How to prepare a Christmas ham

The ultimate guide to preparing a Christmas ham, from removing the rind to getting a perfectly shiny and sticky glaze. Learn how to cook and glaze a Christmas ham with heaps of tips and tricks.

Rate this Article
Average: 4.8 (6 votes)
FacebookPintrestTwitterGoogle ClassroomShare via Email


How do you prepare a Christmas ham?

There are three main steps to baked Christmas ham:
1. Removing the rind
2. Scoring the fat
3. Glazing and baking
Learn more about each step below.

How do you remove rind from ham?

The rind is the thick rubbery skin that surrounds the ham. It’s edible, though not very palatable. It’s kept on the ham to keep it moist. Beneath the rind is a layer of fat. You want to keep as much of the fat on the ham as possible, as it helps to create the glorious sticky, glossy glaze that makes a Christmas ham so delicious. 
To remove the rind, use a small sharp knife and begin by slicing through the skin around the shank to release the skin from the shank completely. Then, score down each side of the ham and across the top, making sure to only cut through the rind and not into the fat. 
Starting at the top of the ham, use your fingers to gently pull the rind back. Do this slowly as it will lessen the chance of pulling off any fat. The rind should come off in one piece.

How do you score a ham?

Scoring a ham involves making shallow cuts in the fat after removing the rind. Use a small sharp knife for the best control and only cut into the white fat, not the meat. Only cut three quarters through the fat layer, as cutting too deep will cause pieces to loosen and fall away. If this does happen, you can push cloves through the fat to hold it in place.
Scoring ham is not essential, but it does add extra flavour and texture, plus it looks great. The scored edges get crispy and caramelised, and the extra surface area means more of the fat gets rendered, which seeps into the ham during baking adding more flavour.
Traditionally, hams were scored with a diamond pattern and dotted with whole cloves. For an easy and modern alternative, score across the top of the ham one long incision at regular intervals.

How do I glaze a ham?

Choose a good glaze recipe. A glaze will usually be sweet and tangy. The sugar will caramelise to give your ham a lovely shiny look, and the tanginess will balance the flavours. This Christmas Ham with Fruit Chutney Glaze recipe is ideal, and it's very easy to make.
  1. If glaze is cold, warm slightly in microwave or saucepan until liquid enough that it is brushing consistency. 
  2. Use a pastry brush and coat the whole scored fat surface with glaze. 
  3. Place a rack inside a roasting tray that will fit your ham. Lightly grease the rack with cooking spray.
  4. To make washing up easier, line the base of the roasting dish with a few layers of foil. Place rack inside and then place your ham on top.
  5. Once ham is glazed and ready to put in the oven, pour in a few cups of water, wine or any juice. This will prevent the glaze from burning on the bottom of your pan and it also keeps the ham moist and tender. Bake according to your recipe, basting every 20-30 minutes. Keep an eye on the water bath levels, and top up as needed.
  6. Remove from oven and baste again with any thick pan juices and glaze. Slice and serve warm or cold.

Can you bake ham the day before serving it?

Yes, you can glaze and bake ham the day before it's meant to be served. The glaze can be made up to a week in advance. Keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator. You can remove the rind and score the ham up to three days before using it. Cover and refrigerate until ready to bake.

You can also prepare the ham, glaze and bake it completely. Allow it to cool, and cover with a layer of baking paper then a layer of foil. This will stop the glaze from coming off on the foil, and will also keep the ham moist when reheated. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To reheat, place ham in a warm low oven (160°C) for 30 minutes to an hour. 

Ways to use ham

Leftover ham is fantastic to use in a second meal, check out some recipe ideas below.

Get the recipe: Ham, Cheese and Chutney French Toast Bake



Get the recipe: Vegetable and Ham Slice


Never lose a recipe again
Join thousands of home cooks and collect recipes you'll not only love, but are sure to make over and over again! Organise favourites, set reminders to shop, create and share your own eBooks with a free membership!