Just a few months ago, you probably mastered cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. Now that spring is upon is, it’s time to perfect the holiday ham for Easter Sunday. Once you’ve purchased your ham, it’s important to understand which type you bought and how long it takes to cook (or in many cases, you may not realize it’s already cooked and simply needs to be heated).
We’re here to help. First you just have to understand which kind of ham you have.
1. City Ham, aka Pre-Cooked Ham
Most hams that you buy at the supermarket are known as city hams, or pre-cooked hams. They are wet-cured hams that are usually smoked after curing (which is why they’re referred to as smoked hams in the USDA chart below).
The beautiful thing about city hams is that they’re pre-cooked. It’s a very low-pressure situation for the home cook. All you have to do is cut the ham free from the package, cover it in foil and reheat it to a good serving temperature.
Cooking it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes per pound should do the trick, depending on the type of ham (whole vs. half, bone-in vs. no bone ― these specifics are outlined in the chart below). You just want to make sure the internal temperature has reached 145 degrees F.
City hams are typically your spiral cut hams. While you can eat these cold, they’re easy enough to reheat in the oven as mentioned above. Or, for an even simpler and quicker reheat, you can warm individual slices in a skillet or microwave.
2. Country Ham
Then there are country hams. Country hams are less popular in metropolitan areas and are a very different eating experience compared to city hams. They are dry-cured and are sometimes smoked (but less frequently than city hams).
Country hams are saltier and drier, and if you want to serve them like a classic holiday ham, they first have to be soaked anywhere between 4 to 24 hours. Then you boil the ham in water for 20-25 minutes per pound. And after that, you glaze it in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes.
3. Fresh Ham
The other option you have is fresh ham. Fresh hams are harder to come by. They are basically blank slates that have to be fully prepared. This can mean brining, curing, glazing and cooking. Fresh ham cooking times vary greatly depending on the size.
In a 325-degree oven, a 12-16 pound bone-in ham needs 22-26 minutes per pound. A 10-14 pound boneless ham needs 24-28 minutes per pound. And a 5-8 pound bone-in ham needs 35-40 minutes.
For cooking times of all these hams, we turn to the USDA for the safest advice. Here’s the chart you should consult for this year’s holiday ham.
SMOKED HAM, cook-before-eating
(minimum internal temperature of 145 F, and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes)
Whole, bone in: 10-14 pounds -> 18-20 minutes per pound
Half, bone in: 5-7 pounds -> 22-25 minutes per pound
Shank or butt portion, bone in: 3-4 pounds -> 35-40 minutes per pound
Arm picnic shoulder, boneless: 5-8 pounds -> 30-35 minutes per pound
Shoulder roll (butt), boneless: 2-4 pounds -> 35-40 minutes per pound
SMOKED HAM, cooked
(Reheat cooked hams pacakged in USDA-inspected plant to 140 F and all others to 165 F)
Whole, bone in: 10-14 pounds -> 15-18 minutes per pound
Half, bone in: 5-7 pounds -> 18-24 minutes per pound
Arm picnic shoulder, boneless: 5-8 pounds -> 25-30 minutes per pound
Canned ham, boneless: 3-10 -> 15-20 minutes per pound
Vacuum packed, boneless: 6-12 pounds -> 10-15 minutes per pound
Spiral cut, whole or half: 7-9 pounds -> 10-18 minutes per pound
FRESH HAM, uncooked
(Minimum internal temperature of 145 F and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes)
Whole leg, bone in: 12-16 pounds -> 22-26 minutes per pound
Whole leg, boneless: 10-14 pounds -> 24-28 minutes per pound
Half, bone in: 5-8 pounds -> 35-40 minutes per pound
Whole of half: Soak 4-12 hours in refrigerator. Cover with water and boil 20-25 minutes per pound. Drain, glaze and brown at 400 F for 15 minutes.