When hosting, there's nothing as easy and impressive to serve as a baked ham. Make it even better by following our tips on how to make a glaze for ham. We'll give you our recipe for brown sugar ham glaze, plus teach you how to honey-glaze a ham for the holidays or special occasions. With the help of our tips, making any glaze for ham will be no problem for you!

By BH&G Food Editors

Which Hams to Glaze

In short, you can glaze any ham! Regardless of which one you choose, glazing ham adds flavor, color, and sheen. Most hams available at your grocery store have been smoked and 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 simple glaze recipe to wow the crowd.

See our How to Cook Ham page for more details on types of ham.

Left: Score a ham in a diamond pattern for the ham glaze and add whole cloves.
Right: Score a ham in a diamond pattern for the ham glaze and add whole cloves.

How to Score a Ham

Scoring means to make shallow cuts. You score a ham so the glaze can get through the thicker skin to fully flavor the ham. You can score any type of ham, although it is not necessary for spiral-cut hams.

How to score a ham for glazing: Using a chef's knife, cut shallow slits through the skin of the ham only 1/4 inch deep and about 1 inch apart in a diamond pattern for visual appeal. When you serve up your glazed ham, you want it to look pretty! 

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 with the flavor of your glaze.

How to Bake a Ham

Preheat the oven to 325°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 covered or uncovered as directed. Follow your recipe to make sure you have the correct bake time for your type of ham. Find more information and tips in our story about how to cook ham.

Glazed ham tip: We didn't forget about the glaze—add whatever you think is the best ham glaze the last 15 to 20 minutes of baking time, and serve with more of the glaze.                    

Make the Ham Glaze

There are endless ham glaze recipes, but most are made with fruits, preserves, or chutneys that include oranges, cherries, cranberries, apricots, or mango. These sweet, fruity flavors pair deliciously with salty ham. All glazes contain added sugar or sugar-containing ingredients, such as barbecue sauce or marmalade. As a glaze heats 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 chile peppers. And don't forget mustard-base glaze, a classic flavor complement for ham. Regardless of what flavor you choose, most glazes take only minutes to create using just a few ingredients.

How much glaze do you need for your ham?

You will need at least 1 cup of glaze for every 5 to 10 pounds of ham.

Try some of our favorite ham recipes (each with multiple glaze options!) such as Glazed Ham: including Orange Glaze, Chutney Glaze, and Raspberry-Chipotle Glaze; Holiday Glazed Ham: including Five-Spice Plum Glaze, Cranberry Glaze, and Maple-Pecan Glaze; or Glazed Easter Ham: including Apricot-Cherry Glaze, Peach-Pineapple Glaze, Lemon-Mustard Glaze, and Stout Glaze. Of course we have a brown sugar glaze for ham; see more on that below.

How to Glaze the Ham

In most cases, you will want to glaze the ham during the last 15 to 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 the oven door so the heat does not escape. Using a basting brush or spoon, cover the ham with the glaze; return it to the oven. Continue baking until the ham reaches desired temperature. If you like, serve additional glaze with the ham. You can follow the same glaze instructions for a spiral-cut ham if you want to use your own glaze.

How to Make Brown Sugar Ham Glaze

Because we know there's no glaze as popular as a brown sugar glaze, here's the full scoop on how to make a homemade ham glaze with brown sugar. Follow our recipe to learn how to glaze a ham with brown sugar, or use our tips to improve one of your favorite recipes!

You'll Need:

  • 1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 cups red wine vinegar
  • 4 sprigs fresh mint (each sprig about 2 inches)

Step One:

In a medium saucepan stir together sugar, vinegar, and mint sprigs. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Boil gently, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until reduced to 1 cup. Remove from heat. Remove and discard the mint sprigs. Bake the ham until a meat thermometer registers 125°F, then brush ham with some of the glaze.

Step Two:

Bake ham with glaze on for 20 to 30 minutes more or until a meat thermometer registers 135°F, brushing three more times with additional glaze. Sprinkle with pepper, if desired. Let stand 15 minutes before carving (the meat's temperature will rise 5°F during standing to the safe temperature of 140°F). Serve meat on a platter layered with green tops of uncooked leeks and green onions, if desired. Bring any remaining glaze to boiling and serve with ham.


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