Moist and juicy Caribbean Christmas ham

25.10.22 | Recipe by Renz

One thing that should not be missing from your table during the holiday season is a baked ham. This Caribbean baked ham is a simple special dish with a mouthwatering mustard glaze and added flavor of clove and sweet pineapples.
A leg of bone-in ham in a white plate, decorated with pineapples and cloves.

Oye, what is Christmas time without some ham? Freshly baked ham smells permeate the kitchen on Christmas eve or early Christmas morning. Everybody just waiting to devour a thick slice.

This was a must-have during the holidays. And we used it for just about any type of eating: breakfast, a part of lunch, a snack, or dinner. By itself or as part of a plate of other holiday goodies.

This piece of ham is baked till golden and basted with a delicious mix of mustard, orange juice, and flavorings. Then garnished with juicy pineapple slices.

And after eating some, chop up a few to add to this Christmas rice.


What cut of meat makes ham?

For the most part, you can go to a store and find whatever ham you want. Already there to grab and go.

But if you needed to know, the part of the hog that is referred to as ham is what comes from the hind leg. Now they also use part of the shoulder and refer to it as ham.

There are many ways that ham can be prepared (cured or uncured) and a plethora of ways it can be served.


Types of hams?

There are different types of hams you will see in the store. City, cured and uncured.

The most popular type, which also less work, is a city ham. This is found in most stores. They are already cured and fully cooked and ready to go.

Then there are cured hams. These are also referred to as country hams. These are very salty most times. And a few times I've seen them also smoked.

These need to be soaked for some 24 hours before you can cook them.

Uncured ham, also called fresh ham, is much harder to find. This has no salt or brine and you usually should get this straight from your butcher.

For more information on hams check out the difference between country, cured, fresh or smoked ham.

What you need to make a Caribbean-baked ham

Ingredients needed to make Christmas ham all portioned out.

The ingredients for this are very simple ingredients. 

  • Ham - make sure you check out the types of ham section to get a better understanding of which ham is used and how to best use it for this recipe.
  • Mustard - you can use either the bottle or the powder.
  • Orange juice - you can also use pineapple juice here instead.
  • Brown sugar.
  • Whole cloves.
  • Pineapple rings.
  • Ginger.
  • Maraschino cherries (optional)


Baking dish
- this can be a baking tray or a roasting tray. Make sure the sides are high enough to hold the liquid that is going to be released.

Making Christmas ham

So depending on what type of ham you selected this would be an easy bake and glaze process.

If you have salted (cured) ham, you will need to soak this in water for about 24 hours to remove the salt prior to cooking. (If you use a city ham, then follow the cooking directions on the packaging.)

Once that is completed continue with the process as written.

Mixed glaze used to base ham for flavouring.

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Place ham skin side up in a roasting pan and cover with foil. Bake for 2 hours. You should note that 5 - 7 pound hams need to be cooked for 20 minutes per pound.

Ham, halfway baked with the skin on.

Once that is baking you can go ahead and make the glaze recipe.

Once those two hours are up, remove the skin from the ham. We now need to score the ham so that the glaze will get into the ham and have it nice and juicy.

Now take the cloves and stick them all over the ham. Pour the glaze mixture over the ham and return it to the oven for another 20-30.

Skin removed from ham, and glaze being thrown on so that it can be finished baked.

Keep basting the ham every ten minutes with the juices in the tray. We want the ham to be a nice golden brown.

On the last basting, add the pineapple slices to the ham.

Remove the ham from the oven, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

A close up of baked ham with cloves and glaze.

What to serve with baked ham

This festive season brings a lot of fresh foods to the table.

We just love to have it with some type of freshly made homemade bread like hops bread or even coconut sweet bread. Then add a dollop of chow chow and some hotpepper sauce.

Other complementary dishes include stuffing, macaroni pie, curried goat, and calypso rice.

Then wash it down with some mauby, ginger beer, or a glass of sorrel.

Completed Trini Christmas ham with pineapples adorned.

Can leftover ham be frozen?

If you happen to have any ham left over, this can easily be frozen. This includes the bone.

Slice all the meat off the bone and place that in an airtight Ziploc bag. For the bone, wrap it in foil, then place that in a bag also.

Ham meat can be kept in the freezer at its freshest for up to 8 months. It can stay longer than that, but it might not taste just as good.

When ready to use, take the amount you need from the freezer and leave it on the counter to get to room temperature, or in the fridge overnight.

You can then warm it up in the microwave or on the stovetop.

Hambone can be kept for up to a year. We typically use this later down to make some pigeon peas soup.

Do I need to soak my ham prior to baking?

If you get a salted ham, which is what we usually get back home in Trinidad and Tobago.

My aunty actually cured ham for our family each year. That type of ham needs to be soaked for 24 hours or more to get the salt removed prior to cooking.


Do I need to boil my ham before baking?

You do not need to unless you are using a country ham. People like to boil it halfway and then finish baking it in the oven. It helps the ham retain moisture and be tender and juicy.

Nice thick slices of baked ham ready to be served.

Additional flavors to add to glaze

If you want to amp up your glaze with some more flavors, the combination possibilities are endless. Here are some other options:
  • Bay leaf
  • Pimento peppers
  • Rum - if adding rum, then you will need to simmer the mixture a little to kill off the alcohol levels.
  • White wine - same as the rum above, this will then need to be simmered for a bit.
  • Honey
  • Coke

Close up of a slice of juicy and moist Jamaica Christmas ham.

Here are some other great Holiday foods: