Roasted Fresh Ham with Maple-Spice Glaze

This roasted fresh ham with maple-spice glaze is slowly cooked and infused with flavors of cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and maple syrup. It’s a centerpiece-worthy entree, perfect for any holiday gathering.

A roasted fresh ham with a maple spice glaze in a metal roasting pan set on a commercial gas range.

After our existential ordeal with our pig, Wilbur, Bruce wanted to develop a recipe that honored the first taste of the meat by using the simplest preparation: roasted, not fussed up. So here’s his basic recipe for a fresh ham. Yes, it requires several hours of slow cooking. Open another bottle of pinot noir and relax.–Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

LC How Large a Ham Do I Need? Note

How large a ham do I need? This size ham will feed, in the words of the authors, “6 teenage boys, 16 adults, or 26 twenty-something models.” There you have it.

Roasted Fresh Ham with a Maple-Spice Glaze

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 15 M
  • 5 H
  • Serves 8 to 12
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Fire the oven up to 325°F (160°C).

Put the Dickensian joint in a large roasting pan, preferably one that’s shiny enough to reflect lots of ambient heat and not a flimsy disposable pan that tips willy-nilly when you pick it up. Leave the roast in the pan on the counter.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, and salt in a small bowl. Wash and dry your hands and then use them to smooth the spice mixture all over the ham’s external surface, working it down into some of the crevices but being careful to avoid any deep-tissue massage. A ham is a complex structure of muscle groups—too much massage and everything can come apart like Goldie Hawn in Death Becomes Her.

Cover the whole kit and caboodle with aluminum foil, slide it in the oven, and leave it alone for 3 1/2 hours while you go do whatever it is you do when a big, sweating hunk of meat is roasting in your oven. You want at least 2 inches of space between the top of your ham and the element at the top of. your oven.

Peel off the aluminum foil. Baste the ham with about half the maple syrup, preferably using a basting brush. Take it easy so you don’t knock off the spice coating. Use small strokes—think Impressionism, not Abstract Expressionism. Or just dribble the syrup off a spoon.

Continue roasting the ham, uncovered this time, basting every 15 minutes or so with more maple syrup as well as any pan drippings, until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat without touching bone registers 170°F (77°C), about 1 1/4 hours more. If the ham starts to singe or turn too dark, tent it loosely with foil, uncovering it just at the last to get it back to crunchy-crisp.

Transfer the ham to a cutting or carving board and let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes before carving into slices.

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Recipe Testers' Tips

This is a delicious ham. There's a perfect combination of spices balanced by the sweetness from the maple syrup. The final internal temperature of 170°F leaves the meat tender and moist. Be sure to keep any remaining pan juices—they can be poured directly onto the sliced ham or turned into a quick pan sauce using whatever your favorite method may be. A great main course for a holiday meal or any special occasion.

I used Grade A Amber maple syrup. I did not need to tent the ham.

The roasted fresh ham with maple spice glaze is, in a word, delicious. The flavor of the rub and maple syrup is off the charts good.

I purchased a shank-end, 8 1/2-pound ham from my local Publix using a coupon given by my employer every year. It sat on the counter for about 2 hours to come to room temp. This could have been part of my problem with the ham being overcooked as it wasn't specified to do so in the recipe. I then combined the spice rub ingredients using freshly grated nutmeg and kosher salt, coated the ham, covered it tightly in foil, and baked it for 3 1/2 hours When I uncovered the ham, it had already scorched on the top. I lowered the rack, then basted with the maple syrup (grade A) and baked for another 1/2 hour, basting once more with the syrup.

I would definitely make this again, but would lower the temp to 300°F and only bake it about 2 hours before checking for doneness. My hubby and I have enjoyed it in our favorite sandwich of ham, turkey, provolone, thinly sliced cucumber, and spicy mustard and mayo on marble rye bread. If the definition of eternity is 2 people and a ham (credit to Dorothy Parker), there are a lot of these sandwiches in our future.

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  1. This is now my one and only ham recipe. I made it for Thanksgiving dinner and now, as I type this, I am getting ready to make it again for Christmas dinner. Yes, it is that good. I’ve roasted it as written in the oven and I have also slow cooked it in a crockpot. Either way is fine. The oven gives it a little more crispness on the skin, but flavor is the same. I use the crockpot for convenience.

    1. Wonderful to hear, Jessica! Many thanks for taking the time to let us know! When you have a moment, would you mind sharing with us the setting and timing you use in your slow cooker? I’d love to add that to the recipe as an option for other readers. Thank you and again, so glad you love this ham as much as we do!

  2. Soooo, I have a 22 pound monster fresh ham that I was thinking of roasting for our church Easter breakfast. Any pointers? I’ve seen all sorts of methods on the interwebs…Thanks!

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