A glazed, baked ham on the bone is an impressive-looking dish that is always a hit at large gatherings and on festive or celebratory occasions. And it’s not difficult to prepare, either. Just follow the directions in our How to Cook Ham on the Bone guide.

How Much to Buy

First things first – when buying your ham you’ll want to make sure you have enough to feed all your guests. If the ham you’re buying has a small bone you’ll need between 140 grams and 230 grams per person. If the ham has a large bone go with between 340 grams and 450 grams per person.


Some hams are purchased frozen. Thawing should be done in the fridge. If you just plonk the ham on the kitchen counter and leave it to defrost the outer meat will thaw first and reach a temperature above 4.5˚C while the inner meat continues to thaw. At temperatures above 4.5˚C dangerous bacterial growth can occur in pork.

Preparing Your Ham

Place your ham flat-side down on a cutting board or other flat surface. Using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife score the fat into a diamond pattern.

To make diamonds, place your knife at the bottom of the ham and draw it upwards in a diagonal direction. Make your next cut one inch further along and repeat the process until you have gone all the way around the ham. Now, do the same thing again, making another series of cuts in the opposite diagonal direction. You should end up with 1 – 2 inch diamonds all over your ham.

Note: when making your cuts, make sure not to go too deep. You should cut only fat, not into the meat.

Scoring your ham in this fashion makes it look attractive, allows the fat to baste the ham during cooking and soaks up more of the glaze that you’ll add later in the cooking process.


Traditionally, a baked ham is studded with cloves. If you wish to do this, simply press cloves stalk-end first into the intersections of your diamonds.

Baking the Ham

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180˚C
  2. If you have a baking thermometer, insert it into the ham – be careful not to let it touch the bone as this will cause it to give an inaccurate reading.
  3. Place your ham, fat-side up in a baking tray that has a baking rack in the bottom – you’ll get a better result when baking ham if the meat does not sit in its juices and fat during the cooking process. Lining the tray with aluminium foil will make cleaning it easier.
  4. Put the ham in the oven and cook for between 18 and 24 minutes per 500 grams.
  5. During the last 30 minutes of cooking time baste the ham every ten minutes with your glaze (see below). Do not baste with the drippings from the pan as these are too salty and will spoil the flavour of the meat.

When the ham is cooked, remove it from the oven, lightly cover with aluminium foil and set it aside to rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving. If you are using a meat thermometer a reading of at least 60˚C indicates the meat is properly cooked.

Ham Glaze

Many cooks will have their own secret glazes for baked ham. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Mix half a cup of brown sugar with half a cup of mustard powder and sprinkle over the ham.
  • Mix half a cup of honey and half a cup of brown sugar, drizzle or apply with a brush.
  • Baste with a bourbon and cola RTD.
  • Try a mixture of equal parts by volume of pineapple juice, honey and brown sugar.

Because glazes are high in sugar they should only be applied in the last half hour of cooking to avoid burning.

The Perfect Ham

By scoring the fat, cooking on a baking rack to avoid the meat sitting in its own drippings, glazing only in the last half hour and allowing the meat to rest for 15 minutes before carving you’ll serve your guests perfectly cooked ham on the bone.

To watch a demonstration of how to cook a honey-glazed ham, check out this video.

How to Cook Ham on the Bone, 3.8 out of 5 based on 5 ratings

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  1. Neil Price says:

    We have a 19.5 Kg. Ham Cured but uncooked. From the pig to a dry cure process. How do we cook it?
    1 Should we boil First?
    2 Do we Boil then Bake?
    3 Can we Just bake ?
    Note: This ham has not been cooked at all and is presently frozen. we have 2 weeks before it is required.

    VA:F [1.9.17_1161]
    Rating: 3.1/5 (38 votes cast)

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