As the holidays approach, an all-important question looms: will you make turkey or will you make ham this year? For those of you on Team Ham, this Crockpot Ham recipe is the easiest, most delicious way to cook ham for a crowd. Even if you’ve never made a holiday ham before, this recipe won’t let you down!
Why You’ll Love This Simple Crockpot Ham Recipe
- It’s Ham, Ma’am. Or sir. Anyway, the point is: ham is delicious—savory, sweet, succulent, and salty. With this crockpot ham recipe, you’ll get all that deliciousness without any of the stress. We’re talking 5 minutes of prep time here!
- Set It and Forget It. So much of the anxiety involved in holiday entertaining is the mental Tetris you have to play when figuring out what needs to go in the oven and when and at what temperature. Enter: crockpot ham. Like Crockpot Pork Roast, the ham frees up valuable real estate in the oven and since it’s a mostly hands-off recipe, your time is free to make your sides (or sip on an Apple Cider Cocktail with your guests).
- Travels Well. Heading to Friendsgiving or another gathering where the oven is occupied? This slow cooker ham solves that problem.
- Leftovers for Days. Use the leftover ham to make sandwiches for lunch, or add Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup, Ham Casserole, and Scalloped Potatoes and Ham to your meal plan for the week after the holiday.
- Perfect for Special Occasions. Ham, along with turkey, is a staple for many holiday celebrations. The pressure is on when you’re choosing a ham recipe to make for family and friends, but rest assured: this ham recipe with a brown sugar glaze will elicit those excited oohs and ahhs and all the compliments.
What You Need to Know When Purchasing Ham
If this is the first year you’re making ham for the holidays, you might not know where to start. There are so many options!
- City ham is the brined variety of ham. Most hams sold in the United States are city hams.
- Country hams are hung to dry; they’re cured with a dry rub and may also be smoked. Think of this as the American equivalent of Serrano ham or prosciutto.
- Fresh hams are raw; while city ham and country ham can be eaten cold or warmed to a safe temperature, fresh hams must be cooked.
Plan to purchase a city ham for the holidays. You can purchase a whole ham or a half ham.
Here’s a primer to help you make your purchase.
- Avoid Hams That are Injected With Saline Solution. City hams are brined one of two ways: soaking the ham in saltwater for several days or injecting brine directly into the meat to expedite the brining process. Higher quality hams are submerged in brine, rather than injected.
- Avoid Canned Ham, Too. Canned ham is made by pressing and forming scraps into a can-shaped loaf. Needless to say, this is not the ham you want to serve for the holidays.
- Choose Bone-In Ham. Boneless ham is easiest to cut, but leaving the bone in helps keep the ham moist and flavorful, so it’s worth the extra effort. Plus you can use the ham bone for Instant Pot Split Pea Soup!
- Spiral vs. Whole Ham. Spiral hams are very popular for the holidays because they’re already pre-cut. Convenient! Unfortunately, being pre-cut makes them prone to drying out.
For this recipe, we’ll use a bone-in ham.
How to Make Crockpot Ham
- Cooked Bone-In Ham. Do not use spiral-cut ham, as it will dry out in the slow cooker.
- Liquid. To keep your ham moist. Dry white wine, apple juice, or water will all work.
- Glaze. I recommend my Easy Brown Sugar Ham Glaze, which gives this crockpot ham the classic sweet-and-savory flavor everyone loves.
- Cut. Score the ham diagonally left to right, then right to left, creating a diamond crisscross pattern.
- Add the Liquid. Pour the wine or juice into a 6-quart or larger oval slow cooker.
- Add the Ham. Cover and cook until the ham is heated completely through and reaches 140 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Glaze. At the end of the cooking time, prepare the glaze. Transfer the ham to a cutting board and brush with the glaze mixture.
- Finish. Make Ham Gravy, if desired. Slice, serve, and ENJOY!
- To Store. Store leftover crockpot ham in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
- To Reheat. Reheat ham in the microwave, or place it in a baking dish with a few tablespoons of water, broth, or stock; cover and reheat in a 325 degree F oven until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- To Freeze. You can freeze leftovers in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat according to the instructions above.
What to Serve with Crockpot Ham
- Vegetables. Pair your protein with a vegetable side like Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic, Roasted Broccoli, or Sautéed Green Beans.
- Potatoes. Ham and potatoes are a comfort food combo perfect for family holiday get-togethers! Try my Oven Roasted Potatoes, Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes, or Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes.
- Other Holiday Favorites. Cornbread Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Drop Biscuits are all excellent with crockpot ham!
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Slow Cooker. You’ll need an oval slow cooker to fit the ham.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The best method to check crockpot ham for doneness.
- Pastry Brush. I love this brush because it won’t shed bristles onto your ham!
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Don’t Overcook the Ham. Since it’s already cooked, it just needs to be warmed through and infused with flavor. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when cooking ham for the holidays! A 5 pound ham takes about 5-7 hours in the slow cooker to cook.
- Use a Meat Thermometer. This is the best way to ensure that your ham has reached the proper internal temperature. Since the ham is already cooked, a lot of the visual cues we use for doneness no longer apply. Plus, different sized hams will need different amounts of time to reach a safe 140 degrees F.
- Don’t Use a Spiral Ham. While they may be convenient for serving, they have a much higher likelihood of drying out in the slow cooker.
- Make Enough Crockpot Ham for Everyone. Wondering how much ham to make per person? Plan for about 1/3 to 1/2 pound of ham per person for bone-in ham. Some sources even recommend as much as 3/4 pound per person, so if your family has big appetites, you’re serving more adults than kids, or you want leftovers, keep that in mind!
- 1 5- to 7-pound cooked bone-in ham*, do not use spiral cut as it will dry out in the slow cooker
- 1 cup dry white wine or apple juice or water
- 1 recipe Easy Brown Sugar Ham Glaze or glaze of choice
- With a sharp knife, score the ham diagonally left to right, then right to left, to create a diamond crisscross pattern.
- Pour the wine or juice into a 6-quart or larger oval slow cooker. Add the ham. Cover and cook on low until the ham is heated completely through, 5 to 6 hours (it should reach 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer).
- Towards the end of the ham’s cooking time, prepare the Brown Sugar Glaze. Transfer the heated ham to a cutting board and brush super liberally with the glaze. Slice and enjoy! If desired, use the cooking juices in the slow cooker to make Ham Gravy.
- *You can also make this recipe with boneless ham; note that it will heat through more quickly and is more prone to drying out.
- TO STORE: Store leftover crockpot ham in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat ham in the microwave, or place it in a baking dish with a few tablespoons of water, broth, or stock; cover and reheat in a 325 degree F oven until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: You can freeze leftovers in an airtight container or zip-top freezer bag. Thaw in the refrigerator, then reheat according to the instructions above.
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