Moist Spiral Sliced Ham

One of my pet peeves is a dry ham.  A fully cooked ham  is FULLY COOKED.   It should be warmed gently, not placed in a blast furnace for hours on end.

This is one of the reasons I wasn’t a big fan of spiral sliced ham, people overcook it and it is like eating jerky.   By the way, a fully cooked ham doesn’t need to be reheated at all – it can be safely served cold or at room temperature.

  • I just love learning new tips and tricks!  America’s Test Kitchen has a great tip for perfectly moist spiral sliced ham that incorporates the use of a oven bag along with soaking the ham, still wrapped in it’s vacuum sealed packaging, for 90 minutes in hot tap water.  Since ham should only be heated to an internal temperature of 120° and my hot tap water is about 120° plus the use of the cooking bag, which cuts down the cooking time by at least 30 minutes, the risk of a dry glazed ham is minimal. Brilliant!
  • This is how it works:
    Remove ham from refrigerator, leave it in it’s vacuum sealed plastic wrap.  Place in a large container and cover with hot tap water.   Allow to soak for 45 minutes.  Drain the water and refill again with hot tap water and soak for another 45 minutes.
  • After 90 minutes of soaking in the hot water, remove ham from packaging (including the plastic disk on the cut side of the bone) and place into a oven bag. Cut a couple of slits in the oven bag.  (I suggest inserting a probe thermometer through one of the slits into the ham.)  Bake at 250° for 10 minutes a pound or to an internal temperature of 100°.
  • Increase oven temperature to 350° Open and pull back the oven bag.  Brush the ham with your glaze, return to oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven brush with glaze again and allow to rest, loosely tented with foil,  for 15 minutes.   Carve and serve!

Reynolds Cooking Bags:  One of the most under utilized items for heating ham!  (No – they didn’t pay me to say that!)  Why?  Because they help keep the ham MOIST.   Reynolds Kitchens recommends using the Large size cooking bags for roasts under 8 pounds.  The Turkey sized bags should be used for cuts of meat larger than 8 pounds.

Ham and aluminium foil:  I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but when a fully cooked ham is placed in a roasting pan and covered with aluminium cooking foil, some strange (icky) chemical reaction takes place.  It can leave ‘foil’ residue on the ham.  To avoid this, either use a large cooking bag or place the ham, face down in a roasting pan, add liquid (ginger ale) cover with a sheet of parchment and then with the foil to seal the pan.   Cook as directed and you won’t experience that weird aluminium foil reaction.

I need to tell you up front that I personally am not a big fan of ‘sweet’ meat.  I prefer ham to taste like HAM.  But, I do make an exception for my ‘Honey Baked Ham’ knock off recipe, which I will share with you.  It is a little more work than an ordinary ‘ham’ but there is a reason that these hams run hundreds of dollars!

Ham - Honey Baked Version
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Nobody makes ham quite like the famous 'Honey Baked Ham' but this one comes close and is certainly more affordable. Here is my version of that famous and well loved ham. Plan about 1/2 pound of ham per person.
Servings Prep Time
1ham 30minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
1ham 30minutes
Cook Time
Ham - Honey Baked Version
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 46
Rating: 3.15
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Nobody makes ham quite like the famous 'Honey Baked Ham' but this one comes close and is certainly more affordable. Here is my version of that famous and well loved ham. Plan about 1/2 pound of ham per person.
Servings Prep Time
1ham 30minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
1ham 30minutes
Cook Time
Servings: ham
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300° Place oven rack in the lowest position.
  2. Place the cooking bag in a large roasting pan. Remove all packaging from the ham, including the plastic disc covering the bone and place ham face down in the cooking bag and pour the ginger ale over the top. Seal bag with the tie provided with the bag. Bake at 300° for about 50 minutes. (about 10 minutes per pound)
  3. While the ham is baking prepare the honey glaze.
For the Honey Glaze
  1. Combine dark corn syrup, butter and honey in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while constantly stirring. Reduce heat to maintain a very gentle boil for 15 minutes. Continue stirring during this phase.
  2. Remove glaze from heat and place in a heat proof bowl. Set bowl over a pan with an inch or two of simmering water. (Double Boiler) The bottom of the heat proof boil should be ABOVE the simmering water - not in it. Place pan over low heat to keep the glaze from hardening.
  3. Remove ham from oven and increase oven temperature to 350° Carefully remove ham from cooking bag and place in roasting pan, face side down. Brush the ham with the honey glaze until well coated. Return ham to oven for 10 minutes.
  4. Keep honey glaze over the simmering water. Open the oven door and brush with glaze every 10 minutes. About three more times.
  5. Remove ham from oven. Turn the oven to Broiler setting.* Give the ham one more good coating of honey glaze. Return ham to oven to candy the honey coating. about 5 minutes. Watch carefully - the coating should be golden brown and candied, not burnt. The candied coating will harden as it cools.
  6. Allow the ham to stand for 20 minutes before carving.
Recipe Notes

* Rather than using the broiler to finish the ham, a propane torch (like the one used to melt the sugar on top of creme brulee) can be used.

Note - Reynolds recommends using a large cooking bag for roasts under 8 pounds.  "Do not use Turkey Size roasting bags for roasts under 8 pounds.  Reynolds Kitchens


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So what is the secret to moist, flavorful, not too sweet ham?  Ginger ale!  Yes, you read that correctly.  Moist heat produces moist meat and ginger ale is just the right thing to do the job correctly with ham.  Don’t go using that diet stuff – get the real stuff, sugar and all.  If using the above mentioned method soaking the sealed ham in hot water for 90 minutes you don’t have to add a lot of ginger ale, just enough to barely steam it.

Slow Cooker Ham on AllRecipes is the top rated slow cooker recipe.

Someone out there is going to ask about cooking their ham in a slow cooker.  Personally, I don’t care for this method but it may work for you and if you really like sweet ham this might be the perfect recipe for you.    It has 859  good reviews on Allrecipes  and a great video to go with it so I think I might be in the minority as far as ‘sweet’ meat goes!

This recipe has you cooking the ham on low in a slow cooker  for 8 hours with 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar. Please note that a spiral sliced fully cooked ham the cook time will  be closer to 4 hours – I would do even less! Newer slow cookers cook a lot hotter than older models!

So what are you going to glaze / dip that ham in?    I have a couple of suggestions!

Apricot and Honey  Ham Glaze

Apricot Honey Ham Glaze by CAG on Allrecipes is wonderful.  It is great dipping sauce or a glaze.  A wonderful combination of Apricot jam, honey, mustard and marmalade.  Maille mustard would be awesome in this!




America’s Test Kitchen  offers 2 suggested glazes that you might want to check out.  One for Maple Orange Glaze and another for Cherry Port Glaze.

Photo by

Photo by


Speaking of dipping – what goes better with ham than mustard!  I would like to recommend Maille Mustard of France.  A few of my fellow foodie friends have been working with them and they are a top notch product!




The USDA has some great information on all types of ham.

Cooks Ham – recommends gently reheating their fully cooked spiral sliced hams at 275° for about 12 – 15 minutes per pound.  A bone in, half ham will take 20 – 25 minutes per pound at 325°

As always, if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to comment or contact me via the Contact Me on my page.  I will do my best to help you sort out the best method for your ham dinner!

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About Baking Nana

Each morning my granddaughter Sarah calls to ask, "Watcha doing, Nana? Are you baking Nana?" Hence my "name" Baking Nana. I am a mother to three wonderful children and a grandmother to 12 very hungry grandkids. I don't bake fancy cakes but I do make wonderful yeast bread and home cooked meals made with love.


Moist Spiral Sliced Ham — 52 Comments

  1. I know this is an older post…hopefully you are still answering questions on this. I see that there are about 3 different methods listed here:

    1) ATK method of hot soak, then heat in cooking bag and then glaze.
    2). The Honey Baked Ham version (without the hot soak) just heating with ginger ale in a cooking bag and then in 350 oven to coat with glaze 3 times and then under the broiler to candy the glaze.
    3). Your catering method of just soaking the ham in hot water and then glazing the ham at 350 brushing the ham three times and then under the broil to candy the glaze. Then you slice the ham, place in foil pans and refrigerate.

    I just want to make sure that I am understanding this correctly. I can use your catering method and just soak the spiral sliced ham and skip completely the step of heating in the cooking bag? I can just soak the ham and then directly put in the 350 oven and glaze it using the Honey Baked Ham copy version of glazing? That sounds like a great idea. I would think that doing it this way would result in a very moist ham and not to mention easier since I would be skipping the cooking bag step. I love the ease of buying a spiral sliced ham but mine always comes out so dry by the time I heat it and then glaze it.

  2. Andrea contacted me with a question:
    Where do you suggest buying your spiral cut ham? I live in California, some of my friends suggested Costco but I dread going there the week before Christmas to pick up the ham. Any brands you could recommend would be great. How about Smart and Final? I love the Apricot glaze and the mustard.

    Andrea – For some reason, your email address isn’t working.
    Costco’s hams are good but I do understand not wanting to go to Costco! Keep in mind that hams have a long expiration date, you could buy one today and it will be good until well after Christmas.
    Smart and Final will have some nice hams too. As for brand, that is hard to say. Farmer John is always a good brand if you can’t bring yourself to venture to Costco.

    Have a wonderful holiday.

  3. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe…I discovered it whole searching for sides for our upcoming party. We are having a celebration party making 2 bone-in spiral hams. After baking your recipe above, the sliced hams are going into electric covered roasters to keep them warm for about five hours. What do you recommend to keep them moist without changing the honey glazed flavor?

    • Hi Cali.
      Here are my thoughts, 5 hours in a roaster, even set to very low is too long. I think you will end up with ham jerky.
      Ham can be served at room temp or even directly from the refrigerator.
      For catering, I have done the Honey Baked Ham knock off. I soaked the ham in the package as directed above. Take the hams out, open the package and place in a roasting pan or sheet pans lined with foil and glaze as directed above.
      350° Brush the ham with the honey glaze until well coated. Cook ham for 10- 15 minutes, brush with glaze and return to oven for 10 minutes, repeat. Once you have glazed the ham at least three times, you can do one final coating and caramelize the glaze. Then let cool so the glaze hardens.
      For catering, I pre-slice the ham and place in foil half sheet pans, covered with foil. At this point you can refrigerate.
      If you want to serve the ham warm, place the half sheet pans over hot water in a chafing pan heated with sterno. (Start with hot or boiling water in the chafer.) Make sure the foil 1/2 sheet pans are covered with foil.
      The ham will be moist.
      Pre-carving the ham allows you to cut the large slices into more manageable serving sizes.
      I don’t know if you have access to chafing dishes but if you have a Smart and Final store near you they are about $30 and they also sell the foil 1/2 pans.
      I hope this helps, I also hope you found the side dishes you were looking for.
      Let me know if you have any more questions.

      I hope this helps.

      • Thank you for your advice…much appreciated. However, we don’t have a chafing pan or Smart & Final store in my area.

        Actually we were planning on making the spiral hams in the cooking bags with ginger ale rather than soaking them, then glazing them as directed above. It will be a lot easier to do that recipe as we have so many other things to get done the day of the party. Soaking and changing the water a few times may put us over the top…

        So what if we just serve the ham cold using that recipe? Do you think the hams will stay moist for the 5 hours? Or what if I add the liquid from the cooking bags (if there is any) or add ginger ale to the bottom of the pans the hams will be served in?

        • Good morning.
          The cooking bag with ginger ale is a great method. Just be sure to not over cook the hams, remember they will also have to be glazed.

          Rather than hold the ham for 5 hours in a roaster, I would glaze and refrigerate. If you don’t want ‘cold’ ham, the ham can be served room temperature or even put into the roaster on low heat before serving.
          There will be juice in the bags, you can certainly use a little of that but you don’t want to steam the glaze off the ham.
          There will be juices from when you are glazing, that juice is mixed with the glaze, you are better off using that.
          5 hours is a long time to hold any food and it will dry out the ham. I would refrigerate and then bring to room temperature or just barely warm.
          Good luck!

          • Nana, thank you so much for your information. With your advice, we will serve these sliced hams cold-room temperature and avoid dried out hams. Our goal is to delight the palates of our guests at the party…

            And thank you so much for responding so quickly..AND on Christmas Day!
            Your website is truly invaluable…

  4. Baking Nana – Thanks for the tips on cooking the ham. I tried without bag last year and it was too dry. This year my incredibly moist ham was the hit of the Thanksgiving get together. Even if you don’t use the full sugar ginger ale, it’s still awesome. I’ve used the cooking bags for years on the turkey, but this was the first year for the ham and my family went nuts for it. I used the Honey Mustard ham glaze from Allrecipes with a sharp spicy mustard, then mixed in the honey glaze from the ham and it toned it down just enough to be delicious. I won’t cook ham any other way now! You rock!

  5. I’ve used the warm in water then bake at 250 twice and it seriously works! My question is would it also work for turkey and help keep the white meat from drying? (Would not cook at 250 of course) plan to test it out this winter. My thinking is that the warming might be a little uneven but would still warm the deep joints in the dark meat

    • Hi Alec
      The biggest difference between the ham and turkey is that the ham is already fully cooked and just needs to be warmed.
      Food safety wise it may be a bit dicey. I think it would be OK as long as it wasn’t in the warm water for more than 1 – 1 1/2 hours and then immediately cooked to the correct internal temperature.
      Thinking about this though, sometimes the center of the turkey is still really cold, icy even. With turkey, I usually brine and then let the turkey drip dry (air dry) overnight in the refrigerator. I do bring it out of the fridge an hour or even two prior to roasting to warm up.
      Let me know if you try it.
      Thanks for stopping in!

      • I did a turkey using the soak in hot tap water in the wrapper for 1.5 hours, changed the water 4 times. 13.37 pound turkey, roasted at 350 and it took 1 hour 45 minutes to reach 165 degrees; 8 minutes a pound. Turned out really good, White meat very moist, skin crisp. Fun experiment but not sure it really made a significant differnce

        • Interesting! 8 minutes a pound is pretty fast for turkey, so it did cut down on the cooking time quite a bit.
          Thanks for checking back in with your results.

          • Happy Easter!
            I have thought of a reason to use the soak in warm water first method for turkey…. Maybe use the method if you are going to deep fat fry???

            I just took my ham out of the water and put it in the oven when that thought occured to me..

            I’ve only deep fried a turkey once for thanksgiving, cold and wicked windy day! It took forever! Hmmm, will be my next experiment

            • Hi! When deep frying a turkey I let the turkey drip dry on end in a large pot in the refrigerator to let it really dry off. Then let it stand out of the fridge for an hour or so to warm up a bit. If doing the soak in warm water in the package and then taking it out it drip dry, I wouldn’t leave it out too long before cooking for food safety sake. It does sound like it would cut the cooking time down a lot though.
              Thanks for stopping in and Happy Easter.

  6. I bought an 8lb Fully Cooked Spiral Ham and cannot wait to use this method for our Christmas mornIng Breakfast Buffet. We do Brunch not dinner. Thank you for posting this awesome tip. I’ll let you know how it turns out. However, I’m sure it will be wonderful! Thanks Penny. And Merry Christmas to you and yours! Hugs!

      • Happy February Penny! I am so very tardy in letting you know how my Christmas Ham turned out! All I can say is WOWZER!!! This is THE ONLY WAY to prepare and serve a fully cooked ham. It was so moist and delicious. A method every female at my house on Christmas Day frantically wrote down for their own use. Thanks for supplying a full-proof way to get a delicious and moist ham. I used freshly grated ginger/marmalade/brown sugar for the glaze. Superior!

    • Thanks, I’ll likely experiment in about three weeks and let know the results

  7. BN, what a great idea! It sounds as if ATK has invented a poor woman’s sous-vide! I may just try this today.

    • I was thinking the same thing, Brenda! Ha! Sous-vide – home style! It makes perfect sense though. Let me know how it works for you. I have used the cooking bags for ham for years and they are great, plus clean up is a breeze. Combined with the hot soak is just brilliant!

      • Good morning, my dear! Our Christmas celebration is today, family coming in this weekend only. 12/25 will actually be pretty quiet, but I’m not complaining. Hope you, No Baking Papa and all the Eaters have a beautiful Christmas!

        • Thank you Brenda! Enjoy the magic of Christmas with your family.
          We will be celebrating on Christmas Day this year with all 21 ‘eaters’.
          Enough food will not be the problem, enough seating….. that will be my challenge! 🙂

  8. Just put the first coat of glaze on our ham. I’m trying a Pamela Anderson recipe from AR for lamb. The marinade smells divine: olive oil, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. I also made a King Arthur recipe of scalloped potatoes which Emily discovered she loves at a church dinner this week. Asparagus and green beans and carrot cake for desert. Man, I’m hungry and dinner is still nearly 2 hours away! Happy Easter.

    • Hi Janet. You must let me know how your dinner was! I wish the rest of my family liked lamb – I love it and that seems like a good recipe.
      Happy Easter!

  9. I generally am not a fan of ham, but the Honey Baked Ham I had one year made it one of my best holiday meals ever. Another year, however, when someone’s baked ham was leftovers the next day, I was close to needing the Heimlich maneuver after the first bite of ham. Happy Easter, Baking Nana!

  10. Thanks Penny for another great post! I’m going to try your method with my ham tomorrow. I made my potatoes today, and making tiramisu tonight, and tomorrow should be an easy day. Happy Easter to you and your family!

    • Hi Kim! Happy Easter! I sure hope you like it. I think it is a good recipe even for a non sweet eater, like me. I will be doing two hams – one Honey Baked and one just baked in an oven bag with a little ginger ale. We have more eaters coming than I had planned on – had to go buy another ham!
      Please let me know how it goes!
      Thanks for stopping in!

  11. BN: Thanks for all the fantastic information! I’ve never had Honey Baked Ham. And based on what everyone has said, it’s doubtful I would ever spend that much on ham. I traditionally purchase bone-in butt hams. No spiral sliced. I appreciate your suggestion about the cooking bags. I’ll give that a try.

    • Good morning bikerfamily. I agree, the bone-in butt is my personal favorite. As for the cooking bags, besides keeping the ham moist it makes for easy clean up too!
      Have a wonderful Easter!

      • BN: Easter is all over the map for us this year. I’m working. My husband and two of the kids are turkey hunting. But all this talk about ham convinced me I should stop at the store and buy one while the price is reasonable. I think I’ll try your cooking bag suggestion.

  12. Good morning Penny, love reading how you do things, and it always makes me a little hungry. We always have ham at Easter and my husband does the baking of the ham and it is always tender and moist. Leftovers are made into scalloped potatoes with the ham in it, and ham salad sandwiches. Happy Easter, or as we say in my family
    Buona Pasqua

    • Good morning, manella. Scalloped potatoes with ham are the best! I love a good ham sandwich with a really good mustard on really good bread!
      Happy Easter!

  13. For years, I’ve used cola when baking a ham, never heard about ginger ale, but may try that next time (not having Easter ham tomorrow). The last ham I made was using a glazed ham recipe (no pineapples, cherries, etc.) from AR, and although it was good, I should have thought about my leftovers. For example, I always make a ham loaf (which has a glaze on the top) and ham salad sandwiches, and the sweet glazed ham just didn’t work great for either one. Lots of good info in here, thanks!

    • Good morning, Pat. I too make the mistake of using a glazed ham for making Ham and Bean Soup. YUCK! Only made that mistake once!
      I have never tried cola and I am not sure where I heard about using ginger ale but it really works well.
      Have a wonderful Easter!

  14. Great article, Penny! I’ve never even come close to honey baked ham, so I am looking forward to giving your recipe a try! Oooh I can’t wait. I love honey baked ham, but don’t love paying for it – that is for sure!! Thanks so much for this great post, and that apricot honey ham glaze sounds amazing!

    • Good morning! I hope you give this a try Marion. Those Honey Baked hams are so expensive! If you have a propane torch it really works like a charm.
      Have a fabulous Easter!

  15. Hi Penny, I do like ham but very rarely make it, probably because my mom never made a ham while I was a kid so I never think about it! Grumpy, loves to have ham and the leftovers in a boiled dinner. Like you, hates the spiral ham for the same reasons. This was a great post, oh, and I agree, I love those Reynolds cooking bags! I always use them when doing my turkey!

    • Hi Shelby. Aren’t those cooking bags great? I don’t use them for Turkey but I do for roast chickens and ham all year long.
      We don’t tend to make ham unless it is on sale, then it is a very affordable meal that feeds the masses! Ham sandwiches with a really good mustard are the best.

  16. Great information, and I’m with you about flavor! I’m only doing sides for Easter to take to a potluck with friends. Family is too far flung to get together for Easter. Have a great gathering, my dear!

    • Brian! I knew I liked you! No cloves etc – ham should taste like, HAM! i do add the ginger ale when heating to keep the meat moist. Left overs are the BEST!
      Thanks for stopping in!

  17. I hate to tell you that every year I do have to buy a Honey Baked Ham. But we soak it for all it’s worth—leftovers and using the bone for soup (my DIL does that). We love these:

    I love your suggestions for heating the ham because that’s always the big problem. Mostly in the past we just take off what we think we’ll eat and let it come to room temp. I like your suggestions a lot!

    Have a wonderful Easter!

    • Hi Marianne! That Honey Baked Ham is the BEST! No doubt about it!
      With a true Honey Baked Ham – it really is best served room temperature! I have to say, I have never made mine in advance, chilled and brought to room temperature. I should try that!
      Have a wonderful Easter!

  18. I am so glad I saw this! I like to use roasting bags for turkey but I just wouldn’t have thought about it for ham even though I know the directions include information about ham. I also happen to have bought ginger ale while shopping today! Thanks again, Penny. I’ll set a place for you at our Easter dinner like Elijah at the seder.

  19. Hi Penny! This is a great post with lots of excellent information about preparing a ham. Thanks for including the link to the Maille site. It includes links to a ham recipe, as well as other recipes for pork loin, salad, potatoes, and carrot cake to complete a full Easter dinner.