Everything You Need to Know About Cooking the Perfect Holiday Ham
2023/11/16

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Whether you're looking for a wow-worthy centerpiece or just need to feed an army, a big 'ol glazed ham is always the answer. It's a hit at , the star of any , and even a welcome alternative to turkey for the . But don't save all the deliciousness for the holidays. You can make a delicious any time you want! Ree Drummond loves serving ham because it doesn't require a ton of effort—plus, it's so darn tasty. "Over the years, I've made ham every which way," she says. From to , once you know how to cook a ham, the possibilities are endless.

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Here you'll find everything you need to know about shopping for and cooking a glorious holiday ham. Plus we've included Ree's go-to ham recipe with a killer mustard, brown sugar, and Dr Pepper glaze. There's even advice on using leftovers... if there are any! With just a few basic ingredients and a little time, you can transform a basic ham into something special. All that will be left to do is , but don't worry—it's easier than it looks!

What's the best way to cook a ham?

You can cook a ham in a slow cooker for a hands-off experience, but heating one in the oven is plenty easy, too! This classic ham gets scored, studded with cloves, and slowly heated beneath foil so it stays plenty juicy.

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But what makes good ham great? A sticky, tangy, sweet glaze, of course! Make with soda, brown sugar, spicy brown mustard, and apple cider vinegar, this glaze gets brushed on the ham and forms into a glossy, slightly caramelized crust on the ham. One bite, and you'll never make ham any other way!

What kind of ham should I buy?

From shank end, butt-end, and spiral-cut, to bone-in or boneless, there are quite a few hams to choose from at most markets. For this recipe, a shank-end ham (the pretty "centerpiece hams" you're used to seeing on the holidays) is the perfect pick. It comes unsliced so it's less likely to dry out and bone-in so it's even more moist and flavorful.

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(Plus, you can use the bone to make  later in the week.) And since it's pre-cooked, there's not a lot of room to mess up—you just want to warm the ham in the oven and add a sticky-sweet glaze!

How long should it take to cook a ham?

For a fully cooked bone-in ham (like the one in this recipe), all you need to do is heat the ham all the way through. Easy, right? With the oven at 325 degrees, you can expect the cook time to be about 15 to 18 minutes per pound.

How much ham should I plan on per person?

Before ordering, you should calculate  is needed.

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Here's our rule of thumb: Plan on 1/2 to 3/4 pound of ham per person. It's better to have too much than not enough, plus everyone loves leftovers!

How do I keep ham from drying out?

Nobody likes a dry ham. Choose a bone-in ham for the best flavor and go for a whole ham rather than a spiral-cut one—pre-cut ham tends to dry out in the oven. 

Do you ham with foil on or off?

To help it stay nice and moist, cover the ham with foil to bake it. You'll cook it low and slow for several hours, then remove the foil, slather on that delicious glaze, and cook it for a little longer until the glaze has a chance to caramelize.

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Do I need to glaze ham?

A glaze is not necessary, but it takes minimal effort and really makes a big difference in flavor. Just make sure to choose a glaze with something sweet like sugar, honey, or maple syrup to give the meat a shiny, lacquered finish. Brush the glaze on the ham every 20 minutes or so during the last 40 minutes of cooking.

What should I serve with my ham?

The  are the ones that are equally impressive. Since it's already pretty filling all on its own, you might want to opt for lighter fare—say, a platter of  or  for the perfect . But you might also choose to double down on all that goodness by serving up , , or .  

How can I use leftover ham?

Look beyond the ! From  and to morning favorites like and a delightful , the options are endless for using ! Leftover ham is also a delicious addition to a hearty meat lovers pizza or 30-minute pasta meal. 

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