Our recipe is easily adaptable based on what you have on hand.

By Bridget Hallinan
April 02, 2020
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Abby Hocking / Food & Wine

Baked ham is a holiday classic, and while you can get it in stores or order it online, it’s also pretty easy to make one at home. We have a recipe for DIY honey-baked ham that only requires three steps and seven ingredients, and the best part? It’s readily adaptable to whatever you have available, whether you need to swap in coconut sugar for light brown sugar, or only have Dijon mustard and not honey mustard. Once the ham’s cooked, it can also be incorporated into all sorts of leftovers, so you can stretch it for several meals.

Find our key tips for making the dish below, compiled from the recipe and the Food & Wine Test Kitchen.

Feel Free to Make Substitutions

The ingredient list for this ham is short—one bone-in spiral-cut smoked ham, apple juice, honey, packed light brown sugar, honey mustard, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper is marked as optional to begin with, and you can omit it if you don’t have any or want a sweeter ham. The apple juice, while it adds a lovely flavor and sweetness, can be replaced with stock. You can also use any mustard you have available: Dijon produces a more savory ham, while whole-grain is a bit stronger (you’ll want to dilute it with a bit of water). The mustard is key, since the tang cuts through the sweetness in the ham, sugar, and honey. 

Speaking of sugar, you can easily substitute in dark brown sugar for light brown sugar, or even coconut sugar if that’s what you have. The flavor will be slightly different, but it will work well enough. The same goes for switching maple syrup in for the honey.

If You Want a Smaller Ham, Scale the Glaze

The quantity of the glaze is just as adaptable as its ingredients. We did the math and found that the eight-pound ham this recipe originally calls for uses about two cups of glaze, so you can adjust based on how much meat you have. You’d need one cup of glaze for a four-pound ham, half a cup for a two-pound ham, and so on.

Bone-In Is Best, But Boneless Is Fine

A bone-in ham is ideal, because the bone will give the ham that much more flavor; save that bone so you can use it to flavor stocks and stews. (Be aware: it will have a salty-sweet flavor, so adjust the seasoning of what you’re making accordingly.) However, if you can only find boneless, don’t sweat it. 

Cook It

Start by preheating the oven to 375°F, and placing the ham on a rack in a large roasting pan. Pour one cup of apple juice over the ham, cover it with foil, and roast for one hour, basting with an additional half cup of apple juice every 15 minutes. Continue roasting for another hour, basting twice with the pan juices. The ham will slowly become infused with the sweet apple juice as it warms all the way through to the middle.

Add the Glaze 

Once you’ve whisked together the glaze, remove the foil from the ham, brush the glaze on, and roast for another 30 minutes until the glaze is caramelized. Insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat—you want it to register 140°F. Then, transfer the ham to a platter, let it rest for 10 minutes, slice, and serve. 

Refrigeration and Freezing 

Once the ham is cooked and sliced, keep leftovers in an airtight container like a glass tupperware, or wrap it in plastic wrap—keep a little glaze on so it stays moist. It can keep for about three-four days in the refrigerator once cooked, per FDA guidelines.

You can freeze an unglazed whole ham easily; however, if you want to freeze it after it’s been cooked, we’d recommend slicing it first, so it’s easier to defrost and eat in portions. Separate each portion with parchment paper, and keep it stored in either an airtight plastic container or wrapped in plastic wrap and tucked into a freezer bag.

Repurpose Those Leftovers

Once you have cooked ham, there are plenty of ways that you can use it. You can always make a ham sandwich, of course, but ham also works great in frittatas, fried rice, macaroni and cheese, and eggs Benedict, too. 

If you’d rather just heat the ham up as-is, add a little glaze or liquid to it (e.g. apple juice or water), cover it, and steam heat it to reinvigorate it a little bit. Then enjoy it alongside your other Easter leftovers—or all by its smoky, sweet, savory self.

Get the Recipe: DIY Honey-Baked Ham