My Maple Glazed Ham is a regal yet EASY centrepiece for Christmas! The subtle fragrance of maple and hint of festive spices makes such a perfect ham glaze.
Sticky and caramelised just like a classic Brown Sugar Ham Glaze, this is great for preparing ahead or making ahead completely. Also see my new Ultimate Ham Guide – everything you need to know about glazing a ham!
MAPLE GLAZED HAM
For years and years, I was scared of making Christmas ham, thinking it was technically difficult or tricky to make. I didn’t want to risk making it for a special event, nor did I want to do a practice run – I mean, we’re talking about giant hunks of meat here!! Then one Christmas, I watched a friend make it. Peel off the skin, cut diamond shapes into the fat, slather on a glaze and bake until sticky and warmed through.
What?? What? No special equipment, I couldn’t see any failure risk. It’s not tricky to handle, it’s not like roasting meat where you have to worry about overcooking. Really, it’s just about getting the surface golden and sticky, because by the time that happens, the inside will be warmed through and that’s all you need.
That’s my big tip for a perfect Christmas Ham. Yes, really. Go by eye. When the surface looks like THIS, it’s DONE!
MAGICAL, SIMPLE HAM GLAZE
I’m sure there are some real fancy Glazed Ham recipes out there. But for me, this is simply perfect and I have no intention of changing this as my go-to Baked ham recipe. I use a fairly simple Maple Brown Sugar Glaze. Brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and All Spice (Christmas flavours!) and mustard for a bit of tang and to thicken it into a slather.
The ingredients list is so short, it’s almost magical how it transforms once baked. It’s the combination of the Brown Sugar Glaze, the caramelization of the fat on the surface of the ham and the salt in the ham itself (which is why I don’t use any salt in the glaze).
CHOOSING A HAM
Come holiday time, you’ll find ham legs widely available, ranging from economical to really great quality free range legs. I’ll be honest with you – if a baked ham makes it on the RecipeTin Eats family Christmas menu for this year, it’s likely we will get it from a butcher and indulge a bit.
But for the recipe video and the photos, I used an excellent value half ham leg from Woolworths. And I have to say, I was mighty impressed, as were all my taste testers who sampled it.
What’s the difference between expensive and economical hams?
The more economical hams tend to have a higher water content because of the way it’s been prepared, and that affects texture and flavor. Quality of life of the pigs comes into play, as does the amount of preservatives and additives in the ham, and how intense / “good” the smoked flavour is.
Christmas is certainly a time for indulgence, and I know there are some who may take a view to buy top end, or don’t bother. I take a more pragmatic view. Buy the best you can afford. The more you pay, the better quality it will be, translating into better flavour.
BUT for an economical option, the $9/kg ($4.50/lb) Smoked Half Leg of Ham I got from Woolworths is excellent value. I was really impressed. (OK, the glaze goes a long way to dress it up!!) (PS I did also see there was a $6/kg ham leg, I bypassed that because it wasn’t smoked and smoked ham has a better flavour, for an extra $3/kg, I really think it’s worth it).
Sauce for Ham
While ham itself is seasoned well enough such that it can be eaten plain, nobody ever sauce no to sauce!
And the excess glaze that drips down into the pan combined with the ham and orange juice transforms into a fantastic sauce to drizzle over the ham.
I know it makes the pile of ham look a bit messy, but I truly think it’s worth doing. You could also serve it on the side. 🙂
There’s something so iconic, so sentimental about a shiny, almost glowing Maple Glazed Ham taking pride of place on the centre of a festive table. It’s completely incomparable to the ham slices slapped between sandwich bread that you get over deli counters. I even know people who hate deli ham who go nuts over Glazed Ham.
Plus, as I said right up front, this is easy, easy, easy! It’s also make ahead or prepare ahead, is fabulous served warm OR at room temperature. Oh – and wait until you see the VIDEO!!! ⬇⬇⬇ – Nagi x
Things to make with leftover ham – and the bone!
- Ham and Cheese Puffs
- Monte Cristos – ham and cheese French toast sandwiches
- Ham and Corn Chowder
- Cheese and Ham Pancakes
- Creamy Ham Bone and Bean Soup
- Ham Bone Congee (3 ingredient Chinese Rice Soup)
- Epic Christmas Leftovers Bread Bowl Sandwich!
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Maple Glazed Ham
- 4 - 5 kg / 8 - 10 lb leg ham, bone in, skin on (Note 1)
- Cloves (for studding the ham) (optional - mainly for decorative purposes)
- 2 oranges , cut into quarters
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup maple syrup, real (not artificial) (or substitute with honey)
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 tbsp dijon mustard
- 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp All Spice (or nutmeg)
- Take ham out of fridge 1 hour prior.
- Preheat oven to 160C / 320F (standard) or 140C / 285F (fan). Arrange shelf in lower third so the ham will be sitting in the centre of the oven (not right at the top of the oven, this causes more uneven cooking on surface).
- Place the Glaze ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined.
- Remove the skin of the ham, ensuring you leave the fat on (Note 3 for steps, step photos below and refer recipe video below).
- Use a small sharp knife to cut 2.5cm / 1" diamonds across the fat surface of the ham. Avoid cutting into the meat.
Glaze and Baking
- Place the ham in a large baking dish. Prop handle up using scrunched up foil to level the surface of the ham (more even browning, new tip!)
- Squeeze the juice of 1 orange (4 quarters) over the ham. Then place them along with the remaining orange into the baking dish around the ham.
- Rub/brush a little bit of Glaze on the underside of the ham. Then slather about 2/3 of the remaining Glaze on the top and sides of the ham, including the cut face (save some for basting).
- Insert a clove in the intersection of the cross of each diamond on the surface (optional).
- Pour the water in the baking dish, then place in the oven.
- Bake for 1 1/2 hrs, basting very generously every 30 minutes, or until sticky and golden. At the first 30 minutes, slather with remaining glaze, then after that, spoon over pan juices very generously (or dab with brush). Rotate pan if required to brown evenly.
- Allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Baste, baste, baste before serving - as the glaze in the pan cools, it thickens which means it "paints" the ham even better - but be sure to save pan juices for drizzling.
- Wrap handle with baking paper and ribbon if desired. Remove cloves. Then slice thinly - try to get a bit of the glaze on every slice!
- Personal preference wether to serve at room temp or warm, I like warm. I also like to drizzle with pan juices - it looks messier but tastes fabulous. Drizzle sparingly as the glaze flavour is intense! Note juices need to be warm for drizzling, it thickens when cooled.
- Using a small knife, cut through the skin around the top of the ham handle.
- On the cut surface of the ham (i.e. the side that the pink ham is showing), run the knife between the skin and the fat, then insert your fingers and run your fingers around the ham to separate it even more. Leave as much fat as possible - that's what makes your ham gorgeous and golden.
- Starting in one corner, peel back the skin. As you pull back more, insert your fingers between the fat and the skin to assist. Use knife if required to assist.
- Repeat with the skin on the underside of the ham.
HOW TO REMOVE SKIN OFF HAM
See description of steps in recipe, Note 3.
LIFE OF DOZER
Surely you know Dozer well enough by now to know that there’s only one reason why he wouldn’t be gagging over a giant hunk of meat….
….. food on the Christmas tree, of course!!