Sweet Baked Ham

As I was thinking of new Easter recipes to share with you, I knew I would not be sharing another ham recipe this year. Ham is ham. I mean, how many ways can you really recreate Easter Ham, especially when you have a fabulous slow cooker version and an equally fabulous classic version. I mean really.

But then. Then. Then! My friend, Mel, who has some of the best food judgment I know and a pretty cute name to boot, sent me this recipe for sweet baked ham, stating it was the best ham ever and she’s sorry she hadn’t sent it to me by now. I got over being offended that she’s had it for years without passing it along and made it the same day (that’s the kind of friend she is – I’m powerless in the face of recipes she sends me and I usually make them immediately).

Sweet Baked Ham

You guys. I’m not kidding. I have never had ham like this. Ever. I don’t even know how to describe it in a way that will convince you it’s life-changing, which makes me want to cry. Here’s why it is so unique – you take a cut of ham that is bone-in and not spiral sliced and you boil it in two parts water to one part vinegar for a few hours. Stick with me here, because I was skeptical, too. Yes, your house will smell like vinegar. You can be me and open a window and turn on the vent above your stove or you can be my friend Mel and use your outdoor propane stove (pretty good idea if you have one).

After it boils, the meat is going to be so tender, it will basically fall off the bone and shred itself for you. You place the shredded meat in two layers in a dish sprinkled with a mixture of brown sugar and dry mustard. Covered, this concoction bakes for another hour and the ham comes out of the oven tender as can be and coated in a succulent, sweet sauce that contrasts beautifully with the tangy ham. The ham is unbelievably tender and so delicious, it’s unreal. I promise I”m not overselling this. It’s amazing and my absolute new favorite way to “make” ham.

Sweet Baked Ham

Because I obviously tried this out before Easter (so I could share it with the masses), we ate it for dinner one night on tender, homemade biscuits. There are no words to describe the experience. If you want a new ham recipe to knock the socks off you and your guests, this is the one. The ham can be boiled and shredded a couple days in advance of baking to save you some time. I never knew ham could be life-changing until now.

What To ServeTender biscuits like these Buttermilk Biscuits or Cream Biscuits
Homemade Baked Tater Tots
Classic Deviled Eggs

Sweet Baked Ham

Sweet Baked Ham

Ok, the cut of ham is really important here. You do not (and I repeat, do not!) want a spiral sliced ham or else it will be very, very dry. Look for a cut of ham that is not sliced and still has the bone-in. The best cut I've found is a butt or shoulder cut (might be labeled shank, also). You can make a larger ham than 5-7 pounds, but be aware you'll need a larger pot to accommodate the ham (and will increase the sugar/mustard mixture accordingly). My friend, Mel, that gave me the recipe, boils her ham in a huge pot outside on her propane stove (like a camp chef-type stove). I only had my classic stovetop available and used my biggest pot with the 5-7 pound ham. Also, the ham can be boiled and shredded a few days in advance of baking in the oven in order to save time. Finally, take care not to boil the ham TOO long or you'll end up with ham jerky and you don't want that. If you are worried about time, err on the side of taking it out at 2 hours (even if it means you are having to cut part of the ham away from the bone instead of it falling away). It should still be very tender. Larger hams will definitely need the longer boiling time.

Ingredients

  • 5-7 pound precooked bone-in ham (see note!)
  • White distilled vinegar (around 1-3 cups)
  • Water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground dry mustard

Directions

  1. Place the ham in a large pot and cover with 2 parts water to 1 part vinegar until the ham is covered by at least an inch or two of liquid. Bring to a boil and cook, boiling vigorously, for 2-3 hours, until the meat easily falls off the bone. Liquid will most likely splash out during cooking if your pot is as full as mine so take care that the hot liquid doesn't splash on anyone nearby. Once the water/vinegar came to a rolling boil, I lowered the heat to a bit above medium. It maintained the vigorous boil but didn't splash as much. Be prepared that due to the vinegar in the recipe, it is going to smell like vinegar as it boils. I opened a window and turned on the vent above my stove and all was good in the world. My friend, Mel, who gave me the recipe, boils her ham outside on a camp chef-like stove. Great option if you have one.
  2. After the allotted time, carefully remove the ham from the pot, discarding the liquid, and let it cool until it is easier to remove the meat from the bones. Shred the ham, discarding the fat and bones, and place half in a 9X9-inch baking dish (or a similar size). In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and mustard. Sprinkle half of this mixture over the ham. Layer the rest of the ham on top and sprinkle with the remaining sugar/mustard mixture. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/sweet-baked-ham-the-most-unique-and-delicious-ham-ive-ever-had/

Recipe Source: from my friend with impeccable food tastes, Mel B.

165 Responses to Sweet Baked Ham {The Most Unique and Delicious Ham I’ve Ever Had}

  1. Julie Hansen says:

    wow! I’ll never be the same!!

  2. Beth says:

    Made this last night for dinner it was delicious!!!!

  3. Marci says:

    Have you heard of anyone doing it with a partially cooked ham? How many versions of ham can there be!

  4. Natalie B says:

    I just pull this out of the oven and it is fantastic! I made it ahead of time for tomorrow. I took a risk and used a boneless 5lb dinner ham and it worked perfectly. I cut off the outside dark casing(?) before cooking it and otherwise followed all the instructions as you listed. Thanks Mel!!

  5. Beth W. says:

    Hey Mel! I made this your way 2 weeks ago and it was fabulous! However, we don’t have a camp stove and the smell was rough and it took ALOT of vinegar as my pan was huge in order to fit the ham. Today, I put it in my slow cooker. It was a huge ham so it didn’t require as much vinegar to cover it. I cooked it on high for about 7 hours and the ham was much more tender than on the stove. I am putting it back in the slow cooker with the brown sugar to finish it off. We are having a family Christmas this weekend and I am dumping it all in ziplock bags to munch on all weekend. Thanks for a great recipe. OH, and I have a locking lid on my slow cooker and there was no smell AT ALL (which was the main reason I wanted to try it this way.) By the time it was done, the vinegar was so mixed with ham juice that it didn’t have alot of odor left either. YUM YUM!

  6. […] at Mel’s Kitchen Cafe has shared what is our new Easter dinner. And I think we might have it for Thanksgiving and […]

  7. Ann F says:

    Just made this yesterday with a 7.5 # ham, it was great. I will try the slow cooker method next time, it sounds convenient. Thanks Mel, my family loved it. And I also talk about your website a lot, and my husband knows exactly who I am talking about when I talk about Mel. :) I am learning a lot from you.
    Ann in Indy

  8. […] Recipe: Sweet Baked Ham […]

  9. Angie says:

    I don’t think I commented last year, but I made this for Easter and it was so delicious I can’t wait to make it for Easter again! I know… I don’t have to wait for Easter, but I think it might become a tradition now. Thank you!

  10. Melissa says:

    Hi Mel,

    I am going to look for a precooked bone in ham tomorrow when I do my groceries, but my husband is a vegetarian so it would just be for me and thankfully I can freeze it nicely as you pointed out earlier. My question is, if I buy a smaller ham, should I just keep the amounts for everything else the same? Thank you.

    • Mel says:

      Melissa – if your ham is close to the size in the recipe, you should be good, but if it’s half as big, then I would go ahead and decrease everything by half. Good luck!

  11. […] kind of mad at me for that. And anyway, there are tons of other resources for that (have you seen this brown sugar baked ham recipe from my friend Mel? It looks amazing). I want to give you back what you’re missing on a gluten […]

  12. […] kind of mad at me for that. And anyway, there are tons of other resources for that (have you seen this brown sugar baked ham recipe from my friend Mel? It looks amazing). I want to give you back what you’re missing on a gluten […]

  13. Joanna says:

    ‘Im thinking of trying this amazing sounding ham this weekend. I wondered if you’ve ever done it in stages? I would like to boil it on Saturday night, shred it and refrigerate it. Then add the glaze ingredients Sunday after church for the final step. Would you advise against this?

    Thank you!!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Joanna – yes, you could definitely do this in stages! I’ve done that before…boiling the day before and the refrigerating after it has been shredded. Then top it with the glaze and bake it on Sunday. Should work great!

  14. Karen says:

    This may be a silly question, but I am in the process of boiling the ham now and have noticed that the liquid is reduced by at least 1/2 (it’s been boiling for 2 hours). Was I supposed to keep adding liquid to keep it covered? As it is, I used 8 cups of water and 4 cups of vinegar for a 6 pound ham. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Karen – if the liquid has reduced enough that the ham is pretty exposed without liquid covering it, then yes, gradually add liquid again until the ham is mostly covered.

  15. Joy says:

    I have to admit I was skeptical so I decided to do it in advance just in case I needed to rush out and get a spiral sliced ham for Easter. I boiled and shredded it yesterday. Mine was an 8.5 lb. ham. I covered my pan with the lid askew so I didn’t lose much liquid. It only took a little over 2 hours before the top bone was exposed. I shredded it, refrigerated it and took it out today to do the glaze. I am no longer a skeptic. I am not really a ham eater, but I believe this recipe has changed my mind. I can’t wait for the family to eat it (if there is any left. I keep sampling) Thanks to you and your friend Mel.

    Also, I did mine inside the house and while there was a little hint of a vinegar smell it was not overpowering and there is just a hint of vinegar in the meat that I tasted before baking it with the glaze.

  16. Cearrow says:

    I made this today for Easter and it’s delicious every time!! My family just raved! When I said I was making ham I could see it in their faces they weren’t excited. But they really really loved it.
    I also made it yesterday. I also made it on Thursday. Need I say more? We’ve been eating it like crazy and I have spoiled my man sending it to work with him for his lunch. He always wants me to make this and he never asks me to repeat ANYTHING and I definitely haven’t three times in a week. That means out of all my years of cooking this goes in top ten all time favorite dishes! Which you monopolize as owning at least 7 of those.
    I only wish I could have made the Parker house rolls I planned on, but I was busy and it takes so much time, and bread is the only thing I can’t just read the recipe once and wing it, I have to go back and keep reading again, and being extra careful. But it is divine by itself. This ham really is life changing!

  17. Sheree L says:

    I made this for Easter dinner. Cooked & shredded the ham 2 days before. My ham shank was almost 9 lbs, and I used about 1 gallon of vinegar and 2 gallons of water. I didn’t increase the glaze mixture, however, the result was still too sweet for our family. I guess we’re not too hip on sweet meat. I did like that method of cooking a ham shank, though, and may try it again with no glaze! I also made your amazing Carrot Sheet Cake with Whipped Cream Frosting – LOVE IT! Thanks for all you do, Mel. Love your blog and your recipes!

  18. Leyla says:

    I made this for Easter dinner and it was met with groans of delight!! Definitely a keeper!

  19. Bonnie Cameron says:

    Mel, this ham was absolutely DELICIOUS! I made it last weekend and, boy, was it great! This is Bonnie from PTO, by the way :) Really love your site – it’s a frequent reference for me!

  20. Michelle says:

    I made (and enjoyed) this again yesterday. Just wanted to share an update about what I did with the leftovers- I made this breakfast hash. http://www.plantoeat.com/blog/2011/11/farmers-breakfast-hash/ This ham makes anything it touches magical, and the hash was no exception! :)

  21. jim says:

    is there ham temperature that i can check for with my thermometer, so to not over cook?

  22. Vicky says:

    Hi Mel. I’m making this ham today and wondering if the baking portion could be done in the slow cooker? Have you tried it? Or maybe baked for a longer time at a lower temp? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Vicky – I haven’t tried the baking portion in the slow cooker but actually think it would work just fine as long as it doesn’t get overcooked.

  23. Vicky says:

    So I wish I had gone with the slow cooker idea! I opted for the oven at a low temp for a few hours (since I was away from home for the afternoon), and ended up with dry ham! It tastes okay, but I’ll try the crock pot next time! Thanks for your reply!

  24. Tricia says:

    Could this be frozen after cooking??

  25. Paula says:

    I’ve been wanting to make this for a long time now but I’m having trouble finding a ham. I’m a total ham novice but the only non spiral hams I can find are smoked. Is that just the way they come or should I be looking for a non smoked shank ham??

  26. Laisene says:

    This is just scrumptious. Have never made ham before and found this amazing in flavour. Thanks for sharing

  27. Renee says:

    Mel, I just have to share with you how you helped make our Wedding day so special. We came across your recipe 6 months ago and KNEW it would be the hit at our backyard rustic early Fall wedding on Sept. 27th and it soooo was! We spent 5 weekends boiling hams, shredding and freezing them. Two days before we thawed them and the day of roasted them in the oven with the sugar mixture. Guests raved about the ham and still talk about it a month later. I feel as if my weekends are incomplete without smelling the savory sweet aroma of ham and vinegar in the air. You have an uncanny way with food which we completely adore. I feel like I need to become like the movie Julie and Julia and cook my way through your repertoire of scrumptious recipes…Today is the shrimp enchiladas and cinnamon roll cake, yes I know they do not go together but I have all the ingredients on hand….Thank You Mel!!!

    • Mel says:

      Oh, Renee – this comment completely put a huge smile on my face! Thank you! What a lot of work to get ham prepared for your wedding; I am super thrilled your guests loved it so much. Thank you for making me feel so great on an average Saturday afternoon!

      • Renee says:

        :) Warm fuzzies all around…You are a fabulous cook Mel and my husband and I are enjoying your recipes! Not to mention his co-workers too. Thank you for taking the time in between being a mom and a wife to share your love for food with all of us <3

  28. Deb says:

    inwas wondering if you have ever tried this recipe in a pressure cooker to reduce time cooked and possibly less liquid?

  29. Samantha S says:

    I hate to be “that person” who won’t just follow the recipe, but I could not find a non-spiral sliced ham at the store. Do you think we could just cook it for a shorter time?

    • Mel says:

      I’m not certain a spiral sliced ham will shred into the type of texture you’d get if using a non-spiral sliced ham (I’m a little worried, it might all just fall to pieces). Having said that, I haven’t tried it myself so you could definitely experiment. Good luck!

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