How long does a ham need to cook?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How long does a ham need to cook?” and will discuss tips to properly cook a ham.

How long does a ham need to cook?

When baking at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, it takes around 15 minutes per pound of ham to cook. Use a thermometer to ensure that your ham is cooked to the correct temperature and safe to consume.

The USDA gives complete guidelines for a safe cooking and reheating of all types of ham. Cook-before-eating hams or fresh hams must reach 145 °F (with a 3-minute rest time) to be safely cooked before serving. Hams can also be safely cooked in a microwave oven, other countertop appliances, and on the stove (1).

Types of ham

There are a wide variety of hams to choose from. Almost all hams on the market now are precooked. To make deli meat, certain of these hams like the Black Forest or Virginia hams are cut into thin slices. Spiral sliced hams, boneless hams, and bone-in shank half hams are the most common forms for cooking whole.

Sliced and ready-to-eat, Spiral cut hams are the simplest to cook. It’s a bone-in ham that hasn’t been cut into slices yet. All of these hams may be used in this recipe, although the shank-half ham requires a bit more trimming.

Bellow is a cooking weight / time / temperature chart for the different types of ham (1):

CutWeight/lbsMinutes/lbMinimum Internal Temperature & Rest Time
SMOKED HAM, cook-before-eating
Whole, bone in10 to 1418 to 20145° and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Half, bone in5 to 722 to 25
Shank or Butt Portion, bone in3 to 435 to 40
Arm Picnic Shoulder, boneless5 to 830 to 35
Shoulder Roll (Butt), boneless2 to 435 to 40
SMOKED HAM, cooked
Whole, bone in10 to 1415 to 18Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F and all others to 165 °F.
Half, bone in5 to 718 to 24
Arm Picnic Shoulder, boneless5 to 825 to 30
Canned ham, boneless3 to 1015 to 20
Vacuum packed, boneless6 to 1210 to 15
Spiral cut, whole or half7 to 910 to 18
FRESH HAM, uncooked
Whole leg, bone in12 to 1622 to 26145° and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes
Whole leg, boneless10 to 1424 to 28
Half, bone in5 to 835 to 40
Whole or Half. (Soak 4 to 12 hours in refrigerator. Cover with water and boil 20 to 25 minutes per pound. Drain, glaze, and brown at 400 °F for 15 minutes.)

How to Cook a Ham?

Remove all the packing from the ham before cooking it. Any surplus liquid in the package should be discarded. You’ll need to thaw your ham before cooking it if it’s frozen. Make careful to get rid of the plastic portion that lies on top of the bone in many hams.

Using a spiral sliced ham, you may continue with your recipe by placing it in a roasting pan. If you’re using a shank half ham, make a diamond pattern on the top of the ham using a sharp knife. A boneless ham is also required. As the ham bakes, the glaze seeps into all of the nooks and crannies.

How much ham do you get per person on average?

Plan on 3/4 pound of bone-in ham per person, or 1/2 pound of boneless ham per person. This will provide enough food for each individual, as well as a few extra servings for leftovers.

Instructions for cooking a ham

You can bake or slow cook a ham with the least amount of effort. Pour half of the glaze over the ham before putting it in the oven to bake. Uncover the ham at the end of the cooking time and pour the remaining glaze over top. Serve the dish when the glaze has browned.

Consider the size of your slow-cooker before purchasing a ham to cook in the appliance. Ham should be cut side down in your slow cooker. Over the top, drizzle the glaze. Cook on low heat for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender.

A study compared the quality of ham cooked by different methods: dry and wet air cooking and water cooking. Results showed that water cooking at 180°F produced compatible nutritional and textural results with wet air cooking, and trends of storage indicated lower microbial load after 21d than wet air cooking from the result of aerobic plate count (P < 0:05). Sensory evaluation showed there were no differences rated by panelists in tenderness, juiciness, flavor, binding and acceptability among different methods of cooked ham. However, the panelists preferred the color of water cooked ham. Therefore, it is also safe to cook ham in a water bath for 5 hours (2).

How can you tell when a ham is done cooking and ready to serve?

When a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham reads 145 degrees F, the ham is ready to be heated. If you place your thermometer on a bone, it will give you an incorrect reading (1).

How to reheat a ham?

Both whole or half, cooked, vacuum-packaged hams packaged in federally inspected plants and canned hams can be eaten cold, right out of the package. Unpackaged, cooked ham is potentially contaminated with pathogens. For cooked hams that have been repackaged in any other location outside the processing plant or for leftover cooked ham, heat to 165 °F (1).

Bake it at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes or until cooked through to reheat leftover ham in a covered dish. Take care not to overcook the individual slices of ham while reheating them in the microwave, so that they don’t get rough.

How to cook a ham in a ham glaze?

Ham is just a ham until you slather it with a flavorful glaze and serve it as a main course. After melting 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup brown sugar, you may add the following flavorings to your ham glaze: Pour the glaze over the ham after simmering it for 5-7 minutes or until it thickens.

·         Cinnamon and cloves: Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and a sprinkle of ground cloves to 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice.

·         Cinnamon and ground cloves may be added to the pineapple juice to make it sweeter, as well as 1/2 cup of pineapple juice. Crushed pineapple may also be used for additional texture.

·         Use 2 tablespoons of Dijon or grainy mustard and half a teaspoon of garlic powder for the mustard.

·         Nutmeg and ground cloves into the apple cider and mix well.

A ham rub’s instructions for cooking

You may also create a ham rub if you don’t want to cover your ham with a glaze. Make a mixture of brown sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 teaspoons garlic, 1 teaspoon onion, and 1 teaspoon mustard powder by combining the following: Bake your ham as indicated after applying the rub.

Recipe of baked ham


·         8 lb. bone-in spiral cut ham

·         1/2 cup butter

·         1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

·         1 cup brown sugar

·         1/2 cup apple cider

·         Cranberries and herbs for garnish

·         Cooking spray

·         Pinch of nutmeg

·         Pinch of ground cloves


·         350 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven is the ideal temperature for baking. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray before using it in the oven.

·         Gather your ingredients for a potpourri in a single bowl. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat.

·         Simmer the mixture for 5-7 minutes, or until the glaze is thick and syrupy.

·         Mix up half of the glaze and pour it over ham before placing it in the pan. Wrap the ham in foil and bake it. Keep the rest of the glaze for later.

·         Bake the ham in the oven for two and a half hours. Remove the ham from its casing.

·         Make sure the ham is covered with the remaining glaze. Microwaving the glaze for a few seconds might help soften it back up if it has become too hard to spread.

·         Cooking at 400 degrees Fahrenheit should be your goal.

·         Uncover the ham and bake it in a preheated oven. When the glaze begins to caramelize and brown, continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes.

·         Serve the ham with fresh herbs and cranberries on a serving plate. Toss the ham with some of the pan juices. Serve the ham by slicing it.

Check out the other ham recipes here. 

Other FAQs about Ham that you may be interested in.

Is ham raw?

Can you eat baked Christmas ham when pregnant?

Can you eat Christmas ham when pregnant?

Can you eat country ham raw?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How long does a ham need to cook?” and discussed tips to properly cook a ham.


  1. Hams and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture. 2016.
  2. Cheng, Qiaofen, Da-Wen Sun, and Amalia GM Scannell. Feasibility of water cooking for pork ham processing as compared with traditional dry and wet air cooking methods. J Food Eng, 2005, 67, 427-433.