Do You Need to Cook Cooked Ham?

Published Categorized as Food
Do You Need to Cook Cooked Ham?alkiona25 /123RF

Cooked ham doesn’t need to be cooked. But in many cases, it needs to be reheated. Read on for the lowdown.

Do you have to cook cooked ham? Not the question you want to hear from your urologist during an exam, even if he knows you’re a ham pro. Context is everything, you hear me?

No, you don’t need to cook cooked ham. It’s already cooked! That’s like trying to cook a steak that’s already been cooked. It’s a waste of time and heat, and you can eat it cold, straight out of the package. But here’s the thing: this is only true if we’re talking about vacuum-sealed hams packaged in federally inspected plants and canned hams, according to Ask USDA.

Not hams that were repackaged at the store — and definitely not ham that you opened at home and whose leftovers you refrigerated. Since you’ve got no way of ruling out if these haven’t been contaminated with bacteria, you don’t need to cook the ham, but you should reheat it.

Why you should reheat your cooked ham instead of eating it cold:

Unpackaged cooked ham can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria, the kind that can potentially make you sick and give you food poisoning. So, for cooked ham that was repackaged or for leftover cooked ham, the USDA recommends cranking the oven up to at least 325°F (160°C) and reheating the ham to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) measured by a meat thermometer.

How to take that piece of cooked ham to the next level while reheating it:

Alright, are you looking to add some extra flavor and spice things up? Then, my friends, you can do a thing or two in the way you’re reheating that ham that will leave your mouth watering and your taste buds singing. Just don’t forget to invite me over for a taste-test after you give them a try!

One option is to glaze the ham with a mixture of brown sugar, honey, and some apple cider vinegar before popping it in the hot oven. This will give the ham a nice, sweet, and tangy crust.

Another option is to give the ham a dry rub of spices before heating it up. Try a mixture of brown sugar, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper for a smoky, savory, oh-damn-that’s-so-good flavor.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try wrapping the ham in a blanket of bacon before heating it up. Yup, you read that right. Ham wrapped in a blanket of bacon. This adds a delicious bacon flavor and keeps the ham nice and juicy.

But like I said — you don’t have to cook cooked ham. Just heat it up nice and good and enjoy it. It’s already done, no need to overthink it. In the end, whether you’re cooking a ham or just heating it up, remember rule number one in the kitchen: don’t mess with perfection. And a cooked ham, people, is already perfect.

By Dim Nikov

Food writer, Home Cook World editor, and author of Cooking Methods & Techniques: A Crash Course on How to Cook Delicious Food at Home for Beginners. Cooking up a storm for 30 years, and still no sign of a hurricane warning.

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