When you think of the holiday season or gathering with friends, the first protein choice that comes to mind is poultry. Turkey and chicken have long been staples for gathering around, but many people prefer ham.
Ham has more options for glazes and marinades, and it is often more versatile as a leftover. You can make ham sandwiches, ham salad, or even use the ham chunks for stock in a soup.
When you want to join in on the Ham Bandwagon, you might be thinking you have to own an oven to create a dish with ham. That is not the case. There are many ways to cook a ham when you don’t own an oven.
If you’re the chef for a family occasion, it’s likely that you own an oven, but it’s already occupied cooking side dishes such as dressing or candied yams. Don’t fret. You can utilize other household appliances to cook your ham.
1 – Slow Cooker
Tabletop slow cookers are often referred to as crock pots. Crock pots cook food in a way that is similar to a pot on the stove. The vessel is heated from below, and the heat transfers to the sides of the cooking container.
When set on low heat, a slow cooker can get as hot as 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This low and slow cooking is why these incredible pieces of cookery are called slow cookers.
How do you cook ham in a crockpot? Since the crockpot has a limited amount of space, you’ll need to select a ham that is under 10 pounds. You can even write down the dimensions of your crockpot and bring measuring tape to the grocery store if you’re really worried about it fitting.
If the ham you purchased is too large for the slow cooker, you can simply trim it down and use the trimmings elsewhere.
This recipe uses a sweet but sticky glaze. If you want to minimize your cleaning after dinner, you can purchase crockpot liners, or you can spray the inside of the cooker with the cooking spray of your choice.
Place your ham cut side down in the crockpot. Rub one cup of brown sugar all over the ham.
Then pour in one cup of pure maple syrup. If you use artificially flavored pancake syrup, the maple flavoring will cook off, leaving you with a sticky solution that does not taste like maple.
After that, you’ll pour in one cup of pineapple juice. You can purchase pineapple juice by itself, or you can use the liquid from a can of pineapple rings.
Place the lid on your slow cooker and turn the heat to low. Leave the ham in the crockpot for three to four hours. At the three-hour mark, you can take the lid off and use your meat thermometer to see if the ham is completely cooked. The safe temperature for pork products is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once your ham has reached a temperature of 145, you can either dissect it in the crockpot, or you can pull it out and place it on a serving platter to be carved.
You can reserve the leftover glaze and pour it over the sliced ham for added flavor, or you can save it to use in another recipe.
2 – Barbecue Pit
Some people are drawn to barbecue pits more than their ovens. This is especially true in rural areas or in the Southern United States where barbecue is not only a form of cooking, it’s an entire culture.
A barbecue’s heat convection is similar to that of a crockpot. Heat is created at the base of the vessel, and it swirls around the rest of the container until it creates a nice toasty blanket for whatever food is placed within it. Barbecues can be gas powered or require charcoal.
Barbecued ham is best accomplished with a butt or a ham with shank. The butt doesn’t come from the rear of a pig, it’s actually the section of meat directly behind the head, found just before the ribs.
The shank ham is a ham with a portion of leg meat still attached. Most spiral cut hams nix this leg portion, but it makes for easier maneuvering once you’ve got your meat on a hot grate.
To prepare your ham for barbecuing, you’ll want to score it in a diamond hatch pattern. Basically, you’ll be making shallow criss-cross cuts on the surface of the ham. These cuts will allow the rub to penetrate the fat layer and get into the meat.
Once your ham is all roughed up, rub about half of a cup of yellow mustard all over the ham. Some people like to measure out their mustard for this portion, but you can also just squirt it all over the ham and then rub it in.
You can opt for Dijon mustard if you want a slight kick to your glaze. Make sure you’re getting the mustard into the valleys of fat where you made the scoring marks.
Now, you’ll repeat the same rubbing technique with about a half of a cup of brown sugar. Again, you can just skip the measuring and sprinkle brown sugar all over the ham, but you do need to rub it into the nooks and crannies of the ham.
With the ham properly coated in brown sugar and mustard, you’ll need to wrap it before placing it on the grill, which should be heated to 300 degrees. Place the ham on the grill, and close the lid. The ham will remain on the grill for two hours.
Once the two-hour mark is up, you need to take the ham off of the grill and increase the temperature of your flames to 400 degrees.
Unwrap your ham and grab your favorite barbecue sauce and a basting brush.
When the pit reaches the 400-degree mark, you’ll place the ham fat side down on the grill. On the other three sides of the ham, apply barbecue sauce. Close the pit and leave the ham untouched for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, you will rotate the ham and reapply the barbecue sauce to the visible three sides of the ham. Repeat this process for an hour.
When an hour’s worth of basting is complete, your ham is ready for carving. You may need to trim any burnt bits off of the ham, but the meat below that should be tender, juicy, and delectable.
3 – Pressure Cooker
The pressure cooker was invented in the 1600’s, but it didn’t gain much popularity until the 21st century. It took many years for manufacturers to make this form of cooking safe for everyday use.
Pressure cookers are sealed containers that are heated up. With the seal in place, the steam that would normally evaporate from food is trapped inside. This increases pressure in the vessel and speeds up cooking time by a considerable margin.
Stovetop pressure cookers have been around for decades, but recently there has been a hybrid model of pressure cookers that can function as a pressure cooker as well as a slow cooker.
This hybrid has brought the convenience of pressure cooking to many home chefs. If you have one of these countertop pressure cookers, you don’t need an oven to bake a ham.
Your chosen ham’s weight should correlate with the capacity of the pressure cooker. For a six quart cooker, your ham should be six pounds or less. For an eight quart cooker, don’t go over eight pounds.
Every pressure cooker is different, so the shape of your cooker may influence your ham choice as well. Keep the cooker’s vessel size and shape in mind when you’re at the grocery store.
This recipe’s glaze for the ham is composed of three-fourths of a cup of honey, three-fourths of a cup of brown sugar, three-fourths of a cup of pineapple juice, one tablespoon of whole cloves, and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar.
Mix these ingredients in a bowl and set them aside.
Some pressure cookers have a steam rack built in, while others have detachable ones that allow you versatility with your cooking. For this recipe, you’ll want the steam rack in place.
Place your ham on the steam rack, and drizzle the glaze over it. You want to cover the ham completely, but don’t worry if the glaze drips off. The steam from the glaze will circulate in the cooker and infuse the ham with even more flavor.
Optionally, you can top your ham with pineapple slices or bits of crushed pineapple.
Seal your pressure cooker and cook on high heat, high pressure for seven minutes. When the timer is up, quickly release the pressure in the cooker. Once the pressure has equalized, you can take the top off of your pressure cooker and revel in your creation.
The result after seven minutes is tender, succulent ham that will fall apart. If you like your ham a bit crispy, and you have a combination pressure cooker/air fryer, you can drain the liquid from the bottom of the cooker and air fry the ham for three minutes at 400 degrees. The result then is juicy ham with crispy edges.
Pour your now-thickened glaze over your ham, and enjoy the fruits of your minimal amount of labor.
4 – Toaster Oven
In smaller dwellings, it’s extremely common for people to have a toaster oven instead of a full-sized oven. Toaster ovens may be petite, but they can perform the same functions as a regular oven, including cooking a ham.
For this recipe, the most practical choice for ham is one lighter than six pounds and boneless. In preparation, start heating up your toaster oven. You should set the toaster oven to “Bake” if it has many functions, and the temperature should be 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Begin slicing your ham into large sections, about eight slices in total. You can make more slices if you want thinner sections of ham, but the eight slices will give you and your guests a sizable portion of ham that is easy to cut into.
Place your sliced ham into a small baking dish, taking care to make sure the dish will fit into the toaster oven before cooking.
In a small mixing bowl, combine three tablespoons of Dijon mustard with two tablespoons of whole-grain mustard. To your mustards, add one cup of honey and one-third of a cup of brown sugar. To thin out this mixture, you will add four tablespoons of melted butter.
Once the butter is combined with the honey mustard, add some finely chopped fresh thyme. You can add as little or as much as you want. Thyme adds a wonderful earthiness to dishes and can make even the most processed food taste homemade.
Pour your homemade honey mustard all over your ham, ensuring each slice has an even amount of sauce. Then, place your baking dish into the hot and ready toaster oven. Leave the ham to bake uncovered for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, you should find ham that is heated thoroughly and bathing in a rich, now caramelized, honey mustard sauce.
The toaster oven is also fantastic for heating up leftover ham or roasting ham trimmings that would be discarded otherwise.
Cooking a ham in a toaster oven is a fantastic option for anyone without an oven, and this recipe works for conventional and convection toaster ovens. Most high-end toaster ovens today are convection ovens, and you can often see the fan on the side or rear of the oven that assists in the convection.
The truth of the matter is: you don’t need a full-sized oven to enjoy a baked ham. Slow cookers, pressure cookers, barbecue pits, and toaster ovens can each replace the functions of a typical oven.
Some of these methods require more patience than an oven-based recipe, but pressure cookers can actually get your ham on the dinner table sooner than if it were baked in the oven.
It’s great to know that utilizing any of these alternatives doesn’t mean you’ll be missing out on flavor.
Learn some of the best methods to roast vegetables without an oven.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.