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Are You Planning To Service Ham For Easter?

How much ham should you prepare for your Easter meal? The following information should help you decide.

Nashville, Ark. – With Easter just around the corner, have you thought about what you will serve for dinner? If you are planning to have family members, and you have a large family, you may be thinking of serving ham. At my house, ham is the traditional meat served on this special holiday.

            Hams are sold in several varieties, including boneless, canned, bone-in and country-style. Packaging may be canned, plastic wrapped or vacuum packaged. Country hams usually come with a cheesecloth-like covering. It is important to refrigerate plastic wrapped and vacuum-packed hams. Read the label for refrigeration instructions.

            There is wealth of information on the label. The “use-by” date is the last day in which to cook the ham. The “sell-by” date is the last allowed date of sale. The ham should be cooked within one week of the sell-by date or frozen properly for use later on.

            Maybe you are confused about what size of ham to buy to feed your dinner guests. If you are serving a boneless ham, you can expect to get one-fourth to one-third pound per serving. Your bone-in hams will yield one-third to one-half pound per serving. Therefore, if you purchase a ten-pound bone-in ham, you can expect to feed about twenty people. This is based on standard serving size, not portion size. You will need to think about how much your family will eat. Some people may eat more than a standard serving size. If so, a ten pound ham may only feed 8-10 people.

            With a bone-in ham, you will be able to use the bone later to make a stock or use as a seasoning in other foods. Once Easter dinner is over, take the bone and put it in a freezer bag, label with the date and put it in the freezer. Ham bones will last about three months in the freezer for best quality.

To get the most value, look at the yield and cost per serving. The cost per serving equals price per pound divided by the number of servings per pound. You may be able to determine the best buy using unit pricing as a guide.

Once you have purchased your ham, you will need to store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator for two to five days or you can store it in the freezer for up to eight months for the best quality.

Before preparing, check the label for the words “fully cooked” or “cook before eating.” “Fully cooked” hams will need to be heated to an internal temperature of 160⁰F. “Cook before eating” or fresh hams should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145⁰F. Most labels will say to allow 15 minutes per pound for cooking. So, you will need to allow a minimum of 2 ½ hours to cook a ten pound ham. The only way to really determine if it is cooked to the correct internal temperature is to use a meat thermometer and check. Cook the ham in an oven set no lower than 325⁰F.

            What about the popular “spiral cut” hams? If you want to reheat them, you should cover the entire ham or portion with heavy duty aluminum foil and heat at 325⁰F for about 10 minutes per pound. You will need to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to assure it reaches 140⁰F.

            If you are interested in learning more about cooking foods safely, contact the Howard County Extension Office at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second floor of the courthouse. You can also go online to the USDA Food and Nutrition site at to learn more about preparing your ham safely.

            Have a Happy Easter!

Recipe of the Week

            Here is a traditional glaze for your ham. Of course, you may choose not to use a glaze, but many people like the taste of this one!

Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Pineapple Glaze

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon prepared mustard

1 (15 ounce) can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved

1 (4 ounce) jar maraschino cherries (optional)

6-8 pound fully cooked, bone-in ham

            Place ham, fat side up, on a rack in shallow roasting pan. Insert meat thermometer (not instant read) through the end of the ham so the tip is in the center of the thickest part of the ham but does not touch the bone or fat.

            Roast 12 to 16 minutes per pound in 325⁰F degree oven or until thermometer reads 160 degrees.

            Remove ham from the oven. Pour drippings from roasting pan. Remove any skin from the ham. Cut top of ham lightly in uniform diamond shapes. Lay pineapple slices and cherries on top of ham. Drizzle half of the glaze on the ham. Roast uncovered about 20 minutes; add remaining glaze and roast 10 minutes more.

            Cover ham with tent of aluminum foil, or roaster lid and let stand 10 minutes before moving to serving plate and carving.

            To make the glaze: In a heavy saucepan, mix brown sugar and cornstarch. Add reserved pineapple juice and prepared mustard; stir well. Bring this mixture to a boil and continue to cook until the mixture has boiled for 1 minute.

By Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Jean Ince
County Extension Agent - Staff Chair
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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