Baked ham is the ideal no-fuss entree, especially if you're serving a crowd. Learn our best secrets for cooking ham, plus learn how to score ham in a diamond pattern for a showy presentation. Finish it off with an easy ham glaze, and you're ready to slice and serve!
You have a variety of options when shopping for ham. Nearly all hams in the grocery store are fully cooked and just need to be heated through, but you need to decide if you want a bone-in ham, such as a rump half (round, meatier end) or shank portion (tapered and easier to carve), or if you prefer a boneless ham, which makes slicing extra simple. Some hams contain added water, so check the label; these tend to cost less per pound and can taste less salty and a little more juicy.
How much ham should you buy? This depends on the cut, amount of fat, and whether the ham has a bone. For a rump half or shank portion, figure about three entree servings per pound. For a boneless ham, plan on four to five servings per pound. If you do purchase an uncooked ham, cook it thoroughly before serving (see directions in chart below).
Unless the label says the ham requires no refrigeration, assume that it does. A boneless, noncanned ham can be refrigerated for up to one week; shank and rump portions can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.
Tip: To make cutting ham as easy as possible, purchase a fully cooked, presliced spiral ham. Some even come with a packet of glaze.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. You do not need to wash a ham before baking. This versatile meat requires no embellishment. However, scoring a diamond pattern in the meat's surface and brushing on a glaze makes the ham a showy centerpiece and adds flavor. Use a chef's knife to make diagonal cuts about 1 inch apart on the ham. Cut through the skinlike outer layer of the ham so the glaze can penetrate.
Inserting whole cloves into the ham is decorative and adds flavor. It is easiest to poke them in where the cuts intersect (remove the cloves before eating the ham).
Place the ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert an oven-safe thermometer into the center of the ham (it should not touch bone). Bake, uncovered, in the preheated oven until the ham registers the desired temperature (140 to 150 degrees F). Because cooking times vary based on the size and type of cut, use the timing tips below as a guide.
Approximate Baking Time (Based on ham directly from refrigerator)
Final Temperature (When to remove from oven)
Boneless cooked ham
1 to 3 pounds 3 to 5 pounds 6 to 8 pounds 8 to 10 pounds*
3/4 to 1-1/4 hours 1 to 1-3/4 hours 1-3/4 to 2-1/2 hours 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 hours
140 degrees F 140 degrees F 140 degrees F 140 degrees F
Bone-in cooked ham
5 to 8 pounds 14 to 16 pounds*
1-1/2 to 2-1/4 hours 2-3/4 to 3-3/4 hours
140 degrees F 140 degrees F
Bone-in ham, cook before eating
3 to 5 pounds 7 to 8 pounds 14 to 16 pounds*
1-3/4 to 3 hours 2-1/2 to 3-1/4 hours 4 to 5-1/4 hours
150 degrees F (160 degrees F after standing) 150 degrees F (160 degrees F after standing) 150 degrees F (160 degrees F after standing)
*Hams that weigh more than 8 pounds should be loosely covered with foil halfway through roasting.
Glazed ham makes your dinner a little extra special. The best time to glaze a ham is during the last 20 minutes of baking time. If you add it sooner, the sugar in the glaze may cause it to burn. Pull out the oven rack, and use a basting brush or spoon to cover the ham with the glaze. Continue baking. Reserve any remaining glaze to serve with the ham.
Plus, learn exactly how to glaze a ham.
Place the ham on its side. With a carving knife, slice off a piece of ham from the bottom. Roll back the ham slice so it sits flat. Cut slices down to the bone, and cut along the bone to release the slices.
If you want to save valuable space in your oven, baking ham isn't your only option! We have more tips for cooking ham for you to try, plus a few yummy recipes to test out your skills.