Root beer-glazed ham. No, it’s not a carryover from your childhood. It’s a perfectly brilliant recipe in its own right given how, as author Martha Hall Foose explains, it’s made from “Sassafras roots and bark, dandelion, wild cherry, burdock, spruce, wintergreen, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and anise are flavorings found in root beers, and all make a wonderful enhancement to smoky ham.”–Martha Hall Foose

A root beer-glazed ham on a wooden cutting board with a fork and knife resting beside it.

Root Beer-Glazed Ham

5 / 6 votes
This root beer-glazed ham is made with a glaze of root beer, ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard for an easy yet impressive main course. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.
David Leite
Servings8 to 10 servings
Calories434 kcal
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 30 minutes


For the root beer glaze

  • 1 cup root beer
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard

For the ham

  • One (3-pound) whole or butt end, bone-in, fully cooked, cured, smoked ham
  • About 1/2 cup root beer
  • Whole cloves


Make the root beer glaze

  • Combine the root beer, ketchup, brown sugar, lemon zest and juice, and mustard in a saucepan. Simmer, stirring often, over low heat for abut 10 minutes until a thin saucy consistency.

Make the ham

  • Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
  • Line a large roasting pan with foil. Place the ham in the pan fat side up for shank end and whole hams, or position the meat cut side down for butt end hams. Add the root beer or enough to cover the bottom of the pan by 1/4 inch. Let sit at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature.
  • Tent the ham loosely with foil. Bake undisturbed until a thermometer inserted in the center of the ham reads 110°F (43°C). (1 to 3 hours depending on size and cut of ham).
  • Remove the ham from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 325°F (160°C). Pour off any accumulated pan juices and reserve for the sauce. Cut away excess fat. Score the ham in a diamond pattern, cutting 1/4 inch into the meat. Brush a thin layer of Root Beer Glaze over the scored surface of the ham. Insert whole cloves at the intersections of the cuts.
  • Bake the ham until the internal temperature reaches 120°F (49°C), approximately 1 hour. Let the ham rest on a cutting board or platter for at least 15 minutes before carving.
Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose

Adapted From

Screen Doors and Sweet Tea

Buy On Amazon


Serving: 1 portionCalories: 434 kcalCarbohydrates: 23 gProtein: 31 gFat: 24 gSaturated Fat: 8 gMonounsaturated Fat: 11 gCholesterol: 88 mgSodium: 1870 mgFiber: 0.2 gSugar: 21 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Martha Hall Foose. Photo © 2008 Bart. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This glaze was AMAZING! It wasn’t too sweet but just absolutely perfect. Usually ham glazes overpower you with clove, but this one had just the perfect amount. The balance of the seasonings to the sweetness of the root beer was fantastic. And so ridiculously easy—just add the ingredients and simmer!

The glaze is also very versatile and doesn’t have to just be for ham. I used it on pork tenderloin, which I coated in grill seasoning and browned and then finished off in the oven with the glaze and that came out amazing, too!

The root beer-glazed ham recipe yields a glazed ham that’s a little spicy, a little sweet, and a little pungent from the mustard. Definitely a winner.

Strangely, I’ve never really made a ham before, but I was cooking a simple buffet lunch and this recipe looked intriguing. I bought a 3 1/2-pound, bone-in, smoked shoulder ham and cooked it exactly as directed, although I basted it more often with the yummy root beer glaze. The amount of glaze is rather overwhelming, so I would halve it next time for a ham this size.

I really enjoyed this ham glazed with root beer. I used a pork shoulder or pork butt, or, as we call it in the Midwest, a cottage ham. The rich scent of cloves and ham will take you instantly back to your grandmother’s house. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

The root beer glaze is wonderful, although I wouldn’t bother saving the drippings for the sauce, as I found it thinned the glaze a bit too much and altered the flavor as well. I also brushed the glaze on the ham a couple extra times at about 10-minute intervals, which produced a nice, thick, caramel coating.

This is an easy prep, easy cook recipe for a Sunday or Saturday dinner. It’s sweet, savory, just the right amount of salty, and addictive!

I used cheesecloth to place the spices in, making it very easy to remove them from the glaze mixture. This recipe will be your next crowd pleasure! Enjoy!

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

Garlic Butter Steak Bites

These juicy bites of sirloin, smothered in garlic and herb butter, will satisfy any steakhouse craving for a fraction of the price.

25 mins

5 from 6 votes (5 ratings without comment)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I love making big hams and if I have too much leftovers (even after I send some home with any guests), I vacuum seal and freeze meal-size portions and the ham bone for future use and I can keep it in the freezer for months.