When it comes to feeding a crowd during the holidays, it doesn’t get much easier than serving a spiral-sliced ham. Being that pre-sliced hams are sold fully cooked, all you have to do is warm it through in the oven and apply accompanying packet of mildly questionable glaze. Or do you? Using the same amount of time and effort as brushing on the sugary glaze mixture that comes with store-bought hams, give your holiday ham some homemade love with a signature glaze that will really take it to the next level.
Photo: Getty Images
| Credit: Getty Images

Nothing says holiday feast like a glistening glazed spiral-cut ham. For one, it’s not as time consuming as turkey (although, I know plenty of folks who serve both). Because let’s face it, most of us already have enough on our plates during the holidays without having to add roasting an animal from-scratch to the list. Not to mention, hams are available at most supermarkets, come fully cooked, and are reasonably priced—available, approachable, and affordable, three very important ‘A’ words when it comes to Christmastime. With every tender, pink slice that slides so easily off the bone, you can be reminded of these three critical factors that contribute to its lacquered deliciousness. And the best part is that you’ll have plenty of leftover meat for sandwiches and such over the next few days.

Although cooking the ham is quite easy because it just needs to be heated through (typically 10 to 12 minutes per pound), it’s the glazing part that gets a little dicey. I’m not an advocate of food waste, but you know the super-sugary glaze packet that comes with most store-bought hams? Do us a solid, and just toss it in the trash. Yes, we’re totally giving you permission to throw it away here, given that it’s loaded full of sketchy preservatives and sugars—and frankly, it’s no where near the best that you can do. Instead, put a little lipstick on the pig (pun intended) with a simple glaze that’s just as easy as using the complimentary packet, only real differences being that it will be much cleaner, won’t have any weird artificial after-taste, and can be tailored to suit your overall holiday menu. If you need a head start on sweet and spicy combinations to balance the smoky savoriness of your ham, we have a few tasty suggestions to ensure your holiday ham-eating experience will never be the same. Ready, set, glaze with these nine go-to ham and zesty sauce combos:

  1. Brown Sugar + Maple Syrup + Dijon Mustard = Maple-Mustard Glaze
  2. Honey + Molasses + Bourbon + Orange Juice + Dijon Mustard = Bourbon-Based Glaze
  3. Orange Marmalade + Dijon mustard + Water = Dijon-Marmalade Glaze
  4. Apple Juice + Blackberry Preserves + Dijon mustard = Blackberry-Mustard Glaze
  5. Plum Preserves + Orange Juice + Lime Juice + Yellow Mustard + Honey + Ginger + Red Pepper = Sweet-Hot Plum Glaze
  6. Molasses + Dijon Mustard + Lemon Juice + Unsalted Butter = Mustard and Molasses Glaze
  7. Pineapple preserves + Prosecco or Cava + Kosher Salt = Pineapple-Prosecco Glaze
  8. Brown Sugar + Cola + Dijon Mustard + Kosher Salt = Cola-Dijon-Brown Sugar Glaze
  9. Red Pepper Jelly + Brewed Coffee + Kosher Salt = Coffee-and-Pepper Jelly Glaze

How to Prepare Homemade Glaze:

After mixing together, heat all of the glaze ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Then, pour the glaze over the top of the ham. Make sure you separate the slices so every delicious drop of glaze drips down in between each cut. Finally, pop the ham in the oven for its remaining cook time. A cup of glaze will do for every 10 pounds of ham. You can serve any excess sauce with the cooked ham for a little extra flavor hit, should anyone want it.

The possibilities for a rich glaze are endless, but the best combinations are made from fruits and preserves that pair well with salty ham. You can take the fancy route by incorporating champagne, white wine, and coffee, or whip up some down-home goodness with Cola, or even Fanta soda for an orange-based glazed. Whatever your choice, just mix together a few ingredients to make a custom coating that suits the entire meal you’re preparing. There you have it—a better than store-bought glaze and an official goodbye to dry, sad, lifeless hams from this holiday season on.

By Michelle Darrisaw and Michelle Darrisaw