It’s a Christmas classic! Scored in a diamond pattern, studded with cloves and covered in a honey-dijon glaze, this Christmas Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze is really a showstopper on the table! Best of all? It’s a total piece of cake to make.
My Favorite Christmas Ham Recipe
For me, Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without a classic turkey, and on Christmas it’s time to break out the classic Christmas ham recipe. I just love making this festive main course, because it’s so delicious and special. Plus, it’s very easy to put together, which is extra important for busy families during the holidays.
For the Ham
- Ham: I use a fully-cooked, bone-in ham. About 8-10 pounds is perfect.
- Cloves: To decorate and flavor the ham. You’ll need about two tablespoons of whole cloves for this recipe.
For the Brown Sugar Glaze
- Brown Sugar: You’ll need a cup of brown sugar, packed. Light or dark brown sugar is fine. Dark brown sugar will give a slightly stronger, more caramelized taste.
- Honey: Use half a cup of your favorite honey.
- Dijon Mustard: I use 3 tablespoons of good Dijon mustard, but you can use more or less, to taste.
- Allspice: Again, you can omit this if you need to! But it definitely adds a special holiday flavor and goes really well with ham, so I do recommend using it if possible!
What Is the Best Type of Ham to Use?
- The two main “cuts” of ham are the shank and the butt. Together, these are a whole ham. Apart, they’re each a half ham. This recipe is for a half ham, whether shank or butt. Which one you choose is totally up to you!
- The shank half has only one bone and is easier to carve, but the butt usually has a bit more meat and less fat. My grandmother always bought the butt, but I often buy a shank.
How to Make Christmas Ham
- Set Things Up: First, preheat the oven to 325°F. Pour a cup of water into the base of your roasting pan, and set a roasting rack on top. Then, place the ham, cut-side down, on the roasting rack.
- Score the Ham: Scoring means cutting into the ham, but not deeply. Score about ¾ of an inch deep, into the fat, creating a square or diamond pattern all over the ham. Stud each diamond or intersection with a clove, if you’re using them.
- Bake & Make the Glaze: Tent the ham with foil so it can steam. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. While the ham is cooking, make the glaze by boiling the brown sugar, honey, dijon mustard and ground allspice in a small saucepan for a couple of minutes.
- Alternate Glazing & Baking Until Heated Through: Once the 20 minutes of cooking is up, remove the foil and baste or brush the ham with some of the glaze. Return the foil tent, and continue to bake for 20 minutes per pound of ham, basting and re-covering every 20 minutes.
- Broil the Ham: Once the internal temperature of the ham has reached 130 degrees, remove the foil and baste with the glaze once more. Turn the oven from BAKE to BROIL, and broil the ham for 3-5 minutes, or until the glaze has caramelized.
- Let Rest, Slice & Serve: Remove the ham from the oven and cover again with the foil. Allow the ham to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Tips for the Best Ham Glaze
- Sugar Substitutes: If you prefer, you can substitute raw sugar, turbinado sugar, maple syrup, or other sweeteners for the brown sugar. Keep in mind that the consistency of the glaze may change, and that some sweeteners are more intense – so adjust the amounts, as needed.
- Mustard Substitutes: Dijon is so great in this glaze, but other mustards can be delicious as well! You can try honey mustard, grainy deli mustard, and more. Again, you can play with the amounts to taste.
- Omit Spices: If you don’t care to use cloves and/or allspice, that is totally fine. This ham will taste delicious with or without the holiday spices. You might like to make a Christmas ham with them, and an Easter ham without them!
- Roasted Veggies: These Easy Roasted Vegetables make a beautiful, flavorful and colorful side at any time!
- Squash Casserole: My Cheesy Squash and Zucchini Casserole is sure to be a holiday favorite, and it goes especially well with this ham!
- Dinner Rolls: A special meal deserves a side of fresh rolls, warm from the oven, and these No-Knead Dinner Rolls make that super easy!
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To refrigerate: Wrap leftovers tightly and store in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.
- To reheat: You can microwave slices in 15-second increments, fry or sauté gently with a little cooking spray or butter, or place in the oven at about 350°F until heated through.
- You can also serve the leftovers cold in sandwiches and salads.
Can You Freeze Extra Ham?
- Yes! Wrap leftovers tightly in plastic wrap and then place in freezer bags, pushing out as much air as possible before sealing.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
- Enjoy within 6 months for the best flavor.
Christmas Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze
For the Ham:
- 8 to 10 pound bone-in fully cooked ham
- 2 tablespoons whole cloves, optional, but recommended
- Preheat oven to 325°F.
- Pour 1 cup of water into the base of a roasting pan. Set roasting rack on top.
- Place ham, cut-side down, on the roasting rack.
- Score the fat creating a square or diamond pattern, cutting only 3/4-inch deep. Stud each diamond or intersection with a clove.
- Tent the ham with foil so that it can steam, and bake for 20 minutes.
- While the ham is cooking, make your glaze by combining the brown sugar, honey, dijon mustard, and ground all spice in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
- Boil for 2 minutes and then remove from heat.
- Once the 20 minutes of cooking is up, remove the foil and baste or brush the ham with some of the glaze.
- Return the foil tent and continue to bake for 20 minutes per pound of ham.
- Every 20 minutes, baste the ham with more of the glaze and return the foil-tent each time.
- Once the internal temperature of the ham has registered 130 degrees on your Instant Read Food Thermometer, remove the foil and baste with the glaze once again and the proceed to broil the ham for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the glaze has caramelized.
- Remove the ham from the oven and return the foil. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.