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14 Ingredients That'll Take Baked Ham To The Next Level

Glazed ham with clove studs
Glazed ham with clove studs - Gmvozd/Getty Images

A baked ham is all you need to elevate any meal. It makes a perfect centerpiece for a dinner party or family gathering that's a bit special. And if you're having a social gathering, then there's nothing like a spiral-cut baked ham to give a buffet table a gourmet feel and offer easy-to-grab slices at the same time.

Before you slam the ham in the oven as it is, you might want to check out some tasty ingredients that'll take baked ham to the next level. You can combine some of these, as well, or use each one in a few different ways. From herby stuffings to sticky glazes and golden crumb crusts there are so many ways you can turn a traditional, retro dish into a modern-day culinary marvel. Spices, autumnal notes, and sweet additions that caramelize beautifully will make for wonderful meals over the festive holidays with loved ones.

Read more: This Is How Spam Is Really Made

Preserves

Brushing sticky glaze on clove-studded ham
Brushing sticky glaze on clove-studded ham - Hayley MacLean/Mashed

You might have enjoyed ham and jelly on toast, no doubt with fruit, yogurt, and coffee, at a hotel continental buffet breakfast. And a fruity chutney goes well with a slice of this salty-tasting meat too. Imagine how good ham tastes when it's baked with preserves — to try it out, make our Easter ham recipe with an orange marmalade glaze. The other ingredients you need are brown sugar, spicy brown mustard, and apple cider vinegar. You'll also need a cross-hatch scored cooked boneless ham studded with cloves.

British TV chef Jamie Oliver likes to poach a bone-in ham before roasting it a little in the oven. After scoring to create a criss-cross, he adds black pepper and literally spoons marmalade onto the ham straight from the jar, then bastes the meat with the juices and marmalade that collect at the bottom of the pan. The creative chef does this with a brush made from a bunch of fresh rosemary. Another British celebrity chef, James Martin, likes to make a spiced marmalade glaze. Covering the ham with the preserve, he adds fruit slices to the baking tray along with cinnamon sticks and star anise. Instead of glazing, you could also make a fruit sauce to pour over the ham by heating orange juice with apple and cherry preserves.

Soda

Uncooke ham and cola
Uncooke ham and cola - Ting Dalton/Mashed

If you've treated yourself to a stovetop Coca-Cola chicken dinner, then you'll know how delicious it is to cook with soda. It gives a dish a sweet flavor that can contrast with the salty, savory taste of ham in a mouthwatering way. To achieve a beautifully brown glazed slow cooker ham, don't use the beverage when the meat is in the oven. Instead, cook it in the slow cooker in the cola first, for five hours, along with veggies, a cinnamon stick, bay leaf, and peppercorns. The sweet, hot, acidic, and spiced honey-mustard glaze creates a tangy kick that's perfect for the cola-cooked ham.

A variation on this is to cook an unsmoked ham joint on the stove in a couple of liters of cola. To stop the liquid from bubbling away, you can add boiling water as needed. Make a spicy glaze for the roasting stage with maple syrup. British chef Nigella Lawson likes to cook a lightly-cured ham in cola with a halved onion on the stove. She recommends boiling it in the soda upside down for an hour for each kilo in weight. The glaze and roasting come later. If you're not a fan of this particular soda, then there's no problem switching it up. You can create a great, unique-tasting glaze with Dr Pepper, for example.

Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb crust baked ham
Breadcrumb crust baked ham - Culinary Hill/YouTube

When it comes to using breadcrumbs to coat a baked ham, there's simply nothing finer. The crunchiness set against the juicy taste of the meat is a culinary no-brainer. They look amazing and a crumbed edge on a slice of homecooked ham is beyond amazing. If you want the outside of the meat to be super-crispy and light then panko is a better choice than regular canned breadcrumbs or homemade ones. Add a glaze and then press the breadcrumbs into this. Create an herby crumb by combining fresh parsley with seasoned panko, and use oil to bind these together. British TV chef Rick Stein suggests using dried breadcrumbs on the outside over a honey and mustard glaze.

If you're baking a spiral-cut ham, then what about stuffing it with breadcrumbs instead of just covering the outside? This way, you can cover more of the meat. Use whatever fresh herbs you like. The aromatic notes of rosemary and thyme are incredible with the saltiness of the ham.  You might create your own signature baked ham by experimenting with different seasonings in your breadcrumbs and glazing ingredients.

Pineapple Juice

Pineapple rings and maraschino cherry baked ham
Pineapple rings and maraschino cherry baked ham - Mackenzie Ryan/Mashed

While some folks find the concept of a ham and pineapple pizza a little strange, there is no denying that it is spectacularly popular. Bacon and bananas are tremendous when paired, and a pub-style gammon steak with a pineapple ring is a classic dish in the United Kingdom. If you don't need any more convincing that fruity and salty flavors are a perfect match, then you might want to go all out with glazed pineapple ham. Heat juice from a can of pineapple rings along with mustard, brown sugar, chicken stock, and some cloves. Add more of the juice and less of the stock for a fruitier glaze. Pin the pineapple rings, along with maraschino cherries, onto the ham with wooden toothpicks and pour the glaze over the top before baking.

If you don't want to decorate your ham with fruit, then simply use a pineapple glaze. Combine the sweetness of pineapple juice, brown sugar, and maple syrup with cinnamon sticks and cloves and heat for 30 minutes. You'll have a gorgeously sticky glaze to make a baked spiral ham. You can always serve pineapple as a garnish.

Whiskey

Cinnamon sticks and sticky baked ham glaze brushing
Cinnamon sticks and sticky baked ham glaze brushing - Petar Marshall/Mashed

One of the best ingredients that'll take baked ham to the next level is a splash or two of liquor. A sumptuously delicious recipe to try is a whiskey glazed ham. Use a smoked ham such as a Black Forest variety that complements the smoky notes of the whiskey and brings out a subtly sweet and briny taste. A dish like this feels special and looks amazing as a centerpiece on any table for the holidays, whether Thanksgiving, Christmas, or the New Year.  The other glazing ingredients, including cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange peel, and brown sugar, enhance the whiskey flavor. It sounds totally Christmassy, for sure. Slice the leftover peeled orange and use it as garnish along with the cinnamon sticks when you serve the ham. A little rosemary adds a warming herbal touch, too.

There are plenty of different types of whiskey and one that goes super-well with baked ham is bourbon. Make a glaze from ground roasted allspice berries, Dijon mustard, and muscovado sugar mixed with the bourbon. You don't have to heat this glaze and can simply add it to the meat for the last half hour of cooking time. To stop a ham from drying out, it's always a good idea to reglaze at least once. Most recipes suggest glazing around every 15 minutes until the ham is done.

Treacle Or Molasses

Spoonful of black treacle and pot
Spoonful of black treacle and pot - Alpaksoy/Getty Images

In the U.S., you're more likely to find molasses, but treacle is the name for a similar product that's popular in the United Kingdom. Whatever you call it, there's no mistaking the thick, black, syrupy goo that's sweet and bitter with a caramel flavor. The taste and the consistency make treacle a perfect choice for a baked ham glaze. The color adds a distinctive border to pink ham and gives each slice gourmet appeal. You might want to make this a festive buffet table tradition. Combine the treacle with English mustard, which cuts through the sweetness with quite a kick, and brighten the glaze with a citrusy orange peel and juice punch.

Nigella Lawson suggests giving ham a double dose of treacle. She pours the gloopy mixture straight onto a boneless ham and bakes it in the oven in a foil tent. Once it's cooked, she removes the skin, makes cuts in the fat at opposite angles, and studs each diamond point with cloves. She glazes the ham with a mixture of treacle, Dijon mustard, and demerara sugar, and uses the juices from the ham to spoon over the treacle-trimmed slices to add extra juiciness.

Gochujang

Spicy paste on baked ham
Spicy paste on baked ham - Chop Happy/YouTube

If you're into Korean cooking then chances are that you've come across the fermented chili paste gochujang. It's definitely got some heat, and some brands more than others. However, it also brings a spicy sweetness to dishes. It might not come to mind when you are thinking of traditional U.S. fare like holiday ham. But given that mustard is a common ingredient in a ham glaze, then gochujang, an ingredient with similar pungent qualities, is definitely a fit, especially with honey added to the mix.

Combine honey and the fermented chili paste with some soda. Cola is great with this, but you can use a lemon-lime beverage too. The already-cooked ham needs to be warm and scored across the top before you add the glaze. A great combination is gochujang and ginger beer. Add the bubbly beverage to the roasting pan along with soy sauce to give the Asian flavors a boost. Or, what about making a glaze with the paste mixed with lime juice, fish sauce, and maple syrup? Ingredients like this create a flavorful culinary twist that's truly different.

Cider

Baked ham with glaze ingredients
Baked ham with glaze ingredients - Candice Bell/Shutterstock

There are some fantastically warming cider recipes you'll want to try out this fall. Another dish to add to this repertoire is cider-baked ham. And since a spiced cider is lovely to drink, it figures that a spiced cider ham is going to be sensational. Start by heating up a cooked ham wrapped in foil on a rack in a tray with cider and water in the bottom. Use the liquid to baste the meat. For the glaze, mix cider with pumpkin spice, maple syrup, mustard, brown sugar, black pepper, and vinegar. You want to let this concoction reduce, so let it simmer. Apply the glaze twice to build it up and get that sweet, spiced, and fruity baked-on deliciousness. Don't discard whatever juices and glaze are in your roasting tray either. Add a drizzle of this to ham slices when you serve it. You might enjoy this with a glass of mulled cider.

A variation on a theme is to combine cider with apple juice and add this to the tray with your ham. In terms of what to actually put on the meat, what about a French Calvados apple brandy-based glaze? This is definitely one to try for a celebratory meal and has festive culinary vibes all over it.

Gingersnaps

Crumbling gingersnap cookie
Crumbling gingersnap cookie - Benimage/Getty Images

One of the ways to bake perfect pies without shortcrust pastry is with a cookie crumb. Breaking up Oreo cookies to make a dessert pie base is a great idea. But what about savory dishes, like baked ham? A chocolate crumb and ham may not be an obvious culinary match, gingersnaps are another story. Ginger is a great autumnal ingredient that gives food and drinks a lovely spiced warmth. When you think about it, gingersnap cookies are up there on the list of ingredients that'll take baked ham to the next level. Break up the cookies and mix them with brown sugar. To stick the crumbs to the ham, you'll need to brush on an undercoat. Continue the sweet heat taste by mixing apricot preserve with mustard and spices.

Instead of mixing up glazes, undercoats, and crumbs, you can also keep it simple but powerful. When your ham is heated up, brush on whole-grain mustard, which isn't as potent as English mustard. Add brown sugar, splash on some smoky bourbon, and coat with gingersnap crumbs. What a difference this makes. You're getting depth of flavor and crunchiness along the edge of your succulent slices of ham. An easy way to apply the liquor is to put it in a spray bottle and mist it over the ham.

Guinness

Baked ham and can of Guinness
Baked ham and can of Guinness - KitchAnnette/YouTube

When the festive season is on the horizon, there's a universal appetite for comfort food. And a baked ham cooked with a can of Guinness is just that. This Irish-brewed stout is treacly with bitter notes and adds deep notes to a dish. Baked ham can taste fresh and herbaceous for spring, but darken those notes for the cold weather and you have a spectacular next-level dish. To bring out some sweetness, you can combine the brew with brown sugar. And to make the ham taste like Christmas, you definitely need a few cloves in that mix.

You could always try and source Irish ham if you're using Guinness in the recipe. It might be an option if you want to reduce the saltiness. Stir canned Guinness, which is different from the bottled kind, in a pan with light brown sugar. Simmer the sugary stout with the ham. When it comes to roasting the meat, baste the ham with the liquid. If you think that's the end of it, it isn't. In a skillet, heat the juices and glaze that's dripped down in the pan and brush this on when you serve the ham, reserving some so that it can be poured on the slices.

Apples

Cooked bone-in ham with apples and grapes
Cooked bone-in ham with apples and grapes - Mphillips007/Getty Images

A spiral-cut baked ham is easy to work with if you plan to stuff it, and a smoked one is so great with apples. Use crisp apples and add slices of the fruit between the ham slices. Brush on a honey and mustard glaze that will drip down and cover the meat and apple. As well as infusing the ham with a tangy taste, the apples will make sure it doesn't dry out. You don't have to add the fruit between every cut either if you think it'll be too much. And make sure the fruit slices aren't too thick as you want them to soften during cooking and not overpower the ham.

To elevate this dish even further, why not spice up the glaze with cinnamon and cardamon? You can also give it a savory taste with garlic and onion powder. Make sure you cover not only the top of the ham with the glaze but also between the slices. Don't cover the ham with foil for the entire cooking time if you really want it to brown and crisp up. Add more of the glaze when you take the foil away.

Herbs

Thick ham slices with fresh rosemary
Thick ham slices with fresh rosemary - Igor Normann/Shutterstock

Blitz fresh rosemary and oregano in a food processor with olive oil and garlic to create an herby flavor bomb for your baked ham. Push rosemary sprigs into the ham at diamond cut points. Add bay leaves and rosemary to the roasting pan so they enrich the gravy. To elevate the ham in the pan, without a rack, use thick slices of onion. Using a mixture of fresh and dried herbs works, too. The dried herbs are already in quite small pieces, so if you want to create this crust by hand, just chop the fresh herbs to match.

If you are looking for an aromatic selection, try rosemary, thyme, and tarragon with dried lavender. A great way to enjoy an herby-tasting baked ham is by creating a crust with breadcrumbs. Simply mix whatever herbs you're using with breadcrumbs or panko. Cover the surface and push between slices if you're baking a spiral-cut ham.

Maple Syrup

Caramelized spiral-cut baked ham
Caramelized spiral-cut baked ham - Paul Brian Kiser/Shutterstock

Honey and mustard are a classic combination for glazes and marinades because the sweet kick they give meat is divine. You can make that taste even richer and smokier by using maple syrup instead. To make the glaze, heat this fantastic ingredient that will take your baked ham to the next level with butter, brown sugar, and Dijon mustard. Spice it up with ground cinnamon and cloves. If you want to really char up the outside, you can always pop the ham under the broiler. Meanwhile, during the roasting time add pineapple juice in the bottom of the pan to complement the glaze and keep the meat from drying out.

A great idea that gives the meat a citrus burst and enhances the festive flavors is squeezing the juice of a fresh orange over the ham. Do this before adding a spiced maple glaze. Don't forget to use the juices as a sauce when you serve the slices of ham.

Truffle

Truffle and slice of truffle ham
Truffle and slice of truffle ham - Dar1930/Shutterstock

There probably exists a food that truffles don't taste incredible on top of, but baked ham isn't one of them. Truffles are one of the most luxurious ingredients that'll take baked ham to the next level. You don't have to source fresh truffles either. One of the simplest ways to add some umami love to a baked ham is by creating a white truffle honey and mustard glaze. You can add cider vinegar to create a tangy note or add brown sugar to black truffle honey and mustard.

Can't get enough of the taste of truffles? What about using truffle-infused mustard as well? Combine white truffle honey and black truffle mustard for a pure hit of savory fungus flavor. Another gourmet glaze can be made by mixing together black truffle mustard with maple syrup, cloves, and freshly squeezed orange juice. Serve with flakes of black truffle sea salt. It's perfect for a special meal to remember.

Read the original article on Mashed.