Cooking a ham for Christmas but not sure what you’re doing? I’ve got you. Here you’ll find 2 ways to heat a fully cooked ham and how to glaze it for the perfect, delicious, juicy Christmas ham. 

2 ways to heat fully cooked ham (+ 5 glaze recipes)

2 ways to heat fully cooked ham

We have a tradition in our house that we have a ham on the 1st of December when we put the tree up and on Christmas Day. 

I really wouldn’t be against cooking a ham every month it’s just so delicious. We have family friends who do a cooked ham for most special occasions. 

It’s a great way to feed a crowd if you add some rolls and salads. 

We always have a bone-in ham and even growing up it was my job to take off the skin and make the glaze. 

How to choose your type of ham

There seem to be a lot of different types of ham to choose from these days.

Bone-in ham or boneless ham?

Cooking a bone-in ham is definitely the easiest way to get the perfect juicy ham. 

It adds flavour and helps keep it from drying out. Nobody likes dry ham! 

2 ways to heat fully cooked ham (+ 5 glaze recipes) - spiral ham

What is spiral ham? 

I’ll admit I had to look this one up when I heard it but spiral ham or spiral-cut ham is a pre-cut ham (as above).

It’s meant to make it even easier to prepare.

Named spiral after the way the butcher makes a continuous, even cut with a machine all the way around the ham. 

Most spiral-sliced ham is bone-in, but some butchers may sell boneless versions, as well.

I personally have never seen them in Australia so it may be an American thing. 

Whole ham or half ham leg? 

This is a question of how many people you have to feed or how many days you want to have leftover ham for. 

A half leg is usually between 3-5kg and feeds our family of 5 with a couple of weeks of lunch ham leftover. 

A full leg ranges from 5-8kg depending where you get it from and feeds about 10-12 with some leftovers. 

If in doubt, ask your butcher which size fresh ham is the right ham for you. 

Is Christmas ham precooked ham?

Yes. Christmas ham (or just ham in general) is cooked so you aren’t cooking ham you’re just heating it and adding flavour with your tasty glaze. 

Where to buy Christmas ham

You can get ham from the supermarket or grocery store. If it’s within budget, I prefer to buy from a butcher and make sure it’s free-range or even better, we buy directly from a farmer at our local farmer’s market. 

2 ways to heat fully cooked ham (+ 5 glaze recipes)

How to prepare a Christmas ham

Before you choose your heating method, you will need to prepare the ham. Here’s how:

I recommend using an aluminum foil tray that’s big enough to fit your ham. 

It makes for much easier clean up than using a shallow roasting pan. 

It can be used for either method of cooking. 

1 Remove the skin from the ham

The first step is to remove the skin from the top of the ham.

This one requires getting your hands dirty unless you ask the butcher to do it for you when you order your ham. 

Very carefully separate the skin from the ham using your finger tips and making sure you don’t remove the fat layer with it. 

It’ s a terrible photo sorry but you can see how the fat is still thick and I’ve only removed the skin.

This video on Youtube is a butcher demonstrating removing the skin if you need a better visual.

2 Score the ham

Scoring is creating cut lines in the fat layer of the ham using a sharp knife. Traditionally this is in a diamond pattern. It give the glaze more to cling on to and helps add extra flavor. 

3 Make your glaze

Mix up the ingredients in your ham glaze. You’ll find 5 ham glaze recipes in this post

Personally, I just mix a combo of something sweet, salty, some sort of alcohol & mustard together until it smells delicious. 

It’s usually honey/brown sugar/maple syrup, soy sauce, marmalade or orange juice, rum and dijon mustard. 

4 Glaze the ham

Use a pastry brush to cover the scored pre-cooked ham in glaze. Set the remaining glaze aside because you will use it while the ham heats. 

5 Decorate the ham

The most traditional way to decorate a ham is by inserting whole cloves into the intersections of the diamonds. It’s the way I do it. 

Alternatively, you can use finely sliced orange rounds and attach them with toothpicks that have been soaked in water. 

How to heat a Christmas ham

There are 2 different ways you can cook (we say cook but really you’re just reheating ham as it’s already cooked) a holiday ham. 

Actually I’m sure there are more but these are the two ways I have cooked ham every year for the past 20 years. 

I have never tried it and not had a dry ham yet but many recipes recommend adding a cup of water to the bottom of the pan. 


The first way – our new favourite – is to cook the ham in the barbecue. 

How to heat a ham in the barbecue 

1. Fire up the BBQ. We use the flat plates on the BBQ rather than the grill part so it is indirect heat. 

2. Put your ham in the oven and set the temperature to medium and close the lid. 

3. After 20 minutes, carefully give the ham a basting with the glaze and put the lid down again. 

4. Repeat for 1 – 1 and 1/2 hours. 

5. Remove to a serving platter and carve. 


You can’t beat a ham baked in the oven. Controlling the oven temperature is much easier than BBQ temperature but not matter which cooking method you use, you’ll still get a delicious ham. 

How to heat a ham in the oven

1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced.

2. Put your glazed ham in the oven making sure it’s in the middle of the oven. 

3. Bake for 20 minutes then carefully glaze again and close the oven. 

4. Repeat until the ham has been in about 1.5 hours. 

5. Remove to a serving platter and carve. 

* Bone-in hams generally take about 15-20 minutes per kilo. A meat thermometer should read at least 130C however I’ve never actually used one. 

2 ways to heat fully cooked ham (+ 5 glaze recipes)

How to carve a Christmas ham

Use a really sharp carving knife and slice the ham away from the foot end in thin ham slices. 

What to serve with Christmas ham

Our favourite thing to have with Christmas ham is Mum’s famous potato bake and some steamed green beans. 

Here are some other side dishes that go well with Christmas ham: 

How to reheat leftover Christmas ham

There are a few different ways to re-heat leftover Christmas ham: 

1. Wrap slices in foil and heat in the oven at 180C. 

2. Microwave it. 

3. Heat it in a hot pan like you would bacon – delicious with some eggs for breakfast. 

How to store leftover Christmas ham

Traditionally, the best way to store leftover ham is to leave it on the bone and wrap in a white vinegar soaked pillow case or ham bag. 

You can also slice it all up and store in airtight containers or freeze it. 

Recipes using leftover ham

For us you can’t go past a delicious ham toasted sandwich but here are some other recipes to use leftover ham:

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