When it's your turn to host, there's nothing as easy and impressive as a delicious baked ham. Even better, give it a personal spin with a simple homemade glaze you can whip up in minutes.
Which Hams to Glaze
When it comes to 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, requiring just 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 signature glaze to wow the crowd. See How to Cook Ham for more details on types of ham.
How to Score a Ham
Scoring means to make shallow cuts, about 1 inch apart, through the skin of the ham so the glaze can penetrate. Scoring is usually done in a diamond pattern to make your 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.
How to Bake a Ham
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 any bone. Bake the ham uncovered. Following are approximate baking times for some common types 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
How to Make a Glaze
There are endless glaze recipes, but most ham glazes are made with fruits, preserves, or chutneys, such as oranges, cherries, cranberries, apricots, and mango. These sweet, fruity flavors are a delicious pairing 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-base glaze, a classic flavor combo for ham. Regardless of which flavor you choose, most glazes take only minutes to fix using just a few ingredients.
You will usually need at least a cup of glaze for every 5- to 10-pound ham. For some of our favorite ham recipes, each containing multiple glaze choices, click on the links below:
How to Glaze the Ham
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 will 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.