Bourbon-Glazed Ham

published Feb 17, 2023
Bourbon-Glazed Ham Recipe

Brushed with bourbon, brown sugar, and orange, then roasted until juicy and crispy, this ham is the centerpiece you want on your table while entertaining at the holidays or anytime that you want to serve a crowd.

Serves12 to 15

Prep15 minutes

Cook3 hours 30 minutes

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Credit: Laura Rege

Glazed with bourbon, brown sugar, and orange juice, this crispy, juicy ham is the crowd-pleasing centerpiece you want on your table when entertaining during the holidays or anytime you need to feed a crowd. Despite taking a bit of time in the oven, roasting a ham is a pretty hands-off affair. There’s no reason to be intimidated! I’ll walk you through the process step-by-step.

What Type of Ham to Buy

Ask for a smoked (aka fully cooked or ready-to-eat) half ham, which should weigh about 8 to 10 pounds (a whole ham is 15 pounds and up). Because you aren’t working with raw meat, you are basically reheating and glazing the ham, so it needs to be cooked to the food-safe temperature of 145ºF. Don’t go for a fresh ham, which hasn’t been smoked and cured, because it needs to be cooked and prepared in a different manner. 

Make sure to get the more tender shank end of the ham, rather than the butt end, which ends up looking prettier on your platter. Also, choose a ham with no added water or juices — it should be labeled “ham,” not “ham, water added” or “ham with natural juices.”

Another thing to look out for is whether the ham is spiral cut, meaning that the slices are already scored into the ham. For this recipe, you don’t want a spiral-cut ham, although it can be a lovely option for other recipes and would work just fine if it’s the only option you can get. If you do pick up a spiral-cut ham, it’s not necessary to score the skin.

Why Bone-in Ham?

When it comes to meat in general, one reason to opt for bone-in pieces is that the bone adds flavor as it cooks and keeps the meat moist. This holds true for ham as well; bone-in ham is much more flavorful! As a bonus, you can use the leftover bone to flavor soups, broths, or a big pot of beans — it makes everything incredibly delicious.

How to Prepare a Ham

When you buy a ham, it will likely have a brown rind covering it. Use a paring knife to peel the rind back and discard it. Then, grab a sharp chef’s knife and trim the fat back to about one-quarter to one-half inch (it might not be even in every place, but that’s OK!). Lastly, score the ham, creating a diamond pattern all over. The scores should be just deep enough to reach the meat without cutting into it.

How Do You Glaze a Ham Without Drying It Out?

Wrap the ham in aluminum foil during the initial warming to keep all of the moisture in, then remove it when you’re ready to glaze and crisp the skin for the last 45 minutes.

How Much Ham per Person?

For a bone-in ham, factor in one-half to three-quarters of a pound per person.

How to Carve a Ham

After baking, let the ham stand for 30 minutes before carving to seal in the juices. Use a sharp knife with a long blade to carve the ham. Position the knife at the top and slice downwards to the bone, letting the slices fall off the bone.

If You’re Making Bourbon-Glazed Ham, a Few Tips

  • Line the bottom of the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Doing so makes for a quick and easy cleanup.
  • Score your ham. Preparing the ham by trimming the fat and scoring it helps the glaze absorb into the ham while crisping it up evenly. Plus, the crosshatch creates a pretty pattern. 
  • Wrap the ham in aluminum foil. This will keep all the moisture in during the initial warming. When you’re ready to glaze, carefully open up the foil and peel it back. 
  • Reduce the glaze until it’s thick and syrupy. Taking the time to reduce the glaze helps it cling nicely to the ham to create a beautiful crust on top with less dripping back into the pan. Don’t glaze the ham too early or the sugar will burn while cooking.
  • Use a thermometer. The ham should register at least 120ºF, which takes between two to two-and-a-half hours. 

Bourbon-Glazed Ham Recipe

Brushed with bourbon, brown sugar, and orange, then roasted until juicy and crispy, this ham is the centerpiece you want on your table while entertaining at the holidays or anytime that you want to serve a crowd.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 3 hours 30 minutes

Serves 12 to 15

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    (8 to 10-pound) smoked, bone-in shank ham, preferably without added water or juices

  • 1 cup

    packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    orange juice

  • 1/2 cup

    bourbon

  • 1/4 cup

    Dijon mustard

  • Orange slices, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Arrange a rack in the lowest position and heat the oven to 350ºF. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and fit with a wire rack.

  2. Using a paring knife, peel the skin from 1 smoked, bone-in ham and discard. Using a sharp knife, trim all but about 1/4 to 1/2-inch of the surface fat from the ham. Score the ham diagonally in one direction, making parallel scores 1/2-inch apart and scoring deep enough to reach the meat without cutting into it; score perpendicular to the first cuts in the same manner to create a diamond pattern. Wrap the ham completely in aluminum foil.

  3. Place the ham fat side up on the rack. Bake until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham not touching the bone registers at least 120ºF, about 15 minutes per pound, or 2 to 2 1/2 hours total.

  4. Meanwhile, place 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/2 cup bourbon, and 1/4 cup Dijon mustard in a medium saucepan and whisk until combined. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the glaze is thickened and reduced to 1 cup, 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

  5. Increase the oven temperature to 425ºF. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully open up the foil (leave the ham in it) Brush some of the glaze all over the top. Continue to bake uncovered, basting every 10 minutes with more glaze, until golden brown, 30 to 45 minutes total. If the ham starts to get too dark, tent with foil.

  6. Transfer the ham to a cutting board; let rest for at least 30 minutes before carving. Serve with the pan drippings and any remaining glaze. Garnish with orange slices if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftover ham can be well wrapped or stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Leave the ham on the bone to retain moisture, or slice before storing to save space.