Easter Ham 101

For most families Easter dinner is not complete without a sweet glazed ham as the main dish. These tender slices of meat tend to be a hit with the whole family, and luckily a ham is a pretty easy dish to cook for the masses. Cooking a ham can be simple, if you know what you are doing so we have provided you with the most important things to know about cooking your Easter ham:

Three Basic Types of Ham:

Not all hams are created equal, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re buying before you hit the check-out line. Broadly speaking, there are three main types of ham available during Easter:

  • Cured ham: These hams are deep rose or pink in color and are often sold ready to eat. Some require cooking, so be sure to check the label. Hams that need to be cooked are labeled with cooking instructions.
  • Cured and smoked ham: These hams are exactly the same as cured hams, with the additional step of smoking the ham.
  • Fresh ham: As its name indicates, this is an uncooked cut of ham that must be cooked before eating, and has the same color and texture as a fresh uncooked pork roast. This variety is not as commonly served at holiday time.

Cured hams don’t necessarily need to be cooked.

Be sure to check the label of your ham. Most cured hams (although not all), as well as cured and smoked hams come ready to eat. So, it’s really up to you and depends on your taste if you prefer to eat it cold or heated through.

Plan on about 1/3 pound of ham per person.

So how much ham should you buy? If ham will be the star of the table at your Easter celebration, plan on 1/3 to 1/2 pound per person when buying a bone-in ham, or 1/4 to 1/3 pound per person when buying a boneless ham.

Spiral-cut ham is already sliced.

If you value convenience, a spiral-cut ham may be for you. This ham is already in thin slices; you just have to slice them away from the bone.

You can also cook your ham in the slow cooker.

If the oven isn’t an option, or you simply want an easier method, you can also cook your holiday ham in the slow cooker. The low, slow heat gently braises the ham, making it the most tender you’ll ever eat. This method requires five to six hours, and works best with a spiral-cut ham that’s fully cooked and no larger than about 10 pounds (for a six-quart slow cooker).