Virginia Willis’ Bourbon Baked Ham

Southern Kitchen
Bourbon Ham

Virginia Willis’ Bourbon Baked Ham

Serves: 12 to 14

Hands On Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes


1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup honey

1/2 cup bourbon

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

One half semi-boneless, ready-to-eat ham (7 to 8 pounds), preferably shank end

Freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bottom of a large roasting pan with the oil.

In a small saucepan, combine the honey, bourbon, orange juice and mustard. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, everything has melted and combined. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Using a sharp knife, make 1/4-inch-deep cuts in the skin in a diamond pattern. Place the ham in the prepared roasting pan.

Brush some of the warm bourbon glaze onto ham. Transfer the ham to the oven and cook, brushing with additional glaze every 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 140 degrees, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If the ham starts to over-brown, loosely tent with aluminum foil to prevent it from burning.

Transfer the ham to a cooling rack, tent loosely with foil and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Transfer to a cutting board, carve and serve.

About the recipe

Amp up the flavor of this Southern New Year’s Day classic with bourbon, honey, orange juice and mustard.

When shopping for a ham, look for one labeled “fully cooked,” “ready-to-eat” or “heat-and-serve.” Also known as “city ham,” these hams are wet-cured, meaning that they are submerged in or injected with brine, then smoked and sold fully cooked to be glazed and warmed at home. They may be eaten as is, but are more often heated to an internal temperature of 140°F for fuller flavor. A whole cured ham is the entire back leg of a hog and weighs about 20 pounds. Half hams are also available and come in butt end and shank end. The butt end comes from the upper thigh and has a rounded end, whereas the shank end comes from the lower portion of the leg and has a pointed or tapered end. Look for bone-in cured hams over boneless cured hams for more flavor (and a bone for the soup pot).