How to Cook a Ham

Mastering a perfectly cooked ham is a must-have skill, whether the dish will be starring at your holiday table or just satisfying at a simple supper.

Perfect for Christmas, Easter or any other special occasion, a moist and flavorful ham doesn't have to be difficult. These easy steps allow you to prep and cook whatever size ham you need for your occasion.

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1 Gather the Ingredients

You'll need: 1 cup of brown sugar for every 5 pounds of ham, 3 tablespoons of yellow mustard for every 5 pounds, heavy-duty aluminum foil and, of course, 1 fully cooked bone-in ham.


2 Prepare Your Ham

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F. 

Start by thawing your ham, which you can do in the fridge (slower, but safer) or in cold water. A small ham will take 4 to 5 hours per pound to thaw in the fridge, and a large ham will take 5 to 7 hours per pound. You can store a fridge-thawed ham for up to three days. 

For a faster thaw, fill your sink with enough cold water to cover the ham. Put your ham in a tightly sealed leak-proof bag and place in the water. Replace with fresh cold water every 30 minutes. A small ham will thaw in 2 to 3 hours, and a large ham will take about 30 minutes per pound. Cook ham immediately if using this method. 

Once it is thawed, trim the fat off the ham.

3 Make the Rub

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mix the brown sugar and yellow mustard until the mixture reaches a thick, paste-like consistency.

Save some of your rub mixture to use as a glaze after your ham is cooked.

4 Apply the Rub

For easy cleanup, be sure to line the bottom of a baking pan with aluminum foil. Tear off enough aluminum foil to wrap and seal the entire ham. 

Place the ham on the foil fat-side up so the juices run down and baste the meat. Rub the ham with the mustard-and-brown-sugar mixture.


5 Wrap & Cook the Ham

Tightly wrap and seal the ham with foil so none of the juices escape. Place the ham in a baking pan and cook for approximately 20 to 25 minutes per pound, or follow the directions on the package for cooking times. 

A fully cooked ham will be done when the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees F to 140 degrees F.

6 Carve & Enjoy!

Remove ham from the oven and let it rest in the baking pan for about an hour before carving. 

After carving, spoon a little of the glaze over the meat on the platter. Enjoy!

Find more helpful how-tos here »

Plus: Get the full recipe for this ham »

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About Simply Fresh Cooking

Rachael is the creator of the blog Simply Fresh Cooking, where she dishes up healthy recipes that feature fresh foods. Her ultimate goal is to help others heal themselves through the power of healthy food. Connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter