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.


  • 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


  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.

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

207 Responses to Sweet Baked Ham

  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!

  30. sarrah mckinney says:

    I told my mom to get me a ham for this, and she got the wrong one. She got me a smoked pit ham. It’s boneless as well. Do you think it will still work?

  31. Lisa says:

    Do you think this would work well with apple cider vinegar instead of white distilled vinegar? Just curious!

  32. Samantha S says:

    Mel, I just wanted to let you know that I made this for Thanksgiving by cooking it in my crockpot for about 2.5 hours on high (with the same 2:1 ratio of vinegar to water), with a spiral sliced cut. It shredded perfectly. This really is an incredible recipe, just wanted to let you know it can work in a crockpot too!

  33. Gail says:

    I also used a spiral cut ham I found marked down. I boiled in the vinegar-water mix for just 2 hours. Nicely shreds but I will cook a bit less next time since some of the thinner cuts were a bit dry. I noticed they got a bit moister during the baking step. I have made this ham and variations 4 times now. It gets rave reviews every time and every way. My friend even commented on liking the vinegar smell in the house!

  34. April says:

    Can I use a fresh, un-cured ham for this recipe? Should I change cooking times?

    • Mel says:

      To be honest, I’m not really sure, April, since those types of hams are impossible to find in my area and I’ve never used one. You might need to google or search online for cooking/boiling times for fresh, uncooked hams. Good luck!

  35. Erin says:

    This ham took us about 3 days to get around to eating. When I first made my store note, I wrote “bone in ham” forgetting about the weight. So at the store I found only one bone-in ham that wasn’t spiral cut and it was a “shank” it was giant, but I bought it anyway. I compared the poundage to the recipe and was shocked. My ham was 12 pounds. It took almost 2 quarts of vinegar to make an almost 2:1 ratio. I was still short a couple cups of vinegar. (I also used my canning pot) I had no idea how long it would take to cook, but I started at about 12:30pm. A sudden trip to the ER left the ham cooking on the stove the entire time! We got home at 6:30 that night to turn the stove off. most of the water had cooked off, but when I got around to shredding it, it shredded beautifully! (thank goodness! I didn’t like the idea of throwing out $20 worth of ham) but it tasted remarkably like pulled pork. Did cooking it too long do that? or maybe the cut? or too much vinegar? Just wondering, should I try this recipe another time, with a normal sized ham.

    • Mel says:

      Sorry to hear about an ER visit! Hope everything is ok. I think the texture/taste of your ham was probably affected by the 6 hour cooking time. The longest I’ve ever simmered the ham for is a little over 2 hours and I think the longer it boils the more it will take on a “jerky” like taste and texture. I just made this a couple days ago with a bone-in shank-cut ham but it wasn’t a 12-pounder – it fit into my large slow cooker. Hopefully you’ll like it better if you can find a smaller ham or even if you do get a large ham, sticking with the 2 hour boiling time as much as possible.

  36. Anne says:

    Just wondering how long you cooked the Ham in the slow cooker? I always have to borrow my mothers large stock pot to cook this ham on the stove, however I have an extra large slow cooker that would fit a big ham wonderfully. Also, did you use the same ratio of water/vinegar and enough to cover the ham?? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Anne – yes, I use the same water to vinegar ratio; last time I cooked it about 8 hours on low but you can really play around with cooking time (different slow cookers can cook hotter or cooler than others).

  37. Anne says:

    Great….Thanks! Will try this method over the weekend.

  38. Michele E says:

    I made this yesterday as a trial run for Easter. It is soooooooooo good! I can’t wait for our whole family to try it.

  39. Linda Turco says:


    This is probably a silly question but I want to be sure that I’m getting the right ham. I’m buying an “uncooked” bone-in ham, correct?

    Thank you ,

    • Mel says:

      Hi Linda – I always buy a cured bone-in ham (it’s really hard to find an uncooked ham so most hams sold in the grocery stores are precooked/cured).

  40. Amber says:

    After boiling so long in the vinegar and water can the ham bone still be used to make ham broth for beans or soup? When I brine a turkey the carcass is too salty to make stock. I wonder if that will be the case here as well.

    • Mel says:

      Good question; I’m not entirely sure since I’ve never repurposed it for soup since I had the same concerns about the flavor/taste.

  41. Tami says:

    Help! Getting a head start on this lovely ham for Sunday. I have a 10-pound bone-in ham that I boiled today for three hours. When it came time to shred it, about two-thirds of it came apart easily and appears moist and delicious, ready for the second stage in the oven. The rest of the meat is not as tender and won’t shred as easily. I was in a hurry and tossed these less tender chunks of meat into a covered bowl to deal with later. Should I just cut these portions down with a knife and proceed with the recipe, or should they go back into a boil for a while? Any advice?

    • Mel says:

      Hey Tami – if it were me, I’d cut the larger pieces down and just use them in the recipe. Have you tasted them? If they are juicy and tender, they should be fine (even if they aren’t shredding quite as easily).

  42. Rachel says:

    I could only find a 10 lb fresh uncooked ham. How long should I boil it in the water/vinegar mixture?

    • Mel says:

      To be honest, Rachel, I’m not sure. I’ve never cooked a completely uncooked, fresh ham. You might try googling to see how long a ham like that needs to safely cook.

  43. Lindsay says:

    Mel, we made this Sunday and it was divine! We loved it. We have a powerstove and cooked it outside like you recommended, which was nice, and the flavor was awesome. I actually ran out of dry mustard, so I used half wet and added some water to the mixture since it wouldn’t sprinkle very well, worked great. We made some yummy pizza with the leftovers last night, I’ll share the recipe with you soon. 🙂

  44. Amy says:

    Mel, I put the ham on the stove to boil it and while it was boiling my hubs walked in the kitchen and when he saw I was boiling the ham, he looked at me as though I’d grown an extra head!!!! He walked away saying he trusted me, but I could tell he was thinking of where we could eat dinner tonight if I’d ruined our ham.

    Fast forward to the shredding stage, when I asked him to shred it for me. He was pleasantly surprised that it was still tasty and I hadn’t boiled the flavor out of the ham. I can’t wait to taste it after it cooks in all that sugar!! I’m sure he’ll be raving for weeks!!

    Thanks for the yummy meals!!! So often I meal plan solely from your site. Please, never stop!! 🙂

  45. Rochelle says:

    My picky kids will eat this whole ham before it’s on the table – combined with home made buttermilk biscuits it becomes heaven on a plate. Hog heaven?

  46. MarinaMakesMaps says:

    I made this ham when I hosted thanksgiving last year and it was a huge hit but I forgot to save the recipe. I was just asked last night to bring it tomorrow. I have been googling using various search terms for probably an hour and I’m so happy I finally found this recipe again! I’m definitely saving it this time because I’m pretty sure it’s now my signature Thanksgiving dish lol

  47. Rachel says:

    I’ve made this recipe at least twice and my family LOVES it!! I’m planning to make it for Christmas dinner this year but I have someone coming who is allergic to mustard. Have you ever done it without the mustard? Do you think it would taste as good?? Or is there a good substitute for the dry mustard? Thanks in advance!

  48. Kelsey Booth says:

    Hi Mel! I have really been enjoying your pressure cooker recipes and would love your feedback on converting this awesome recipe to work in my instant pot. I am assuming I would still cover with the water/vinegar mixture. How long would you suggest cooking it for? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hey Kelsey! I was actually going to do the same thing this week. I’m going to use a much smaller cut of ham (probably boneless) and still use the same proportion of vinegar to water to cover the ham and then pressure cook it on high for 20 minutes. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  49. Michele E says:

    I am making this for the 3rd time in a year. I just LOVE this recipe! My mother in law actually gave me the go ahead to make the ham this year for Easter, which is a huge compliment. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe! My family just loves the flavor.

  50. Pam says:

    Making ahead this ham for Easter Sunday and I should have asked earlier, I wanted to make sure I understood correctly…you do not put a lid on the pot but just boil the ham and add water/vinegar mix as needed?

    • GG says:

      I put a cover on partially and it works fine. I have made this many times and its now Easter (Christmas, New Years etc.) tradition. So delicious and a bargain to boot!

    • Barbara says:

      This is a little late for today’s dinner, but I completely covered mine since it is too cold here to open the windows very wide or for very long…. I also used a spiral sliced ham. It was 12 lbs, and I boiled it for an hour and a half. It worked fine. It’s delicious!

  51. Pam says:

    GG and Barbara thank you for your replies. I put the lid on partially. Followup on the ham, Mel it was outrageously delicious! Many compliments today about the ham. Even members of my family who are not huge ham fans loved it. It is definitely a real keeper!

    • Mel says:

      Glad it was a hit, Pam! Sorry I didn’t get to your comment earlier, we had company in town this weekend for Easter. I agree, though – I boil it partially covered.

      • Pam says:

        No problem at all Mel. It was such a hit that my daughter (who is not a big fan of ham) asked me to make it as one of her dishes for her wedding reception. I am so glad I found your site just recently, I look forward to trying many recipes. Thank you for your hard work and dedication to us foodies! 🙂

  52. Carmen says:

    BOOYAH. So delicious. We made this for dinner and I love it with all my heart. I asked my husband if we could put it into the monthly dinner rotaysh and he said we could eat it daily. Thanks for all your awesome recipes–they are always a success.

  53. Heidi says:

    Hi Mel,

    I’m thinking of making this for a family reunion dinner coming up (with your cousin-in-law/my sister, Amy!) and eating it on rolls or biscuits. We have 12 adults and 16 kids (28 total), and I’m just not sure how much ham I need for that many people. Do you have any thoughts on this? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Heidi! It’s always hard to know how much to cook for big groups like that. The ham will go a long way if served on rolls (vs eating it on its own with a side of potatoes or something like that). How big of a ham can you get? Because I always worry about running out, I’d probably do two average sized shank hams (bone-in). That should be plenty!

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