Are you planning to serve a delicious smoked ham for your next holiday gathering or special occasion? Cooking a smoked ham in the oven is a great way to achieve a juicy and flavorful result.
However, with so many different recipes and cooking times out there, it can be overwhelming to figure out the best way to cook your ham.
In this article, we’ll break down the different factors that affect cooking time and provide some helpful tips to ensure your smoked ham turns out perfectly every time.
So, grab your apron and let’s get cooking!
How Long To Cook Smoked Ham In The Oven?
The cooking time for a smoked ham in the oven can vary depending on a few different factors. The size of your ham, whether it is fully cooked or not, and your desired level of doneness can all affect the cooking time.
If your ham is fully cooked, you will need to heat it through to an internal temperature of 140°F. For a whole ham, this typically takes about 15-18 minutes per pound. For a half ham, it may take 18-24 minutes per pound.
If your ham is not fully cooked, you will need to cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. For a whole ham, this typically takes about 18-20 minutes per pound. For a shank or butt portion weighing 3-4 pounds, it may take about 35 minutes per pound.
It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines and you should always check the packaging of your specific ham for recommended cooking times and temperatures.
Understanding Your Smoked Ham
Smoking a ham is a form of curing that involves first salt-curing or brining the meat to control bacteria development during smoking. The ham is then slowly infused with the essence of hickory or maple smoke in a smokehouse, with the smoking temperature kept low, below 100°F. This slow process, called “cold-smoking,” prevents the meat from burning up and allows it to absorb rich smoky flavor.
When cooking a smoked ham in the oven, the cooking time will depend on whether it is fully cooked or not. If your ham is fully cooked, you only need to heat it through to an internal temperature of 140°F. This typically takes about 15-18 minutes per pound for a whole ham and 18-24 minutes per pound for a half ham.
If your smoked ham is not fully cooked, you will need to cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. This typically takes about 18-20 minutes per pound for a whole ham and about 35 minutes per pound for a shank or butt portion weighing 3-4 pounds.
It’s important to note that glazing your smoked ham can enhance its flavor. After removing it from the oven, you can immediately pour the glaze over the ham and brush it in between each slice for maximum flavor.
Factors That Affect Cooking Time
There are several factors that can affect the cooking time of a smoked ham in the oven. The first factor is the size of the ham. A larger ham will take longer to cook than a smaller one. For example, a whole bone-in ham weighing 12-16 pounds should be cooked for 22-26 minutes per pound at 325°F, while a half ham weighing between 5-8 pounds should be cooked for 35-40 minutes per pound at the same temperature.
Another factor that can affect cooking time is whether the ham is bone-in or boneless. Bone-in hams will generally take longer to cook than boneless hams because the bone can slow down the cooking process. For example, a bone-in half ham may take 18-24 minutes per pound to cook, while a boneless half ham may only take 12-15 minutes per pound.
The level of doneness you desire can also affect cooking time. If you prefer your ham to be more well-done, it will take longer to cook than if you prefer it to be more rare. It’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the ham reaches at least 140°F for fully cooked hams and 160°F for not fully cooked hams.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind that every oven is different and may have slight variations in temperature and cooking time. It’s always a good idea to check on your ham periodically while it’s cooking and adjust the temperature or cooking time as needed.
Preparing Your Smoked Ham For The Oven
Before you begin cooking your smoked ham in the oven, it’s important to properly prepare it. Start by preheating your oven to 325°F.
If your ham is sliced, you can use a sheet pan and a cookie drying rack to warm it up. Place the cookie drying rack in the sheet pan and add a small amount of chicken stock. Add the slices of ham and cover with foil. Bake at 325°F for about 12 minutes or until the ham is warm.
For a whole smoked ham, remove all packaging materials and place it on its side, fat side up, on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. If there is a plastic disk on the bone, remove and discard it. Cut diamond marks on the fat cap with a paring knife and stud each diamond with a whole clove.
You can also pour water, star anise, and cloves into the bottom of a roasting pan and place a roasting rack on top. Place the ham on the rack and cut 1/4-inch deep slashes 1/2-inch apart lengthwise and crosswise across the top of the entire ham.
Next, prepare your glaze by combining glaze ingredients and bringing them to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes before cooling.
Loosely cover your ham with foil and bake in the preheated oven for about an hour. While it’s baking, whisk together your glaze. Baste the ham with the glaze mixture every 20 minutes until it becomes golden-brown and reaches an internal temperature of 130°F.
After removing your ham from the oven, let it stand for 10 minutes before carving and serving. For a caramelized finish, either broil the ham for a few additional minutes or remove it from the oven and use a kitchen torch to heat the glaze until caramelized, which should take about 2 to 5 minutes.
By following these steps, you can ensure that your smoked ham is properly prepared for cooking in the oven, resulting in a delicious and flavorful meal.
Checking For Doneness
Checking for doneness is a crucial step in ensuring that your smoked ham is cooked to perfection. There are several methods that can be used, but some are more accurate than others.
Using a thermometer is the most accurate method for testing doneness. A regular meat thermometer should be inserted before placing the ham in the oven or exposing it to the heat source that will be used. It should remain there throughout the cooking time. An instant-read thermometer should be used to check for the proper temperature once the ham has been cooked. The ham should be taken away from the heat source and the instant-read thermometer should be immediately inserted into the thickest part of the ham. It will give a temperature reading in approximately 15 seconds. When inserting a thermometer, care must be taken that it is not touching a bone or an area of fat to ensure an accurate reading.
Ham slices, because of their thickness, are more difficult to check for doneness using a thermometer. If the slice is thick enough, it can be inserted from the side into the middle of the slice to get an internal reading.
Another method for testing doneness is to pierce the ham with a meat fork or the tip of a knife. The meat should show little resistance by easily sliding in and out of the ham if it is done properly.
Bone-in hams can also be checked for doneness by visually looking at them as they are being cooked. The meat will begin to separate from the bones and the large bones will move easily as the ham gets done.
No matter which method you choose, it’s important to remove the ham from the heat source when it reaches an internal temperature that is 5 degrees lower than the desired doneness temperature. The ham should be left standing for 10 to 15 minutes before carving. During this time, it will continue to cook and the temperature should rise to the appropriate internal temperature. This will ensure that the ham is not overcooked.
Letting Your Smoked Ham Rest
Once your smoked ham is done cooking, it’s important to let it rest for a period of time before slicing and serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the ham, resulting in a more tender and moist final product.
The recommended resting time for a smoked ham is about 30 minutes. During this time, cover the ham loosely with aluminum foil to prevent the surface from cooling off too quickly. Make sure the ham is on a cutting board with a “gravy groove” or a rimmed baking sheet pan to catch any juices.
It’s important to note that there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you’ve worked hard to achieve crispy skin on a chicken or turkey, covering it with foil during the resting period will soften the skin. Additionally, if you plan to hold brisket or pork butt for several hours in an empty cooler, you will want to wrap these tightly with foil.
Once the resting period is over, your smoked ham is ready to be sliced and served. Enjoy the delicious flavors and tender texture that come from properly resting your ham!