How to Cook a Christmas Ham

A Ham at Christmas is marvellous. It may scorch the wallet initially but, per serve, a ham is good value, looks impressive, goes such a long way and keeps well, so you can enjoy it for several days after Christmas.

The Hock end - the lower part of the ham with the bone protruding  is popular, but because the muscles in this region get more exercise, can be tougher and chewier. The Chump/Rump or Aitch Bone end is the upper part of the ham. The meat is very tender and flavourful but not as handsome to present at table as doesn’t have the distinctive bone. Boneless hams are more easily sliced of course, but most experienced cooks agree leaving the bone in adds to the flavour of the meat.

Ham is cured hind leg of pork, and doesn’t need cooking just heating through. It’s a big joint though so takes a long time for the heat to penetrate, so plan ahead.

You can prepare the glaze when the ham is in the oven and set it aside until needed, glazing happens in the last 40 minutes or so of the baking time.                       


  • a cooked ham on the bone - most folk find a half ham, up to approx 5 kg sufficient unless hosting a banquet.
  • Your choice of ham glaze 


Calculate the cooking time allowing 20 minutes per kg. Preheat the oven to 160°.

You need to remove the skin leaving a smooth layer of fat, to do this slip your clean fingers under the skin to separate it from the fat layer then run your hand under the skin peeling it away. Discard the skin.

Score the fat using a sharp knife into a diamond pattern.  Press a whole clove into the centre of each diamond.   You can decorate with pineapple rings, slices of orange, cherries, bay leaves or leave it plain. Place the ham in a large roasting pan.

Bake the ham according to your calculations and combine the glaze ingredients. 40 minutes before the completion of cooking increase the oven temperature to 180°. Liberally brush the ham with glaze, repeating the process at regular intervals, sloshing on some of the pan drippings as you go.
Serve warm or cold in slices.


Glaze is applied to make the ham a rich golden colour so they often contain a lot of sugar or fruit juice, they don't necessarily add much to the flavour but they do make the house smell lovely, there are loads of recipes or just ask your Nan, she'll probably have one.


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