Taste test: Baked hams for Easter

Epicurious

View gallery

.
 Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham

(Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham)

Easter's culinary traditions are about more than egg hunts (and leftovers), jelly beans, and chocolate bunnies. When families gather to celebrate, oftentimes a baked ham takes center stage on the table. While there are almost as many specialty hand-cured hams as there are flavors of jelly beans, these tend to cost between $50 and $80 each.

For those who are content to pick up a ham at the supermarket—one that is already cooked and, yes, more affordable—we've taken the guesswork out of which baked ham is best.





As usual, prior to our testing, we invested time researching the world of hams; you may want to put your concentration cap on for this one. Our ham selections took into consideration the most important factors: bone-in, semi-boneless, or boneless; spiral cut or not; half or whole sizes; style; and meat grade. Supermarket hams can be sold uncooked yet cured with salt and sugar (country style) or brined (injected with solution) and smoked and cooked (city style). The grade of the pork reflects the amount of water it contains; the more water, the lower the grade. The ham can be labeled as just ham (meaning it's the highest grade and no water has been added). It can be brined in its natural juices (water has been added and the ham is 10 percent water). It can be labeled as "ham, water added" (15 percent water), and/or it can be injected with ham and water product (50 percent water).

All judges agreed that the perfect ham should not be rubbery, taste like a salt lick, or feel slimy but should rather be tender, moist, and chewy. Most importantly, in terms of flavor, it should contain a combination of the three S's: sweet, salty, and smoky. Three hams fit the bill.

Best Baked Ham Overall

Winner: Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In Ham (Pictured above left)
($4.49 per pound)

Pros: The judges unanimously agreed that Carando had the right balance of smokiness and saltiness. "It is tender and meaty, not flobbery—floppy and rubbery—like some of the others!" stated one judge. Another taster said, "I am not a big ham fan, but I would actually eat this variety again." This ham was also noted for its family-friendly size and easy-to-serve presentation.

Cons: Not as moist as a non-spiral-sliced ham.

(See also: High tech kitchen products)



View gallery

.
Cook's Half Bone-In Shank Ham brined with ham and water product

(Photo courtesy of Cook's Ham)

Baked Ham, First Runner-Up

Winner: Cook's Half Bone-In Shank Ham brined with ham and water product
($1.79 per pound)

Pros: "I like the nice rosy color and the mild, smoky, maple-sweet flavor; it makes me think this one is fresh and more natural," declared one editor.

Cons: Somewhat rubbery.



Ice Invaders Ice Cubes

(Photo by: stupid.com)

Baked Ham, Second Runner-Up

Winner: Niman Ranch Uncured Boneless Ham brined with natural juices
($9.99 per pound)

Pros: Nitrite-free and mild in flavor, with a hint of smokiness. "This one is pleasantly thick and moist," one editor observed.

Cons: Slightly spongy.


The Other Contenders: The Bottom Three

Boar's Head Black Forest Ham had several tasters concerned. Not only did a fluorescent pink tint permeate its surface, but it tasted fairly processed. "Perhaps this brand should always be eaten between two slices of bread," suggested one taster. Jones Dainty Ham was described as rather tough and rubbery. One editor compared it to "water with salt." Lastly, Thumann's Spiral Sliced Ham was greasy, flavorless, and "flobbery."

Additional Taste Test Details

The ten varieties of hams we tasted are available nationwide and include the following, listed from highest to lowest score in our taste test: Carando Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Bone-In, Cook's Traditional Half Bone-In Shank, Niman Ranch Uncured Boneless, Boar's Head Sweet Slice Smoked Boneless, Hormel Spiral Sliced Bone-In,* Smithfield Hickory Smoked Bone-In,* Hormel Cure 81 Boneless, Boar's Head Black Forest Smoked Boneless, Jones Naturally Smoked Dainty Ham Boneless, Thumann's Spiral Sliced Bone-In.

(*Asterisked brands received the same score.)

Methodology: In a blind taste test, seven judges compared the flavor, consistency, and appearance of baked ham. All varieties were cooked according to the directions on the packaging, which most often meant reheating the hams for 15 or 20 minutes per pound. (Glaze packets were included in the packaging but were not used in our testing.) We ranked the hams according to the Epicurious four-fork rating system, four being the best.

Prices and availability subject to change.


More from Epicurious:

Easy Family Dinners

25 Sandwich Makeovers

How to Eat Your Spring Veggies

Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.

    Recommended for You

    • Yes, They’re Dating! Diane Kruger and Norman Reedus Spotted Kissing in NYC

      Diane Kruger and Norman Reedus Spotted Kissing in NYC

      People
    • 'You're a disgrace': Donald Trump Jr slammed for criticising Sadiq Khan only hours after London attack

      The son of U.S. President Donald Trump has been slammed as a ‘disgrace’ after he appeared to criticise London mayor Sadiq Khan on Twitter, only hours after a terror attack at the Houses of Parliament left four people dead – including a police officer.

      Yahoo News UK
    • 130 Low-Carb Comfort Foods You Need To Try Immediately (131 photos)

      Wait, you mean there's actually something missing? From Delish

      Delish
    • Infant twin girls found dead inside apartment

      Two infant twin girls turned “purple” and died Wednesday morning in a south New Jersey apartment, according to a report. The mother of the seven-month-old babies frantically called 911 around 8 a.m. and told a dispatcher her baby twins couldn’t breathe, reports said. “My twins are purple. They’re not breathing!” the woman can be heard saying on the call, which was obtained by a local media outlet. The operator told her to try CPR, but her efforts were fruitless and she was unable to revive them, reports said. Tasia Mayweather, a family friend of the father, said he asked her for a ride to the Lindenwold apartment as the incident was unfolding but they arrived too late, the Courier-Post reported.

      New York Post q
    • Fox News viewers are gunning for Shep Smith. How will Fox News respond?

      With Megyn Kelly no longer on the air occasionally pushing back against President Trump's treatment of women, Fox News viewers are channeling their ire toward Shepard Smith, who anchors the news and opinion network's afternoon and breaking news coverage. "Smith's persistent fact-mongering has made him persona non grata among some parts of the Fox News faithful," says Paul Farhi at The Washington Post. Smith's past comments affirming human-influenced climate change, supporting same-sex marriage, urging reasoned calm on terrorism and disease, and defending rival network CNN from "fake news" attacks from Trump have raised hackles among some network viewers, but it was this throwing cold water on

      The Week q
    • I Can’t Stop Stealing My Coworkers’ Style

      This is a confession as much as it is a compliment. I pride myself on being someone with a “personal style” — a look that’s relatively cohesive and leads other people to tell me things like “Those shoes are so you” or “That’s such a Tiffany outfit.” Defining my personal aesthetic each season is important to me, so much so that I go to the extreme of making an outfit mood board every time the weather changes. ...

      Racked
    • 'Rehab Addict' Nicole Curtis sued by city of Minneapolis

      "Rehab Addict" Nicole Curtis is facing a lawsuit from the city of Minneapolis over a home she purchased from the government in 2013 for just $2. And the HGTV star is firing back against the city.  According to the lawsuit obtained by Consumerist, Curtis' firm Detroit Designs purchased the home in a north Minneapolis neighborhood under several conditions, including completing "minimum improvements" on the home, maintaining the required insurance and paying property taxes within 12 months of purchase. The city alleges in its suit, filed in January, that Curtis "failed to redevelop the property," failed to "substantially complete minimum improvements," "failed to pay real estate taxes" and "failed

      Fox News q
    • Carrie Underwood Works Out with New Gym Buddy: Her Son!

      Carrie Underwood Work Outs with New Gym Buddy: Her Son!

      People
    • How Much Money Does the Average American Have in Their Retirement Account?

      How does your retirement account compare to how much other American families have put away? We take a look at the numbers.

      The Cheat Sheet q
    • A deleted text message from vengeful gangster may get Aaron Hernandez off hook for double murder

      The text message was sent way back on July 5, 2013. Perhaps because its sender, Alexander Bradley, realized it held unwanted power, like the capability of impacting his immunity deal in an Aaron Hernandez double murder trial, let alone rocking the entire case altogether. In a plea deal, Bradley, however, gave authorities full access to his phone, including deleted and otherwise privileged communication with his lawyer.

      Yahoo Sports
    • Bunny rabbit makes a very unusual friend

      Rottweilers are sometimes pictured as aggressive dogs, but clearly that isn't the case in this clip! Check it out as this one loves to play with a cute bunny in this person's backyard. Friendship has no limits!

      Rumble
    • Trump Jr. Called a 'Disgrace' for Criticizing London Mayor

      London (AP) -- Donald Trump Jr. is facing criticism for tweeting in the hours after Wednesday's London attack a months-old comment from London Mayor Sadiq Khan that terror attacks are part of living in ...

      Bloomberg
    • Donald and Melania Trump No Longer Sleep in the Same Room

      The couple reportedly "never spend the night together."

      Marie Claire
    • Lioness attempts to attack tourists but leap falls way short; video

      As a vehicle carrying tourists made its way past a lion enclosure in the Serengeti Safari section of the Estrella Biopark in Montemorelos, Mexico, a lioness went into a crouching position as if stalking the visitors. Then it decided to attack, which was a horrible idea by Elsa the lioness, as footage captured by tourist Jan Adrian Diaz proves: The lioness obviously overestimated its leaping ability as it fell into the large moat that surrounds the enclosure and keeps tourists safe for instances such as these. Elsa wasn’t even close to reaching the other side of the trench. The male lion, meanwhile, remained lying in its position, no doubt unimpressed by the lioness’ antics. A park spokesperson

      GrindTV.com q
    • People
    • The US Navy has a severe 'missile gap' with China and Russia — here's how it can beat them anyway

      The US wields the world's biggest, most powerful Navy, but recent developments in China and Russia's missile inventory severely threaten the surface fleet with superior range and often velocity. For years, the Navy has focused on a concept called "distributed lethality," which calls for arming even the Navy's smallest ships with powerful weapons that can hit targets hundreds of miles out.

      Business Insider UK
    • Why I’ll Never Shower the Same Way Again

      The Luv Scrub is unlike any other exfoliator you’ve ever tried. Yahoo Beauty would like to introduce you to The New-New, a column by Beauty Director Dana Oliver on the latest products, tools, and treatments that she’d happily spend her hard-earned money on. When Caroline Ansah was 5 years old, her mother introduced her to bathing with an exfoliating body net that looked a lot like the tool that fishermen would launch out into the sea.

      Yahoo Beauty
    • Harper's Bazaar
    • 20 Last-Minute Mother's Day Gifts (21 photos)

      Mother's Day is the second Sunday in May — every year — so why does it always seem to pop up out of nowhere? We have 20 thoughtful gifts wrapped up in a pretty bow (er, slideshow!). From Good Housekeeping

      Good Housekeeping