Cooking a frozen ham is easy, so you can enjoy the favorite meat anytime. Add it to your salads, pack it in a sandwich with mozzarella and coleslaw, serve it with sweet potato fries or use it in pizza recipes for a smoky flavor.
The time required for cooking a frozen ham depends on its type and size. The key is to get the cooking temperature right and add your favorite glaze about 15 minutes before the meat is done.
How to Buy a Ham
Ham comes from the pig's thigh or rump and can be roasted, grilled or slow-cooked. It's either dry- or wet-cured and comes in various sizes.
For best results, choose hams with fat around the outer edges to prevent them from drying out while cooking. If you have guests, plan for one-third to half a pound of boneless ham per person.
A 3-ounce serving of roasted ham has 232 calories, 23 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat, including 5.5 grams of saturated fat, per the USDA. It's also a good source of zinc, offering more than 20 percent of the daily recommended value for this mineral.
If you're trying to cut down on fat, opt for lean cured ham. One serving has only 123 calories, 4.7 grams of fat and nearly 18 grams of protein. The downside is that some varieties have over 1,000 milligrams of sodium per serving — that's about 43 percent of the daily recommended intake.
High-sodium diets may increase your risk of heart and kidney disease, kidney stones, stomach cancer and other ailments, points out the American Heart Association.
To stay safe, eat ham in moderation and stick to the recommended serving size (3 ounces).
Cooking Frozen Ham
Cooking a frozen ham is relatively simple. For best results, choose fresh ham, which is neither smoked nor cured, and buy it up to one week before using it.
Store it in the fridge for three to five days or freeze it for up to six months, as recommended by FoodSafety.gov. Cooked ham can be refrigerated for three or four days or stored in the freezer for three to four months.
Rinse the ham with cold water, use a towel to absorb the moisture and then place it in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil (with the rind side up).
Add an inch of water inside the pan and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bake the meat until it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees F. Cooked hams that were not packaged in USDA-inspected facilities should be cooked until their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Ham Cooking Times
Cooking time depends on the size and type of ham. FoodSafety.gov provides the following estimates:
- Whole bone-in ham (smoked and uncooked): 18 to 20 minutes per pound
- Half bone-in ham (smoked and uncooked): 22 to 25 minutes per pound
- Whole leg, bone-in ham (fresh and uncooked): 22 to 26 minutes per pound
- Whole leg, boneless ham (fresh and uncooked): 24 to 28 minutes per pound
- Half, bone-in ham (fresh and uncooked): 35 to 40 minutes per pound
If you're cooking country ham (defrosted), soak it for 4 to 12 hours in water before cooking. Place it in the refrigerator. Next, put it in a deep pan, cover it with water and boil for 20 to 25 minutes per pound. Discard the water, glaze the meat and brown it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.
When cooking fresh ham, remove it from the oven about 15 minutes before it's done. Brush it with your favorite glaze and cook it at 400 degrees for another 12 to 15 minutes.
Beware, though, that frozen ham may take longer to cook, which is why it's recommended to thaw it before baking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all foods can be safely thawed in the fridge, the microwave or in cold water, but not on the counter at room temperature, as this may lead to bacterial contamination. Keep a ham thawing chart at hand or cook the meat frozen if you don't mind spending a few extra minutes in the kitchen.
- National Pork Board: "Ham"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Roasted Ham"
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Lean Cured Ham"
- American Heart Association: "Effects of Excess Sodium Infographic"
- European Journal of Cancer: "Red and Processed Meat Consumption and Breast Cancer: UK Biobank Cohort Study and Meta-Analysis"
- USDA: "Ham and Food Safety"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Four Steps (Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill) to Food Safety"