Learn to Cook a Ham with these Easy Steps

If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing dish that’s great for potlucks, holiday dinner parties, or just a comforting family meal, ham is a perfect choice. However, cooking a ham can be intimidating, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Don’t worry, though, because we’ve got you covered with these easy steps that will walk you through the process from start to finish. With just a few simple ingredients and some basic techniques, you can cook a delicious ham that everyone will love.

Learn to Cook a Ham with these Easy Steps | Eat Urban Garden
Learn to Cook a Ham with these Easy Steps

What Type of Ham Should I Use for Cooking?

If you’re planning to cook a ham, the first thing you need to take into consideration is the type of ham to use. Choosing the right type of ham is important as it will affect the outcome of your dish. Here are some of the types of ham that you can use for cooking:

Fresh Ham

A fresh ham, also known as a leg of pork, is an uncured and uncooked ham. This type of ham is usually used for roasting, and it is often served during the holidays. Fresh ham has a slightly pink color and it has less salt compared to other types of ham.

Cured Ham

Cured ham has been treated with salt and other curing ingredients to preserve it. There are two types of cured ham: wet-cured and dry-cured. Wet-cured ham is soaked in a brine solution, while dry-cured ham is coated in a mixture of salt, sugar, and other seasonings. Cured ham can be used for baking, roasting, or grilling.

Cooked Ham

Cooked ham, also known as city ham, is pre-cooked and usually sold in slices or as a whole ham. This type of ham is often used for sandwiches and salads. If you are planning to cook a cooked ham, it is best to heat it in the oven until it is warm.

Smoked Ham

Smoked ham is cured and then smoked with wood chips or sawdust. This type of ham is often served during the holidays and it can be used in soups, stews, and casseroles. Smoked ham has a distinct smoky flavor and aroma, and it is usually sold in slices or as a whole ham.

How Should I Prepare the Ham Before Cooking?

Preparing the ham before cooking is a crucial step that ensures the meat stays juicy and flavorful while cooking. There are several ways to prepare the ham, such as cleaning, trimming, scoring, glazing, marinating, and seasoning.

Cleaning and Trimming

Cleaning and trimming the ham is the first step in preparing the ham before cooking. Before starting, make sure to remove the packaging and discard any labels or stickers. Rinse the ham under cold running water to remove any excess salt or debris.

Trimming the ham involves removing the skin, excess fat, and any tough or hard parts. Use a sharp knife to trim the skin and fat off the meat. Take care not to remove too much of the fat as it helps keep the meat moist while cooking.


Scoring the ham involves making shallow cuts on the surface of the meat. This helps to create grooves and allows any marinade or seasoning to penetrate the meat more efficiently. Use a sharp knife to make criss-cross cuts or horizontal cuts on the surface of the ham.

Make sure not to cut too deep into the meat, as this can cause the ham to dry out while cooking.


Glazing the ham involves applying a layer of sauce or syrup to the surface of the meat. This helps to add flavor and creates a beautiful shiny appearance. To prepare the glaze, you can use different ingredients such as honey, brown sugar, mustard, or fruit juice.

Apply the glaze with a brush evenly over the ham. You can also use a baster to add additional layers of glaze during cooking.


Marinating the ham involves letting it sit in a flavorful liquid for a set period. This allows the meat to absorb the flavors and become tender. To prepare the marinade, you can use ingredients such as herbs, spices, fruits, or vinegar.

Place the ham in a large plastic bag or container and pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag or container and let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.


Seasoning the ham involves rubbing it with a mix of herbs and spices. This helps to add depth and flavor to the meat. To prepare the seasoning rub, you can use ingredients such as salt, black pepper, garlic, or rosemary.

Generously apply the seasoning mix evenly over the surface of the ham.

What are the Recommended Cooking Methods for Ham?

Ham can be cooked using several methods, including baking, grilling, roasting, boiling, and smoking. Each method has its unique advantages and disadvantages.


Baking is a common method for cooking ham. This method involves placing the ham in a baking pan and baking it in the oven. The oven should be preheated to 325°F, and the baking time depends on the size of the ham. A general rule is to bake the ham for about 15-20 minutes per pound. Baking produces a moist and tender ham with a browned exterior that is crispy in texture. Adding glaze and pineapple rings on the surface of the ham is one of the popular options to increase its flavor. It is essential to weigh the ham before baking to determine the exact cooking time and temperature.


Roasting is a dry-heat method that is great for spiral-cut hams. For this method, hams should be roasted at 325°F, for about 15-18 minutes per pound. The ham is placed on a roasting rack and basted with a mixture of honey, brown sugar, mustard, and pineapple juice. Roasting forms a crispy brown exterior and succulent meat that is full of flavor. It is essential to let the ham rest for approximately 15 minutes after roasting to increase its juiciness and easier for carving.


Grilling is an ideal method if you want to add a smoky flavor to the ham. Place a boneless ham slice on the grill, heat each side for 3-4 minutes, and brush marinade on it before flipping it over. Grilling has a shorter cooking time than baking or roasting for a ham, with approximately 10-12 minutes per side for a one-inch thick ham slice. Grilling is a great option for small gatherings and outdoor cookouts.

How Long Should I Cook the Ham?

The length of time you should cook a ham depends on several factors, including the type of ham, its weight, and the cooking method used. Here are some general guidelines to follow when cooking a ham:

Cooking Time by Type of Ham

The cooking time for different types of ham varies. Here are some of the most common types of ham and their estimated cooking times:

  • Fully Cooked Ham: If you are reheating a fully cooked ham, it should be heated to an internal temperature of 140°F. This should take about 10-14 minutes per pound depending on the oven temperature and the ham’s original weight.
  • Partially Cooked Ham: A ham that has been partially cooked should be cooked for about 20-25 minutes per pound, or until it reaches an internal temperature of 140°F.
  • Uncooked Ham: An uncooked ham should be cooked for about 35-40 minutes per pound. This will result in a slightly pink center and a juicy texture.
  • Cooked Spiral Sliced Ham: A pre-cooked spiral-sliced ham should be cooked for around 10-12 minutes per pound to an internal temperature of 140°F. If the ham is raw, you’ll want to cook it for around 22-25 minutes per pound.

Cooking Time by Weight and Method

The weight of the ham and the cooking method used can also affect the cooking time. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Oven Roasting: If you are roasting a ham in the oven, you should allow around 15-18 minutes per pound. Basting the ham every 30 minutes will help keep it moist and flavorful.
  • Smoking: Smoking a ham can take anywhere from 4-8 hours depending on the size of the ham and the temperature of the smoker. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches 140°F.
  • Grilling: Grilling a ham can take anywhere from 10-20 minutes per pound depending on the heat of the grill and the size of the ham. It’s essential to flip the ham often and check the internal temperature to ensure it’s cooked all the way through.
  • Slow Cooking: To cook a ham in a slow cooker, allow around 8-10 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high. Slow cooking will give you a tender and juicy ham.

By following these general guidelines, you can ensure that your ham is cooked to perfection. Remember that the key to a tasty ham is not only the right cooking time but also adding your favorite seasonings to enhance the flavor.

What are Some Delicious Serving Suggestions for Ham?

Ham is a versatile and flavorful meat that can be served in a variety of ways. Here are some delicious serving suggestions for ham:

1. Pair with Vegetables

One of the most popular ways to serve ham is with a variety of vegetables. Roasted carrots, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are all great options. Vegetables add a healthy side to the meal while also complementing the ham’s savory flavors.

2. Serve with Potatoes

Potatoes are another classic side dish to serve with ham. Whether they are mashed, roasted, or scalloped, potatoes are sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Add a sprinkle of herbs like thyme or rosemary for some extra flavor.

3. Try Different Sauces

Ham can be served with a variety of sauces that range from sweet to tangy. Some popular options include honey mustard, cranberry sauce, and pineapple glaze. Experiment with different flavors to find your favorite pairing.

4. Make a Sandwich

Leftover ham is perfect for making a sandwich. Layer slices of ham on bread with cheese, lettuce, and tomato for a delicious and filling lunch option.

5. Add to a Casserole

If you have leftover ham, consider using it in a casserole. Ham and cheese casserole, ham and potato casserole, and ham and bean casserole are all great options. These casseroles are easy to make and perfect for a family dinner.

With these serving suggestions, you are sure to impress your guests and make a delicious meal with your ham.

What are Some Tips for Storing Leftover Ham?

After finishing a savory holiday ham or other big meal, you’re often left with an abundance of leftovers. Proper storage is essential for leftover ham, as it can spoil if not treated correctly. Keep these tips in mind to keep your leftover ham delicious and safe.

Refrigerating Leftover Ham

If you plan to use your leftover ham within the next few days, refrigerating it is the best option. Here’s how:

  • Remove the leftover ham from the bone and transfer it to an airtight container or wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap.
  • Label the container or wrap with the date it was stored and the use-by date (typically five days from the date it was cooked).
  • Store in the coldest part of your refrigerator (usually the back) at a temperature of 40°F or below.
  • When reheating, ensure the ham is heated to an internal temperature of 165°F before consuming.

Freezing Leftover Ham

If you won’t be using your leftover ham within the next five days, freezing it is a great option. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Cut the ham into manageable pieces and wrap them tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Alternatively, place the ham in an airtight container.
  2. Label the container or wrap with the date it was stored and the use-by date (typically three months from the date it was cooked).
  3. Store the ham in the coldest part of your freezer (usually the back).
  4. When reheating frozen ham, it’s best to thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. If you’re in a hurry, you may defrost the ham in the microwave or cold water, but note that this may impact the quality of the meat.
  5. When reheating, ensure the ham is heated to an internal temperature of 165°F before consuming.

Other Tips for Storing Ham

Here are a few additional tips to keep in mind when storing leftover ham:

  • Never leave ham at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • Don’t slice the ham until you’re ready to serve it. This will help prevent the meat from drying out and spoiling.
  • If you have a substantial amount of leftover ham, consider portioning it into small quantities before storing, so you only thaw what you need.
  • Finally, always trust your instincts. If you’re unsure whether your leftover ham is still safe to eat, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw it out.

Thank You for Learning How to Cook a Ham with Us!

Now that you’ve learned how to cook a delicious ham, we hope you have the confidence to try it out yourself. Remember, practice makes perfect and don’t be afraid to experiment with different flavors and glazes. Thank you for reading and we hope to see you again soon for more cooking tips and recipes.

Learn to Cook a Ham with these Easy Steps

Learn how to cook a delicious ham with these easy and simple steps. Perfect for holiday dinners and special occasions.

  • 1 8-10 pound fully cooked ham
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Remove packaging and any excess fat from the ham. Place ham in a roasting pan, cut side down.
  3. Score the ham by making shallow, diagonal cuts across the surface. Turn the ham and make more diagonal cuts to create a diamond pattern.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the honey, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Mix well.
  5. Brush the glaze evenly over the surface of the ham.
  6. Bake the ham in the preheated oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F.
  7. Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before carving and serving.
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