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How to Cook a Spiral Ham (plus a Ham Glaze recipe)

If you’ve ever wondered how to cook a spiral ham (I love the Kirkland brand), look no further. It couldn’t be easier, you just need a few tips and tricks so your holiday ham stays juicy and tender! Whether you use the glaze packet provided or make your own, once you try this easy method you’ll never cook it any other way.

a spiral sliced ham on a white plate with fresh orange wedges on a wood table

Every time Easter or Christmas season rolls around, I inevitably receive a few emails from readers asking how to cook a spiral ham.

What they’re really asking is “how do I prevent my ham from drying out if it’s already been cooked and sliced?” And while I prefer cooking a fresh ham (the flavor just can’t be beat), sometimes it’s nice to just throw one in the oven and know that all I have to do is heat it and eat it.

I usually pick up the Kirkland hams from Costco but this method will work with any spiral-sliced ham. If you do use a Kirkland ham or another one that comes with its own glaze, feel free to use that glaze in place of the recipe in this post. Do use the directions provided at the bottom of this post for heating it though, as it’s foolproof!

The result of learning how to cook a spiral ham: a spiral sliced ham on a white plate

How to cook a spiral ham

First, consider putting a ham glaze not only on the outside of your ham but also between the slices, too; this will add tremendous flavor. I usually just throw something together (it almost always involves jam and adobo sauce, I just can’t resist that spicy-sweet combo, even on ham) but I’ve put together a simple ham glaze recipe for you in case you need one.

You don’t really cook a spiral ham, you simply reheat it. When it comes to “cooking” your ham, wrap it lightly with foil while it’s baking. This will keep the juices in and prevent them from evaporating while your ham is in the oven. You can occasionally open the tinfoil and baste the ham with the juices, too, which only helps keep it more moist.

Sometimes cooks will add some water, juice, or even 7-UP to the bottom of the pan to help keep as much moisture in the oven as possible. I’ve found that it’s not necessary, as the tinfoil does a great job of keeping the moisture in. Feel free to add that step if you like though, as it won’t hurt anything to add it.

a closeup of a spiral sliced ham on a white plate

How long to cook a spiral ham without drying it out

Another way to keep your spiral sliced ham from drying out is to reheat it “low and slow”. Keeping the oven at 275F for about 18 minutes per pound, plus basting occasionally with any juices that accumulate, will ensure your ham is moist and tender. You want to heat your ham slowly so that by the time the center of your ham is warm the outside slices aren’t dried out.

This recipe calls for an 8-lb spiral sliced ham which means it should be in the oven for approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes. That might seem like a long time, but since the prep time is less than 5 minutes, you can prepare the rest of your meal during that time.

If your ham is larger or smaller than 8 lbs, not to worry. A spiral sliced ham should be reheated for roughly 18 minutes per pound, so simply add or subtract reheating times based on that.

a spiral sliced ham on a white plate

How to cook a spiral ham in the crockpot

If you’d like to make this in the crockpot, skip the foil and simply place the ham in your crockpot after applying the glaze. Cook on low for about 4 hours, basting the ham with any accumulated juices halfway through the cooking time and again about half an hour before the time is up.

Make sure to buy a ham that will fit in your crockpot! If it doesn’t, you can cover the crockpot tightly with foil then set the lid on top. This isn’t ideal but it’s definitely doable.

More Ham Glaze Ideas

  • The ham glaze recipe at the end of this post is the one I use most often. It uses 1/2 cup of jam, 1 cup of brown sugar, and a tablespoon of mustard. It adds so much flavor to the ham and it’s so easy to make. You could also add a splash of bourbon! You can also use cranberry sauce in place of the jam for your Christmas ham.
  • Try a variation of the easy recipe above and replace the jam with 1/4 cup of orange juice. (The bourbon works with this, too)!
  • If you’re ever in a pinch, another easy ham glaze recipe is simply equal amounts of maple syrup and brown sugar then Dijon mustard to taste – couldn’t be more simple and it’s delicious!
  • If you love sweet flavors with a little spice and smoky flavor, try adding some chopped chipotle peppers in adobo to any of these ham glaze recipes. I start with about 2 tablespoons and add more to taste.
The result of learning how to cook a spiral ham: a spiral sliced ham on a white plate with salt and pepper shakers on a wooden table

How much ham per person?

When you’re serving a spiral sliced ham, plan on approximately 1/2 lb per person if it’s boneless. A bone-in ham will be about 3/4 lb per person. So if you’re serving 12 people, you’d want at least a 6 lb boneless ham or a 9 lb bone-in ham. I usually add a couple of pounds both to be on the safe side and to give us leftovers.

Ideas for Leftover Ham

Speaking of leftovers, consider yourself lucky if you’ve got some as there are so many delicious things you can make. Of course, there’s the regular ham sandwich, which is always a winner. Here are a few more leftover ham ideas if you’re looking for something a bit more interesting:

I hope these easy tips answered everything about how to cook a spiral ham so you can simply focus on the rest of your holiday dinner. Don’t forget to save that ham bone; I have a terrific and easy Split Pea Soup with Ham recipe coming soon!

a spiral sliced ham on a white plate with fresh orange wedges on a wood table

How to Cook a Spiral Ham and a Glaze Recipe

Yield: 16 servings for boneless ham; 10 servings for bone-in)
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 24 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 26 minutes

You could add in a splash of bourbon to this glaze or a few tablespoons of adobo sauce (from a can of chipotles), too.
I use the same amount of glaze regardless of the size of my ham. Anything over 12 pounds, however, and I'd increase the amounts by at least 50%; you can always serve extra glaze on the side (just warm it slightly in the microwave just before serving).

Ingredients

  • 1 8-lb spiral-sliced ham
  • 1/2 cup jam, apricot, peach and cherry all work well (try cranberry sauce for the holidays)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard, use your favorite, I love a spicy brown

Instructions

  1. Let your wrapped ham sit on the counter for about an hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 275F. Line two pieces of foil in different directions on top of a large baking sheet. Remove all the packaging from the ham and discard (keep the glaze if you're using that in place of the one posted here, otherwise you can discard it). Place the ham on top of the foil.
  3. Mix together all the ham glaze ingredients. Spread the glaze all over the top and sides of the ham and between each slice (you can use a brush but I find that using my hands is easiest). Pull up the sides of the foil and wrap the ham gently (not loose but not too tight, either), using additional foil if necessary.
  4. Place the ham in the oven and bake it for approximately 18 minutes per pound, opening the foil to baste with the juices a couple of times during cooking.
  5. Remove from the oven and baste once more with the juices (you can serve extra at the table if desired).
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 393Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 145mgSodium: 2233mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 0gSugar: 20gProtein: 51g

This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

Kristy Bernardo
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