Can You Freeze Ham? Here's What You Need to Know

Use these Test Kitchen tips to freeze ham and never let leftovers go to waste.

When it comes to family gatherings (especially around the holidays), a giant cooked ham is often the centerpiece of the dinner table. But if you end up with a lot of leftovers and don't want it to go to waste, can you freeze cooked ham? The short answer is yes. Freezing ham is a great way to make sure you won't waste any of that delicious meat you invested so much time (and money) into preparing for the family. Whether it's fresh, cooked, or sliced, we've got the info on how to freeze ham, so it lasts longer and stays tasting great once it's time to enjoy the leftovers.

Cajun-Spiced Ham
Jason Donnelly

How to Freeze Ham

Fresh, cooked, cured, country—there are so many types of ham. Any type of ham can be frozen, but it can be hard to determine the best way to freeze it. If the ham is unopened, you can freeze it in its original packaging. When freezing leftover ham (whole or sliced), here are some tips to follow:

  • Make sure ham is cooled and dry (to prevent ice crystals).
  • Wrap in plastic wrap or a freezer bag and then tightly cover with foil.
  • Place wrapped ham in another freezer bag or storage container. This will help prevent freezer burn.

Test Kitchen Tip: The higher the quality of ham, the better it freezes. To know you're buying a higher-quality ham (see the types of ham in our guide), avoid labels that read "water added" or mention containing "water product." Hams without water will maintain the original texture better after thawing. Freezing ham with more water can produce ice crystals. This creates a more lacy texture in the ham when thawed.

How Long Does Ham Last in the Freezer?

Technically, freezing ham will keep it safe indefinitely, but it might not taste good after years of sitting in the freezer. To determine how long frozen ham lasts and maintains its quality, here's what says:

  • Fresh, uncured, uncooked ham: 6 months
  • Fresh, uncured, cooked ham: 3 to 4 months
  • Cured, cook-before-eating ham (sliced or whole): 3 to 4 months
  • Fully-cooked, unopened ham: 1 to 2 months
  • Cooked, whole ham: 1 to 2 months
  • Cooked slices, half, or spiral ham: 1 to 2 months
  • Cooked country ham: 1 month
  • Canned, shelf-stable, opened (don't freeze unopened canned ham): 1 to 2 months
  • Prosciutto, Parma or Serrano ham, dry Italian or Spanish type ham, sliced: 1 month

Thawing Ham

After freezing ham, the thawing time will depend on the size and type of ham. Give larger sizes at least two to three days to gradually thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, ham will last in the fridge for three to four days. If you're not sure what you'll use it for, try one of our favorite ham recipes. Or use our Test Kitchen's tip to simply reheat ham in a roasting pan, covered in a bit of chicken broth, until it's at a safe internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I cook a frozen ham without thawing it?

    Putting a frozen ham directly into the oven is safe if you don’t have time to defrost it. Just plan to cook it about 50 percent longer than you would a fully-defrosted ham. For example, a whole, defrosted bone-in smoked ham might take 18 to 22 minutes in the oven while a frozen bone-in smoked ham will take 28-32 minutes to reach the recommended 160 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  • Can you refreeze ham?

    If your defrosted ham has not been in the refrigerator for more than three or four days, you can refreeze it—but be aware that the texture of the meat may suffer a little. Since freezing ham ruptures the cell structures of the meat, refreezing it will only compound the issue by breaking down even more cells and leaving the meat drier.

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