Never again will you be buying an expensive store-bought Honey Baked Ham! This family-favorite holiday ham is a perfect combination of sweet and savory. I always serve extra glaze on the side – the flavor is so wonderful that you will want to drizzle a little extra on top of your ham during dinner, or serve on ham sandwiches the next day The sweet and spicy glaze is perfect on a hickory smoked spiral-cut ham, slow-cooked and so moist - perfect for a special holiday!
TRADITIONAL BAKED HAM
When I think of Easter and Christmas dinner, I always think about my family gathered around a feast of food, with a perfect baked ham as the centerpiece.
This Traditional Holiday Glazed Ham is unbelievably juicy, bursting with flavor and is glazed with the an intoxicating sweet and spicy glaze - the best holiday ham you will ever have. It tastes gourmet but is so easy to make! I use brown sugar, apricot preserves, raspberry preserves, and Dijon mustard for a multi-dimensional sweetness. This ham is sweet, tender, smoky, and dripping with wonderful flavor.
WHAT KIND OF HAM SHOULD I USE?
If you've never baked a ham before, I'm excited for you to try this simple and foolproof method. Remember, hams are sold fully cooked and fully spiral sliced - all you have to do is slather on the perfect glaze, warm it up and your holiday ham is ready to be served!
For the best holiday ham, you want to purchase a fully cooked, bone-in, spiral cut ham. Fully cooked hams have been soaked in brine so that they are tender, and then either smoked, baked or boiled before packaging. This means that they are fully cooked and completely safe to eat WITHOUT even warming them up. Over the years I've tried many varieties, but our favorite is the Costco brand. If you start with the right ham, it will be perfect every time!
WHICH IS BETTER - A BONE-IN OR BONELESS HAM?
Hams with the bone-in have superior texture and flavor when compared to boneless hams. A bone-in ham is surrounded by connective tissue and collagen, which essentially is self-basting and keeps the meat incredibly moist and flavorful as it cooks. Spiral slices allow you to slather the glaze in between every slice which gives you a ham that is flavorful through and through, and not just on the surface. And a spiral sliced ham is so easy to serve - all the work is done for you! Simply pull the slices away - no carving required!
Boneless hams, on the other hand, are basically ham with the bone removed and the ham reshaped so that it won't fall apart when sliced. This process of compressing and reshaping the ham results in a slightly different texture. Some folks (and especially my little ones) prefer the texture and ease of boneless hams, and that's fine too.
If you use a boneless ham, simply score the top of the ham with slices about 1-inch apart and 1/2-inch deep in a criss-cross pattern on the top. The ham will not be as flavorful because the glaze is only on the outside - there are no spiral slices for the glaze to seep into. But you will still have a very moist ham, and you can drizzle the warm glaze on top of each slice when serving and it is almost as good as spiral sliced ham!
HOW MUCH HAM WILL I NEED?
When serving ham for a holiday, many times I will prepare both a spiral cut and a boneless ham, just to keep everyone happy. I typically estimate about 3/4 pound of bone-in ham per person for a holiday dinner, so a 10-pound bone-in spiral ham will serve about 13 people. I estimate about 1/2 pound of boneless ham for each person that prefers that. My family LOVES ham leftovers - so I never have too much!
DO I NEED TO GLAZE MY HAM?
Baked hams are sensationally smoky and salty, just begging for the perfect glaze! Ham Glazes not only add flavor as they sink into every nook and cranny, but they add fabulous texture and caramelization of the ham's surface. Ham glazes are all about balance - the ham provides the salty, and the glaze provides the sweet. The best glazes for baked ham are usually sweetened by honey, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple syrup or even fruit preserves. The balance comes from mustard, vinegar or fruit juice.
The glaze for this Traditional Holiday Baked Ham is sweet and slightly tangy. Brown sugar adds the sweet, Dijon mustard adds the savory balance, and the apricot and raspberry preserves add a subtle fresh flavor and glorious sheen. So luscious and intoxicating in flavor and appearance! This glaze is so wonderful that you may be tempted to eat it with a spoon - it is perfectly sweet and tangy. When added to the saltiness of the ham, the flavor is enhanced and rounds out the flavor profile. Once the ham bakes with the glaze, magic happens and your taste buds will LOVE this!
HAM COOKING TIME
Low and slow is the key to a moist ham! We want to bake our ham at 325 degrees to an internal temperature of 130 degrees - just enough to warm it through. Allow about 10-13 minutes per pound. Because the ham is pre-cooked, it is safe to eat at any temperature, but glazing and warming the ham ramps up the flavor and experience! Be careful not to overcook your ham or it will be dry - high temps are not your friend. It's much better to bake it low and slow over ginger ale and onion. A trick I learned many years ago is that ginger ale and onion pull the saltiness out of ham, while adding subtle flavor that plain water just doesn't do.
HOW DO I CHECK THE TEMPERATURE OF MY HAM?
The easiest way to check the temp is to insert a digital thermometer into the thickest part of the ham without touching the bone, as the bone conducts heat and will be a much higher temp than the meat. Initially check your ham after 90 minutes, and after that only every 10 minutes, to prevent the ham from drying out. And while you are checking the temp, re-glaze the ham with dripping from the bottom of your roasting pan.
Once you hit 125 degrees, remove the ham from the oven and tent with foil for 15 minutes. The ham will continue to cook during this time, retain juices and stay moist until you are ready to serve.
1 (8-11 lb.) spiral cut sliced ham (fully cooked with no water added – I prefer Costco brand)
24 oz. ginger ale
1 large onion, cut into 6 slices
BROWN SUGAR GLAZE:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup apricot preserves
½ cup raspberry preserves
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
Roasting Pan with optional Roasting Rack
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Digital Meat Thermometer
HOW WE MAKE THIS:
1. Remove ham from refrigerator and allow to sit unopened at room temperature for 2-3 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Adjust oven rack to lowest position. Pour ginger ale into bottom of roasting pan. Place onion slices in bottom of pan and insert roasting rack.
3. PREPARE GLAZE: In a medium saucepan, whisk together the brown sugar, apricot preserves, raspberry preserves and Dijon mustard. Bring to a low simmer and reduce heat to low, stirring often until sugar is dissolved and preserves melted; set aside.
4. Roll out 2 large pieces of foil to wrap your ham in, making sure they overlap in the center. Remove ham from packaging and remove any plastic or paper disk over the ham bone. Place ham on foil, and brush entire ham with approximately 1/3 of the warm Glaze, including in between each slice. Tightly wrap ham with foil and place ham flat/face side down on the roasting rack (or on top of onion slices on bottom of roasting pan if you don’t have a roasting rack).
5. Bake ham for about 90 minutes (allow 10 minutes per pound) or until the center registers 125 degrees. This temperature is safe because we are simply warming a fully-baked ham. Better to “underbake” than “overbake” – you don’t want to overcook your spiral ham or it will be dry.
6. Near end of baking time, re-warm Glaze over low heat.
7. Remove ham from oven; carefully unwrap ham and discard foil. Spoon juices from the bottom of the roasting pan over the top of the ham. Brush the top and between slices of the ham with half of the remaining Glaze.
8. Cover loosely with foil and return to oven; continue baking for an additional 20 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and tent with foil. Let ham rest for 15 minutes before removing from pan and serving.
10. Add 1/2 cup of hot glaze from pan to remaining Glaze and serve warm on the side to pour over ham slices, or serve with spicy Dijon mustard.
YIELD: 10-16 servings (10-pound ham)
Originally posted December 2016; revised and reposted April 2019
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