Here is the simplest of the simple baked ham recipes. There’s no scoring and no studding with cloves, because neither of those steps is necessary. Using a moist heat cooking method for the first half of the process, followed by a blast of high heat at the end to caramelize the surface will yield a beautifully burnished ham with juicy, tender meat.

A brown sugar glazed ham emerging from the oven.

Last Christmas, I bought a half, bone-in ham from Dakin Farm. I scored it, studded it with cloves, and baked it as directed for 10 minutes a pound at 325ºF. During the last 15 minutes, I cranked up the heat and brushed it with a simple glaze, a mix of brown sugar, maple syrup, and freshly squeezed orange juice.

In my post Christmas after-action report, I wrote: “The ham was spectacular; the mustard sauce outrageously delicious.”

But I had questions still: Was scoring necessary? Were cloves necessary? Was a glaze even necessary?

And so I emailed Dakin Farm: To Score or Not? A man named Eric wrote me back and said, “My advice to everyone is to add a little water to the pan and cover with foil.  This really helps in preventing the ham from being dry.”

He also noted that studding with cloves is not necessary, but it won’t dry the ham out either. And added that glazing is nice for visual purposes.

This all made sense to me, and the next time around, I followed his advice. I roasted my unscored, un-cloved whole ham (a 13-pounder) for an hour and 45 minutes at 325ºF in a pan with a little bit of water covered in foil. For the last 30 minutes, I removed the foil, cranked up the heat to 425ºF, and generously glazed the ham twice at 15 minute intervals.

The result? A beautifully burnished, glazed ham with super moist, tender meat. And no thanks to anything I did: the meat was super flavorful.

Let me explain …

The Secret to Baking A Good Ham?

… lies in the ham. If you buy a good one, you’ll bake a good one. If you buy a bad one, you won’t. No glaze or scoring or cooking technique will save a bad ham. You’re not marinating or brining a ham (and how nice!) — you’re simply heating it through. And the glaze, while delicious, doesn’t penetrate beyond the outer layer.

As you can gather, I am a huge fan of Dakin Farm (no affiliation here! just a fan!) For as long as I can remember, my Vermont aunt and uncle always have had some sort of Dakin Farm ham product on hand when we visit, and it is always fabulous. I’ve purchased both their whole and half hams, and they never disappoint. A half ham will feed at least 12 people, making the cost per serving about $4.66.

My mother’s advice regarding ham is to never buy a spiral or frozen ham. One year, I bought just that: a frozen, spiral ham (from a highly regarded source). It looked beautiful emerging from the oven — and I thought: just this once, I’ll show her! — but in the end, it was dry and flavorless. Should have known.

Friends: If you have any ham-baking tips or sources for favorite hams, please share in the comments.

Baked Ham Best Practices

  • Cook 10 minutes a pound at 325ºF.
  • Cook fat-side up in a roasting pan filled with about 1/2 inch of water covered tightly in foil for the bulk of the time.
  • During the last 30 minutes, remove the foil, crank the heat up to 425ºF, brush with a simple glaze at least twice.
  • Let rest 20 minutes before carving.

Brown Sugar Ham Glaze Recipe

A ham glaze recipe should include something sweet — brown sugar, sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. — which will promote good caramelization in the oven. There is no need to glaze the ham throughout the entire cooking process — during the last 30 minutes (with the oven cranked up to 425ºF) will suffice and will leave the ham beautifully burnished.

To make this glaze, stir together:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Halve the recipe if you are making a half ham.

PS: Find all of my Favorite Easter Recipes right here.

How to Roast a Whole Bone-In Ham

Here’s the play-by-play: Place ham, fat side up, in a large roasting pan. Add 2 cups of water, roughly, or enough water so that it reaches 1/2-inch up the sides of the pan.

A ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan with a little bit of water.

Cover the pan with foil and transfer to a 325ºF oven.

A roasting pan holding a ham, covered in foil.

Meanwhile, stir together the glaze: 1/4 cup each freshly squeezed orange juice, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

The ingredients to make the brown sugar maple glaze for the ham.
Brown sugar-maple glaze.

Transfer it to a small liquid measure for easy brushing (if you wish):

Brown sugar glaze in a measuring cup.

Thirty minutes before the ham is cooked (see recipe box for timing notes), remove the ham from the oven, remove the foil, and increase the oven temperature to 425ºF.

A whole bone in ham in a roasting pan after 1.75 hours in the oven.

Brush the ham with the glaze, and return it to the oven for 15 minutes:

A ham glazed with a brown sugar-maple glaze.

Remove the ham and give it another brush with the glaze. Return it to the oven for a final 15 minutes.

A glazed whole roasted bone-in ham.

Remove it from the oven:

A brown sugar-glazed ham, just roasted in roasting pan in the oven.

Transfer the ham to a board to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

A roasted, brown sugar glazed ham resting on a platter.

Remove as many large lobes from the ham as possible; then carve into slices:

A carved ham on a board.

Transfer to a serving platter:

A carved brown sugar glazed ham on a platter.

Don’t forget the ham sauce! It’s so, so delicious.

Gramma's mustard sauce in a Weck jar.
A carved brown sugar glazed ham on a platter.

Tend to the ham bone (and removing as much meat as possible from it) after dinner:

A carved ham bone.

Save the bone for split pea and ham soup. Or freeze for up to 3 months.

A ham bone in a ziplock bag on a countertop.
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A brown sugar glazed ham emerging from the oven.

Simple Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Glaze


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 24-30
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Description

This is a very simple baked ham recipe. There’s no scoring and no studding with cloves, because neither of those steps is necessary. Using a moist heat cooking method for the first half of the process, followed by a blast of high heat at the end to caramelize the surface will yield a beautifully burnished ham with moist, tender meat.

I am a huge fan of Dakin Farm hams (no affiliation here … truly just a long-time fan since my VT aunt and uncle introduced me to their products years ago.) I think the secret to making a good ham lies in the quality of the ham itself. 

Notes: 

  • Dakin recommends estimating 1/4 lb per person buffet style or 1/2 lb per person for dinner, depending on appetites.
  • Cook 10 minutes a pound at 325ºF.
  • Cook fat-side up in a roasting pan filled with about 1/2 inch of water covered tightly in foil for the bulk of the time.
  • During the last 30 minutes, remove the foil, crank the heat up to 425ºF, brush with a simple glaze at least twice.
  • Let rest 20 minutes before carving.

Ingredients

For the ham: 

For the glaze (halve this recipe if making a half ham): 

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice

For serving:


Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Calculate your ham’s cooking time. For this recipe, you’re going to roast your ham for 10 minutes a pound total, but you’re going to crank the oven temperature up to 425ºF during the last 30 minutes, during which time you’ll glaze it twice. So, calculate your ham’s total cooking time; then subtract 30 minutes to calculate how long the ham will be in the oven for the first portion of the cooking period. (For example, if your ham weighs 13.69 lbs, you’ll roast it for 1 hour and 45 minutes at 325ºF; then 30 minutes at 425ºF.)
  3. Place ham, fat side up, in a roasting pan large enough to fit it. Add 2 cups of water or enough so that the water reaches about 1/2 inch up the sides of the pan. Cover the pan tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Set the timer for the amount of time you calculated in step 2. 
  4. Meanwhile, make the glaze: whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Set aside. 
  5. After the first portion of the cooking is complete, remove the ham from the oven, and increase the oven temperature to 425ºF. Remove the foil. Brush the ham all over generously with the glaze and return the ham to the oven for 15 minutes. Brush the ham again generously all over with the glaze and cook for another 15 minutes. (If you have any leftover glaze, dump it over the ham during the last 5 minutes of cooking time.) 
  6. Remove ham from the oven and let rest for at least 20 minutes before carving. 
  7. Carve by removing large chunks of meat and slicing up those chunks. See video for guidance. Don’t worry too much about the ham bone — save that for after dinner. Remove as much meat as possible. Save the bone for soup. 
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: baked, ham, recipe, simple, brown sugar, glaze