham with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, then place it in a roasting pan. Mix together a glaze, such as honey, brown sugar, mustard, and cloves, and brush it over the ham. Cover the ham with foil and bake for about 15 minutes per pound. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the glaze to caramelize. Let the ham rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.


Roasting is another great way to cook bone-in ham. Preheat your oven to 325°F. Place the ham in a roasting pan and add about 1/4 inch of water to the bottom of the pan. Cover the ham with foil and roast for about 18 to 20 minutes per pound. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the ham to brown. Once the ham is cooked, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.


Smoking is a unique way to cook bone-in ham that imparts a delicious flavor. You will need a smoker and wood chips for this method. Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes before using them. Preheat your smoker to 225°F and add the wood chips. Place the ham on the smoker rack and smoke for about 3 to 5 hours, depending on the size of the ham. Once the ham is cooked, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.


Grilling a ham is a tasty option that is perfect for summertime. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Score the ham with a sharp knife in a diamond pattern, then place it on the grill. Brush the ham with a glaze, such as honey, brown sugar, mustard, and cloves, and grill for about 10 to 15 minutes per side, brushing with additional glaze as needed. Once the ham is cooked, let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Sous Vide

Sous vide is a cooking technique that involves vacuum-sealing the food and cooking it in a water bath at a low temperature. To sous vide a ham, preheat a water bath to 140°F. Season the ham with salt and pepper, then vacuum-seal it and place it in the water bath. Cook for 6 to 8 hours, depending on the size of the ham. Once the ham is cooked, remove it from the vacuum-seal and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.

Serving and Pairing Your Ham

After cooking your bone-in ham to perfection, it’s time to consider how to best serve and pair it for an unforgettable meal. Here are some tips and tricks:

Choose the Perfect Sides

When it comes to side dishes, there are many options that complement the rich flavor of ham. Here are some popular choices:

  • Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes pair well with ham and provide a good balance to the salty flavor.
  • Green Beans: Roasted or sautéed green beans are a classic choice to add a bit of color to the plate.
  • Sweet Potatoes: Sweet potato casserole or mashed sweet potatoes add a dash of sweetness to the meal.
  • Cornbread: Cornbread is a classic Southern side that provides plenty of texture and flavor to complement the ham.

Wine Pairings

Pairing wine with ham requires some finesse since it is a salty and fatty meat. Here are some excellent wine choices:

  • Riesling: A demi-sec Riesling works well with the salty and sweet flavors of the ham.
  • Pinot Noir: This medium-bodied wine has a fruity flavor that balances out the saltiness of the ham.
  • Bourbon: For a stronger pairing, try bourbon with your ham. The caramel and vanilla notes in bourbon provide a perfect complement to the smoky flavor of ham.

With the right sides and wine pairings, serving your delicious bone-in ham can become an amazing culinary experience. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and techniques to create the perfect meal for you and your loved ones.

Enjoy Your Delicious Bone-In Ham!

Thank you for reading this complete guide on how to cook a delicious bone-in ham. We hope our step-by-step instructions and tips have helped you create a mouth-watering ham for your next family dinner or special occasion. If you have any questions or feedback, please leave a comment below. Don’t forget to bookmark this page and come back for more tasty recipes and cooking guides!

Cooking Delicious Bone-In Ham: A Complete Guide

Learn how to cook a delicious and juicy bone-in ham with our complete guide. From choosing the right ham to seasoning and cooking methods, we’ve got you covered!

  • 1 8 to 10-pound fully cooked bone-in ham
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. Score the ham about 1/4-inch deep with a sharp knife to create a diamond pattern.
  3. In a saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, honey, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and cloves until well combined. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.
  4. Brush the glaze all over the ham, making sure to get into the scoring. Reserve some of the glaze for later use.
  5. Place the ham in a large roasting pan and bake for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, basting with the reserved glaze every 30 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 140°F (60°C).
  6. Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving.
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