At Thanksgiving and Christmas, millions of families around the world gather around baked ham. But you don't have to wait for a special occasion. Baked ham is ideal, anytime you need to feed a crowd. And, if you're looking to impress, our baked ham with mojo sauce recipe won't let you down…
What is a baked ham?
Ham refers to any slice of pork from a pig's back leg. A whole ham is the entire limb – from the hip to the knee. Most supermarket hams have been preserved and cooked. So, in preparing a baked ham, you're not cooking it, but infusing it with all-important flavor and heat.
What kind of baked ham should you buy?
There's more than one kind of baked ham. For maximum flavor, go for a bone-in whole ham. If you're nervous about the complications of carving, choose a spiral-cut ham, which comes pre-sliced. Even easier to carve than a spiral ham is a boneless ham, but it's significantly less flavorful. Plus, once you've eaten a bone-in whole ham, you can use the bone for soup!
Whole hams are preserved in one of two ways: wet-curing or dry-curing. The typical commercial ham – known as “city ham” – is wet-cured, which means it's been injected with brine. Less common is “country ham”, which is dry-cured. This process, which originated in France over 2,000 years ago, involves salting the ham, before hanging it to dry – for months or even years! Country hams are tastier than city hams, but they're also more expensive.
How big should your baked ham be?
Too much baked ham is better than not enough. After all, you can easily add the leftover ham to sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and breakfasts. As a rule of thumb, for each guest, buy 3/4 to one pound of bone-in ham or 1/2 pound of boneless ham. In other words, to feed twenty people, you need 15-20 pounds of bone-in baked ham or 10 pounds of boneless baked ham. Just be sure that whatever you buy can fit in your roasting pan or baking dish.
How do you prepare baked ham?
There's a cornucopia of baked ham recipes to try, including our mouthwatering baked ham with mojo sauce. Whichever you decide upon, preparation begins with scoring. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts across the baked ham, creating a diamond pattern. The cuts should be an inch apart and 1/8 inch deep. Scoring a baked ham not only looks good, it also intensifies flavor, by allowing the glaze to seep into the meat.
How long does it take to cook baked ham?
Cooking time varies, depending on size. Generally, for each pound of weight, the ham should spend 10 minutes in the oven. For a 15-pound baked ham, that's 150 minutes – or 2 ½ hours. But don't leave it to guesswork. After two hours, place a thermometer into the thickest section: If it reads 140º F internal temperature, your baked ham is ready; if not, it needs more time. Be sure to pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.
How do you keep a baked ham from becoming dry?
Most baked ham recipes involve two elements: liquid (usually wine, stock or sauce) and glaze. To prevent dryness and keep the ham juicy, baste every 15-20 minutes, and, to prevent burning, don't glaze until 15-30 minutes before the baked ham is due to come out of the oven.
More baked ham recipes
Most baked ham glazes include a sweet liquid, such as honey or maple syrup, and spices. Two of our most popular are here:
This second one features a creative brown sugar glaze made up of not just brown sugar, but also mustard, Dr Pepper and apple cider vinegar, among other ingredients.
Looking for side dishes? Try these:
- Prepare Mojo Sauce ahead of time (see step 5). Set aside 2 cups of the sauce for serving.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place ham in shallow roasting pan; score a diamond pattern about 1/8-inch thick into the upper surface of the ham. Insert a clove at the crossed points of the diamonds.
- Brush the ham with the mustard and sprinkle it with the brown sugar. Pour 1 cup of the prepared Mojo Sauce over the top. Bake in the center of the heated oven for 2 hours or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest portion (not touching bone) registers 140°F (about 15-18 minutes per pound), basting every 20-30 minutes, alternating with 1/4 cup each dry white wine and remaining Mojo Sauce.