When shopping for ham, you have many choices. Regardless of which one you choose, adding a glaze contributes to the appearance and flavor. Most hams have been smoked and many are fully cooked, simply requiring heating. Spiral-cut hams are popular because they are presliced and easy to serve. Even if your spiral-cut ham comes with a glaze packet, you may want to create your own easy ham glaze recipe to wow the crowd.
Check out our How to Cook Ham page for more details on types of ham.
Scoring means to make shallow cuts, about 1 inch apart, through the skin of the ham so the glaze can penetrate and fully flavor the ham. Scoring is usually done in a diamond pattern to make the ham as attractive as possible. Many people also like to insert whole cloves into the ham where the cuts intersect for flavor and appearance. Make sure, however, that cloves will be compatible in flavor with your glaze. You can score any type of ham, although it is not necessary for spiral-cut hams.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place ham on the oven rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer into center of ham, making sure it does not touch bone. Bake the ham uncovered. Be sure to follow your recipe to make sure you have the correct bake time for your type of ham.
*Hams that weight more than 8 pounds should be loosely covered with foil halfway through roasting.
For more information and tips on preparing a ham, see How to Bake Ham
There are endless ham glaze recipes, but most are made with fruits, preserves, or chutneys, such as oranges, cherries, cranberries, apricots, and mango. These sweet, fruity flavors pair deliciously with saltier ham. All glazes contain added sugar or sugar-containing ingredients, such as barbecue sauce or marmalade. As glazes heat in the oven, the sugar caramelizes, creating a rich, glossy coating. Many cooks like to add a little kick to their glaze with a couple of drained, chopped chipotle peppers. And don't forget mustard-based glaze, a classic flavor complement for ham. Regardless of which flavor you choose, most glazes take only minutes to fix using just a few ingredients.
How much glaze do you need for your ham?
You will need at least a cup of glaze for every 5- to 10-pound ham. Try some of our favorite ham recipes (each with multiple glaze options!):
In most cases, you will want to glaze the ham during the last 20 minutes of baking. If you glaze it sooner, the sugar in the glaze could cause it to burn. To glaze the ham, take the roasting pan out of the oven and put it on a cooling rack; close oven door so the heat does not escape. Using a basting brush or spoon, cover the ham with the glaze; return to oven. Continue baking until the ham reaches desired temperature. If you like, serve additional glaze with the ham. You can follow these same glaze instructions for a spiral-cut ham if you want to use your own glaze.
Homemade ham glaze with brown sugar is a classic glaze for ham. Follow our recipe to learn how to glaze a ham with brown sugar, or use our tips to improve one of your favorite recipes!
In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, vinegar, and mint sprigs. Bring to boiling. Reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat. Remove and discard mint. After baking the ham until a meat thermometer registers 125 degrees F, brush ham with some of the glaze.
Bake ham with glaze on for 20 to 30 minutes more, or until a meat thermometer registers 135 degrees F, brushing three more times with additional glaze. Sprinkle with pepper. Let stand 15 minutes before carving (the meat's temperature will rise 5 degrees F during standing to the safe temperature of 140 degrees F.) Serve meat on a platter layered with green tops of uncooked leeks and green onions, if desired. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired. Bring any remaining glaze to boiling and serve with ham.