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Ham- A Dinner Favorite at Easter

Tips on choosing and cooking that perfect Easter ham.

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 a 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 pounds per serving. Your bone-in hams will yield one-third to one-half pounds 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 165⁰F. “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 145⁰F.

            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 to learn more about preparing your ham safely at

            Have a Happy Easter!

Recipe of the Week

            Looking for a new recipe this Easter. Try this one from 4-H member, Sarah Lamb. She placed 1st in the recent Dairy Foods Contest with this delicious salad recipe! It is a beautiful salad that uses lots of fresh fruit and dairy products!

  • 6 cups mixed berries – diced strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

  • ½ cup + 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar

  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract

  • ¼ cup heavy cream

  • 8 oz. Greek yogurt

  • Additional berries and mint sprigs for garnish

  1. Place the cream cheese in a medium bowl and beat with a mixer until completely smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and heavy cream and continue to beat until smooth.
  4. Gently fold in the yogurt into the cream cheese mixture.
  5. Place the berries in a large bowl and pour the cheesecake mixture over the top.
  6. Stir gently until the berries are coated in the cheesecake mixture.
  7. Garnish with berries and mint and serve.


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


The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

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