How to thaw ham?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question  “how to thaw ham” with an in-depth analysis of the proper way to thaw frozen ham. Moreover, we are going to discuss whether or not you should refrigerate/refreeze the reheated ham.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How to thaw ham?

When it comes to thawing the frozen ham, there are a couple of ways to do so and you can choose any of them depending on your choice.

  1. The recommended way to thaw the frozen ham is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight and let it thaw there. The frozen ham won’t face any sudden temperature fluctuations and thus it won’t face textural degradation or nutrition loss when it is allowed to get defrosted in the refrigerator.  The ham thawed this way can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days before cooking and eating it.
  1. You can thaw the frozen ham in a bowl of cold water but you should cook it immediately after thawing. 
  1. If you are thawing the frozen ham in the oven or microwave it is recommended to cook it immediately. 
  2. Last but not least, if you have frozen ham in the required portions, you can use it directly in the cooking process, thus you can add it directly to the dish you are cooking but do not forget to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

The reason behind cooking the frozen ham immediately after thawing it in a cold water bowl or microwave is that when you warm frozen ham using these methods, the temperature at the surface of the frozen ham gets higher than that of 40 degrees Fahrenheit before the core temperature can become 40 degrees Fahrenheit and it can thaw completely and that’s when the bacteria can start to grow on the surface rapidly.

Therefore it is advised to cook such thawed frozen ham immediately until its internal temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Because it is only by cooking the frozen ham properly that we can get rid of the bacteria completely.

Is it better to defrost ham in hot or cold water?

Ham can be safely thawed in cold water rather than heated. Not only will the hot water thaw the ham but it will also start to cook the ham surface, causing sections of the flesh to reach temperatures beyond 40 degrees. That’s the point at which the microbes start to grow rapidly. Thus, it’s best to use cold water straight from the tap to thaw your frozen ham.

It is worth mentioning that you should make sure the ham is thawed in a leak-proof container or bag. What you gotta do is soak the bag in cold water for 30 minutes, changing the water every 30 minutes to keep it cool and once the ham has fully thawed, you should cook it right away.

Is it necessary to defrost ham before cooking it?

Technically, the ham does not necessarily need to be thawed before cooking and you can just go ahead and cook your frozen ham. When using frozen ham, the cooking time will need to be increased. Cooking time for larger pieces, such as ham roasts, can be up to 1 1/2 times that of an unfrozen ham cut. Thus, cooking frozen ham takes around 50 percent longer than cooking completely thawed ham.

It is worth mentioning that it is always a good idea to let the ham thaw first before cooking it in order to ensure optimal cooking throughout the whole ham without any risk of surface charring.

Is it possible to keep the reheated frozen ham refrigerated?

The previously cooked refrigerated/frozen ham should never be refrigerated again once it has been reheated. The reason behind this recommendation is that when the frozen ham is reheated, its temperature rises over 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and we know that 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit is the danger zone as the bacteria grow rapidly within this temperature range.

As a result, microorganisms will contaminate your ham. So all in all, the reheated ham should never be refrigerated; instead, it is preferable to devour it entirely or properly dispose of the reheated leftovers.

Dos and don’ts of thawing ham

  1. You should never thaw the frozen ham by leaving it on the counter as this will increase its microbial exposure.
  1. The best way to thaw ham is by leaving it in the refrigerator overnight.
  1. It is always recommended to thaw the frozen ham by leaving it on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator to keep it from dripping into other food items. Thus, following this practice, you can substantially decrease the chances of food contamination.
  1. You should thaw the frozen ham by placing it in a colander and afterward putting the colander in a wide bowl that is large enough to withhold all the dripping water from the thawed ham.

You can read is ham healthy here.


In this brief guide, we answered the question  “how to thaw ham” with an in-depth analysis of the proper way to thaw frozen ham. Moreover, we discussed whether or not you should refrigerate/refreeze the reheated ham.


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Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.