Salty, savory ham is a perfect match for a sweet glaze, and this Brown Sugar Ham Glaze is my favorite. Am I biased because it’s based on my mom’s recipe? Nope, Mom knows what’s up! With brown sugar, tangy apple cider vinegar, your choice of jam, and zippy Dijon, it truly is the best.
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Why You’ll Love This Ham Glaze Recipe
- A Balanced Bite. On its own, ham leans towards salty because it’s typically brined. Unfortunately, a lot of ham glaze recipes add so much sugar, you end up with a ham that’s cloyingly sweet. What I love about this brown sugar ham glaze is that it creates a balanced flavor by pairing the sweetness of sugar with acidity (vinegar), sharpness (mustard), and fruitiness (jam).
- Five Simple Ingredients. You probably have them on hand in your kitchen right now. (My Salmon Seasoning and Chicken Marinade are also made with pantry staples!) A 5 ingredient ham glaze? SOLD!
- Perfect for the Holidays. I use this brown sugar ham glaze with my Crockpot Ham, which is my go-to recipe when making a crowd-pleasing holiday main dish, ranking right up there with my Crockpot Pork Roast and turkey. Don’t forget the Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes and Ham Gravy!
How to Make Easy Brown Sugar Ham Glaze
- Jelly or Jam. Choose your favorite! My mom uses cherry, plum, apricot, or apple, but you can also combine a few if you’d like.
- Brown Sugar. You can use light or dark.
- Dijon Mustard. Dijon adds complexity and depth to this brown sugar ham glaze.
- Apple Cider Vinegar. The acidity of the vinegar cuts through the sweetness, adding a pleasing tanginess.
- Cornstarch. To make sure the glaze is thick and sticky so it doesn’t drip right off the ham!
- Combine. Stir all the ingredients together in a small saucepan.
- Cook. Bring to a boil and cook until thickened, stirring frequently.
- Brush. Add it all over the oven-baked ham during the last 20 minutes of cooking or brush onto crockpot ham when it’s finished cooking. ENJOY!
- Try Another Vinegar. White wine vinegar or champagne vinegar can be used instead of apple cider vinegar if you’d like; they both have a similar acidity.
- Add Herbs. Cook the glaze with a sprig of rosemary or thyme to infuse some herbal notes into the glaze.
- To Store. Refrigerate brown sugar ham glaze in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- To Reheat. Warm up the glaze in a saucepan set over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
Meal Prep Tip
You can prepare the glaze up to a week ahead of time to get a jump start on your holiday cooking.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Small Whisk. Just the right size for whisking in a saucepan!
- Saucepan. A heavy saucepan that will stand the test of time.
- Measuring Spoons. I love that these are double-sided and magnetic.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Brush Generously. This is how you get all that flavor onto your ham! If you have a spiral ham, the excess glaze with drip between the slices, giving every bite maximum flavor.
- Warm It Up If Needed. As the glaze cools, it will thicken. If it thickens too much, you can reheat it on the stovetop until it’s brushable again.
- Use Jam or Jelly. I don’t recommend preserves, which are excellent for PB & J Bars, but not so much for a glaze. The bits and chunks of fruit aren’t well-suited for brushing onto a ham.
Brown Sugar Ham Glaze
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- In a small saucepan, stir together the jelly, brown sugar, Dijon, vinegar, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil and cooking, stirring very frequently, until the glaze is thickened and darkened somewhat, about 3 minutes.
- To use on oven baked ham, brush half of the glaze liberally all over the ham during the last 20 minutes of cooking (if the glaze has thickened up too much to spread, simply rewarm it on the stove).To use on Sow Cooker Ham, wait to brush until the ham has been removed from the crockpot.
- Recipe is my Mom’s
- TO STORE: Refrigerate brown sugar ham glaze in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- TO REHEAT: Warm up the glaze in a saucepan set over medium-low heat.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze for up to 3 months in an airtight container or freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
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Frequently Asked Questions
For an oven-baked ham, the glaze is applied near the end of the cooking time. If you apply it too early, the sugars will burn! If you’re making my crockpot ham, you’ll brush on the glaze after you remove the ham from the slow cooker.
It’s best not to cover the ham after you glaze it. Baking the ham uncovered allows the glaze to thicken and caramelize.
If you let the glaze thicken on the stovetop, it should have no problem sticking to the ham! Remember, though, that some of the glaze dripping down is fine—it will infuse the ham with flavor.
It’s not necessary, but it’s highly recommended. An unglazed ham doesn’t look or taste nearly as appetizing.