How to cook ham perfectly every time

Our Test Kitchen experts share the best tips and tricks for cooking ham for holidays and special occasions. You have it!

Want to make the perfect glazed ham for Easter dinner? Good idea! Ham is less expensive to make than many other grilled meats because most are sold pre-cooked (and usually smoked, which adds a juicy flavor).

All you have to do is reheat and finish it off with a delicious glaze. Test kitchen professionals show you how to do it and how to get started with their best tips.

How to choose a ham

Before you step into the kitchen or start looking for the best ham recipes, you need to choose the right ham for your party.

There are several types of ham available at the grocery store or butcher shop. For the best taste, you should choose ham on the bone. The bone inside keeps the ham moist and adds flavor.

If you’re new to cooking and carving, our test kitchen recommends cutting the ham on the stick because it’s easier to carve. The second option – the back side – is a little more delicate, but it is more difficult to navigate with a cutting knife. Before making any decisions, check out our guide to choosing the best ham for you.

And if nothing else helps, ask the butcher for advice! They help you find the right meat for your needs. Our list of butchery tips will help you on your first visit to the butcher shop. According to our test kitchen, these are the best holiday hams available to order.

Cooking ham on the bone

This ham recipe makes enough for a party or family dinner and has plenty of leftovers – about 10-1 servings.


  • 1 fully cooked bone-in ham, 5-7 kilos
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons prepared mustard
  • 1-2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • Thermometer: Yes, your ham is already cooked, but with an instant-read thermometer, you can measure when the ham is hot from the inside and ready to serve.
  • Pan: This Cuisinart pan is one of the best pans in our test kitchen. It’s easy to clean and spacious enough for a large ham or turkey (depending on the holiday).
  • Carving tool: Ham is a large piece of meat that needs to be cut. Make sure you have a knife and a carving fork to help you get the job done right.


Step 1: Torgake sink

The first step to making holiday party-worthy ham is to earn it. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/ -inch diamond pattern cuts in the ham. Scoring opens up the outer layer of the ham,

allowing the glaze (which comes next) to really soak into the meat and give the ham more flavor.

Step 2: Bake

Next, place the ham on a rack in a shallow pan. Cover with foil and bake at 325ºF for about 90 minutes – until a thermometer reads 130º.

Step 3: Sand and finish the ham

While the ham is frying, make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, mustard and enough vinegar to make a thick paste.

When the ham is 130 degrees inside, take it out of the oven. Spread the glaze over the ham with a heatproof spatula. Be generous! Then finish cooking this time without the lid for another 15-30 minutes. You want the ham to be 1 0 degrees internally.

Editor’s Tip: You may wonder why the ham is glazed halfway through the process. This prevents the sugar in the glaze from burning and ruining the flavor of the ham. Those last 15-30 minutes in the oven allow the flavor to penetrate the meat and form a nice crust on the surface without overcooking.

How long to cook ham

The time the ham should spend in the oven depends on its size. Although it may seem confusing, the general rule is that the bigger the ham, the less time it needs in the oven. Taste of Home Associate Culinary Editor James Schend compares it to a bicycle:

“In the beginning, you have to pedal hard to get going, but when you start moving forward, pedaling is easier and faster. A somewhat similar concept occurs: the outside of a ham (or other meat) needs time to warm up because it usually comes from 0 -degree refrigerator However, when it gets warm on the outside, the heat penetrates into the interior, which then takes less time to warm up – so it takes less time for the center to warm up.

Likewise, a smaller ham will have less “momentum” than a larger ham after starting the heating. So if you chose a larger ham than our recipe calls for (5 to 7 pounds), keep these guidelines in mind: For a 7- to 10-pound bone-in whole ham, allow 16 to 20 minutes. per kilogram; and for a ham weighing 10-1 kilograms, 15-18 minutes per kilogram. When setting the timer, first consider it safe by heating the ham for a shorter time. When the timer goes off, check to see if the internal temperature has reached 1 0°, then add time if necessary.

If you want to learn how to cook ham in a more hands-on way, try a slow cooker. This Slow Cooker Ham with Pineapple Sauce is as juicy as a roast ham without the need to glaze halfway through or guess how long to cook it. Slow Cooker ham is the perfect dish when you need to focus on preparing other things for your gathering.

How to Carve a Ham

Carving a ham may seem like a tricky business, but if you only have one big bone, you’ll probably find it’s a much easier process than carving a Thanksgiving turkey (or even a roast chicken for Sunday dinner). For best results, follow our ham carving guide, then choose your favorite serving dish for the perfect presentation.

More tips for making the best ham

  • Buy the best ham you can afford: For Christmas, Test Kitchen recommends ordering from a local butcher instead of mass-produced Ruokauppa ham. The flavor and texture are usually stronger.
  • Choose a bone-in ham: Our professionals look for semi-boneless ham because the bone prevents the ham from drying out and adds flavor. Once you’ve carved the meat, don’t throw away the remaining bones! Add it to pea soups, toss it in broth, or add it to a bean casserole.
  • Do not overcook the ham: remember that it is already cooked. In the oven, you just heat it gently, so keep the temperature low. Your ham may come with special heating instructions
  • Customize Your Frosting: This brown sugar frosting is pretty traditional (and delicious), but it’s by no means the only option! If you’re looking to expand your horizons, try Brown Sugar Pineapple Glazed Ham, Apricot Ginger Glazed Ham, Apple Cider Glazed Ham, or Honey Glazed Ham.
  • Try more ham recipes: Practice makes perfect and we have many recipes for you to choose from. Between our favorite ham recipes for dinner, our best Christmas ham recipes and even our smoked ham recipes, you’re sure to find your favorite. You will increase your knowledge with every recipe you make.

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