Peach and Bourbon Baked Ham

Peach and Bourbon Baked Ham

There's an old expression about eternity being a ham and two people.  That's because baked hams are mostly large-to-huge, and while many of us love ham, it's a rare treat because we usually need either a holiday or a big buffet dinner to justify baking one.

You can use this method for baking a whole ham, a half, or a mini-ham that many city butchers now sell to accomodate smaller households.  The main recipe is for the most commonly baked half-ham which is usually about 10 pounds.  At the end of the recipe we've added adjustments for the much larger whole ham and a smaller five-pound version.

If you're not experienced in buying and baking hams, you may want to read our Ham FAQs before you head to the butcher.  This recipe is for a fully-cooked bone-in ham and it works perfectly for one that is either uncut or spiral cut.  If you prefer to make a fresh or country ham, these require other cooking methods which are more complex and time-consuming (again, see our FAQs).

The only thing I love more than baked ham are its leftovers so if you're a fan of ham salad, sandwiches, and omelets, go ahead and bake a ham that's bigger than you'll need for dinner. 

A 10 pound bone-in ham will serve about 20 as a main course; more if the ham is one of several main courses on a buffet.




  1. Remove the ham from the refrigerator one hour before you plan to bake it so that it comes to room temperature. If it's in a plastic package, remove it. Rinse the ham and pat it dry with paper towels.
  2. If you've bought a ham that has skin on it, carefully cut off the skin as well as any extra fat, leaving about 1/4 inch of fat remaining.
  3. If you wish to add a decorative detail, use a knife to score the surface of the ham into diamond shapes, each about 1-inch side. Be care to not cut too deep into the surface, just enough -- about 1/4-inch -- to create the traditional pattern.
  4. Preheat the oven to 300º F and place the rack in the lower third of the oven so to accommodate the roasting pan and ham.
  5. Drain the can of peaches, saving the syrup. Depending on the size of the can, you will have about 1 cup of syrup.
  6. Add the Bourbon to the peach syrup and hold aside.
  7. Place the ham in a large roasting pan, flat/cut side down, so that the mound of the ham rises out of the pan.
  8. In a small dish, combine the brown sugar and dry mustard. Mix well.
  9. Using your hands, rub the sugar-mustard mixture all over the ham. Expect some of it to fall into the bottom of the pan.
  10. Place the ham in the preheated oven.
  11. Cook the ham for a total time of 12 to 15 minutes per pound, or about 2 hours altogether. The purpose here is to heat the ham completely.
  12. 45 minutes before this total cooking time is finished, remove the ham from the oven and pour the peach syrup and bourbon mixture over the ham and return it to the oven. Cook for the remaining 45 minutes, basting every 15 minutes using a long-handled spoon or turkey baster.
  13. Remove the ham from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
  14. In a separate sauté pan on top of the stove, sauté the reserved sliced peaches in a little butter until warmed through and the surface and edges of the peaches become a little golden brown.
  15. Slice the ham and serve, passing the sautéed peach slices separately as a garnish.

Going Bigger:  Baking A Whole Ham (about 22 pounds)

For a whole bone-in ham, follow the above recipe and process but make the following changes:

  1. Before applying the brown sugar and mustard coating, place the whole ham in a large roasting pan, add 1 cup of water to the pan, cover it with aluminum foil, and bake for one hour at 300° F. 
  2. After the first hour, remove the ham from the oven.  Raise the temperature to 325° F.  Before returning the ham to the oven, remove and discard the aluminum foil and pat on the brown sugar and mustard coating.  Bake, uncovered, at 325° F for another 2 1/2 hours.
  3. Pour the peach syrup and bourbon mixture (made from one 29-oz. can plus one 15 oz. can of peaches plus 4 oz. of bourbon) and continue to bake, basting the ham every 15 minutes for 45 minutes. 
  4. Let rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.


Going Smaller:  Baking A Small Quarter Ham (about 5 pounds)

For a smaller ham, with or without a bone, follow the same recipe as for the 9 to 11 pound half-ham but cook for a total time of 90 minutes at 300° F;  baste with the peach syrup and bourbon mixture for the last 45 minutes of the total time.

Let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Alternative to Using Canned Peaches

If fresh peaches are in season or you prefer frozen peaches to canned ones, here's an alternative way to make the ham.  For the basting syrup use 1 cup of peach nectar (canned or bottled).  And to serve as a side dish with the finished ham, warm about 2 cups fresh or frozen peach slices with a little butter and brown sugar. 





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