Spiced and Honey-Glazed Ham

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

It seems like everyone loves honey-baked hams. The salty cure of the ham against the sweet crystallized sugar crust is simply irresistible. I have invented a spicy home-baked alternative to the usual store bought ham. It’s so good, you will anticipate the leftovers as much as the original dinner.

Cooking Notes: There are many types of hams on the market. For this dish, I like to use a high-quality fully cooked ham.

Entertaining Notes: The ham can be glazed in advance and kept wrapped in the refrigerator for the next day or two. Simply let it come to room temperature before baking.

Wine Notes: Open a cool, fruity Petite Sirah.

Toasted Spice Rub —I like to use this spice mix on chicken, lamb, fish, and shrimp. It’s also delicious stirred into beans or a pot of rice and mixed into scrambled eggs. Don’t be put off the amount of chili powder. California chili powder is almost sweet, not hot. It is not a blend of chilies and other seasonings, like the powder you use in Texas-style chili. Instead, it is pure ground chilies.

Cooking Notes: Toasting spices releases their aromatic oils, resulting in more complex flavors. Taste your chili powder, and if hot, use less than the recipe indicates.

¼ cup fennel seeds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1½ teaspoons red pepper flakes

¼ cup California chili powder

2 tablespoons finely ground sea salt, preferably gray salt

2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

In a small, heavy skillet, combine the fennel seeds, coriander seeds, and peppercorns over medium heat. Watching carefully, toss the seeds frequently so that they toast evenly. When the fennel seeds turn light brown, work quickly. Turn on the exhaust fan, add the red pepper flakes, and toss, toss, toss, always under the fan. Immediately turn the spice mixture out onto a plate to cool. (They must be cool before grinding, or they will gum up the blender blades.)

Pour the cooled spices into a blender and add the chili powder, salt, and cinnamon. Process until the spices are finely and evenly ground. If you have a small spice mill or a coffee grinder dedicated to grinding spices, grind only the fennel, coriander, pepper, and red pepper flakes, then pour the ground spices into a bowl and toss with the remaining ingredients. Store in an airtight container away from light and heat for up to 4 months, or freeze for up to 1 year. Makes About 1 Cup

Serves8 to 10

Cooking Methodbaking


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Mealbrunch, dinner

Taste and Texturemeaty, salty, savory, smoky, spiced, sweet


  • ½ cup mild honey such as clover or orange blossom
  • 1½ tablespoons Toasted Spice Rub (see Notes)
  • 1 apple wood-smoked or honey-cured, boneless, fully cooked ham, about 4 pounds


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.

  2. In a small bowl, stir together the honey and the spice mixture. With a sharp knife, make a series of cuts, ½ inch deep and ½ inch apart, the entire length of the ham. Rotate the ham 90 degrees and make a second series of cuts, the same depth and the same distance apart, across the width of the ham.

  3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the ham on the pan.

  4. Bake, basting every 15 minutes with the honey mixture, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 150°F, 1 to 1¼ hours.

  5. Remove the ham from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

  6. Carve the ham across the grain into slices of desired thickness. Arrange on a platter and drizzle with any remaining honey mixture.



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