Traditional Swedish Christmas Ham – Julskinka

The Christmas ham, Sweden
Kjell Nilsson/Nordic Photos/Getty Images
  • Total: 5 hrs 10 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 5 hrs
  • Yield: 1 ham (25 servings)

Merry Christmas in Swedish is "God Jul" and no Swedish “julbord” (Christmas buffet) would be complete without Christmas ham (“jul” + “skinka” = “julskinka”). Ham in Sweden is salt-cured and unsmoked or “fresh.” It’s often served cold on the Christmas buffet, but serving it warm is certainly acceptable.

If you can only find salt-cured hams that have been smoked, you can go with that, but, it's worth the effort to source and prepare a salt-cured fresh (uncooked) ham for this traditional Christmas entree. IKEA often carries hams in the freezer section, especially seasonally. For best results, make sure that it still has its thick covering of pork fat.

Other popular Swedish Christmas foods include rice porridge (Risgrynsgröt ) and fragrant limpa bread, a moist rye bread flavored with fennel or anise, cumin, and orange rind.


  • 1 (7 to 9 pound) fresh salt-cured ham (unsmoked)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. grainy mustard (Swedish, if you can get it)
  • 6 tbsp. finely crumbled gingersnaps (or breadcrumbs)

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat oven to 350 F and place the oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Rinse the ham well to remove any excess salt and pat it dry.

  2. Place pork, rind-side up, in a heavy roasting pan. Put the pan in the oven and roast until the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer registers 160 F (about 4 1/2 hours). Remove from the oven and increase heat to 450 F.

  3. Carefully slice the rind off of ham (in Scandinavia, this crispy, delicious, heart attack-inducing crackling is often served as a side dish.) Whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, and mustard, and spread evenly over the entire surface of the ham.

  4. Sprinkle with the crumbled gingersnaps or bread crumbs until covered.

  5. Return ham to oven and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

  6. Remove from oven and cover loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 15 minutes. Carve and serve warm or let it cool completely and serve it cold.