Delicious roasted ham covered in a brown sugar honey glaze with just a hint of warming spices. Even a novice cook can bake an excellent ham with this simple recipe. All the tips you need to pick out a great ham are included.
A beautiful roasted ham is the perfect tasty centerpiece of your holiday table as well as a practical family dinner.
One of my favorite ham glaze recipes is the brown sugar honey glaze. Brown sugar lends a bit of caramel flavor to the background while the honey blends in with deep, sweet high notes. Touches of cinnamon and clove bring it together.
This recipe has a lovely sweet/spiced glaze that gives the ham just a little something extra without overpowering a nice quality roast.
Our family uses large hams in our meal plans every few months. See below for how we stretch a $20 ham into a week of meals.
Making a Great Brown Sugar Honey Glaze
A great ham glaze is easy to make. In this recipe I’m glazing a solid quality spiral cut ham with a glaze at the end of cooking with a simple three step process.
First the ham is slow-roasted in the oven until it is up to serving temperature. Then the glaze ingredients are warmed and whisked together before being brushed all over the outside of the ham. Finally the ham is cooked a few more minutes at higher temperature with one more round of glazing. That’s it! The ham rests for a few minutes being devoured by your dinner crew! Nothing complicated here!
When to Glaze a Ham
There are two schools of thought on glazing ham.
- Beginning: Some people glaze it at the beginning and cook the ham very carefully watching for burning and overbrowning. This gives a nice rich crust but the ham needs to be basted and watched. It is not a great method for a spiral cut ham.
- End: The other group glazes the ham in the last 10 minutes or so of cooking. This is my preferred method because it is SIMPLE and still gives tremendous flavor.
And of course there are the people who believe in injecting the ham! It is a great method in many ways but it is MESSY (I’ve had the glaze EXPLODE all over the kitchen windows during the injection process.) But it is a viable method for getting good flavor into the ham!
What is the Best Ham to Buy?
It is easy to pick out a great quality ham in your price range if you know what to look for. ALWAYS start by looking at the water content!!!!
- Water Content – Always read the label before buying a ham. Many have a large amount of water added which means you are buying a lot of water and less meat. For this reason I often choose the Kirkland spiral cut ham at Costco. It is labeled as a “natural juices” ham which means it has less than 8% additional water from the brining process. It is still tender and juicy after roasting. A Cooks ham can contain 23% added water which means that ¼ of your ham is actually water. Also the more water in the ham, the less like lovely ham flavor you get.
The second thing you need to consider is what size and cut of ham you want. For bone in ham I usually plan on 3/4 pounds of ham per person.
- Full Ham or Shank or Butt??? Hams come as giant full hams with shank and butt end attached – usually about 15 pounds! Or they come as either shank or butt.
- The Shank Portion has more fat and is easier to carve. Many people prefer the flavor of this because of the additional fat.
- The Butt End is usually leaner but more difficult to carve because of the bone structure. You will have to get in there a bit with your fingers.
Bottom line choose the type of ham you buy based on the quality of ham you want, how BIG of a ham you need and how you want to carve it.
How to Cook a Ham
Most hams at the store come already cooked! However, the flavor is concentrated and enhanced by roasting. And of course adding a glaze is the perfect final touch!
A ham can be brought to serving temperature in an oven, crock-pot, or smoker. I’m personally very fond of a good smoked ham but not everybody has a smoker. Crock pot ham is popular because it is considered easy to make a very moist ham but I don’t love the idea of seaming the meal versus roasting it.
Instead I like to cook my ham on a roasting rack in the oven. This couldn’t be easier:
- Use a baking dish with a rack.
- Add some water to the bottom for moisture.
- Cover the ham with foil.
- Bake at a low temperature until the ham is hot through.
- Glaze if desired!
Oven roasting is reliable and simple even for people new to cooking their own ham.
What to Serve With a Holiday Ham
- Holiday Mashed Potatoes
- Brown Sugar Roasted Pineapple
- Copycat Texas Roadhouse Dinner Rolls
- Slow Cooker Creamed Corn
The Case for Meal Planning With Ham (You don’t need a holiday for a ham dinner!)
Every few months I buy a spiral ham at Costco (my big box store of choice) as part of my meal planning. I do this for a few reasons:
- Ham is low cost! When beef is $4 plus per pound I can often grab good quality ham at Costco for $2-$2.50 a pound. Sure, I have some fat and bone but I USE that bone!
- Ham goes a long ways compared to most meats. This is a main dish you can dice up and serve a small bit of as part of a soup or casserole.
- We love it! Every meal rotation needs some shaking up and tossing a ham in every few months gives us a little break from our usual meat choices.
- I can make one $20 ham feed us all week long while tossing in a few other things to make sure we don’t get tired of just ham.
When we pick up a ham I usually make the ham as a Sunday Dinner type main dish the first night. Think ham and scalloped potatoes or mashed potatoes – not fussy but a little fancy and fun. It feels like a holiday meal in a little way which is a fun moment in the week.
The next day we will probably have some hot ham and cheese sliders or some cold ham sandwiches with lettuce and tomatoes. I might even pack a picnic or make the kids a little back yard picnic for lunch. Then in the evening I usually switch to tacos or some chicken or something to mix it up a bit.
During the rest of the week I usually find a place to put some diced ham into breakfast. I like to make a nice crestless quiche with ham and cheese or toss it into some omelets or egg scrambles.
If I have a good big ham I can usually get a casserole like our favorite pot pie out of the ham and maybe a few more sandwiches.
Finally as the week wraps up I use that tasty ham bone in a good bean soup along with the last bits of ham left.
Bottom line a good quality ham might be $20 but it goes the DISTANCE providing meat, flavor, and variety all week long! No matter how tightly you cut your meal planning budget consider adding a good ham to it on occasion!
Freezing A Leftover Ham Bone
A ham bone gives any soup a wonderful flavor! We always think of it in split pea soup and white bean soup (see below for recipes) but most savory soups are wonderful with a simmered ham bone!
No plans for soup this week? No problem! You can toss the ham bone in a Ziploc bag and freeze it for a few months. When you are ready to make soup just defrost and add to your soup as soon as the water or broth goes into the recipe. Enjoy the smell of a good smoky ham bone simmering away all day!
Worthy of Your Leftover Ham
Good quality ham is a treasure! It makes so many delicious main dishes, soups, sandwiches and of course good snacking! These recipes are some of our favorites for using the ham AND that wonderful ham bone!
- Ham and Chicken Pot Pie with Puff Pastry Crust
- Slow Cooker Navy Bean and Ham Soup
- Easy Split Pea Soup
- Southern Deviled Ham
Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Honey Glaze
- 1 7-11 pound bone in ham spiral cut or whole (for larger hams, make a double batch of glaze)
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground clove
- Preheat oven to 275 F. Pour 2 cups of water into the roasting pan and place the rack in the pan.
- Remove all packaging from ham including any clear plastic over the bone.
- Place ham flat / open side down on the rack of a roasting pan. Cover tightly with foil.
- Roast at 275 F for 12-15 minutes per pound until the coolest part of the ham is 140 F with a thermometer.
- Remove the ham from oven and increase temp to 425 F. Discard the foil covering the ham.
- Microwave the brown sugar and honey for 30 seconds. Stir the mixture and add the cinnamon and clove. Microwave another 30 seconds until the glaze is liquid.
- Brush or spoon half the glaze over the ham. Bake at 425 F. for 5 minutes. Brush or spoon the rest of the glaze over the ham and bake for 5 additional minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before transferring to a serving platter.
- Water Content - Always read the label before buying a ham. Many have a large amount of water added which means you are buying a lot of water and less meat. For this reason I often choose the Kirkland spiral cut ham at Costco. It is labeled as a “natural juices” ham which means it has less than 8% additional water from the brining process. It is still tender and juicy after roasting. A Cooks ham can contain 23% added water which means that ¼ of your ham is actually water. Also the more water in the ham, the less like lovely ham flavor you get.
- Full Ham or Shank or Butt??? Hams come as giant full hams with shank and butt end attached – usually about 15 pounds! Or they come as either shank or butt. The Shank portion has more fat and is easier to carve. Many people prefer the flavor of this because of the additional fat. The butt end is usually leaner but more difficult to carve because of the bone structure. You will have to get in there a bit with your fingers. Bottom line choose the type of ham you buy based on how BIG of a ham you need and how you want to carve it.
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Originally published February of 2017. Updated February of 2021