How To Cook A Ham

How To Cook A Ham

A holiday dinner isn't complete without a spiral ham at the centerpiece, and we think this one is truly a winner all year-round. Get ready to plan a dinner party around this ham alone! It's got a tart, smoky, sweet glaze going that gives a fun twist to the traditional pineapple glazed ham. The tart cherries and bourbon work together to bring a slight sour and oaky tartness to the spiral ham while the glaze has just enough cayenne pepper to bring a smoky subtle heat.

Never made a ham before? No stress! Follow our top tips and tricks for making this holiday classic:


How to bake a ham

A spiral cut, naturally smoked ham is perfect for this recipe. Since ham is technically already cooked during its curing process, most of the oven time is for heating the large cut all the way through. Covering with foil before baking helps to make sure the ham doesn't dry out on the outer layer before the center is warmed through. At the end of the cooking time, use a probe thermometer in the thickest part of the ham to make sure the center has reached at least 125 degrees. 

The second cook is uncovered so that the glaze has a change to caramelize on the exterior of the ham and form a sticky crust. It's untraditional, but so delicious that you just might not make it any other way after you've tried it.

How long to bake a ham

Expect your ham to take about 20 to 25 minutes per pound at 325°. You can use that guide to help adjust your cook time if you buy a smaller or larger ham. Hams are often sold as a half ham, which average 7 pounds. You'll want to give a 7 pound ham at least 2 hours and 20 minutes to cook. If your ham is on the smaller side and only 4 pounds, you may need as little as 80 minutes to heat your ham through. 

Carving the ham

Spiral ham is perhaps the easiest ham to slice, but it can still trip you up if you've never seen it done before. On the side of the ham where you can see the bone, carefully insert a boning knife close to the bone, parallel to the countertop. Cut around the bone to release the ham slices from the center bone, then pile high on a serving platter and drizzle with any remaining pan juices. Check out our how to carve a ham guide for all our best tips.

Serve it with some roasted potatoes and don't forget to save that ham bone to make soup with later!


  • 6-8 lb. bone-in spiral cut ham

  • 1 (13-oz.) jar cherry preserves
  • 1/2 c. bourbon
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne


    1. Step 1Preheat oven to 325°. Place ham on a rack in a large roasting pan. Cover pan with foil. 
    2. Step 2Bake ham until internal temperature reaches 120° to 130°, about 2 hours. 
    3. Step 3Meanwhile, make glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine preserves, bourbon, honey, cloves, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Glaze will thicken as it cools. 
    4. Step 4After ham reaches at least 120°, remove from oven and remove foil. Brush with about half of the glaze, aiming between all the slices. 
    5. Step 5Place back in oven, uncovered for 15 minutes. Remove from oven once more and brush with remaining glaze all over top and between slices again. 
    6. Step 6Place back in oven and continue to cook until ham reaches an internal temperature of 145°, 15 to 20 minutes more. Let ham cool for 10 minutes before carving.


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