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If you need your oven for other purposes, our Crockpot Ham is here to save the day. After a lot of testing and research, we found the best way to slow cook a spiral ham and how to avoid a dried-out piece of pork. Serve with our 5-ingredient Pineapple Sauce or Cranberry Orange Sauce for an impressive yet easy meal for a crowd.
Disclaimer: This post was created in partnership with Hy-Vee (Columbia).
About This Recipe
The crockpot and I have gotten well acquainted over the years thanks to all the testing we did for our cookbook, From Freezer to Cooker. Two things Polly and I quickly learned was that every slow cooker is a little different–some run hotter than others–and most of us overcook foods like ham and chicken in the slow cooker.
Armed with that knowledge, I did a lot of research and testing of this spiral-sliced ham recipe. I’ll help you cook your ham in the crockpot in a way that it will turn out moist and tasty!
The good news is that you won’t need many ingredients (hurray!), making this an awesome recipe for hosting a crowd.
- 1 (7-8 pound) spiral-sliced, bone-in half ham* – You’re looking for a fully-cooked ham (nearly all are in the grocery store) so that you can simply warm it to a safe eating temp in the slow cooker. We highly recommend getting a bone-in ham, as the bone adds flavor and helps keep it moist. If you can’t find a ham that is 7-8 pounds, we have a hack to help you still cook it in your crockpot even if it doesn’t fully fit with the lid on. Read on.
- Water – This is key to keeping the ham moist while it slow cooks.
- Optional: Pineapple Sauce or Cranberry Orange Sauce – Depending on the season, either of these easy-to-make sauces works well to serve on the side or use as a glaze to add a little extra flavor to the outside of the ham. See the recipe below for tips.
*The hams I tested had a brining solution in them that included salt and sugar like most store-bought hams do. So, I did not add any additional seasoning.
What Kind of Ham Should I Buy?
For this recipe, look for a ham that has all three of these attributes:
- Be sure to get a fully-cooked ham not a raw ham. A raw ham will take much longer to cook.
- I developed this recipe specifically for a spiral-sliced ham, so it’s easy to pull slices off at the end. However, an unsliced ham may maintain moisture better but will likely take longer to cook.
- Lastly, definitely go for a bone-in ham vs. boneless. The bone keeps the ham moist and adds flavor. A boneless ham is more processed and can have an unappealing texture, in my opinion.
Where to Get Your Ingredients
We suggest grabbing these ingredients at your local Hy-Vee since they are well-stocked year-round. I found several ham options in January when testing this recipe, which I was pleased about.
If making a big holiday feast sounds like too much, order one of Hy-Vee’s catered meals to pick up. They have meal deals specifically for Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and much more.
- 6-7 Quart Oval Slow Cooker – A large, oval-sized crockpot is necessary for slow-cooking a large ham like this. But, we have a tip in case your ham ends up being too big. Read on.
- Meat thermometer – This is an essential tool for not overcooking and drying out your ham.
- Large wooden cutting board – To use as a carving board.
- Carving knife and fork – For slicing off pieces of ham to place on the platter.
- Saucepan – To make the 5-minute Pineapple Sauce or Cranberry Orange Sauce.
- Gravy boat – Or a serving bowl with small ladle for the optional sauce.
How to Cook a Spiral Ham in a Crockpot
I tested slow-cooking a spiral-sliced ham (vs. a whole ham) in the crockpot to make it easier to carve at the end. But, here’s what I found out over multiple tests. Spiral ham can dry out fast in the crockpot! Be sure to use our recipe and tips to get it right.
Slow Cook the Ham
Place ham cut-side down into slow cooker.
Add water, cover, and cook on LOW until ham registers 135°F in most spots. It will cook slightly unevenly, so you can turn the ham on its side halfway through the cook time (if it will fit another direction). This may help it cook more evenly.
What if My Ham Won’t Fit in the Crockpot?
First, try to cut off any uneven spots on the top or bottom to see if it will fit.
If your ham is still too big and the lid won’t fit on your crockpot, cover the top of the slow cooker insert tightly with heavy duty foil. Make sure it’s sealed tightly. This works!
Depending on the size of your crockpot and ham, it will take anywhere from 2 1/2 hours to 3 1/2 hours on low. Start checking the internal temp at 2 1/2 hours every 10-15 minutes.
Let It Rest
Use two forks or tongs to transfer ham cut-side down to a wooden cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. While it rests, make the optional Pineapple Sauce or Cranberry Orange Sauce, if desired. See the recipe below for how to apply either sauce as a glaze to the top.
Carve and Serve
Cut off slices and lay them out on a serving platter. Serve with one of the optional sauces on the side.
Tip: Be sure to save your ham bone to use in our Leftover Ham and Nine Bean Soup!
How to Cut a Spiral Ham
Slide a thin bladed knife around the center ham bone to release the slices. Make a knife cut starting at the center bone and cut towards the outer surface of the ham allowing slices to fall away. Remove chunks of ham, slice, and lay out on serving platter.
Can You Freeze Ham?
Uncooked or fully-cooked ham can be frozen. Be sure the ham is fully cooled, then wrap tightly with multiple layers of plastic wrap and/or foil or place slices in a freezer bag. Squeeze out any excess air. Freeze for up to 3 months for optimal taste and texture or up to 6-9 months in a deep freezer.
Cook your ham until it reaches 135°F internally. Then, let it rest for 10 minutes so it rises another 5 degrees. For a 7-10 pound bone-in, spiral-sliced ham, slow cook on low for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours.
Uncooked ham should be cooked or frozen according to the package expiration date. Leftover fully-cooked ham should be consumed or frozen within 3-4 days.
According to the USDA, ham must register at least 140°F to be safe to eat. We suggest removing it from the slow cooker at 135°F because the temperature will rise at least 5 more degrees while it rests. This will help prevent overcooking and drying out the ham.
According to the USDA, “When buying a ham, estimate the size needed according to the number of servings the type of ham should yield:
1/4 – 1/3 lb. per serving of boneless ham.
1/3 – 1/2 lb. per serving of bone-in ham.”
I personally hate to run out of food and would probably err on the side of buying too much per person.
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Make It Now:
- Slow Cook the Ham: Place ham cut side down into slow cooker. Add 1 cup water, cover, and cook on LOW until ham registers 135°F, about 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 hours. Note: Every crock pot is different, so start checking internal temp at 2 hours and then check every 15-20 minutes. It’s imperative to not overcook the ham.
- Let It Rest: Use two forks or tongs to transfer ham cut-side down to a wooden cutting board, cover with foil, and let rest for 10-20 minutes. While it rests, make the Pineapple Sauce or Cranberry Orange Sauce (see cooking notes for how to use as a glaze), if desired.
- Carve and Serve: Slide a thin-bladed knife around the center ham bone to release the slices. Make a knife cut starting at the center bone and cut towards the outer surface of the ham allowing slices to fall away. Remove chunks of ham, slice, and lay them out on a serving platter. Serve with the Pineapple Sauce or Cranberry Orange Sauce on the side.
Freeze For Later: You can freeze leftovers of this recipe for sandwiches or to use in other recipes. Once the ham has been fully cooked, cooled, and sliced off the bone, place the slices in a freezer bag. Pour any leftover sauce in another freezer bag. Squeeze out excess air and freeze together.
Prepare From Frozen: Thaw the ham and sauce completely in the refrigerator or using the cold water method. Enjoy it cold or warm slightly in the oven or microwave, being very careful not to overcook it.
- About the Ham: The hams I tested had a brining solution in them that included salt and sugar, like most store-bought hams do. So I did not add any extra seasoning. For this recipe, buy a ham that is fully cooked (raw will take way longer), is spiral-sliced (so it’s easy to pull slices off), and has a bone in (better texture and stays moister).
- What to Do If Ham Won’t Fit: A ham bigger than 9 lbs will likely not fit in a 6-quart slow cooker. If yours doesn’t fit in the crock pot, try to cut off any uneven spots on the top or bottom to see if it will fit. If your ham is still too big and the lid won’t fit on your crockpot, cover the top of the slow cooker insert tightly with heavy-duty foil. Make sure it’s sealed tightly. This works!
- Adding a Glaze: With a little extra work, the Cranberry Orange Sauce or Pineapple Sauce can work as a glaze over the top of the ham (although this step isn’t necessary). Place the slow-cooked ham on a foil-lined rimmed sheet pan, cut side down. Brush the sauce all over the outside of ham. Broil it for a few minutes, rotating it around for even browning and adding more glaze if you want. Serve the extra sauce on the side.
- What to Do With the Bone: Be sure to save your ham bone to use in our Leftover Ham and Nine Bean Soup.
Photography by Whitney Reist of Sweet Cayenne.