How to cook and prepare gammon and ham
Discover the difference between gammon and ham, plus how to prepare and cook them. Also check out our best gammon recipes and leftover ham recipes.
To some, snaffling a cold cut of ham from the fridge is one of the high points of the festive season. Once glazed and studded with decorative cloves, you have a real feast on your hands. And the best bit is that it just keeps on giving – even a small ham joint will keep a household in sandwiches for up to five days. There's a reason this cola ham with maple glaze is one of our most popular recipes at Christmas time.
A gammon isn’t just for Christmas, either – it’s a good investment all year round, from picnic season to birthday parties and New Year’s Eve. Follow our guide on how to cook gammon steaks plus our ideas for top 10 gammon glazes and watch the masses flock. Also check out our extensive collection of Christmas ham recipes for more flavour-packed ideas.
What’s the difference between gammon and ham?
Both gammon and ham are cuts from the hind legs of a pig. Gammon is sold raw and ham is sold ready-to-eat. Gammon has been cured in the same way as bacon, whereas ham has been dry-cured or cooked. Once you've cooked your gammon, it's then called ham.
To make your Christmas ham, you’ll need to buy a gammon – choose smoked or unsmoked and on or off the bone, according to your recipe and preference.
How to prepare a gammon joint
Soaking the gammon in water to remove saltiness is generally a thing of the past, but check with your butcher or look at pack instructions to be sure.
- To start, weigh the meat to calculate cooking time. Roast gammon cooking time is generally 20 minutes per 450g, plus an added 20 minutes.
- Put the meat in a large pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil, adding any flavourings you wish (cinnamon, bay, peppercorns, coriander seeds and onion all work well).
- Boil for half the calculated cooking time, periodically skimming and discarding any white froth that rises to the surface.
- Drain, reserving the stock if you like, and leave to cool a little. Remove the top layer of skin, leaving a thin layer of fat around the meat.
How to cook a gammon joint
- Place in a foil-lined roasting tin, cover with more foil and bake for the remaining cooking time at 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
- Twenty to 30 minutes before the end of cooking time, brush with the glaze of your choice – a mixture of maple syrup and coarse-grain mustard is good. Cook uncovered until the glaze is golden.
- Consider serving with our maple-mustard glazed carrots and maple spiced parsnips.
See this video guide for advice on how to glaze and roast a ham:
Best ham and gammon recipes
Add a sticky honey and mustard glaze to gammon for a delicious sweetness that contrasts with the saltiness of the meat. It's great for a celebration supper.
Spiced Christmas gammon with membrillo glaze
This Christmas ham recipe uses sweet and sticky quince paste, or membrillo. It also uses the time-honoured method of studding your joint with cloves. It’s simple enough: score the skin in a diamond pattern, then pierce the centre of each diamond with a clove.
Slow-baked sticky gammon
Bypass the pre-boiling stage and use an all-in-one slow-cooking method. This tropical-tinged gammon recipe is made with treacle, pineapple juice and allspice, and slowly cooked in the oven for four hours until butter-soft.
Slow cooker cola gammon
Cook your gammon in a couple of litres of cola to really ramp up the stickiness. Once you’ve boiled the joint in its soda bath, drain and transfer into a roasting tin, and glaze with a maple mustard mixture.
More like this
Sticky maple-glazed ham with baked apple sauce
The secret to this picture-perfect ham is slow-roasting it in a foil parcel in a spiced apple juice bath. The steamy environment allows the flavours to mingle beautifully. The whole thing is finished off with a maple glaze, whole baked apples and golden star anise.
Leftover ham recipes
Classic pub grub
Who would turn their nose up at a traditional plate of gammon and mash? It’s ideal for the post-Christmas period, and makes a great simple supper all year round. The salty ham is paired perfectly with sweet apple and a punchy celeriac mash.
This one is perfect for when you have a chunk of ham left over. Shred it into strips, then pour over clarified butter. The set yellow top layer is a traditional preserving seal for meat and fish.
Add to soup
Pea and ham is one of the greatest soup combinations. Our bright-green version uses shredded ham as a garnish to finish. To get a really rich flavour, retain any cooking liquor from homemade ham and use it as a stock.
Warming winter pies
This sensational chunky pie utilises festive leftovers in fine fashion. Combine your ham with cranberries, pistachios and warm Christmas flavours such as nutmeg, mace and sage. It requires homemade hot water crust pastry, so it’s one for a good kitchen session.
Soft soufflé omelette
Whisks at the ready: give your omelette the soufflé effect to add a touch of refinement to a brunch table. But not too much – this version with leftover ham is best served with baked beans.
Are you partial to a homemade ham? Share your recipe with us below...