Festive gammon with slices cut on a serving plate

Festive gammon

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(10 ratings)

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

A challenge

Serves 16 - 20

A traditional ham recipe that's perfect for any celebration, especially at Christmas. The gammon needs brining overnight, but the results are well worth it

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 coriander seeds
    • 2 tbsp fennel seeds
      Fennel seeds

      Fennel seeds

      feh-nell seeds

      A dried seed that comes from the fennel herb, fennel seeds look like cumin seeds, only greener,…

    • 2 tbsp cloves



      A clove is the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a…

    • 2 star anise
      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 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, broken into sticks



      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

    Sign in or create your My Good Food account to join the discussion.
    16th Dec, 2019
    My 'go to' recipe every year. I'm not a fan of a heavy clove flavor so I reduce the amount to about 1 tsp. The brining is well worth the effort and the meat stays really moist and tasty.
    27th Dec, 2012
    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.
    24th Dec, 2012
    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!
    23rd Dec, 2012
    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 ...
    17th Dec, 2012
    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.
    16th Dec, 2012
    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!!
    6th Dec, 2012
    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.
    12th Apr, 2011
    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.
    25th Dec, 2008
    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!!
    15th Dec, 2008
    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


    Jenny K
    27th Jan, 2015
    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
    27th Jan, 2015
    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. 
    20th Dec, 2013
    help I have accidentally purchased a smoked gammon joint instead of unsmoked. How can I reduce the smokey taste
    goodfoodteam's picture
    24th Dec, 2013
    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.
    22nd Dec, 2015
    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.
    23rd Dec, 2014
    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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