How to Make a Beautiful Old-Fashioned Baked Ham
Make your holiday centerpiece this beautiful baked ham with pineapple, crispy edges, and a warmly spiced maple brown sugar glaze. Our recipe is a masterclass in everything you need to know to make baking a ham easy — we’ll even show you how to turn the pineapple-spiked drippings into an amazing pan sauce.
Did you ever wonder why ham is a traditional celebration food all over the world?
- Americans love Easter ham because pork was slaughtered in the fall, kept all winter, then ready to eat in spring — just in time to satisfy the cravings of all those meat-starved Lent observers.
- In Australia, Canada, the UK, and many Scandinavian countries, it’s not Christmas dinner without the Christmas ham, a tradition passed down from the old Pagan Yuletide sacrifice of a boar to the Norse god Freyr.
- For many, ham and sauerkraut or stewed greens are essentials on the New Year’s menu, since pork is thought to bring good luck. Supposedly, that’s because pigs root forward with their snouts as they eat, symbolizing wealth and generally living life “high on the hog”.
Here’s another reason ham is a holiday favorite: it’s already fully-cooked and ready-to-eat — which means that baking a ham isn’t an all-day affair, so you won’t end up spending the whole holiday in the kitchen tending to the oven. When you bake a ham, you’re basically just heating it up and getting the outside nice and crispy. Our ham recipe enhances that by scoring the “fat cap” first:
Not only do those cross-hatches look lovely when it bakes, they also give you more of everybody’s favorite part of the baked ham — that crunchy caramelization with delicious charred bits. It doesn’t take long at all to cook a ham in the oven, just 90 minutes (during which your kitchen will smell heavenly).
Ham and pineapple are a match made in heaven. We used whole cloves to pin pineapple rings to the outside of our ham, which penetrate and infuse the pineapple and ham with a warm, sweet spice. And those maraschino cherries are just so nostalgic.
The real cherry on top of this recipe, though, is that nothing is wasted. The leftover pineapple juice from the can goes into the bottom of your roasting pan to make the ham extra moist and flavorful. Plus, we’ll show you how to transform the drippings into a homemade gravy so delicious you’ll want to drown all the side dishes in it.
- Couldn’t find Chinese 5-spice powder at the store? Improvise! To make your own, just combine and grind as many of these spices as you have in your spice rack: star anise, peppercorns, cloves, fennel, coriander seeds, cinnamon, ginger.
- Does your family love honey baked ham? Substitute honey for the maple syrup in our ham glaze recipe. (But we are obsessed with the rich, aromatic flavor the maple syrup gives our glaze.)
Now get ready to go ham in the kitchen!
Old-Fashioned Baked Ham with Pineapple & Maple Brown Sugar Glaze
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 2 Hours 50 Minutes
- 1 (10 – 12 pound) bone-in leg ham
- 1 (20 oz) can pineapple rings
- reserved juice from canned pineapple rings
- ½ cup water
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- whole cloves
- 1 (5 oz) jar maraschino cherries
- ¼ cup flour
- ½ cup milk
- roasting pan and roasting rack
- toothpicks soaked in water
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C. Position an oven rack on the lowest position in the oven, and remove the other racks. Place a roasting rack into a roasting pan, and set aside.
- Prepare the ham glaze: in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, ½ cup of the reserved pineapple juice, and the Chinese five-spice powder. Bring the mixture a simmer and cook it for about five minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Set aside.
- Remove the skin: start by cutting the skin around the base of the ham hock in a zigzag motion. (This is optional, but it will give you a decorative edge around the hock once the ham has been cooked.) Use a paring knife to carefully make a slit between the skin and the layer of fat that sits below it, loosening the skin. Slide your fingers under the skin and gently pull it away from the fat layer. Remove the skin completely, except for the decorative zigzag around the hock end of the ham. You may need to make additional cuts against the skin to help loosen any areas that don’t come off easily.
- Score the ham: run a chef’s knife diagonally across the fat on the surface of the ham in one-inch cuts. Turn the ham and cut diagonally across it in the opposite direction, creating a cross-hatch or diamond-shaped pattern over the surface of the ham.
- Place the prepared ham cut-side up in the roasting pan. Add the remaining pineapple juice and enough water to make a cup of liquid to the roasting pan. Brush half of the prepared ham glaze over the surface of the ham and bake it for 90 minutes.
- Remove the ham from the oven and arrange the pineapple rings over the top, securing each slice with two whole cloves and two toothpicks. Place a cherry into the center of each pineapple ring, securing them with toothpicks.
- Brush half of the remaining glaze over the ham, covering the pineapple and cherries as well. Return the ham to the oven and bake it for an additional 30 minutes. Remove it from oven and glaze the ham with the remaining glaze. Allow the ham to rest for 20 minutes, then remove cloves and toothpicks before carving.
- While the ham is resting, prepare the pan sauce/gravy: Remove the rack from the roasting pan. Place the pan over medium heat. Add the water and flour to a pint-sized mason jar, screw on the lid, and shake it until it’s fully blended and no lumps remain. (If you don’t have a mason jar, you can just whisk the flour and water together.) Once the pan drippings come to a low simmer, slowly whisk in some of the flour slurry. (Depending on the amount of drippings you end up with, you may not use all of the slurry. Start slowly and add more as needed.) Cook the pan sauce until it has thickened. If your sauce ends up with lumps, strain it through a fine mesh strainer before serving.
We’ve also got a fantastic recipe for slow cooker ham. And just in case you have leftovers, here are some Tip Hero recipes with ham: ham and cheese fry-tata, green eggs and ham, and ham and cheese roll-ups.