Ensure that your ham stays juicy by cooking it properly.

How to Cook a Smoked Ham Before Eating

by M.T. Wroblewski

Smoked ham takes a while to cook, but its sweet, juicy flavor is worth waiting for, especially if you use the time to make your own signature ham glaze. When the main course is over, put the leftovers to good use and marvel at the practical ways that ham can add an element of surprise and flavor to meals throughout the week.

Turn your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Place some water in a large roasting pan. Be sure that the pan is large enough so that the ham is not crowded while it cooks and won’t frustrate your efforts to carve it afterward.

Remove the ham from the packaging, being careful to preserve the label that identifies the ham type and its weight. You will need this information to cook the ham properly, so set it aside in a safe place. Place the ham in the roasting pan, cut side down.

Add an elegant touch to your smoked ham, if you wish, by scoring it with a sharp knife, first vertically and then horizontally, with cuts about 2 inches apart. The result should resemble a large block of squares or triangles. Insert cloves where the scored lines intersect to inject the ham with flavor while it cooks. The lines will be visible on the ham once it is done cooking.

Check the label for the ham. The most common type of smoked ham is a whole, bone-in variety, which usually weighs 10 pounds or more. This ham should cook for about 20 minutes per pound. If your ham is of a different variety, adjust the cooking time accordingly. Cook a half, bone-in ham for about 25 minutes per pound, a bone-in shank or butt portion for about 4 minutes per pound, a boneless arm picnic shoulder for about 30 minutes per pound and a boneless shoulder roll for about 35 minutes per pound. Cover the ham tightly with aluminum foil and put it in the oven.

Make your own glaze while your smoked ham is cooking. Bring apple juice or apple cider, brown or deli mustard, brown sugar and honey to a boil in a small saucepan. Let the mixture come to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes. Indulge your adventurous side by adding between one-half and a full can of your favorite soda to the glaze, right after adding the honey to the pan. Regular soda -- not diet -- can add a thick, caramelized quality to ham glaze that may appeal to your palate. Either way, remove the ham from the oven 30 minutes before it's done cooking and uncover. Brush on the glaze and return the ham to the oven, uncovered.

Test the temperature of the ham with a meat thermometer. Insert it directly into the meatiest or plumpest part of the ham for the most accurate reading. Fully cooked, a ham should reach 160 degrees. Let the bubbling ham sit on the stovetop or counter for 10 or 15 minutes before carving it.

Items you will need

  • Roasting pan
  • Sharp knife
  • Cloves (optional)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Apple juice or apple cider
  • Brown or deli mustard
  • Brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Cola or root beer
  • Meat thermometer


  • Store any leftover ham in an airtight plastic container in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. Press the ham into action by dicing and tossing it with salads, pasta or a baked egg casserole.

About the Author

With education, health care and small business marketing as her core interests, M.T. Wroblewski has penned pieces for Woman's Day, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal and many newspapers and magazines. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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