How to Bake Ham

Ham is the ideal no-fuss entree, especially if you're serving a crowd. Learn how to adorn a ham with cloves in a diamond pattern, then bake, glaze, and slice.


Step 1: Choosing a ham

You have a variety of options when shopping for ham. Nearly all hams in the grocery store are fully cooked and just need to be heated through, but you need to decide if you want a bone-in ham, such as a rump half (round, meatier end) or shank portion (tapered and easier to carve), or if you prefer a boneless ham, which makes slicing extra simple. Some hams contain added water, so check the label; these tend to cost less per pound and can taste less salty and a little more juicy.

How much ham should you buy? This depends on the cut, amount of fat, and whether the ham has a bone. For a rump half or shank portion, figure about three entree servings per pound. For a boneless ham, plan on four to five servings per pound. If you do purchase an uncooked ham, cook it thoroughly before serving (see directions in chart below).

Tip: Unless the label says the ham requires no refrigeration, assume that it does. A boneless, noncanned ham can be refrigerated for up to one week; shank and rump portions can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Tip: For easy slicing and convenience, purchase a fully-cooked spiral-cut ham that's pre-sliced. Some even come with a packet of glaze.

Step 2: Preheat the oven and prepare the ham

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. You do not need to wash a ham before baking. This versatile meat requires no embellishment. However, scoring a diamond pattern in the meat's surface and brushing on a glaze makes the ham a showy centerpiece and adds flavor. Use a chef's knife to make diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart on the ham. Cut through the skinlike outer layer of the ham so the glaze can penetrate.

Inserting whole cloves into the ham is decorative and adds flavor. It is easiest to poke them in where the cuts intersect (remove the cloves before eating the ham).

Step 3: Baking the ham

Place the ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the center of the ham (it should not touch bone). Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until the ham registers the desired temperature (140 to 150 degrees F). Because cooking times vary based on the size and type of ham, use the timings below as a guide.

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Cut

Weight

Approximate Baking Time
(Based on ham directly from refrigerator)

Final Temperature
(When to remove from oven)

Boneless cooked ham

1 to 3 pounds
3 to 5 pounds
6 to 8 pounds
8 to 10 pounds*

3/4 to 1-1/4 hours
1 to 1-3/4 hours
1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours
2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours

140 degrees F
140 degrees F
140 degrees F
140 degrees F

Bone-in cooked ham

5 to 8 pounds
14 to 16 pounds*

1-1/2 to 2-1/4 hours
2-3/4 to 3-3/4 hours

140 degrees F
140 degrees F

Bone-in ham, cook before eating

3 to 5 pounds
7 to 8 pounds
14 to 16 pounds*

1-3/4 to 3 hours
2-1/2 to 3-1/4 hours
4 to 5-1/4 hours

150 degrees F (160 degrees F after standing)
150 degrees F (160 degrees F after standing)
150 degrees F (160 degrees F after standing)

*Hams that weigh more than 8 pounds should be loosely covered with foil halfway through roasting.

Step 4: Glazing

The best time to glaze a ham is during the last 20 minutes of baking time. If you glaze it sooner, the sugar in the glaze may cause it to burn. Pull out the oven rack, and use a basting brush or spoon to cover the ham with the glaze. Continue baking. Reserve any remaining glaze to serve with the ham.

See ham glaze recipes >>

Step 5: Carving a bone-in ham

Place the ham on its side. With a carving knife, slice off a piece of ham from the bottom. Roll back the ham slice so it sits flat. Cut slices down to the bone, and cut along the bone to release the slices.


How to Bake a Ham
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