Whenever I’ve cooked ham in the past, I’ve always just stuck to a simple glaze made with mustard and brown sugar (or honey), but today, I’m taking things to the next level.
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Prepared in partnership with the American Pecan Council, this glazed ham recipe is a showstopper centerpiece that couldn’t be easier to prepare. You start with a spiral cut, smoked ham gently warming in a low oven. As the ham cooks, you whisk together a glaze made with orange zest and juice, bourbon, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, dark brown sugar, cayenne and coarsely ground, toasted pecans. During the last 20 minutes of cooking, you crank the oven on high and brush the aromatic glaze all over the ham. The intense heat caramelizes the molasses-spiked brown sugar while the pecans form a deep golden crust.
Each bite of this glazed ham is sweet and smoky with just a hint of fresh orange. The pecans provide moments of golden crunch that contrast the tender, salty ham. This recipe would be perfect for any special spring occasion like Easter or Mother’s Day. Continue reading for the recipe.
The piece of pork that I’m using here is a bone-in, spiral cut, fully cooked, smoked ham. I love how the glaze works its way into the spiraled slices. If you want to make this recipe with a ham that’s not spiral cut, be sure to remove any skin that may be on the ham, and then score the fat in a diamond pattern. The scoring allows the glaze to better flavor the meat.
Rich with orange, bourbon, brown sugar, maple syrup and pecans, the glaze here is simple but packed with flavor. And no need to even warm it up in advance! Simply whisk together the ingredients while the ham is warming, and spoon or brush on at the end.
Brown sugar and maple syrup add depth of sweetness to the glaze that pairs beautifully with the pecans and bourbon. The bourbon also enhances the smokiness of the ham. Orange, Dijon mustard and cayenne pepper are thrown into the mix for contrast. They keep this dish from being too cloyingly sweet.
I just love the pecans in this recipe. As they cook with the glaze, they take on an irresistible sweet-salty flavor. I found myself using a slice of ham to pick up some of the fallen pecans, creating one incredible bite.
During my journey with the American Pecan Council, I learned a number of interesting tidbits about the nutrition benefits, history and origin of pecans. While pecans are often known for their rich, naturally sweet taste, I wasn’t aware that pecans are actually nutrient dense. In fact, a handful of pecans – about 19 halves – is a good source of fiber, thiamin, and zinc, and an excellent source of copper and manganese – a mineral that’s essential for metabolism and bone health. Compared to other tree nuts, pecans are among the highest in good monounsaturated fats. I also didn’t realize that pecans are the only major tree nut indigenous to North America. Most of the pecans found in the US are grown by thousands of family farms scattered across a dozen Southern states. The largest member of the hickory family, the pecan tree takes 10 years before it starts producing any pecans, but one tree can produce nuts for 100+ years, and the farmers harvest each tree by shaking it. Pecans have such a rich history here in North America, and I’m really glad I had the chance to learn more about them!
Orange, Bourbon and Pecan Glazed Ham Recipe
- 1 spiral cut, bone-in, smoked ham (it’s the one that’s fully cooked, about 9 to 12 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 2 tablespoons good quality bourbon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1 cup park dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups pecan halves, toasted and coarsely ground in food processor
- Preheat an oven to 275°F. Place the ham, flat-side down in a shallow baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake until heated through with an internal temperature of 130°F. It’ll take about 12-13 minutes per pound or approximately 2 hours.
- While the ham is cooking, prepare the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together orange zest, orange juice, bourbon, maple syrup, mustard, sugar, cayenne and salt. Stir in the coarsely ground pecans.
- Once the ham is heated through, take the baking dish from the oven and uncover. Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Spoon or brush 2/3's of the glaze over the top and sides of the ham. Place in the oven uncovered for 10 minutes. Spoon or brush over the remaining glaze, and let cook for an additional 10 minutes until the glaze is bubbling and the pecans turn dark brown in spots. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.