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Ultimate Bone-in Ham Grilling Tips

Tips for Grilling the Ultimate Bone-in Ham banner

Summer will soon be upon us, which means it’s grilling season! You might be thinking about grilling steaks or burgers, but we’re thinking about grilling ham. Throughout this article, we’ll discuss the difference between boneless and bone-in ham, how to cook a bone-in ham on charcoal grill and gas grill, how to bake a bone-in ham in the oven and, of course, the dos and don’ts for measuring the internal temperature of bone-in ham with the ThermoPro Meat Thermometer.


Boneless Ham vs. Bone-In Ham

So, ham is a pork cut that comes from the back end of the pig. Specifically, the rump/thigh area is called the “butt” and the “shank.” After getting the cut of meat from the pig, it is processed. Ham is cured with either wet or dry curing. Plus, it may or may not be smoked as well.

Of course, you can get boneless ham, which is easier to slice. But all too often, boneless ham is just pieces of ham jelled together. Not good. Boneless hams that are actual ham and not just ham parts simply have the bone removed before going through the curing process and being packaged. Sadly, boneless ham typically has less flavor and is drier. However, they do have the added benefit of being able to cook or grill faster than their bone-in counterpart.

Boneless Ham

Ultimately, the best way to go is going to be to purchase a bone-in ham. Bone-in hams are more flavorful as the bone itself imparts flavor into this cut of meat. Plus, you get the added benefit of being able to save the bone for later to make a delicious stock!

Bone-in ham typically ends up moister when finished. Be careful when cooking bone-in ham on the grill though, as overcooking is the fastest way to dry that bad boy out! This can be avoided by using the ThermoPro Meat Thermometer. We’ll be going over how to make sure you properly measure the internal temperature of your bone-in ham.


How to Select and Prepare Bone-In Ham?

Sliced or Unsliced

The first thing to note is that there are two different types of bone-in hams. You can purchase unsliced bone-in hams or spiral sliced bone-in hams. They both have their benefits and downfalls.

Unsliced bone-in ham will come out moister with less effort. This is because spiral-sliced bone-in hams have more places for moisture to escape as they are cooked.

Conversely, bone-in ham is significantly harder to slice. However, you can get around this by purchasing an electric knife or an electric slicer that cuts through bone, making this process much easier and faster. Or you can opt to buy a spiral sliced which cuts out this work and the potential need for extra tools. However, as previously mentioned, this pre-sliced variety does take a bit more care when grilling.

Cooked or Uncooked

Another thing to consider is whether your ham just needs to be heated before serving or if it is uncooked. A quick reference for how to tell which is which (other than looking for the words cooked or uncooked) is that a “country ham” is uncooked and a “city ham” is cooked.

How Many People Are You Feeding?

Additionally, when purchasing a bone-in ham, a good rule of thumb is that you’ll need around one pound of meat for every three people. Don’t worry if you overshoot this, though. It just means you’ll have leftovers. Who doesn’t love leftovers?

Glazed or Naked

Here we are, debunking myths! Believe it or not, ham DOES NOT need to have pineapples, cherries, apples, brown sugar, regular sugar, honey, or other dessert topping on it to be tasty! You can cook you ham naked, as in, with no seasoning.

There is a benefit to this. One, you can serve your ham with delicious gravy and mashed potatoes. Gravy does NOT go great with a candied ham. Plus, using a glaze on your ham limits your leftover possibilities. You wouldn’t want sweet ham, leek and potato soup or sugary Chef Salads, would you? Going naked will give you practically unlimited possibilities for your leftovers!

Conversely, you can make a not-so-sweet glaze. Using things like spicy brown mustard and garlic and black pepper will make a delicious savory glaze.

Bone in Ham

Bathe It

Whether you’re grilling or baking your ham, you should wrap that bad boy in foil with some water, stock, or wine for most of the cooking time. The foil comes off when the glaze goes on. This typically happens about 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, so the sugary components of the glaze don’t burn.


How to Grill or Bake Bone-In Ham Perfectly with a Meat Thermometer

For both cooking methods, low and slow is the way to go for most cooking time. Right at the end, you’ll want to crank it up to caramelize the glaze.

The most crucial part for both cooking methods is to NOT go over an internal temperature of 145 degrees, so it is imperative to have your ThermoPro Meat Thermometer handy. Typically, removing your ham from the heat when it hits an internal temperature of 135 to 140 degrees will result in a perfectly cooked ham. This is because it will cook a smidge more as it rests.

The final tip that applies to both cooking methods is to let your ham rest before digging in. No, seriously. Rest it. Resist the urge to dig right in. One, as previously stated, it needs a bit of resting time to finish cooking. And two, allowing your ham to rest will result in juicier and more flavorful meat. Let your delicious ham rest about 20 minutes before cutting into it. Don’t worry; it’ll still be warm and everything!

How to Grill Bone-In Ham

This guide covers grilling bone-in ham on a gas grill or charcoal grill without a rotisserie skewer. A lot of the grilling instructions you will find online mention a rotisserie skewer, which can be an excellent technique for even roasting. However, these guides fail to keep in mind that most hams that are readily available in local grocery stores are spiral cut bone-in hams. It would be some kind of sorcery if you could manage to kabob a spiral cut ham. However, even if you managed the impossible, chances are your ham would start to rain slices as soon as it gained some warmth.

Grill Bone in Ham with Thermometer

Step-by-step Guide to Grilling a Bone-In Ham Perfectly with a Meat Thermometer

  1. The first thing you need to do is purchase a spiral-sliced unglazed ham.
  2. Unwrap the ham. Place it flat side down in an aluminum roasting pan.
  3. Season your ham, getting between the slices, if you so choose. Do not add your glaze yet. Your glaze will likely burn if you apply it too early because sugar burns at around 350 degrees.
  4. Add at least ½ cup of stock, water or wine to your roasting pan. You got to keep that ham moist!
  5. Using your Thermopro Meat Thermometer insert the food probe into the thickest part of the ham. Take care to keep the attached transmitter away from the grill. Only the probe and the wire should be going inside of the grill.
  6. You can use either a charcoal grill or a gas grill. The biggest thing to note is that you want to cook your ham with indirect heat.
  7. Once your ham is on the grill, you can close the lid and let the heat and smoke do their thin
  8. You will need to grill your ham for about 12 minutes per pound at a temperature of around 300 degrees. This is why using the ThermoPro Meat Thermometer is a must. You need to keep an eye on the transmitter while your ham is grilling to ensure that it isn’t going over 135-140 degrees internally.
  9. At about 30 minutes before the end of your cook time, you can brush on your glaze, making sure you get in between the layers of your ham.
  10. Do this every 10 to 15 minutes until your ham is finished. This will create a beautiful glossy glaze.
  11. Remove your ham once it reaches an internal temperature of about 135 to 140 degrees.
  12. Rest you ham for about 20 minutes.
  13. Dig in!

*Conversely, you can use your Thermopro Meat Thermometer to check the internal temperature toward the end of the cooking time, and not leave the probe inserted the entire time. However, this way is less convenient.*

How to Bake Bone-In Ham

To be honest, baking your ham in your home oven works pretty much like grilling: same temperature, same cook times. The only thing you might consider changing is how you finish the glaze. You can use the broil setting for three to five minutes RIIIGHT at the end of your cook time to thoroughly caramelize a classic (sugary) glaze. It will create a crispy, crunchy, glossy glazed crust. Just watch it, because burned sugar is bitter and gross.

Bake Bone-in-ham

Step-by-step Guide to Baking a Bone-In Ham Perfectly with a Meat Thermometer

  1. The first thing you need to do is purchase a spiral-sliced unglazed ham.
  2. Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  3. Unwrap the ham. Place it flat side down in an aluminum roasting pan.
  4. Season your ham, getting between the slices, if you so choose. Hold off on glazing.
  5. Add at least ½ cup of stock, water or wine to your roasting pan.
  6. Using your Thermopro Meat Thermometer insert the food probe into the thickest part of the ham. Take care to keep the attached transmitter away from the grill. Only the probe and the wire should be going inside of the grill.
  7. Bake your beautiful ham baby for around 12 minutes per pound at 300 degrees.
  8. At about 30 minutes before the end of your cook time, you can brush on your glaze, making sure you get between the layers of your ham.
  9. Crank the heat up to 325 and do this every 10 to 15 minutes until your ham is finished.
  10. OPTIONAL: Right at the end of the cooking time, once you’ve confirmed your ham’s internal temperature is at about 135 degrees, brush on a final layer of glaze. Turn your oven to a low boil. Babysit it for 3 to 5 minutes under the broiler until it begins to bubble and ever-so-slightly brown. Do not burn it!
  11. Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for at least 20 minutes.
  12. Dig in!

Dos and Don’ts When Measuring the Internal Temperature of Bone-In Ham with ThermoPro Meat Thermometer

  1. Do – remove your ham from the heat source when measuring the internal temperature.
  2. Do – Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the ham.
  3. DON’T – Hit the bone with the thermometer. It will result in an inaccurate reading.
  4. DON’T – Measure the temperature in a fatty area. It could result in an inaccurate reading.

If the ham’s internal temperature is not 135 degrees or above, put it back in the oven. Do – Continue to check the temperature every 10 minutes until it reaches at least 135 degrees internally.

*If you’ve had your food probe inserted throughout the cooking process, use caution when removing it from the meat as it will be hot!*


Summary

Summer is upon us, which means it’s a fantastic time to uncover those grills and cook up some delicious food. What better to be on the menu than a tasty bone-in ham that you can dress with tropical fruit and a decadent glaze? The key to grilling or baking the ultimate bone-in ham is to do it low and slow.

An overcooked ham, or any meat for that matter, will be dry and will most definitely bum you out after all that hard work. Don’t let that happen! When cooking meat, keep a trusted meat thermometer nearby and use it throughout the cooking process to ensure your grill isn’t too hot and your meat doesn’t overcook or worse, burn.

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Now that you know what you need and how to grill a delicious bone-in ham get to it!

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