City vs. Country Ham

Use this buyer's guide to choose the right variety, and the right amount, of ham for your needs.

  • Dawn Perry

Ham (a.k.a. city ham): The most popular variety of this versatile meat. The majority of supermarket hams are wet-cured, or injected with a brine made of salt, sugar, seasonings, and curing agents, lending the meat a mild, juicy flavor. (Many producers also smoke their hams for additional depth.) Bone-in city hams tend to be moister and more flavorful than the boneless variety. Both types usually come ready to eat, although they benefit from oven warming. Note: City ham should not be confused with fresh ham, which is a raw hind leg of pork sold at butcher shops and specialty meat markets.

Country ham: A southern favorite, these hams are dry-cured, meaning they’re rubbed with salt and seasonings, smoked, then aged anywhere from 4 months to 3 years. Salty and chewy, the intensely flavored meat is usually served with biscuits or incorporated into casseroles and salads. It’s sold both uncooked and cooked, and mostly bone-in.

How Much Should I Buy?

Type of ham: Bone-in city ham
As an hors d’oeuvre: 3 ounces per person
As a main course: 8 to 10 ounces per person

Type of ham: Boneless city ham
As an hors d’oeuvre: 2 ounces per person
As a main course: 6 to 8 ounces per person

Type of ham: Bone-in country ham
As an hors d’oeuvre: 3 ounces per person
As a main course: 3 to 4 ounces per person*

*Generally, since country ham is so salty, it is served in smaller portions than city ham.