How to Roast a Fresh Whole Ham

A roast ham on a plate.
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Most of the time when you think of ham, what comes to mind is the deep-pink meat that is served at Easter. It is decidedly salty and pairs well with a spicy sauce. A fresh whole ham, however, is the hind leg of a pig that has not been cured or smoked and needs to be cooked before eating. When cooked, it does not have the same deep-pink or rose color as a cured ham, but instead is a greyish white similar to pork chops and pork roast. It is more delicate in flavor. Fresh ham is low in calories, high in protein, phosphorous and potassium. It is also lower in sodium than the typical cured ham.


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Slow cooking a whole ham keeps it from drying out.

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Step 2

Prepare the ham with your favorite seasonings, sauce or rub. Thoroughly coat the entire ham to make sure it is completely covered with seasonings.

Step 3

Place the whole ham in a large roasting pan fat side up. The fat will baste the ham as it cooks.

Step 4

Cook the ham uncovered for about 20 minutes per pound.

Step 5

Turn the whole ham over halfway through the cooking time for even cooking. Do not use a fork, as doing so will pierce the ham and lose its juices. Use two spatulas to turn the ham over.

Step 6

Check the ham with a meat thermometer to determine when it is done cooking. The internal temperature should reach between 160 and 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 7

Let the whole ham rest for five to 10 minutes when it is done cooking so the juices can redistribute evenly throughout the meat.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh whole ham

  • Roasting pan

  • Seasonings or sauce

  • 2 spatulas

  • Meat thermometer


A frozen ham does not need to be thawed, but cooking time needs to increase and can take twice as long. The drippings from the ham can be made into an au jus. Create a glaze for your ham and brush it on for the last 15 to 30 minutes of cooking.


It is dangerous to eat undercooked pork. Always sanitize your work area and wash your hands after handling raw pork. A frozen ham should never be thawed on the counter; use the refrigerator or cold-water method.

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