Crock-Pot ham simmers in maple syrup and brown sugar sauce for an easy and flavorful meal made in the slow cooker. Once the meat is ready, the sauce is reduced to a thick and syrupy glaze to brush on top. Perfect for holiday gatherings!
A holiday ham is an essential main course for special occasions. Using the slow cooker method frees up time because all that’s needed is to mix, add to the pot, and simmer. Plus there’s a bonus- there’s no need to share oven space while other parts of your feast are being prepared. In fact, this recipe is so easy, you don’t have to wait for a celebration to enjoy.
The beauty of preparing Crock-Pot ham is that the meat is already pre-cooked. The key is to gently reheat it so that the texture stays tender while infusing a boost of sweet spices. A mixture of maple syrup, brown sugar, pineapple juice, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves creates a candied sauce that is later reduced to a syrupy glaze.
How to cook ham in a Crock-Pot
- Combine maple syrup, pineapple juice, brown sugar, mustard, and spices.
- Add ham and sauce to the slow cooker.
- Cook on “Low” setting for 3 to 4 hours.
- Rest ham for 15 minutes.
- Add sauce left in the slow cooker to a medium saute pan.
- Simmer and reduce the sauce over medium-high until thickened.
- Brush the glaze over the ham two times.
- Cut the ham into ¼-inch thick slices and serve warm.
What type of ham do you purchase for slow cooking?
A cured, uncured, or smoked ham can be used in a Crock Pot. The grocery store also provides the choice of unsliced boneless ham or spiral cut ham that is bone-in, which is the least processed. Avoid water-added ham as the flavor is greatly diluted. It’s really up to you for the presentation.
I use a 5-pound uncured boneless ham that fits perfectly in my 6-quart sized Crock-Pot. I like that it’s really easy to cut, but the only downside is the sauce doesn’t seep into the meat like it would when pre-sliced. That’s okay, I brush a little extra glaze on right before serving.
How much ham do you buy per person?
It can be a little unpredictable how much each person might eat. To be on the safe side you can use this formula for feeding guests at a holiday dinner:
- Boneless ham: ½ pound
- Bone-in ham: ¾ to 1 pound
This is a good estimate if the ham is the main entree. With a 5-pound boneless ham, I was able to get 20, ¼-inch thick hearty slices. This would feed 8 to 10 people if they have 2 slices each. For a bone-in ham, you would then need between a 6 ¼ to 7 ½ pound ham.
What other ingredients do you add to the ham as it cooks?
To warm the ham in the slow cooker and keep it moist, a spiced maple sauce is added. Maple syrup and brown sugar give a deep molasses flavor. Some pineapple juice and Dijon mustard add some tartness to balance the sweeteners.
A combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves adds that cozy Christmas aroma and punch of flavor to the glaze. I figure no more salt is necessary because some will infuse into the liquid from the ham as it simmers. For a spicier taste, some freshly cracked black pepper or ginger (fresh or ground) are great additions.
How long do you cook ham in a Crock-Pot?
The ham is ready when it reaches an internal temperature between 135 to 140ºF (57 to 60ºC). Remember, the goal is to rewarm and not overcook. For a 5-pound boneless ham, it will take 3 ½ hours on “Low” heat in the slow cooker. Spiral cut or larger cuts may need an additional 1 to 2 hours depending on the size.
Sometimes it takes longer for the bone inside the ham to heat, and the surrounding protein. The best indicator for doneness is using an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature every 30 minutes after the minimum recommended cook time. Transfer the meat to a cutting board and allow to rest as you make the glaze.
How do you make a glaze for the ham?
The flavorful sauce that remains at the bottom of the vessel is sweet, savory, and full of spices. Don’t let it go to waste! Simply reduce the sauce by boiling off excess moisture. This concentrates the sugar solids, creating a luscious, and sticky glaze.
Apply the glaze with a basting brush over the ham and it will cling to the surface, creating a mouth-watering crust. Serve the extra glaze warm on the side. I made sure to have extra for you because it’s so good.
What do you serve with the ham?
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If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #jessicagavin on Instagram. I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Why you should rest the ham before slicing
After hours of reheating in the slow cooker, resting meat gives the muscle proteins a moment to relax and hold on to more moisture before carving. There is also carryover cooking that happens that ensures the meat is warmed to the center without risking overcooking.
- 5 pounds ham, (2.25kg) fully cooked, boneless or spiral cut
- 1 cup pure maple syrup, (240ml)
- 1 cup pineapple juice, (240ml)
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar, (40g, 1 ¼ ounce)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, (30ml)
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon cloves, optional
- Whisk together maple syrup, pineapple juice, brown sugar, mustard, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium-sized bowl.
- Pour half of the sauce mixture into a 6-quart slow cooker.
- Place ham cut side down in the slow cooker.
- Pour the rest of the sauce over the ham. For spiralized ham place slices facing up.
- Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on “Low” setting, or until the internal temperature of the ham reaches between 135 to 140ºF (57 to 60ºC). Cook time will depend on the size of the ham.
- Transfer ham to a cutting board, cover with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- Add the juices and sauce at the bottom of the slow cooker to a medium-sized saute pan. Cook over medium-high heat so that the sauce bubbles. Stir occasionally, until the mixture thickens, and reduced to 1 cup, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Brush some of the glaze over the round side of the ham. Allow glaze to set for 5 minutes, then brush another layer of glaze on the top.
- Cut the ham into 1/4-inch thick slices.
- Serve the ham with warm glaze on the side.
- Brown sugar can be substituted for more maple syrup, honey, orange marmalade, or apple jelly.
- Spiral cut ham can be used instead of whole boneless ham.
- For larger ham roasts, increase cooking time to about 4 to 5 hours for a 7 to 10-pound cut. If the ham does not fit into the slow cooker trim off the sides.
- For a 6-quart slow cooker, about a 5 to 7-pound ham works best.
- How much ham is needed per person: ½ pound ham for boneless, ¾ to 1 pound for bone-in. For 10 guests, you would need a 5-pound boneless ham, or around 10-pound bone-in ham.
- 1 Serving: 1/2 pound ham
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