For years, I’ve been making my glazed ham the day before serving then just reheating it on the day of. It comes out 100% perfectly. The glaze is just as good as freshly made and the ham flesh doesn’t dry out at all. Use this make-ahead glazed ham method for either my favourite Maple Glazed Ham or classic Brown Sugar Glazed Ham!
I secretly love the challenge of coming up with menus that have a “wow” factor but has plenty of make-ahead options so I can reduce my workload on the day. Nobody wants to be stuck in the kitchen when they have friends and family over.
But also because I secretly dream of being a poised cooking goddess, Nigella Lawson style, who can swan out gracefully from the kitchen with plate after plate of food without breaking a sweat.
I’m still working on that part.
As for the not being stuck in the kitchen part? I’m getting pretty good at that.
And for Christmas feasting occasions, one of my handiest secret weapons is to make glazed ham the day before!
How to make glazed ham the day before
The thing with glazed ham is that it doesn’t actually need to be cooked because it’s already cooked. It’s just about getting that glaze just right!
Bake day before – Make your glazed ham the day before when you’ve got time to baby-sit the ham in the oven, basting and brushing as much as needed for the perfect golden glaze. The only ham glazes I use:
i) Maple Glazed Ham – my special one, with beautiful woody maple flavour
ii) Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Ham – my classic one
Cool for 2 – 3 hours on the counter until you can barely feel warmth when you hover your hand over the surface. However, the inside will still be warm – it’s a sizeable hunk of meat we’re working with here! Don’t leave a hot ham out for much longer than this, for food safety reasons.
Fridge 3 hours uncovered – Then refrigerate the ham uncovered for 3 to 6 hours (still in the pan, with all the pan juices) to allow the inside of the ham to cool right down. You do not want to cover the ham while there’s even a bit of residual warmth on the inside because it will make the ham sweat = compromises the glaze. 😩
Cover then refrigerate overnight – Cover the ham loosely with a sheet of baking/parchment paper (the glaze won’t stick) then loosely with foil or cling wrap.
Overnight uncovered – Sometimes, if I am pressed for time so the ham hasn’t fully cooled before I head to bed, I just leave the ham uncovered in the fridge overnight. All that fat on the surface of the ham prevents the ham from drying out, and the cut face is so well caramelised that it too is not at any risk of drying out.
However, I do recommend covering if you have time to fully cool the ham. For precaution and also so you don’t cross contaminate foods with odours. Nobody wants ham flavour infused in their mini cheesecakes!
Reheat – Take the ham out of the fridge 2 hours prior. Cover loosely with baking/parchment paper then loosely with foil. Reheat in a 130°C oven for 2 hours or until the centre of the ham registers 60°C/140°F (or a skewer inserted into the middle is hot).
Add water as needed to prevent pan juices from drying out (we want a syrupy sauce at the end to serve with the ham!) You shouldn’t need oven time with the foil off to re-caramelise the glaze but you can if needed.
Baste, baste, baste as needed for a stunning shiny sticky finish!
Sauce reduction, if needed – If the pan juices are too watery (because you accidentally added too much water when reheating), either return the pan without the ham into the oven to reduce to a syrupy consistency. Or pour it into a saucepan and simmer on the stove.
Serve the ham as you ordinarily do! My default these days is to put it on a wooden board on a bed of green fluff age (whatever’s cheap at the time – kale, watercress, endive are regulars). Wrap paper around the handle, tie with a ribbon, stick a sprig of rosemary in!
Use any ham glaze!
While I’ve referenced the two ham glazes on my website throughout this post (my favourite Maple Glazed Ham and classic Brown Sugar Ham Glaze), these make-ahead steps should work for any glazed ham.
I hope you found this tip useful! I’d love to know what you think if you make your glazed ham ahead of time this year. Tell me in the comments below! – Nagi x
Christmas cooking stressing you out? I get it. See my 6 best tips to make Christmas cooking easier right here!
Life of Dozer
Dozer confirms he can’t tell whether the glazed ham was made today or yesterday.