Last Updated on 14th September 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
We all know you’re supposed to thaw out large cut of meat before you try to cook it. That massive ham or full turkey won’t cook very well when it is still frozen, so you are supposed to thaw it out ahead of time rather than try to cook it from frozen. Great if you are cooking our Honey Glazed Ham recipe.
That conventional wisdom has some basis in fact, but you can cook frozen ham and other frozen meat and not wait for them to thaw.
You will need to cook the meat for longer, but you don’t have to give up your dinner plans just because you forgot to let the meat thaw.
Let me show you how to cook a frozen ham so you can make the meal you want even when you didn’t thaw it out ahead of time.
How Long to Cook a Frozen Ham?
Frozen ham will take longer to cook than thawed ham, and that makes sense, but how much longer? As a rule, you can expect that a frozen ham takes about 50% longer to cook than if you were working with a fully thawed ham.
That’s still not as long as it would take if you waited for the ham to thaw out and then cooked it. You can save time by cooking the ham from frozen, if you didn’t plan ahead well enough and made sure that the ham was able to thaw out before.
How long to cook a frozen ham? If you are looking for a specific time, you should cook it for about 18-20 minutes a pound. That’s if you are cooking it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit in the oven. Different cooking temperatures will require different cooking times.
Partially thawed ham will cook faster (check out our ham steak cooking guide), and the cooking time I have given you is just an estimate. So, if you have a 4-pound ham, you can cook it in the oven for 72-80 minutes.
Baking Frozen Ham
My preferred method for cooking frozen ham is to bake it. This is simple, has very little cleanup involved, and works really well every time. You could cook it in the crockpot, but your crockpot may not accommodate a large ham. The oven can handle it, though.
If you are baking a frozen ham in the oven, be sure to preheat your oven fully. I cook mine at 325 degrees Fahrenheit so that the ham has time to cook all the way through without the outside burning or drying out.
That’s really important with frozen meat, as the inner center of the meat can take a lot longer to cook than normal. You don’t want to set the temperature too high.
How long to cook a frozen ham in the oven?
Let it cook for about 18-20 minutes per pound. All you need to do is place your ham on a baking sheet and put it into the oven for the allotted time. It doesn’t need to be turned over as it cooks, but that won’t hurt it either.
To tell if the ham is done cooking all the way, you can check the internal temperature. Make sure it reaches at least 145 degrees.
How Long Is a Frozen Ham Good For?
Once you freeze your ham, how long will it stay fresh in the freezer for? Keep in mind that freezing meat doesn’t keep it from going bad.
It just drastically slows down the process by which meat spoils. If you package the meat properly, it should have very little bacteria on it when it goes into the freezer.
You don’t want air in the packaging, and you don’t want the meat to be exposed to bacteria before you freeze it, if you can help it.
As a general rule, frozen ham will last for up to 6 months, if it has not been cooked. The sooner you use it, however, the fresher it will be. It can last for longer in the freezer, but you are taking your chances with spoilage and a lack of freshness and flavor at that point.
How long can ham be frozen if it is cooked?
You can give it up to 2 months in the freezer. Any longer than that will risk it losing some flavor. By storing it the freezer for longer, you will also risk it developing freezer burn. That means ice crystals will form on it and damage the ham, sapping it of flavor and texture.
How to Thaw a Frozen Ham
If you want to thaw your ham out fully and properly before trying to cook it, the ham will cook much faster. You can do this by placing it into the fridge ahead of time.
How long to thaw frozen ham in refrigerator?
That’s going to depend on the size of the ham, really. A small ham may be able to thaw out overnight, defrosting naturally for 6-8 hours.
A larger ham, like hams that are 3-4 pounds or bigger, may take a couple of days to thaw.
A good rule of thumb is to give your ham about 5 hours to thaw per pound. So, a 4-pound ham will need roughly 20 hours to thaw fully.
How do you speed up the thawing process?
You can place the ham into a large bowl of room temperature (or cold) water. This can thaw it out in a couple of hours if the bowl is resting out on the counter.
The problem with this method is that it is hard to tell if the ham has thawed all the way through without cutting it open. It’s best to let the ham thaw in the fridge if you can help it.
Of course, you can also cook the ham from frozen, if you like. I gave you an oven baking method for that, but you can also cook it from frozen in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker and not worry about thawing it out at all.
Frequently Asked Questions About Freezing Ham
How Long Can You Freeze Ham
Ham should be frozen on the day of purchase and kept frozen for no longer than 3 months
Does Freezing Ham Affect the Taste
If frozen quickly at the tome of purchase and frozen while still fresh then the quality of the meat should be retained relatively well.
Can You Cook Ham From Frozen
Yes ham can be cooked from frown but it is much better to leave the ham overnight to fully defrost.
Should You Freeze Ham Cooked or Uncooked
Ham can be frozen from either cooked or uncooked state but we find that it is better to freeze uncooked ham.