What could be more delicious than a homemade sandwich with thinly sliced ham, mozzarella and coleslaw? Cooking a frozen ham is easy, so you can enjoy the favorite meat anytime. Add it to your salads, 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
First, make sure you buy the best ham you can find. This cut of meat 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. Most markets sell fully cooked ham, which you can enjoy as soon as you arrive home.
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.
According to the National Pork Board, wet-cured hams with natural juices are the lowest in water and make a great choice for holiday meals. Country-style ham, on the other hand, is dry-cured and has no water. Since it's high in sodium, it's typically served in small portions, as an appetizer. Depending on your preferences, you may opt for boneless or bone-in hams; the former are easier to carve and cook, while the latter are more visually appealing.
A 3-ounce serving of roasted ham has around 232 calories, 22 grams of protein and 15 grams of fat, including 5.5 grams of saturated fat, reports the USDA. It's also a good source of zinc, offering more than 20 percent of the daily recommended value for this mineral.
Read more: How Many Calories in a Ham Sandwich?
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 gram 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. Furthermore, processed meat, including ham, may contribute to breast cancer, according to a February 2018 cohort study published in the European Journal of Cancer.
To stay safe, consume ham in moderation and stick to the recommended serving size (3 ounces).
Cooking a 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 refrigerate it for up to six months, as recommended by the USDA. Cooked ham can be refrigerated for three or four days or stored in the freezer for three to four months.
Read more: How to Cook Ham & Cabbage in a Slow Cooker
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, advises the USDA. Cooked hams that were not packaged in USDA-inspected facilities should be cooked until their internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Cooking time depends on the size and type of ham. The USDA 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 four 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.
Read more: 5 Healthy Red Meat Recipes That Satisfy
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. This applies to frozen hamburger patties, too. 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"