Sweet Baked Ham {InstantPot Instructions}

Instant Pot Sweet Baked Ham

If you have an InstantPot you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say every single thing that I make in the kitchen causes me to think: can this be done in the InstantPot?

I’ve had ridiculous conversations with myself about whether or not I should spend/waste the time trying to make {insert just about any recipe possible – yes, even chocolate cake} in the InstantPot. I’ve had some failures, thanks to this obsession. But, wonderfully, attempting my beloved Sweet Baked Ham in the InstantPot (a stovetop pressure cooker will work, too) was a raging success.

If you aren’t familiar with that recipe, you should be. Really. It’s a life changing way to prepare ham (we make it constantly – not just for Easter – it’s that good).

But a lot of people get hung up on the fact that the ham in the original recipe needs to be boiled in a huge vat of vinegar and water. That step is absolutely crucial to the success of the ham – the vinegar helps tenderize the ham, and I promise that your ham won’t come out tasting like pickles.

Instant Pot Sweet Baked Ham

Later, the tender pieces of ham bake in a sweet and tangy bath of brown sugar and mustard and the result is absolute ham perfection. I don’t actually mind letting the ham bubble away on the stove since it’s pretty easy to let it do its thing and come back for it in a couple of hours; however, with the magic of the InstantPot, I knew this step could probably be simplified.

And it is. Today’s post is basically a chance for me to jump in, wave at your face to get your attention, and say: if you have an InstantPot or stovetop pressure cooker and you have a hankering to make the Sweet Baked Ham, it is easier than ever!

And if you don’t have an InstantPot, this Sweet Baked Ham alone may make it worth it (along with the other million of reasons I have fallen in love with it – if you’re new to the idea of pressure cooking, here’s a great starting place).

With the InstantPot or stovetop pressure cooker, the 2-3 hour vinegar bath step is reduced to well under an hour (just 30 minutes cooking time), plus the pervasive vinegar smell is minimized (as a sidenote: I could be completely delusional, but I think making the ham in my InstantPot this way, thanks to all that white vinegar, helped deodorize the ring that’s managed to pick up every odor under the sun so far – basically it didn’t smell like the chili I made months ago after the ham was cooked in it, so there’s another bonus for you). 

Instant Pot Sweet Baked Ham

I’m not going to republish the Sweet Baked Ham recipe here but I’ll detail how to get the basics of the vinegar bath done in a pressure cooker. Here we go:

1) Abandon the idea of getting a huge shank ham like in the original recipe. You’re going to have to settle for a smaller cut of ham that will fit in your pressure cooker (InstantPot or stovetop) and probably opt for boneless, but just like before, I highly recommend (caution?) that you do not use a spiral sliced ham as it will overcook and get weird. Right now Costco sells half cuts of ham (boneless but not sliced) that worked perfectly for this – the one I bought was right around three pounds, I believe (sorry I forgot to take a picture of it).

2) Cut the ham into large chunks (not itty bitty pieces!) so they nestle tightly into the bottom of the pressure cooker. If the cut of ham you have has large layers of fat, you may want to trim those also (or you can trim them after it cooks).

3) Fill the pressure cooker to cover the ham (without exceeding the max fill of the pressure cooker) with a 2:1 ratio of water to vinegar like in the original recipe.

4) For the InstantPot, secure the lid and select Manual –> 32-45 minutes (depending on size of ham pieces) –> and let it go. For a stovetop pressure cooker, secure the lid and bring to high pressure. Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Let both the pressure cooker and InstantPot naturally release before opening the lid. (UPDATE: If the ham isn’t as tender as you would like when you open the pressure cooker, cook it for another 10 minutes or so – it will come up to pressure much faster the 2nd time; OR if the pieces of ham are larger than 3-inch chunks or so, add time from the beginning – cook for about 40-45 minutes.)

5) Slice or pull the ham into pieces (discard the cooking liquid) and proceed with the recipe (adding the brown sugar/mustard mixture and baking). This pressure cooker step can be done several days in advance of actually serving the ham. See the original recipe for more details.

A few extra notes:
I have NOT tried using the InstantPot to warm the ham with the brown sugar mixture since I don’t want the ham to overcook.

If you find the ham isn’t as tender as you like after it pressure cooks, simply secure the lid again and bring to high pressure for a few more minutes.

The texture of the ham using a pressure cooker is slightly different than the ham made in the original recipe on the stovetop. Maybe just a tad softer? I’m not sure since I didn’t have a side-by-side comparison but it is still delightfully tender and delicious.

And there you go! Another point in favor of pressure cooking. If you have any questions, comment below – especially let me know if you are planning to try this ham in the pressure cooker for Easter!

Disclaimer: Amazon affiliate links above for the InstantPot.

Instant Pot Sweet Baked Ham