6 Important Things to Know About Cooking Easter Ham

updated May 1, 2019
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If your house is anything like mine was growing up, Easter dinner is not complete without a sweet glazed ham at the center of the table. Not only are the tender slices of meat a hit with the whole family, but it’s also actually a pretty easy dish to cook for a crowd. From shopping at the grocery store to adding the finishing touch before it hits the dinner table, here are the most important things to know about cooking your Easter ham.

1. There are three basic types of ham to know about.

Not all hams are created equal, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying before you hit the check-out line. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of ham available during Easter.

  • Cured ham: These hams are deep rose or pink in color and are often sold ready to eat. Some require cooking, so be sure to check the label. Hams that need to be cooked are labeled with cooking instructions.
  • Cured and smoked ham: These hams are exactly the same as cured hams, with the additional step of smoking the ham.
  • Fresh ham: As its name indicates, this is an uncooked cut of ham that must be cooked before eating, and has the same color and texture as a fresh uncooked pork roast. This variety is not as commonly served at holiday time.

2. Cured hams don’t necessarily need to be cooked.

Be sure to check the label of your ham. Most cured hams (although not all), as well as cured and smoked hams come ready to eat. So, it’s really up to you and depends on your taste if you prefer to eat it cold or heated through.

3. Plan on about 1/3 pound of ham per person.

So how much ham should you buy? If ham will be the star of the table at your Easter celebration, plan on 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person when buying a bone-in ham, or 1/4 to 1/3 pound per person when buying a boneless ham.

4. Spiral-cut ham is already sliced.

If you value convenience, a spiral-cut ham may be for you. This ham is already in thin slices; you just have to slice them away from the bone.

5. You can also cook your ham in the slow cooker.

If the oven isn’t an option, or you simply want an easier method, you can also cook your holiday ham in the slow cooker. The low, slow heat gently braises the ham, making it the most tender you’ll ever eat. This method requires five to six hours, and works best with a spiral-cut ham that’s fully cooked and no larger than about 10 pounds (for a six-quart slow cooker).

6. Finish the ham with a glaze, but not too soon.

Holiday ham benefits from the extra flavor of a sticky glaze lacquered over the outside, but be sure to wait until right before the end of cooking to tackle this flavorful step. Big hams need a couple hours to reheat, so for the most impact without drying out, treat ham to a glazed coating in the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.

Ham Recipes to Make for Easter Dinner