Instant Pot sweet baked ham is quite simply the best ham in the world! Super fast cooking time for the most delicious, tender, juicy 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.

A white dish full of shredded baked ham.

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.

A white dish full of shredded, baked ham with seasoning being sprinkled on the top.

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. 

A white dish full of shredded, 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!

A white dish full of shredded, baked ham.
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Sweet Baked Ham

4.52 stars (146 ratings)

Ingredients

  • 5-7 pound precooked bone-in ham (see note)
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Water
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground dry mustard

Instructions 

  • Place the ham in a large pot (larger than you think – the liquid is splashy while cooking) 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 over high heat, reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer vigorously for 2-3 hours, until the meat easily falls off the bone. Add more time, as needed until the meat is tender. Also if the liquid reduces, add more during cooking so the ham stays mostly covered.
  • When finished cooking, carefully remove the ham from the pot to a rimmed sheet pan, discarding the liquid. Let the ham cool until it is easier to remove the meat from the bones.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar and mustard.
  • Shred the ham, discarding the fat and bones, and place half of the ham in a 9X9-inch baking dish (or a similar size). Sprinkle half of the brown sugar mixture over the ham. Layer the rest of the ham on top and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar mixture.
  • Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

Ham Type: do not use a pre-sliced/spiral sliced ham. 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).
Ham Size: you can make a larger ham than 5-7 pounds; 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.
Make-ahead: the ham can be boiled and shredded a few days in advance of baking. It can also be assembled with the brown sugar mixture a day ahead of time.
Cooking Time: 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.
Serving: 1 Serving, Calories: 427kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 43g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 166mg, Sodium: 2626mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 21g
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