9 Secrets for the Best Baked Ham Ever
The star of any holiday brunch is a perfectly baked ham, with moist meat and a crunchy coating. But since that's easier said than done, we've rounded up a couple secrets to help make your ham heavenly.
Buy bone-in ham
While a boneless ham may be more convenient, a bone-in ham will be more flavorful and moist. And if you’re a little wary of carving your own meat, opt for the semi-boneless, which gives you the best of both worlds. Here’s everything you need to know about buying the best ham.
Let the ham sit at room temperature
For an evenly-cooked ham, let the meat sit on the counter for one to two hours before baking it. This will bring it to room temperature, allowing the ham to cook all the way through without drying out or overcooking at the edges. All home cooks should know these 25 kitchen shortcuts you’ll wish you knew sooner.
Cook cut side down
Place the ham so that the cut side (the flat side) is face-down in the bottom of your pan. This prevents the ham from getting dry while it bakes and ensures you have a delicious dish that you’ll want seconds (and thirds!) of. And if you have leftovers, there are more than enough clever ways to use up leftover ham.
Make your own glaze
Forget the pre-made packet that comes with a store-bought ham. For a truly tasty treat, whip up your own glaze, whether you use mustard, pineapple, or the ever-popular brown sugar coating.
Cover it up
Because “low and slow” is the name of the game when cooking a ham, cover the entire pan with aluminum foil before putting it in the oven to help retain moisture. Not sure you’re a pro at cooking ham? Here’s everything you need to know to cook a delicious ham.
Wait to glaze
It’s not just how you glaze, but also when you glaze. Apply the glaze liberally over the entire ham 15 to 20 minutes before it’s finished cooking. If you glaze it prior to putting it in the oven, the coating will likely burn.
There’s nothing worse than biting into a piece of dried, chewy ham. For a perfectly cooked dish, go by temperature, not timing. Remove the ham from the oven when the internal temperature is between 135° and 140° F. (Use a meat thermometer like this one to check!) It will continue cooking out of the oven until it reaches the safe temperature of 145°. Here are some more ingenious ways to fix common cooking goofs.
Turn up the heat
Craving a crispy crust? Toward the end of the cooking time (i.e. the last three to five minutes), turn the oven to the broil setting to get that dark outer layer while keeping the meat inside juicy. You can also use a blowtorch on the outside of the meat to get the same effect—it’s good for more than just crème brûlée!
Let it rest
Don’t dig in as soon as the ham comes out of the oven. Let the meat sit for 15 minutes before serving to allow all of the juices to be reabsorbed. Now that you know what makes a perfect ham, check out these cooking tips that’ll give you top-notch chicken every time, too.