Learn everything you need to know about how to cook a ham in the oven. This baked spiral ham recipe with an easy, simple glaze is perfect for family dinners and holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.
It's always a treat, especially when we serve it with ham gravy (or ham gravy with cornstarch), mashed potatoes, green beans, and Grandma's homemade dinner rolls. Mmmm, my mouth is watering just thinking about delicious pineapple ham.
Even sometimes through the year, if prices are cheap enough, we'll bake a whole ham and cut it up for lunch meat that week. I absolutely love a good ham.
While baked ham is fairly easy to make, there are lots of things to think about when you're baking a ham in the oven. Things like how to keep it moist, how long do you cook a ham, and so on.
Hopefully, I'll be able to answer all of your burning questions about how to cook a pre-cooked ham. But if you don't find the answer to your questions, leave me a comment (I check them every so often), and I'll reply back to you.
Why You'll Love Cooking a Ham in the Oven
- It makes an easy main dish for dinner.
- There will be leftovers, lots of leftovers! So that means lunch tomorrow, maybe even dinner, and just maybe lunch the next day too. Or breakfast, if you like ham and eggs.
- Every bite is delicious, and it pairs well with so many different sides and vegetables.
Ingredients and Substitutions Notes:
- A pre-cooked ham – My ham in this ham recipe is a 10-pound spiral cut ham. We'll talk about selecting a ham a little further down.
- Glaze packet – It usually comes with the ham, and you'll find it in the packaging.
How to Choose a Ham
Our grocery stores here make it pretty simple when it comes to selecting the right ham. They don't offer a whole lot of choices. However, your store may offer an entire selection.
I'm going to keep it pretty simple here and talk about the basic ham types, so you can easily make a decision as to what kind of ham you'd like to serve.
Types of Ham
- Bone-in ham – A bone-in ham is going to give you more flavor and texture. It's also likely going to be sold as a half ham. It'll still likely be a fairly large size, but you'll only get half the ham. It will require carving.
- Boneless ham – This ham is going to be more processed and have less flavor but a smoother texture. It will need sliced, but it won't be as much work as carving around the bone.
- Spiral-cut ham – This is the type of ham I used to make this recipe. Spiral-cut hams are bone-in hams, and they sometimes have a glaze already applied. That's something to think about if you're wanting to make your own glaze; you'll want to look for one that comes with a glaze packet instead, so you can opt out of the pre-made glaze.
- Smoked ham – This type of ham usually has been smoked by the manufacturer.
- Heritage ham – This type of ham usually comes from a local farmer who raises a heritage breed of pigs. You might even find this type of ham at a local butcher shop.
If you want to read more, Taste of Home has a really great guide on how to choose the best ham for your next feast.
How much ham per person do you need?
The size ham you need depends on how many people you're cooking for and whether you're serving a bone-in ham or boneless ham. Remember, the bone adds weight, that isn't meat, to the ham.
For a bone-in ham, you'll probably need about 3/4 to 1 pound per person; for a boneless ham, figure about 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person.
So, if you're like me and cooking a 10-pound bone-in ham, you can probably feed 10-12 people. If it's a 10-pound boneless ham, you can probably feed 15-20 people.
How to Cook a Ham in the Oven
Baking a fully cooked ham is a pretty straightforward, simple, and easy process. And usually, your package will have all the instructions you need.
Before you get started, be sure to preheat the oven to 250° F.
- Remove the ham from its packaging, and place it face down in the roasting pan for ham. Important Tip: If your package has any juices in it, pour them into the bottom of the pan, along with about a cup of water; this will help your ham to stay more moist.
- Cover the ham tightly with foil (all of it but the bottom, so the juices can run out into the pan, and so juices can steam into the ham, keeping it more moist). Then bake the ham according to the instructions in the recipe card below (or according to your package instructions). Usually, you'll bake it for 12 to 15 minutes per pound. So a 10-pound ham will bake for about 120+ minutes.
- About 45 minutes before the end of your bake time, empty the glaze packet into a small saucepan, along with the water.
- Bring your glaze to a boil over high heat while stirring constantly.
- At this point, you'll need to remove the glaze from the heat. And about 1/2 hour before end of cook time, remove your ham from the oven, take off the foil, and apply the glaze all over the outside of the ham with a basting brush. Then bake it, glazed and uncovered, for another 30 minutes or so.
- When the ham is done, you can bring it out of the oven, let it cool just a bit, and slice it for serving.
Baked ham is the highlight of many a Sunday dinner or holiday get together.
Expert Tips and Recipe FAQ's
Let's talk about cooking time and internal temperature when you're learning how to bake a ham in the oven. Always be sure to look at the packaging instructions for your specific ham, and follow what it says for cook time. This spiral ham came from Aldi, and it said 12 to 15 minutes per pound. So being a 10-pound ham, it needed to cook for about 2 hours (120 minutes) or more, but not too long or it'll dry out. An 8-pound ham would take about 96+ minutes to bake. A 12-pound ham, 144+ minutes. And so on and so forth. According to the USDA, spiral-cut cooked hams that were packaged in processing plants under USDA inspection must be heated to 140 °F as measured with a food thermometer (165 °F for leftover spiral-cut hams or ham that has been repackaged in any other location outside the plant). Cook-before-eating hams or fresh hams must reach 145 °F (with a 3-minute rest time) to be safely cooked before serving. Read more of their Ham and Food Safety instructions.
There are a few specific steps you can take to keep a fully cooked ham from drying out while it's baking…
– Like I mentioned above, save ham juices from packaging, and pour them into the bottom of the pan; this will help your ham to stay moist.
– You can put a little less than a cup of water or some kind of stock/broth in the bottom of the pan before baking if you want. This will also add moisture.
– Covering your ham with foil helps it to retain moisture, as well. Of course, you can also bake it in a roasting bag.
You need to store baked ham in an airtight container in the fridge; it should keep for 3-5 days.
Yes, you can freeze a pre-cooked or baked ham. I suggest cutting your ham up into smaller portions and freezing it in airtight containers or freezer bags with aluminum foil; that way it's easier to get those smaller portions out and re-heat them. When it's time to re-heat, just make sure you have plenty of time for thawing, especially if you're thawing a big, huge ham. Keep in mind, according to the USDA, you can store a spiral-cut ham or ham leftovers in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days; and you can freeze them for about 1 to 2 months.
What to Do with a Ham Hock
Don't just throw away that ham hock or bone. Repurpose and make something delicious.
What to Do with Ham Leftovers
Here are a few ideas for what to do with all that leftover ham.
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
- Ham Crescent Rolls
- Air Fryer Ham and Cheese Sandwiches
- Cheesy Ham Frittata
- Ham Chowder
- Homemade Egg McMuffin
- Ham and Cheese Egg Muffins
- Slow Cooker Ham Soup
If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback. You can also follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. And subscribe to my email list too!
How to Cook a Ham in the Oven
- 1 spiral cut or half bone-in ham w/ ham juices *
- 1 cup water *
- 1 glaze packet *
- 2 tablespoons water
- Preheat the oven to 250° F.
- Remove the ham from its packaging, and place it face down in the roasting pan.
- If your package has any juices in it, pour them into the bottom of the pan, along with about 1 cup of water; this will help your ham to stay more moist.
- Cover the ham tightly with foil (all of it but the bottom, so the juices can run out into the pan).
- Bake the ham according to the instructions in your packaging; usually, it will require you to bake it for 12 to 15 minutes per pound. So a 10-pound ham will bake for about 120+ minutes.
- About 45 minutes before the end of your bake time, empty the glaze packet into a small saucepan, along with 2 tablespoons water.
- Bring the glaze to a boil over high heat while stirring constantly.
- Remove the glaze from the heat. About 1/2 hour before end of cook time, remove the ham from the oven, take off the foil, and apply the glaze all over the outside of the ham with a basting brush.
- Finish baking the ham, glazed and uncovered, for another 30 minutes or so.
- When the ham is done, you can bring it out of the oven, let it cool just a bit, and slice it for serving. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
- Like I mentioned above, save the ham juices from the packaging, and pour them into the bottom of the pan; this will help your ham to stay moist.
- You can put a little less than a cup of water or some kind of stock/broth in the bottom of the pan before baking if you want. This will also add moisture.
- Covering your ham with foil helps it to retain moisture, as well. Of course, you can also bake it in a roasting bag.