How to pick a Christmas ham, slowly roast it covered with the best ham glaze recipe, and carve your baked ham with ease.

How to pick, glaze, bake and carve your Christmas ham

Nothing says holidays more to me than a big leg of Christmas ham covered with a delicious ham glaze recipe slowly roasting in the oven and the prospect of eating it for lunch.  Picking a ham glaze recipe is always a challenge as there are so many flavours to choose from.  Traditional ham glazes are always popular, but it is good to mix in some new flavours as well.  Your best ham glaze recipe will depend on your family’s taste buds, so good luck!

Every year we work through the ham over a week or so of sandwiches, ham and egg breakfasts, and finally, ham and egg quiche. I always save the ham bone, intending to make pea and ham soup, and usually throw it out around July when I clean the freezer. This year I made it into a soup, and it was delicious!

You are a turkey, not a ham person? Here are my top tips for cooking a perfect turkey.

Stacey and Steve Young Noosa Meat Centre won Australian Pork’s Australia’s Best Christmas Ham award 2019.

5 tips for picking a great Christmas ham

With the title of Fleischmeister and master butcher, Horst Schurger, who has a master’s degree in Butchering and Smallgoods, is not a man to ignore when it comes to ham tips.  This is what he advises.

  1. Look for a natural meaty texture: avoid the wet or rubbery.
  2. Choose a ham with a good smoky flavour. Ask to taste it.
  3. Look for smooth, even skin and even colouring. If the knuckle is sunken, it’s overcooked. If the rind is buckled or uneven, it’s a sign of dryness.
  4. Hams 10-12kg are most likely to have the best flavour and texture due to the age of the pig.
  5. For the best results, opt for fresh Australian pork rather than hams made in Australia from frozen imported meat.

Horst Schurger is a Fleischmeister and master butcher

How to store your holiday ham 

Sometimes the Christmas ham can hang around for a while, and you must maintain vigilance on its cutting and wrapping.  My dad never trusted anyone else to cut the ham, so he would fill a container with ham cuts for hungry teenagers’ sandwiches.

Try these tips from the experts on maintaining ham freshness.

  1. Dip your ham bag (linen tea towel) in 2 cups of water and one tablespoon of vinegar. Squeeze out excess moisture and place ham in the bag.
  2. Store in the coldest part of the fridge (below 4°C). Leg ham on the bone should last for up to 3 weeks.
  3. Rinse and re-dip your ham bag in water and vinegar solution every three days or as needed.

How to carve your Christmas ham

Carving the holiday ham can be a problem if you don’t have a plan of attack.  Here are some tips from the experts.

Christmas ham glaze recipes

A ham glaze not only looks great, but it adds extra flavour and there’s nothing like fighting over those bits that have the extra glaze. I sometimes hide them under the ham when cutting, so there’s a treat for later. (Don’t tell the family!) I’ve gathered a few best ham glaze recipes from Brisbane food lovers for you to try.

Old school ham and pineapple glaze

As a kid chef Alan Wise was always a fan of the ham steak and pineapple at the RSL. “My mum liked to put $10 through the pokies,” he says. “A few years back I tried to emulate that with a Christmas ham. It’s nice and sweet with some funk from the Worcestershire sauce. I’ve been enjoying it since.”


  • 600mls pineapple juice (or 1 pineapple juiced)
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup glucose or corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 TBS red wine vinegar
  • 2 TBS hot English mustard.
  • Half teaspoon of black pepper
  • Good pinch of salt.


  • Score ham and bake as instructed.
  • In a pot on the stove, combine all ingredients and reduce by a third.
  • About 20 minutes before the ham is done, apply a liberal coating of glaze, apply another coat after 10 minutes and a final coat just before removing from the oven.

Chef Nick Stapleton Balfour Kitchen favours an Asian Style Ham Glaze for his holiday ham.

Asian Style Ham Glaze

Chef Nick Stapleton always has glazed ham on the menu so you don’t have to wait until to get your Christmas ham fix. “This recipe is a stable at The Balfour Kitchen as the Glazed Ham is one of the key ingredients in our breakfast Eggs Benny seven days a week!” says Nick.Nick’s family trick is to bake the ham in the Weber barbecue outside which helps keep the kitchen cooler, and allows guests to enjoy the theatre, have a drink and watch the children playing in the sand pit!

This glaze can be made in advance and kept in the fridge in a sealed jar.


  • 30ml oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed
  • 60g ginger, crushed, scrape the skin with the edge of a spoon ensuring not to remove too much)
  • 500g blond palm sugar, grated
  • 120ml 3 crab fish sauce
  • 1½ stalks lemongrass, smashed
  • 2 long red chillies, fresh
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves, torn
  • 7 black peppercorns
  • 50ml Shaoxing wine
  • 200ml water


  • In a wide pot, add the oil then sauté the garlic and ginger until light brown.
  • Add all remaining ingredients to the pot.
  • Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir until the liquid thickens to a caramel syrup.
  • Remove and strain.

Glazing the ham

1 whole Australian ham

  • Remove the skin.
  • Score the ham in small incisions. This will create funky little caramelized squares of ham fat.
  • Before baking, keep the ham on the bench for a total of 45min to bring it to room temperature.
  • To save the dreaded washing-up at the end, bake on a silicon mat.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 190C.
  • Cook the ham for 30min before starting to glaze. This is to render out some of the fat and will also help stop the glaze from burning. Optional – Add 1/2 cup of water to the roasting pan to help keep the ham moist.
  • Pour half the glaze onto the ham, and from the roasting pan, keep basting it every 15min.
  • If the glaze reduces, add more glaze to thin it out.
  • When the juices from the ham mix with the glaze, the ham becomes much more delicious.
  • Continue to cook for about 90 min, depending on the size of your ham.

Nick’s tip

If fish sauce is not suitable, sea salt can be substituted This is a great sauce to keep in the fridge for future use.

Chris Mann

Simple Sweet Orange and Honey Glaze with a hint of Star Anise

Chef Chris Mann likes this simple combination of orange juice and honey with star anise, which creates a sweet and sticky glaze with a touch of the orient.


  • 250ml honey
  • 250ml orange juice
  • 2 Star anise
  • Ham


  • Bring ingredients to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes to infuse the flavours.
  • When the glaze is cooled, two hours before roasting start glazing the ham in the fridge liberally (with skin removed). Do this every 20 mins until you place it in the oven. This helps get the glaze deep into the flesh.
  • While ham is roasting, glaze every 15 – 20 mins for a golden sticky glaze

Justin Newbury spices his ham glaze with bourbon.

Bourbon, honey and orange Christmas ham glaze

Chef Justin Newbury likes this traditional Christmas ham glaze spiced with a hit of Bourbon and decorated with orange slices and cloves.  It’s going to look fabulous on your Christmas table.


  • Ham
  • Orange juice
  • Dijon mustard
  • Bourbon
  • Honey
  • Sliced oranges
  • Whole cloves


  • Bring all glaze ingredients up to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Prepare ham, remove the skin to just below the knuckle and score a criss-cross diagonal cut 3cm apart
  • Cover exposed ham with sliced oranges, using whole cloves to stick slices to the ham
  • Preheat oven to 120’c – place ham on a rack in a deep baking tray, and pour with a ladle the glaze generously over the ham, leaving some aside to reglaze during the cooking process.
  • Ham will take 2.5-3 hours to get to temperature, during this time, it needs to be glazed every 30 minutes.
  • When it has reached temperature (65c), crank up for 5 mins to get some more colour and remove from oven.

Sweet Plum Ham Glaze

Eugene Phua says a Christmas without ham is no Christmas at all! He always shops local at Petersens’ Quality Meats in New Farm, which has been serving the local community for over a century. “The ham must be sliced thinly and served cold on this hot summer day accompanied by delicious plum sauce for that Asian influence from my cultural background,” Phua says.


1 (about 6-8kg) whole leg ham, on the bone
120g dulce sugar
60ml maple syrup
100ml plum sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Whole cloves, to stud


  • Stir the sugar, maple syrup, plum sauce and mustard in a bowl until the sugar dissolves.
  • Preheat oven to 170ºC.
  • Line a large baking dish with two layers of non-stick baking paper.
  • Place an oven shelf in the lowest position.
  • Score the fat in a diamond pattern, about 5mm deep. Stud the centres of the diamonds with plenty of cloves.
  • Brush one-third of the glaze over the ham. Bake, brushing with glaze every 15 minutes, for 1 hour 30 minutes.


Harold’s Smokey Honey Ham Glaze

Harold and Christine Fleming are known for the moreish fillings of the soft buns they sell around Brisbane from the Bun Mobile. Harold says they always have a Christmas ham on the bone.”We source it from Gillys Smallgoods,” says Fleming. “I have been a customer of theirs for many years. They supply all of our pork and smallgoods on the Bun Mobile and are located at Clontarf.” Harold says his ham glaze recipe is pretty simple but very tasty.

2 tablespoons brown sugar 
2 tablespoons Blend Smoked Honey 
2 tablespoons grain mustard

Mix it all together and splatter it over a skinless, scored ham on the bone. Bake in a hot oven until golden brown and crispy.

What goes down well after the ham is finished?

The other thing that means Christmas to me is a gingerbread house.  Here are my tips to make one yourself.

Check here for more fabulous easy Christmas recipes.

Disclaimer: Ed+bK loves ham and will be buying one soon.