Ham is one of those foods that is often taken for granted. It’s a popular meal for holidays and family dinners and other times it gets forgotten as a delicious meal option. However, if you’re here, we’re sure you know just how delightful a good cooked ham can be!
There are so many things you can do with ham, and cooking a ham means you might have leftovers for days! You can cook a ham in a multitude of ways and you can do a lot of different things with the leftovers.
Ham comes in a bulk cut portion and you always end up with way more than you need. What do you do with the leftovers? Can you freeze cooked ham? Yes! Cooked ham freezes quite well as long as you get it wrapped and store properly. We recommend double wrapping it in butcher paper and only freezing it for up to 6 months for the best flavor. You can technically freeze ham for 12 months, but thawing and eating it within 6 months will give you the best results.
In this guide, we will walk you through everything you should know in order to successfully freeze your cooked ham.
We will share various tips and cover multiple topics about how ham is cooked and even provide you some tips for using up leftover ham.
Keep reading to learn the most important information about freezing ham and more.
Your Guide to Freezing Ham
Ham is a form of pork. It is a cut of meat that comes from the leg. The ham is then typically preserved through a curing method.
Sometimes, the ham is smoked prior to curing, it all just depends on the overall process.
When you purchase ham from the store, you might find a multitude of options. Here are just a few of the titles you might see on ham packaging.
- Honey ham
- City ham
- Country ham
- Shank-end ham
- Boneless ham
- Glazed ham
- Bone-in ham
- Spiral-cut ham
These are just a few options, there are other flavors and types of hams out there as well. The other thing to consider is how much ham you might need for a particular dinner.
The recommended estimate is that each individual will eat at least 1/3 pound of ham. You can base your ham purchase on that number.
We always recommend rounding up slightly for those who may eat more than this estimated portion size. With this estimate, you would purchase a 4 or 5-pound ham for a gathering of 12 people.
Once you’ve selected your ham and brought it home, you’re again faced with a multitude of choices. First, are you going to marinade your ham or glaze it? How do you plan to cook your ham?
Many people opt to either smoke their ham or bake it in the oven. Baking ham is the traditional way to cook it but there are many ways to cook a ham.
You can even use the crockpot or an instant pot if that is your preferred cooking method.
The nice thing is, you can do a lot of different things with ham. You can flavor it to your own tastes and you make a variety of glazes or you can just enjoy the cooked ham with no special additions or creations of your own added to the mix.
Here we share a quick recipe simply as a point of reference. Remember that there are numerous ways to cook a ham and we use this only as an example.
In this recipe, we recommend a glaze as it helps to keep the exterior layers of the ham from drying out.
- Start by selecting your ham. For the glaze, we recommend using brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, Dijon, black pepper. You can also add ginger or cloves if you want to as well.
- Place the ham in a roasting pan.
- Pour some ginger ale or a small cup of orange juice over the ham – this will maintain the moisture as well.
- Cover the ham or the pan with foil. This is another measure that works to keep the ham from drying out.
- Bake the ham in the oven at 350 degrees. Estimate 10-15 minutes of cooking time per pound of ham. As the ham bakes, baste it with glaze every 20-30 minutes. You remove the foil to baste and then reapply the foil for baking.
- Bake to an internal temperature of 140 degrees. This will take probably a minimum of 90 minutes, depending on the size of your ham.
- Serve and enjoy!
Making ham is incredibly easy. It does take some time. Even with this method of cooking at a medium oven temperature, you notice that it takes a couple of hours to get a finished ham. You really can’t just leave it and cook it and check it in 90 minutes either or it will dry out.
Even if you choose not to use a glaze, you should be applying some type of moisture to the ham no less than every 30 minutes. Really, it’s better if you can get to it every 15-20 minutes.
Uses for Cooked Ham
Obviously, you can eat your cooked ham by itself. You can reheat it or enjoy it cold and it’s great both ways.
It seems like there always comes a point when you have to figure something out for the leftover ham. You’re tired of it but want to get it used. How can you mix it up?
Lucky for you, we have some great ideas to share for options for using that cooked ham.
- Ham and corn chowder
- Breakfast hash
- Ham sandwiches
- Cook into an omelet
- Add to soups or stews
- Use in carbonara
- Ham and beans
- Use as meat in pasta dishes or even macaroni and cheese
- Chicken cordon bleu
- Homemade pizza
- Top baked potatoes
- Use in chef’s salad
These are just a few simple ideas for using up that leftover ham but there are a ton of ways you can use ham. Allow yourself the creativity to enjoy cooked ham any way you might like it. There are truly no limitations.
Storing and Freezing Ham
Ham stores really well. It should be stored in either the fridge or the freezer. If you are storing your ham in the fridge, you can safely do so for up to 5 days.
To store ham in the refrigerator, you should place it into something that seals and can be stored airtight. You can use storage bags or you can use an airtight container (these are my absolute favorite airtight containers).
If you need an alternative option, here are the steps for storing your ham in the freezer.
- For freezing your cooked ham, we recommend a double-layer of protection. This will offer a shield against the meat that will hopefully help it not to dry out in the freezer.
- Start by wrapping your ham in either foil or freezer wrap.
- When the ham is securely wrapped, place it into a heavy-duty freezer bag or an airtight container.
- Label, date, and seal cooked ham packaging.
- Store cooked ham in the freezer for up to 6 months. It will potentially last up to 12 months in the freezer, but for the best flavor, 6 months is the recommended maximum.
Can You Freeze Sliced Ham?
Can you freeze sliced ham? Yes, you can freeze sliced ham by wrapping each slice individually in freezer-safe plastic wrap and placing them in a freezer bag. Sliced ham will stay fresh in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Using Cooked Ham After Freezing
Frozen ham is relatively easy to work with. You can eat it chilled or there are a variety of ways you can reheat it. The biggest challenge to reheating ham after freezing it is to keep it from drying out.
You will certainly want to wrap the ham in foil as this will help to retain moisture. While you don’t necessarily need to glaze it again, you should consider using melted butter or a good moisturizing liquid on the exterior of the ham to keep it from getting dry if you bake it.
You can let the ham thaw out overnight in the fridge for the best results if you plan to reheat the ham. Letting it thaw will make it easier to work with no matter what you are doing with it. You can also eat your ham cold if you like, rather than reheating it.
We hope that you find this guide to freezing cooked ham to be a valuable resource for the purpose.
Freezing ham is quite simple. It freezes nicely and is easy to work with when you are ready to use it.
We invite you to check out the following question and answer section for some additional information that you might find helpful.
How Long Can Cooked Ham Be at Room Temperature?
You shouldn’t leave your cooked ham at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It’s best to get it put in the fridge shortly after dinnertime to reduce the likelihood of it growing bacteria.
How Can You Tell if Cooked Ham is Bad?
The best ways to tell are by look and smell. If your ham starts to smell sour, it should be tossed out. If your ham starts to look slimy, it should be tossed out. Do not do a taste test.
Is it OK to Use Ham Frozen for 2 Years?
The freezing time recommend is based on the quality of the ham. The longer it’s frozen, the more the quality deteriorates. It is still safe for consumption, but it may not taste as great.