Learn how to cook a spiral ham without drying it out! This recipe uses a store-bought ham with the glaze. With instructions for the oven, slow cooker, or grill, a simple baked ham is the perfect way to feed a crowd for a special occasion. Keep reading for all the necessary tools and tips to pull off preparing a ham for your next celebration!
Is there anything better than a classic holiday ham? They are so delicious but get a bad rap for being dry or too salty. This recipe is certainly not original, but these easy tips will help you prepare a beautiful, juicy ham dinner, complete with a glaze. All you need is a store-bought spiral-cut ham with the glaze!
Despite the fact that spiral hams are a common centerpiece around the holidays, they’re usually available year-round. So, whether you’re looking to make one for a special occasion or to have leftovers for sandwiches during the week, this all-purpose ham has you covered. It’s so simple to make, it basically serves itself!
Types of Ham
Before we get started on our spiral-cut ham, let’s get the basics down. Ham comes in three different types: city, country, and fresh.
City Hams are the most traditional type of ham. These are commonly found on holiday tables for Christmas Dinner or Easter Dinner. These are sold fully cooked and sometimes spiral cut. City Hams can be sold bone-in or boneless, as a whole ham or half ham. These are usually referred to as spiral cut hams.
Country Hams are dry-cured and uncooked. Most commonly, these are smoked and very salty. It’s an acquired taste, but has a passionate following. Country ham slices are delicious served on a buttered biscuit.
Fresh Hams are more difficult to find at the grocery store. These are raw hams, sold uncured and uncooked and require more effort to prepare the City Ham or Country Ham.
What is Spiral Ham?
Spiral ham is a pre-cooked, pre-sliced ham designed with simplicity in mind. The preparation technique means much less effort is required for roasting and carving. This frees up time for making delicious sides like mashed potatoes and baked sweet potatoes!
To slice a spiral ham, butchers use a special machine to make one continuous cut around the ham, which creates even slices. While there are bone-in versions available, boneless hams make life even easier. You can also purchase these as a whole ham or half ham.
The only downside of a spiral ham vs. an uncooked ham is the higher potential for drying out during cooking. This is the reason why it’s almost always accompanied by a sweet glaze.
How to Choose a Spiral Ham
There are a few key points to keep in mind when choosing the right ham:
- For the best flavor, check the label for “ham” or “ham with natural juices.” Try to avoid those labeled “ham, water added” or “ham and water product.”
- Look for a bright pink color that’s uniform throughout.
- Check for marbling. Too much fat will negatively influence the taste and texture.
- Make sure there are clean, even slices. You can easily see these through the transparent packaging.
How to Cook a Spiral Ham
There are three different ways to prepare bone-in spiral ham: in the oven, in the slow cooker, or on the grill.
Here are a few recommended tools to make this recipe easier:
- Internal Meat Thermometer: Yes, this ham is already cooked, but using a meat thermometer will help you gauge when the ham is warmed through and ready to serve.
- Roasting Pan: A roasting pan is a tool everyone should have in their kitchen for preparing larger cuts of meat. Use a disposable aluminum pan for easier clean-up.
- Carving Knife: I prefer an electric carving set. But, with a spiral-cut ham, you shouldn’t need to do much carving. A chef’s knife should suffice.
No matter which way you decide to prepare it, your spiral ham should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 140°F. Depending on the size and cooking method, this can take anywhere from 1-5 hours.
Before choosing the cooking method, review the instructions on the ham. Note the cooking time, temperature, and glaze ingredients you will need. You will also need to choose your preferred cooking method before applying the glaze.
In the Oven
For this ham, the glaze used brown sugar and maple syrup. For the oven method, preheat the oven to 250°F. Place the spiral ham on a shallow roasting pan.
Roast the ham for 13-16 minutes per pound, or until it reaches 140°F. For example, a 10-pound spiral ham will take a little over 2 hours.
Then, add the glaze during the last 20 minutes of roasting: Coat the ham with brown sugar. Then, drizzle on the maple syrup.
Apply the glaze carefully as the ham will be hot!
Instructions for the Slow Cooker
- Place the spiral ham in your crockpot with the cut side facing down.
- Add glaze over the top of the ham, then close the lid. If it doesn’t fit, top the crockpot with foil first to trap the heat in.
- Cook the ham on low for about 20-30 minutes per pound, or until it reaches 140°F. A 10-pound spiral ham will take around 3-5 hours.
- With about 30 minutes of cook time remaining, spoon the juices and glaze over the ham.
Instructions for the Grill
- Place the spiral ham cut side facing down in a disposable aluminum pan.
- Add glaze to the outside of the ham and in between the slices (for more moisture retention).
- Set up your grill for indirect grilling.
- Cook the ham at a grill temperature of 325°F for 12-13 minutes per pound, or until it reaches 140°F. A 10-pound spiral ham will take about 2 hours.
- Baste the ham every 20-30 minutes of grilling.
How Much Ham Per Person
For a bone-in ham – plan for ½ pound per person. For a boneless ham, plan for about ⅓ pound per person.
Here’s a quick chart for reference:
- 4 people = 2-pound ham
- 6 people = 3-pound ham
- 8 people = 4-pound ham
- 10 people = 5-pound ham
- 20 people = 10-pound ham
Example: If you are cooking for 8 people, purchase a 4-pound bone-in ham or a 3-pound boneless ham. If you’d like leftovers, bump the amount up to about ¾-1 pounds per person.
- Use a thermometer. Even though spiral ham is already pre-cooked, you’ll still want to use a meat thermometer to ensure you don’t overcook it.
- Low and slow. Remember, you are just reheating the ham so it doesn’t need to be cooked at a high temperature.
- Add a glaze. Lock in moisture and add flavor with a glaze. Spiral ham typically comes with a glaze, or you can make a homemade version with honey, juice, brown sugar, mustard, etc.
- Let it rest. Just like other roasts, it’s important to let spiral ham rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to allow the juices time to redistribute.
What to do with Leftover Ham
The best part about spiral ham is that it doubles as a holiday main and as leftovers for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
Leftover sliced spiral ham makes excellent ham and cheese sliders! Repurpose leftover ham in quiche, sandwiches, and soups. Or, serve individual slices as a ham steak with a few side dishes.
Make a ham and cheese quiche for breakfast, a sliced ham sandwich for lunch, or a hearty split pea soup for dinner.
To reheat spiral ham in the oven, place it in a roasting pan and cover it with foil. Bake it at 250°F. If you only need to heat up a few slices, microwave them in 30-60 second intervals until hot.
What to do with a ham bone
Don’t forget to save the ham bone! This is the alpha of adding flavor to a soup, pot of beans, and delicious broth.
Freeze the bone until you are ready to use. Thaw it in the refrigerator or drop it right into the pot. If you prefer, you can remove the bone, shred the meat, and return the meat to the pot for small bits of ham in your soup or beans.
Sides Dishes For Spiral Ham
Turn your spiral ham into the ultimate festive feast with some of these side dish pairings:
- Pressure cooker mashed potatoes
- Twice-baked sweet potatoes
- Southern cornbread dressing
- Savory mashed sweet potatoes
- Green Bean Casserole
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to cover spiral ham when cooking it?
You do not have to cover spiral ham when cooking it. However, it can help lock in moisture if the ham appears to be drying out or burning at all.
Why did my ham turn out dry?
Typically, dry ham is caused by overcooking it or cooking it at a high temperature. Since spiral ham is already pre-cooked, it should be kept at a low temperature to prevent dryness.
What is the difference between spiral-cut ham and regular ham?
Spiral ham is both pre-cooked and pre-sliced. Depending on the type of other ham, it may not be pre-cooked or sliced.
How to Cook a Spiral Ham
- 5 pound spiral ham with glaze (use the one that comes with the ham)
- Preheat the oven to 250°F.
- Review instructions for glaze and set aside.
- Remove packaging.
- Place ham in a shallow roasting pan, cut side down.
- Bake for 13-16 minutes per pound until ham reaches 140°F.
- Add the glaze per the instructions.
- Remove the ham from the oven and rest at least 15 minutes before cutting. Spoon juices over the ham before serving if desired.