How to Cook Ham for Easter & Other Occasions

Baked ham is a special-occasion main dish that makes holiday dinners like at Easter and Christmas look like a Norman Rockwell painting. But tackling such a big, grand cut of meat can be understandably intimidating, since you probably haven’t prepared ham since at least last year’s holidays (or maybe ever).

Ham, however, is far more straightforward than other showstopper roasts since its already infused with the salt and seasonings that make it so irresistible. It can even be as simple as popping the whole thing in a pot or oven and letting it heat up (more on how to do that later). But first, a few pointers on selecting a ham:

Choosing a ham

When you browse the hams for delivery from FreshDirect, you’ll notice a few different choices. Here are some things to consider when picking the one that works for you:

Bone-in vs. boneless
Ham is cut from the leg of the animal, so a thick bone is located right in the center of it. When left in, this bone helps the meat retain its moisture during cooking. And after carving and serving, the bone is also a leftover added bonus for that you can simmer in broths and soups for extra flavor. But bone-in hams can be tricky to carve if you’re not practiced. That’s why boneless hams are quite popular, since they’re easy to slice. The one catch: some boneless hams are not cut from the whole leg, but rather are formed from pressed-together smaller pieces. This gives the meat a different texture (more like sliced deli meat) that can dry out quicker. In the end, the choice between bone-in and boneless is about personal preference and how hands-on you’re willing to get. 

Sizes of ham
Hams are on FreshDirect are available in quarter and half sizes. A quarter ham will get you in the ballpark of 6–8 servings, while half hams will feed somewhere around 12–16 (just remember, leftovers are always a good thing). For bone-in hams, you’ll want to have about a half pound per person. For boneless hams, it should weigh about a third of a pound per guest.

Spiral vs. carving ham
Spiral cut hams arrive sliced into thin, easy to carve layers, providing more surface area to apply a glaze. This style works great when you’re serving ham as the main course of a meal. Carving hams leave the portioning up to you, making them great for adding ham into dishes like quiches or pasta, plus they’re less prone to overcooking or drying out. 

Recipe: Ham with Sweet Mustard Glaze

The salty taste of ham is even more delicious when you finish it with a sweet glaze. This extra simple stovetop method is our go to for a ham worthy of a holiday feast

What you’ll need:
2 medium onions, sliced thick
2 cups dry white wine
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole allspice
4 cloves
1 teaspoon honey
One 6–8 lb ham

For the glaze:
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey or brown sugar 

What to do:
Arrange onion slices in a layer over the bottom of a large Dutch oven. Add white wine, peppercorns, allspice, cloves, and 1 teaspoon honey. Place the ham on top. Cover the pot and bring to a simmer on the stove. Let simmer until ham is completely warmed through and moist, about 30 minutes, basting every now and then. At this point, you can serve the ham as is with its cooking juices or add a sticky glaze and finish it in the oven

To glaze:
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Transfer the ham to a sheet pan. Mix together the Dijon mustard and honey or brown sugar. Stir in just enough ham basting liquid to create a loose paste. Brush the ham all over with the mixture, getting some in the crevices if using a spiral-cut ham. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast until glaze thickens and sets, 8–10 minutes, then serve.