Glazed Baked Ham
A big baked ham is one of the easiest things to prepare for a holiday celebration. It’s economical, even a half-ham can feed a dozen people with leftovers, and a full ham typically goes on sale the week before Easter bringing the per-person cost down even more.
The ham is already cooked, all you have to do is heat it to a serving temperature and if you want, apply a simple glaze.
That said, you can easily make some mistakes when cooking a ham. If you use an already sliced (spiral cut) ham, if you don’t wrap it tightly enough with foil, the outer areas can dry out. You need to let the ham sit at room temp for a couple of hours before cooking, otherwise the inside will still be cool when the outside is properly heated.
Finally, many package instructions say to heat the ham to 140°F. That’s just asking for a dry ham. Aim for 110°F to 120°F. Remember, the ham is already cooked! You are just warming it up.
For this recipe my friend Suzanne and I baked two hams, one with Suzanne’s favorite sweet hot honey mustard glaze, and one with an intriguing honey thyme glaze from Gourmet magazine.
We used regular non-spiral cut hams, scored them first in a diamond pattern, applied a glaze, cooked, basted with glaze, and finished browning in the broiler. Both hams turned out beautifully.
The two glazes we used are both honey-based, though you could use other things for a sweetened glaze, pineapple juice, marmalade, maple syrup. Do you have a favorite glazed ham glaze? If so, please let us know about it in the comments.
Most baked ham recipes call for heating the ham to an internal temp of 140°F. But you can heat it to a lower temp, you just want it to be warm enough to eat. The higher the internal temp, the more risk there is of drying out the ham. So the guideline here is 110°F to 120°F, but heat it to a higher temp if you want.
Remember, the ham is already cooked, so you're not cooking it here, you're just heating it. If you are working with a partially cooked ham, and not a ready-to-eat ham, follow the cooking directions on the package, most suggest cooking a partially cooked ham to 150°F.
Half hams are either cut from the shank end or from the butt end. The butt end may have more meat, but because of the shape of the bone at that end, is more difficult to cut. The hams pictured here are both from the shank end.
- One half ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, shank end or butt end, about 9-11 pounds
Sweet Hot Honey Mustard Glaze
- 3 Tbsp sweet hot honey mustard (or brown mustard with honey)
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- About 50 cloves
Honey Thyme Glaze
- 3 Tbsp melted butter
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme (or 2 teaspoons dry)
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Honey Thyme Glaze adapted from Gourmet
1 Let ham come close to room temp: Remove the ham from the refrigerator (still wrapped) a couple of hours before you intend to cook it so that it can get closer to room temperature.
2 Score skin and fat (if using non-spiral cut): Place ham, fattier side up, in a foil-lined roasting pan.
If using a non-pre-cut ham, score a diamond pattern in the fat with a sharp knife, about 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch deep, and the parallel lines about 1 1/2-inches apart.
Do not score the meat itself, just the fat and any skin. You can score the fat to as deep as where the fat meets the meat. If you want you can first cut off any skin that might still be on the ham, but it isn't necessary.
3 Insert cloves (if using): If using cloves (with the Sweet Honey Mustard Glaze), you can either put them in before applying the glaze or after. They look better if applied after, but it is easier to see the lines in the ham as a guide for placement if you put them in first.
Place the cloves in the center of the diamonds to form a nice pattern around the top and sides of the ham (or along the edges of some of the precut slices if using spiral cut). Some people put the cloves in the intersection points of the scores. Do as you wish. You just want a nice pattern.
4 Preheat oven to 325°F.
5 Prepare glaze:
If using the sweet honey mustard glaze, mix the mustard with the brown sugar in a small bowl.
If using the honey thyme glaze, mix thyme in with the hot melted butter and let sit for a few minutes. In a small saucepan on high heat, let the cider vinegar reduce down from 1/4 cup to 1 Tbsp, remove from heat. Whisk in the butter and thyme. Add the honey, the brown sugar, and the Worcestershire sauce.
6 Apply glaze: Using a pastry brush, brush whichever glaze you are using over the ham. Only use about third of the glaze (reserve the rest for later in cooking). Try to work the glaze into the scored lines.
7 Bake in oven: Place ham in oven. (If using a spiral cut ham, first wrap tightly in aluminum foil so that the ham doesn't dry out while cooking.) Cook for about 1 1/2 hours (check after 1 hour, will take longer if the ham is not at room temp to begin with), or about 10 minutes per pound, until the internal temperature of the ham is 110°-120° (use a meat thermometer). (Note that the ham is already cooked when you buy it, all you are trying to do is heat it up for eating.)
If using a non-spiral cut ham, baste the ham with the glaze a couple of times during the cooking. If you check on the ham and think that the glaze is at risk of getting too browned (like on the way to burnt), you can cover with a piece of foil.
8 Baste and broil: When the ham has reached the desired temperature, baste again. If using a spiral cut ham, open up the foil to expose the ham before basting.
Place the ham under the broiler for few minutes to get some nice browning on the top. Take the pan out of the oven and brush the ham all over with pan juices. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
9 Slice: To slice a bone-in ham, cut around the bone first. Then use a long, sharp knife to slice off pieces around the bone.
Another way to slice the ham is to make first a slice on wide end to get a flat lying surface. Then stand the ham upright on the wide end and make slices down the side, working around the bone.
Remember to save the ham bone for soup!