Preparing A Ham: {Directions, Timetable, Glaze & Tips}

Here are the basic directions for cooking a ham, it’s really quite easy. I have a chart listed underneath that provides temperatures and time required for the various types. Then underneath the chart I’ve shared a yummy glaze recipe and some more tips to help you get the best results.

Basic Directions:

  • Place in a shallow roaster, uncovered, in a preheated oven (325°). Do not add water.
  • Meat is done when internal temp. is at 160° (for fresh and cook-before-eating cured).
  • If it’s been purchased already cooked, it should be heated to an internal temp. of 140° to 165°.
  • Times are listed below for assorted types.

Baking with glaze will add more flavor and help keep the meat moist, it’s not necessary to do but it does add a nice touch. Here are two easy recipes, baste with it during the last 45 minutes:

  • Basic Brown Sugar Glaze: Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan then stir in 1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 2 tablespoons flour. Stir over medium heat for 2 mins. Add 2 tablespoons orange juice concentrate and 1 tablespoon water. Continue over medium heat until mixture is smooth and thick (stir often). Allow to cool a bit before covering meat.
  • Basic Honey: Mix 1/4 cup brown sugar (firmly packed) with 1/4 cup honey, 3 tablespoons of unsweetened pineapple juice and 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard. Bring to a boil and stir well for 1 minute. Allow to cool before using (glaze during the last 45 mins.).

For best results, try diamond-scoring before popping it in, this will help the glaze soak in. Remove from heat about 10 minutes before basting. Return to oven and baste twice (every 15 mins.).

  • If you find results are usually dry and tough, it’s likely because you’re cooking it too long. Try removing from the oven when the internal temp. is about 5° lower than what you want. Allow it to rest on the counter for about 15 minutes or so before carving, it will continue to cook while it’s resting while allowing the juices to be absorbed.
  • If it’s quite lean, lightly diamond-score on all sides then brush oil all over. This will help keep things moist and prevent drying out.
  • Before placing in the oven, make sure it’s preheated to the required temperature. Also place with the fat side up (so the fat will baste the meat). Following these two steps will give the tastiest results.
  • Measure the internal temperature by sticking a meat thermometer into the thickest part (without resting on the bone or hot fat). If you don’t have a thermometer, one way to tell if it is done is if the bone moves easily as you wiggle it (meat will fall or pull away).
  • If you bake a bone-in ham, save the bone for delicious homemade soups.
  • Leftovers delicious in soups, casseroles, slow-simmering dishes…see these ideas.
  • Having a dinner party and need to figure out how much to buy per person? Use this as a guide…Boneless: 1/4 – 1/3 lb. per serving. Bone-In: 1/3 – 1/2 lb. per serving.*
  • Did You Know: They may be fresh, cured, or cured-and-smoked. Ham is the cured leg of pork. Fresh ham is an uncured leg of pork.*
  • Did You Know: A whole, uncut country ham can be stored safely at room temperature for up to 1 year. If it’s canned and unopened, it may be stored at room temperature for up to 2 years.*

*Source: Times and internal temperatures were confirmed with the USDA: Food Safety Sheet available at the time of writing this article (February, 2010).

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