Ham 101: How to Cook Pre-Cooked, Raw, & Country Ham

If you have ham-cooking questions, we have answers. With our ham-cooking 101 guide, you'll be able to heat up any ham with ease.

Updated December 21, 2023
Cooking Ham Instructions

Ham is a good main course for large gatherings and family dinners because it's so easy to prepare, and it usually feeds a LOT of people. So whether you're making it for a holiday or just because you like it, we've got the scoop on how to cook ham to juicy perfection every time. 

How to Cook Different Types of Ham

Fresh ham comes from the the hind leg of a pig. Typically, when you buy a fresh, raw ham, it is uncured and uncooked. Canned and spiral cut hams, on the other hand, are typically precooked and only require heating through.

Pre-Cooked Ham Instructions

If you have a fully cooked ham, all you need to do is heat it to serving temperature (145°F). If you want, you can add a glaze or other embellishments. But otherwise, it's ready to go. You can even eat a fully-cooked ham without warming it up if you want. 

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Remove the ham from its packaging and place it in a racked roasting pan.
  3. Cook to an internal temperature of 145°F. The length of time will vary depending on the weight of the ham, but plan on about 12 to 14 minutes per pound.
  4. Use your favorite ham glaze recipe to add the final touch, and serve hot.

Fresh Ham Cooking Instructions

Fresh hams can be as small as 10 pounds or as large as 45 pounds, but for the average-sized holiday party, a 15-pound ham will be more than enough to feed everybody. Plan for about a pound of ham per person. We know a full pound sounds like a lot (unless you have teenagers — then all bets are off), but the bone, if you have a bone-in ham, will be some of the weight. If you err on the side of too much, you'll have plenty of leftovers.

Although most fresh hams available in the store have ham-cooking instructions on the package, these basic instructions are a good place to start.


  • 1 (10-15) pound fresh ham


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Do not remove any fat or rind that is on the ham.
  3. Place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan.
  4. Bake for 18 minutes per pound.
  5. Test the temperature; it should be cooked to 160°F.
  6. Let the ham rest for 20 minutes.
  7. Remove the rind and fat. Slice and serve.

Cooking Country Style Hams

Country-style hams have been dry-cured. You need to soak these hams before cooking. The instructions often require you to soak the ham for several hours or even overnight.


  • 1 country ham (about 10 pounds)
  • 1 quart of apple cider
  • ½ cup of brown sugar, divided
  • 1 teaspoon of ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves


  1. Place the ham in a large pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Put the pot in your refrigerator and let it soak for 24-36 hours, changing the water occasionally. Two water changes should be enough.
  3. Remove the ham from the water and scrub it thoroughly with a stiff brush. A wire brush works well here. Be sure to scrub off any mold that is on the ham. The mold is a natural occurrence and is not a sign that the ham is bad —  but you shouldn't eat it.
  4. Place the ham in a large pot.
  5. Fill the pot with water.
  6. Simmer the ham for 20 minutes per pound. For a 10-pound ham, that's about 3 hours.
  7. After the ham has simmered for 2 hours and 15 minutes, add the apple cider and ¼ cup of brown sugar to the water.
  8. Let the ham simmer for 45 minutes more and remove it from the pot.
  9. Preheat oven to 425°F. 
  10. Remove the skin from the ham.
  11. Leave a thin layer of fat on the ham, about ¼ to ½-inch thick.
  12. Sprinkle the ham with ¼ cup of brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of ground pepper, and ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves.
  13. Place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan and bake for 15 minutes or until the glaze is set and the ham has an internal temperature of 160°F. 
  14. Let the ham rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

Cook Any Type of Ham With Ease

With these basic ham-cooking instructions in your back pocket, you're ready to sail into your next family gathering with ease. Whether it's fresh, salt-cured, or pre-cooked, warm up the perfect ham for your friends and family. 

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Ham 101: How to Cook Pre-Cooked, Raw, & Country Ham