Learn how to score ham so that you can prepare a visually stunning and equally delicious main course for the holidays! It is an easy technique that anyone can master and one of my favorite ways to dress up a simple ham! Your Easter or Christmas ham is sure to be a show-stopping centerpiece with this easy scoring method!
How To Prepare A Ham
Scoring your ham may seem like an optional step. However, this simple process can make a huge difference in the flavor and presentation of your holiday ham!
How To Score A Ham
Scoring a ham is incredibly easy! All you will need is a cutting board and a sharp knife!
Step 1: Prepare. Start out by placing your ham onto a cutting board or kitchen towel to keep it from rolling around while you cut it. *You can also place the ham in your roasting pan as long as you have ample room to work.
Step 2: Cut. Use your knife to make a shallow, diagonal cut about ¼ to ⅓-inch deep. The cut should go all the way from one side of the ham to the other. Repeat the process, spacing the cuts about 1 inch apart until you have sliced across the entire surface of the ham.
*If you are scoring a full ham, you can place your knife and rotate the ham as you spiral the cuts down it. This way, you'll score all of the sides of the ham.
Step 3: Change directions. Rotate your ham and repeat the same process on the other side, creating a diamond pattern on the surface of the ham.
Step 4: Add glaze or seasoning. If desired, insert whole cloves into the space where the cuts intersect. This is also a great time to add your preferred glaze. Make sure to follow your recipe!
💭 Tips For Scoring Ham
- Make sure your ham is completely thawed before getting started. It can take 24-48 hours in the fridge to defrost if frozen.
- Use a well-sharpened knife for clean cuts.
- It is best to score a ham that has a thick skin or layer of fat.
- Keep all cuts at the same depth for even cooking.
- Many people like to press cloves into the cross-sections of the scored ham. This adds flavor as well as makes a festive presentation.
- You can use this process of scoring for essentially any ham you have. It works for whole hams as well as ham hocks!
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❓ When Should I Score My Ham?
This is up to your personal preference as well as the recipe you are following. The ham can be scored while it is raw, just before you place it into the oven, or at the end of your baking time, before adding a glaze.
❓ Why Should I Score My Ham
Hams typically have a thick layer of fat that helps to insulate the meat. When scored, it will help to baste the ham while cooking.
Plus, if you add a glaze, it will be able to seep into the grooves resulting in a more delicious ham!
❓ Should You Score A Fully Cooked Ham?
Why not? It creates a beautiful presentation! Plus, depending on how you are preparing it, it will help to increase the flavors of any glazes you may be adding.
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📖 Recipe Card
How To Score Ham: Best Tips & Tricks To Scoring A Holiday Ham
- 10-12 lb half ham (smoked, bone-in)
- 2 tablespoon whole cloves (optional)
- 20 oz pineapple (canned pineapple rings, reserve the juice)
- 1 cup light brown sugar (packed)
- 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
- 4 oz maraschino cherries (stems removed)
- Preheat your oven to 325°F (163°C/Gas Mark 3). Peel, slice, and core a fresh pineapple, if using.
- Place your 10-12 lb half ham in a roasting dish with the sliced surface facing down.10-12 lb half ham
- For hams over 5-6 pounds, you will want to bake the ham without the additional fruit for a bit. Bake the ham until there's only about 1½ hours remaining on the cooking time. *The ham can be scored with cloves for the whole cooking time.
- (Optional) Score your ham. If you have a thick enough skin and layer of fat, you can score the ham in a diamond pattern for a more festive appearance. Set your ham with the sliced side down and using a sharp knife, cut ¼-inch thick slices vertical strips across the ham. Leave 1 inch between slices. Rotate and cut in a criss-cross motion in the opposite direction.
- (Optional) Place 2 tablespoon whole cloves in the intersections of your scored ham.2 tablespoon whole cloves
- Whisk the reserved 20 oz pineapple juice, 1 cup light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoon yellow mustard together in a small bowl until the brown sugar is dissolved.20 oz pineapple, 1 cup light brown sugar, 2 tablespoon yellow mustard
- Arrange 20 oz pineapple rings and 4 oz maraschino cherries on the ham, use toothpicks to secure your fruit if needed. Add cloves if using then coat the ham and fruit with half of the brown sugar mustard glaze.20 oz pineapple, 4 oz maraschino cherries, 2 tablespoon whole cloves
- Bake at 325°F (163°C/Gas Mark 3) for 1½ hours, basting with the remaining pineapple juice glaze every 30 minutes. Cook until the ham reaches an internal temperature of 140°F (60°C) at the thickest portion.
- Set the oven to broil on high and brown the ham for about 5 minutes or until the pineapple slices are lightly browned.
- Remove the cooked ham from your oven and rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing and serving.
Equipment You May Need
- Servings for bone-in ham are typically ⅓-½ pounds of ham when sliced and served or 2-3 servings per pound. You can carve boneless ham into ¼ pound portions if you want leftovers.
- You can use 1 medium pineapple instead of the canned pineapple rings if desired. In this case, you will need a 6-ounce can of pineapple juice.
- Use no-frill toothpicks if securing your fruit with them. Make sure that you use wood only (plain) toothpicks.
- Ham can be cooked in a roasting bag if desired. Follow the directions to assemble the ham then slide it into a roasting bag. Cut a few small slits to vent and roast as directed (omitting the broiling).
- The cook time is calculated at 18-23 minutes per pound when cooking at 325°F (163°C/Gas Mark 3). Smaller hams will have considerably less cooking time.
- Pre-cooked hams have recommended cooking times that you can follow with this recipe.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!