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If you’re preparing ham for a feast, you’ll want to ensure that it’s moist and tender. In this article, we’re sharing some tips on how to prepare a ham as well as a guideline for the appropriate internal temperature.
Ham is a versatile meat that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. It’s delicious sliced and served in sandwiches, it can be added to salads, and it adds a rich smoky flavor to soups.
What is the Proper Internal Temperature for Ham?
The internal temperature of ham depends on whether it has a bone and if it’s already cooked. Uncooked ham, whether it’s boneless or bone-in should be cooked to an internal temperature of 140°F. Ham that’s already cooked or smoked should be heated to 140°F.
Best Oven Temperature for Ham
Ham is best cooked at a low temperature to avoid overcooking. Our recommendation is 325°F.
How to Cook Ham
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cooked ham can be eaten chilled, straight from the packaging. If you prefer to reheat a cooked ham, place it in a pan and bake in a preheated 325°F oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the ham reaches 140°F.
How to Know When Ham is Done: Use an Instant Read Thermometer
The best way to check for doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer. When the ham reaches 145°F, it is safe to eat and can be removed from the oven.
How Long to Cook Ham
Cooking times will vary based on the weight of the ham, if it is bone-in or boneless, the cooking method, and if it’s already cooked:
How Long to Smoke Raw Ham
A general rule of thumb is to smoke the ham for 20 to 25 minutes for every pound of ham. The internal temperature of the ham must reach 145°F and should rest for 15 to 20 minutes before eating.
How Long to Bake Uncooked Fresh Ham
A whole, bone-in smoked ham should be baked for 18-20 minutes per pound.
- Bake a half bone-in smoked ham for 22-25 minutes per pound.
- Bone-in shank or butt portions should be baked for 35-40 minutes per pound.
- A boneless shoulder or butt should be baked for 30-40 minutes per pound.
Reheating Pre-cooked Smoked Ham
Reheat pre-cooked smoked ham in a preheated 325°F oven until the internal temperature is 135°F to 140°F. A general guideline is about 10 minutes of reheating time for every one pound of ham.
Cooking Country Ham
Country ham is heavily salted and is preserved by smoking and curing. Cover the ham with water and boil 20 to 25 minutes per pound of ham. Drain the ham, add your favorite glaze, and brown it for 15 minutes in a preheated 400°F oven.
Tips for Cooking the Perfect Ham
- Score the skin of the ham in a diamond pattern before baking. This will let the glaze soak into the ham as it finishes roasting.
- Overcooked ham will become dry and stringy. Bake the ham in a 325°F oven for the recommended time. Use a brine or add a glaze to help the ham retain moisture and for added flavor.
Perfect Baked Ham
- 1 bone-in ham 7-11 pounds fully-cooked
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup pineapple juice
Brown Sugar Glaze
- ½ cup pineapple juice
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Remove the ham from the fridge 1-2 hours ahead of time to sit at room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F, placing the oven rack in the lower middle of the oven. Set aside a roasting pan fitted with a rack or trivet.
- Place the ham fat-side up on a work surface. Remove the plastic disk if there is one on the bone.
- Using a sharp knife, score the fat about ¼-inch deep in a criss-cross pattern spaced 1-inch apart. (Cut into the fat only without cutting into the meat.)
- Mix the Dijon mustard and pineapple juice in a cup. Then brush over the top of the ham.
- Place the ham flat-side down in the prepared roasting pan. Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours using the general rule of 12 to 15 minutes per pound. The internal temperature should reach 110°F before the next step.
- About 15 minutes before it’s done, it’s time to glaze the ham. Remove the ham from the oven and raise the temperature to 400°F.
- Place a small saucepan over medium heat and add the pineapple juice, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, ginger and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, letting it bubble for a minute or two until the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Remove the foil from the ham and brush all over with the glaze until used up.
- Put the ham back in the oven uncovered and bake for 10 to 20 minutes until caramelized and the internal temperature of the ham reaches 140°F if the ham was fully cooked already (or 150°F if it was partially cooked).
- Serve immediately. To slice a bone-in ham, you can start by cutting around the bone. Then use a chef’s knife or ham slicer to cut slices from around the bone.