Sliced bourbon glazed ham in a roasting pan with fresh cranberries and orange slices.

Ham is one of the easiest main dishes you can make for the holidays—if you can warm up a frozen pizza in the oven, you can cook a perfect ham for Christmas!

Our Christmas ham recipe is slathered with a mouthwatering orange-bourbon glaze that elevates this classic dish to something truly special. We’ll step you through the entire process for rocking this bourbon glazed ham recipe. Let’s get cooking!

Slice of ham held up on a fork close up.

What do I need to make this Christmas ham?

This traditional ham recipe is as simple as it is delicious. The secret to this delicious holiday ham is our sweet and savory glaze. You only need a handful of ingredients to get this ham going!

  • Bourbon. Adds a complex flavor to your glaze with sweet hints of vanilla and caramel.
  • Orange marmalade. Gives your Christmas ham glaze a citrus punch to balance out the sweetness of the maple syrup and bourbon.
  • Maple syrup. Serves as the primary source of sweetness in your bourbon glazed ham.
  • Dijon mustard
  • Black pepper. Gives the ham a little kick of spice!
  • Optional: Orange slices, cranberries, and rosemary for a festive garnish. And of course…
  • Ham. This recipe calls for a bone-in, smoked, and fully cooked ham. Got ham questions? Don’t worry—we’ve got the answers below!

Overhead of whole, glazed ham in a roasting pan with fresh rosemary sprigs, orange slices, and cranberries.

Let’s talk bourbon…

What kind of bourbon should I use?

You can use any type of bourbon that you want, although we will say this isn’t the place to use your highest quality stuff. Save that for sipping, and instead use a medium-quality bourbon here. Trust us, you won’t taste the difference!

Is there a substitute for bourbon?

Bourbon is one of the most complex tasting alcohols. So many factors play into what type of flavor profile it’ll end up with, and this can make it difficult to swap out in a recipe. Thankfully, ham pairs well with other alcohols, including brandy, rum, whiskey, and dark beer. These can be substituted equally for bourbon to lend a similar sweetness to your Christmas ham glaze.

What if I don’t want to use alcohol? Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for bourbon?

No worries if you aren’t into this bourbon glazed ham! Just check out our Honey-Glazed Ham recipe instead, which is alcohol-free.

Close view of basting ham with bourbon glaze.

Let’s talk ham…

Does my ham have to be pre-cooked?

Almost all hams that you buy in the grocery store are pre-cooked. A baked ham takes less time to prepare and cook since the hard work has already been done for you. All you’re really doing with a pre-cooked smoked ham is heating it up and allowing the flavors of your bourbon glaze to sink in for the best holiday ham.

If you happen to get your hands on a fresh ham (typically you would get this directly from a farmer), this recipe isn’t the recipe for that cut of meat.

Wholefully Protip

Bring your ham out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter at room temperature for one to two hours before you begin cooking. This will allow your ham to cook more evenly when placed in the oven, resulting in a juicy ham throughout with no dry bits.

Can I use a boneless ham instead?

I’d recommend sticking with a bone-in ham in this recipe. You can’t beat the delicious flavor the bone adds when cooking your dish. It helps retain moisture, leaving you with a mouth-wateringly moist Christmas ham! The bone is also great for adding flavor to soups and other dishes long after your bourbon glazed ham has been gobbled up.

However, if you’re looking for an easy and delicious recipe for boneless ham, you’ll love my slow cooker honey-glazed ham.

Top view of bourbon glazed Christmas ham with fresh rosemary sprigs, orange slices, and cranberries.

Do I need a spiral ham?

You don’t need one, but it can be helpful! Spiral cut hams allow for easier cutting, especially when you have a bone-in ham. The other benefit to a spiral sliced ham is that it offers spaces for your glaze to slide into, allowing the glaze’s flavors to infuse your whole ham.

In this Christmas ham recipe, you score the outside of your ham, which accomplishes the same thing. Spiral sliced hams tend to be more expensive, so it all comes down to personal preference. Both types of ham will work in this recipe.

Wholefully Protip

If you do choose to use a spiral ham, reduce the cooking time slightly to keep the ham slices from dying out.

How large of a ham will I need?

As a rule of thumb, you’ll need approximately ¾ of a pound of bone-in ham for every person you’ll be serving. So for a smaller, more intimate gathering, you could get away with a ham that’s only five pounds and still feed six people comfortably. If you’re planning a larger get-together—say 12 guests— you should aim for a ham that’s roughly nine pounds.

What do I do with the ham bone?

Don’t throw out that bone! It can be used to add flavor to a variety of recipes. If you can’t use it right away, just toss it in your freezer until you’re ready to cook with it. You can then use it in soups, stews, and ham and bean soup to bring a smoky ham flavor to your dishes.

Carving finished ham in roasting pan.

What should I serve with my Christmas ham?

I wrote a whole post that’s jam-packed with Christmas dinner ideas. It has everything from vegan dishes to appetizers to sides. There are tons of delicious options in that post that will pair well with your Christmas ham main dish. In fact, you’re bound to find enough tasty ideas for multiple holiday dinners!

How do I properly store my ham?

After purchasing your ham from the store, you can safely store a whole ham in the fridge for as long as listed in the “best by” date on the packaging. Make sure you keep it in the original packaging.

After cooking, place your leftover ham in an airtight container in the fridge. It should be eaten within five days, which shouldn’t be a problem, since this is the best Christmas ham recipe you’re going to find!

Sliced Christmas ham with bourbon glaze dripping down, nestled in fresh cranberries and orange slices.

Can my Christmas ham leftovers be frozen?

Yes! You can freeze your ham leftovers for one to two months and still have flavorful, moist ham. After that, it will still be safe to eat, but the quality may decline. To prevent freezer burn, make sure that your ham leftovers are stored in airtight freezer-safe containers.

Sliced bourbon glazed ham in a roasting pan with fresh cranberries and orange slices.

Orange Bourbon Glazed Christmas Ham

Yield: 8-12 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes

This glazed Christmas ham is sweet, spicy, and packed with warming flavor for the holidays. The whole family will be asking for seconds.


  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 3/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1, 5-10 pound bone-in, smoked, fully-cooked ham
  • Cranberries, orange slices, and rosemary, for garnish


  1. Move oven rack to lower portion of the oven so you can fit the ham. Preheat oven to 325°F. 
  2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the bourbon, orange marmalade, maple syrup, Dijon, and black pepper until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Remove ham from package and place in a roasting pan, flat side down.
  4. Using a sharp knife, score the ham using a criss-cross pattern throughout the fatty layer on top of the ham. Go in about 1/2" to 1”.
  5. Brush all over the top of the ham with 1/3 of the prepared glaze.
  6. Cover ham loosely with aluminum foil (this prevents the ham from drying out), and then bake in the oven for about 2 hours—the ham is fully cooked, so you’re just looking to warm the ham through. An instant read thermometer should read around 125°F in the middle when it’s warm enough to serve.
  7. Remove ham from the oven and remove the foil. Preheat broiler, or if your broiler is too small to fit the ham, increase oven temperature to 500°F. Brush the ham all over with 1/3 of the prepared glaze. 
  8. Place the ham under the broiler (or in the hot oven) for 2-3 minutes to brown and caramelize the sweet glaze on top. Watch carefully to make sure the glaze turns brown, and doesn’t burn. 
  9. Remove the ham from the oven, cover it back up with the foil, and let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. 
  10. Just before carving, brush ham with the remaining 1/3 of the glaze. Slice into your desired thickness and serve. If you prefer, you can plate the entire ham on a platter and garnish with cranberries, orange slices, and rosemary, and then carve at the table.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 620mgCarbohydrates: 25gFiber: 1gSugar: 21gProtein: 11g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *