How to Cook a Frozen Ham Without Thawing It

Ham ready to bake.
Diana Rattray

Don't sweat it if you forgot to pull your holiday ham out of the freezer, or if it simply hasn't thawed as quick as you expected it to thaw. It's perfectly safe to cook a frozen ham. Just know that it takes about 50 percent longer to cook a fully-frozen ham. Here's everything you need to know to get good results and get dinner on the table on time.

illustration that depicts how to cook a frozen ham
Illustration: Julie Bang. © The Spruce, 2019

Frozen Ham Cooking Instructions and Temps

Preheat your oven to 325 F. While you're waiting for the oven to come to temperature, place your ham in a roasting pan. Don't have a roasting pan? No problem. There are some things you can use if you don't have a roasting pan. Then, add an inch of water to the bottom of the pan. The rack that came with your roasting pan should hold the ham above the water, so be careful not to overfill the pan. No rack? Just add some onions and carrots to the bottom of the pan to prop your ham up. As the vegetables cook, they'll release water, and combine with the drippings off the ham, so you don't have to worry that the drippings will burn on the bottom of the pan, and create a bunch of smoke.

Once you've got your ham situated, wrap the top of the pan tightly with aluminum foil. This will help to lock the moisture in, so your ham doesn't dry out while it thaws and cooks. It'll also keep the outside of the ham from burning, while you wait for the inside of the ham to cook. Since your ham will be in the oven longer than usual, this is an important step that you don't want to skip.

Pop your foil-wrapped ham in the oven, and cook it until its internal temperature meets or exceeds the following:

  • Cooked Ham (vacuum-packed at the plant) — 140 F
  • Cooked Ham (repackaged by you or someone else) — 165 F
  • Uncooked Ham (labeled fresh, cook-before-eating or uncured) — 145 F

Refer to the package that your ham came in to see which type of ham you bought, so you get the temperature right.

Frozen Ham Cooking Times

Trying to gauge how much longer it'll take to cook your frozen ham, so you know how soon you need to get it in the oven? Use this chart to look up the estimated cooking time.

Type of Ham Weight in lbs Thawed: Minutes/lb

Frozen: Minutes/lb

Smoked Ham, cook-before eating
Whole, bone-in 10-14 18-20 27-30
Half, bone-in 5-7 22-25 33-38
Smoked Ham, cooked
Whole, bone-in 10-14 15-18 23-27
Half, bone-in 5-7 18-24 27-36
Vacuum-packed, boneless 6-12 10-15 15-23
Spiral cut, whole or half 7-9 10-18 15-27
Fresh, uncooked
Whole leg, bone-in 12-16 22-26 33-39
Whole leg, boneless 10-14 24-28 36-42
Half, bone-in 5-8 35-40 53-60

Note: As mentioned, these cooking times are just estimates. Check the internal temperature of your ham with a meat thermometer to determine when your ham is done. 

*All recommendations are based ocurrent USDA guidelines.

Save the Pan Drippings

Since your frozen ham will be in the oven for a while, all those pan dripping will have probably turned into ham broth by the time your ham is done. Just de-fat the drippings, and you have the perfect base for a tasty pot of soup.

How to Cook Smaller Portions of Frozen Ham

Have frozen bacon, or a slice of frozen ham, that you'd like to serve for dinner? Just use these tips to thaw your meat quickly, or pop it straight in the oven to thaw and cook. As with larger cuts of pork, you can expect it to take 50 percent longer for your meat to reach a safe temperature. Keep a close eye on your dinner, while it cooks, so you pull it out when it's done (but not overdone).

What to Do With Your Leftover Ham

When you get finally tired of eating ham sandwiches, pop your ham back in the freezer to enjoy later. It's perfectly fine to refreeze meat. Here's the scoop on how long ham stays safe to eat in the freezer. 

Be sure to hang on to the ham bone, too. It can be used to make soup, broth, and many other tasty recipes. If you're not up for making any of those things now, you can always freeze the ham bone for later. It can go right into the stockpot without thawing it first.