Festive ham

Festive ham

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(8 ratings)

Prep: 30 mins Cook: 4 hrs Plus 24 hrs brining

A challenge

Serves 16 - 20
While you'll probably only want to use this recipe at celebrations, good, wholesome food like this festive ham is appropriate for any day - by chef Richard Corrigan

Nutrition and extra info

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal360
  • fat20g
  • saturates7g
  • carbs10g
  • sugars8g
  • fibre0g
  • protein36g
  • salt8.35g
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For the ham and glaze

  • 1 unsmoked boneless gammon, weighing about 5kg
  • 2 tbsp each coriander and fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp cloves



    The dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a wide variety…

  • 2 star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 8 juniper berries
  • 750g demerara sugar
  • 300g sea salt flakes
  • 250g pot Dijon mustard

For the stock

  • 6 carrots, peeled



    The carrot, with its distinctive bright orange colour, is one of the most versatile root…

  • 2 heads celery



    A collection of long, thick, juicy stalks around a central, tender heart, celery ranges in…

  • 3 onions, halved



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 leeks



    Like garlic and onion, leeks are a member of the allium family, but have their own distinct…

  • 1 head garlic, unpeeled and halved



    Part of the lily, or alium, family, of which onions are also a member, garlic is one of the most…

  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch parsley



    One of the most ubiquitous herbs in British cookery, parsley is also popular in European and…

  • 100ml white wine vinegar


  1. For the brining: take all the spices for the glaze and toast them in a frying pan until they begin to release their fragrance. Grind using a pestle and mortar, then tip into a food processor with the sugar and blitz everything together to make a spice mix. Tip two-thirds of the mix (reserving the rest in a sealed plastic container) into a large pan with the salt and 5 litres of water and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat. When the mix has cooled, pour it over the ham and leave in the fridge to brine for 24 hrs.

  2. After 24 hrs, wash off the brine. Place the ham in a large pan with the stock veg, herbs and vinegar. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered, for 3 hrs, topping up with water as necessary. Turn off the heat and leave the ham to cool in the stock.

  3. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Remove the ham from the stock and cut away the top layer of fat and skin. Score the fat in a criss-cross and brush with the mustard, then pack on the reserved spiced sugar. Roast for 35-40 mins until the glaze has completely caramelised and become sticky. Allow the ham to rest for at least 10 mins before carving.

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Comments, questions and tips

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Comments (15)

happyphantom's picture

I made this for the firs time this year, to take along for Christmas lunch with my family. I used a 3kg ham and adjusted the recipe accordingly. It was really tasty, tender and everyone loved it, there were 7 of us and there was still plenty left over. Great as sandwiches with chutney! Really loved the recipe will be making it again.

nefetiti's picture

Smileycook6 it is time consuming the first time you make it but really worth it, and what I did the following year was prepare the brining mix and put it in an airtight container till I needed to use it, as that's what takes up time.

R Smith, definitely follow the recipe, the brining in water is essential, it might seem like a faff but it's essential.

I'm making mine now, doing the boiling on Christmas Eve so I only have to pop it in the oven tomorrow, saving time, and like everyone else has said, friends and family alike, love it!

smileycook6's picture

me and my dad have attepmpted to cook this today and think its a bit of a lengthly process but we tried simply soaking the ham in the cooled brine overnight and this seems to be working well so far ...

jujugoodasnew's picture

I leave it in a deep dish in fridge surrounded by the cooled liquid/spice mix and then turn the gammon over half way through brining to soak both sides as usually it is much bigger than the dish! Think the liquid is key to the brining. Sound tricky but I am a complete novice and manage to produce this each year.

ragnew12's picture

When the method suggests, "When the mix has cooled, pour it over the ham and leave in the fridge to brine for 24 hrs." Do you leave the ham sitting in 5 liters of watery mix for 24 hours, or just the solid parts of the mix?

I want to use this for Christmas but dont want to ruin my ham!!

jujugoodasnew's picture

Best hanmrecipe I have ever tried. I have made it 4 years in a row as everyone asks 'are you doing the ham again'? We have it with fresh colcannon on Christmas eve with plenty left - it always goes! Brining makes the spice infusion subtle.

schadylady's picture

Lengthy process, but delicious results. Our guests loved it. We 'cheated' and did this with gammon joints, adjusting cooking time accordingly. Ham was moist and with a subtle spiced flavour.

nickkie's picture

This ham recipie has to be the king of all reciepies!! I have made this for the last two years running and can honestly say that this is now what i am known for through family & friends!! Dont count on left overs for yourself after as i have never known there to be any left!!

nefetiti's picture

Sorry I forgot my rating. Foxy you may want to contact Good Food and ask as the recipe calls for green/unsmoked gammon but the vinegar must counter the saltiness. Best to contact the experts.

Jeanette a really good truffle mash or onion and cheese pudding (from a previous Christmas edition of Good food) would be great side dishes as would the celeriac puree which is in this months edition

nefetiti's picture

I have made this Ham for the last two years and it has always been a huge hit. Absolutely moreish and loved by everyone young, and old. It's also not so labour intensive on Christmas day, and to be honest it's a better alternative when it comes to leftovers.

jeannette's picture

hi we are having gammon for christmas day instead of turkey, can any one suggest how to cook if best for the big day????? and wot to go with it!!!! thanks

rachelaveyard's picture

i have a gammon to cook for christmas and would love to try this recipe but my gammon has already been brined so is this a double dose of salt? or can i omit this stage?

whitester's picture

This is a truly wonderful recipe. I have halved the ingredients as a 5kg ham was a bit too big for us and it has always turned out perfectly.

eahorwell's picture

I think you just have to adjust the cooking times but ask your butcher or call Saturday Kitchen!)

bellfield's picture

I already have a ham for Christmas, bone in - can anyone advise on why bone in is a problem and can the recipe be adapted

Questions (4)

Jenny K's picture

As far as I know I followed the right amount of time to boil a piece of gammon - but it is very tough and not at all boiled ham like in texture? As I did not glaze it, it only had boiling time. It was 500g and I brought it to the boil and then simmered it for about 45 mins. Do you have any suggestions of what I should do in future? Recently I bought another smaller gammon joint and the instructions were to bake it and that had a better tenderness, but I have boiled gammon in the past and had better results?

goodfoodteam's picture

Hi Jenny K thanks for getting in touch and sorry to hear that you didn't have success with cooking gammon. The recipe above is for 5kg of gammon so it sounds like a smaller joint won't really be suited to this method. Our how to prepare gammon and ham guide might be useful http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/how-cook-and-prepare-gammon-and-ham and ask your butcher for their advice too as different cuts do vary quite a bit. Hope this helps. 

susanwilson127's picture

help I have accidentally purchased a smoked gammon joint instead of unsmoked. How can I reduce the smokey taste

goodfoodteam's picture

Unfortunately you can't remove the smokey flavour from the gammon however this recipe will work well with smoked gammon as well as unsmoked. Hope that helps.

Tips (2)

william18's picture

Thought using the pestle & mortar would take time, so added some of the sugar to the toasted spice mix and whizzed them, then in smaller batches used the P&M to finish off to a smoother mix.

nefetiti's picture

If you make a larger amount of the sugar spice mix, it will keep in an airtight container and makes an amazing marinade/rub for pork belly, white fish & chicken.

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