How to Glaze a Ham So the Meat Is Juicy and Flavorful

Plus, what to serve with it.

There’s nothing like a glazed ham. It usually takes a special occasion to be able to indulge in this glossy meat, and it’s so worth it. The ham glazing process takes a little patience, but it’s easy, especially since the ham you’re buying is already pre-cooked, and the glaze is just decorating and spicing it up a little bit. It’s simpler than frosting a cake! The best part about glazing a ham is that you can adjust the glaze to your personal tastes or menu, tinkering with sweet, spicy, and tangy elements for your ideal flavor. And when you pull that fragrant, shellacked hunk of meat out of the oven, you know you’ve made a show stopping entrée.


Veselova Elena/Getty Images

How to Make a Glaze For Ham

Follow the steps below so you can have a tasty, perfectly glazed ham every time.

Prepare your ham

Take your ham out of the fridge and pat it dry. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts across the top of the ham, about 1 inch deep. Make cuts in the opposite direction, so that you’ve created a diamond crosshatched pattern. Season your ham by rubbing ¼ cup of salt into the scored meat, and place it in a roasting pan. Allow it to rest for an hour. 

Make the glaze

While your ham is absorbing the seasoning, it’s time to make your glaze. This is where you can have a little fun with flavor. Using Real Simple’s honey ginger glaze as a base, you can tweak from there:

Mix together 1 cup honey, ½ cup ginger ale, 3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, 2 tablespoons orange zest (from 1 orange), 1 tablespoon black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves. If your honey is too thick to mix, microwave it in 10 second increments before combining ingredients. 

Cook the ham

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Roast the ham in a preheated oven until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 135 degrees. This should take about 3 hours. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Glaze your ham

Using a pastry brush, baste the ham with ¼ cup of glaze, and return the ham to the oven. Roast at 425 degrees, basting with glaze and any accumulated pan juices every 5 minutes, until the meat’s internal temperature registers at 145 degrees. This should take about 15 minutes.

Remove the ham from the oven, and allow it to cool for an hour before slicing and serving. Glazed ham is also delicious cold, so you can prepare it in advance, refrigerate the entire ham, and slice it once you’re ready to serve. 

How to Tweak a Ham Glaze

Every ham glaze needs three elements: sweetness, tanginess, and spiciness. The glaze can be easily modified, and because it’s just on the outer crust of the meat, it’s quite forgiving. 

For a tangier glaze, try substituting pineapple juice for the ginger ale in our recipe. You can also add sliced pineapple on top of the ham for decoration. If you want a sweeter glaze, swap maple syrup for honey, or make your glaze spicy by using hot honey or even stirring in some of your favorite hot sauce or dried chili peppers. 

Some people love a cola-glazed ham, while others may be into a more citric orange juice glaze. If you want to cut down on sweetness, reduce the sweet ingredient by ¼ or ½ a cup. To make sure the glaze coats the ham nicely, mix your sweetener with warm water to make a syrup. You can also play with all the herbs and spices in the glaze, especially if you’re using similar seasonings in the rest of your meal—sage works well in glaze, as does thyme and fennel seed.

What to Serve With Glazed Ham 

Glazed ham goes well with anything you’d usually serve ham with. And if you reserve some extra glaze, you can also glaze scored tofu, carrots, or squash, for vegetarians to enjoy the glazed goodness.

Everything Dinner Rolls
are a great side for glazed ham, and can be torn apart to make a sandwich, if that’s the preferred ham-eating method at your table. A Make-Ahead Holiday Salad with kale, Brussels sprouts, and pomegranate seeds is a nice addition to a heartier meal, and the tartness of the seeds brings out more flavors in the ham. One-Pot Mashed Potatoes are always a good idea, as is a Mapley Sweet Potato Puree. For a southern twist, whip up some Collard Greens With Bacon, or add a fully vegan option courtesy of Coconut-Creamed Greens.  For a fun beverage to pair with the glazed ham flavors, make a pitcher of this Sparkling Pineapple Ginger Ale.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles