Everyone will want to eat the sweet and crunchy breadcrumbs on this Baked Ham with Crumb Topping, so you might close the kitchen door until it’s ready to serve. It’s all too tempting to nibble on the toasted bits, especially when you’re hungry.
Of all the ways to bake ham in the oven, this is my most requested baked ham recipe for Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving. I use a bone-in ham that’s spiral sliced and cover it with a sweet balsamic, mustard, and brown sugar glaze.
But here’s the best part: a thick, crunchy topping of herbed breadcrumbs patted onto the glaze and toasted in the oven. Talk about delicious!
If you’re thinking ahead, you might want to make extra toasted breadcrumbs to serve on the side with the ham slices. Guests can take all they like that way, and no one has to bicker.
What kind of baked ham should you purchase?
Don’t worry about an overpriced honey baked ham from a baked ham company. If it’s tricky finding an unglazed spiral sliced ham, you have two choices: rinse the glaze from the factory off the ham, or purchase an unsliced, bone-in ham.
As long as you’re comfortable carving it yourself, you can forgo the pre-sliced and buy a solid ham. That way you can slice the ham into thickness, or thicknesses, you want.
For a really special Christmas, Easter, or other holiday ham, look for a shank end (or shank portion) ham, which has a fattier meat, more flavor, and has one long bone for easier carving. It is the hind leg of the pig, and the cut has a funnel shape that you might be familiar with.
However, a butt-end (or butt portion) ham is delicious, too. It just is a little leaner and is a little more work to carve. It comes from the upper portion of the leg, and has more than one bone. It’s frequently available semi-boneless, with the aitch (or pelvic) bone removed, but the femur intact.
Bone in or boneless ham?
As far as bone-in or boneless, a bone-in ham has more flavor and better texture. You can also make a great soup with the bone! May I recommend my recipe for a simple but delicious Ham and Lentil Soup?
A boneless ham is already deboned and pressed into a shape to resemble a ham roast. It’s easier to cut, but it’s less flavorful than a ham with the bone.
City Ham or Country Ham?
Unless you're in the South, a “city” ham is what is the most common at the store, and it’s the one to buy for this recipe. City hams are cured in brine and fully cooked, usually smoked.
For those wondering, a “country” ham, also known as a Virginia Ham, Kentucky Ham, or Tennessee Ham, is cured with a dry rub and then aged for months or even years. They're heavily salted and therefore much drier (and much chewier) than a city ham. Country hams require cooking before eating. While they’re not for everyone, they do have their very loyal following.
How much ham to buy:
How much ham for 10 adults? And how much ham for 30 adults? What about how much ham for 8 adults? Figuring out how much ham to buy can be tricky. Here’s what to look for:
Estimate about 3/4 pound per person for a bone-in ham and 1/2 pound for boneless ham. Along those lines, a 16-pound ham can feed 18 to 20 people.
Of course, if you want extra for sandwiches or soups, it may be helpful to buy a slightly larger ham than you need.
What do you need to bake a ham?
To bake a ham in the oven, here’s the equipment you’ll want to gather:
- A baking sheet with a rim, or a shallow roasting pan with a rack
- Aluminum foil
- Wire rack
- Oven roasting bag
How to bake a ham:
It's important to keep the ham from drying out during cooking; since it's fully cooked, it just needs to warm up.
Wrapping the ham up in the oven bag and cooking at a lower temperature, 325 degrees, work very well to seal in the juices and make a juicy end product.
If you can't locate an oven bag, use two layers of aluminum foil to wrap up the ham tightly during the first stage of cooking. The first stage of cooking is to get the ham warm, too 100 degrees in the center. This should take about two hours.
Don’t put the glaze on the ham for the first stage—it will burn if applied too early.
While the ham is baking, make the glaze. It’s the best glaze for ham: spicy mustard, dry mustard, ground ginger, ground cloves, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar, simmered on the stove until reduced and thick.
Remove the ham from the oven. If you’re using a pre-sliced ham, Go ahead and glaze it and cover it with breadcrumbs. If you’re braving an unsliced, bone-in ham, though, you’ve got an extra couple steps:
Once the ham is out of the oven and cool enough to handle, cut off the hard rind with a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Then slice off most of the fat, leaving 1/4” thick layer covering the meat.
Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Then, with the knife, score fat on top of ham in a pattern of 1-to-2-inch diamonds, cutting 1/4” to 1/2” deep. This will create a friendly surface for the glaze and crumb topping.
Pre-sliced hams will not need the above extra steps.
To make the breadcrumb mixture, combine the panko breadcrumbs, oil, parsley, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Brush the glaze over the ham, then gently pat the glazed ham with a thick layer of breadcrumbs.
Then pop the ham back into a 400 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until the breadcrumbs become toasted and brown.
Let the meat rest for 30 minutes before carving. Don't forget the extra breadcrumbs!
What are panko breadcrumbs?
Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as an irresistible coating for deep-fried foods. They are the crispiest! The biggest difference between panko and regular breadcrumbs is that panko is made from bread without crusts. There are even gluten-free panko flakes, in case you're looking for gluten free breadcrumbs.
Baked Ham With Crumb Topping Recipe
- 1 oven bag
- 8-9 pound ham bone-in, spiral sliced
- 1 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons mustard dry
- 2 teaspoons ginger ground
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves ground
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley minced
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set wire rack in sheet. Place 12-inch square of foil in center of rack. Set ham on foil, flat side down, and cover it with oven bag, tucking bag under ham to secure it. Let ham sit at room temperature for 1 1/2 hours.
- Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake ham to 100 degrees, about 2 hours. (Lift bag to take temperature; do not puncture.)
- Meanwhile, combine sugar, brown mustard, vinegar, dry mustard, ginger, and cloves in medium saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until reduced to 3/4 cup, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool while ham cooks.
- Combine panko, parsley, oil, salt, and pepper in bowl. Remove ham from oven, discard oven bag, and let ham cool for 5 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.
- Brush ham all over with brown sugar-mustard mixture. Press panko mixture against sides of ham to evenly to coat. Bake until crumbs are deep golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer ham, flat side down, to carving board and let rest for 30 minutes. Carve and serve.