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Don't let your holiday leftovers go to waste. Use these tips for freezing ham from our Test Kitchen so you can enjoy the meat months after the feast.

By Katlyn Moncada
April 02, 2021
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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
Credit: Jason Donnelly
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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 ham. If the ham is unopened, you can freeze ham in its original packaging. When freezing leftover ham (whole or sliced), here are some tips to follow:

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 Can You Freeze a Ham?

Technically freezing ham will keep it safe indefinitely, but it might not taste good after years sitting in the freezer. To determine how long frozen ham lasts and maintains its quality, here's what foodsafety.gov 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 cut 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 2 to 3 days to gradually thaw in the fridge. Once thawed, use it in your 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°F.

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