This amazing Crockpot Ham is the BEST slow cooker ham recipe! It's cooked in pineapple juice with a brown sugar glaze featuring Dijon, balsamic vinegar, and honey for an EASY holiday dinner that practically makes itself!
If you're looking for fabulous side dishes to accompany this Crockpot Ham, I think you'll enjoy Cream Cheese Corn Casserole, Green Bean Casserole with Bacon, or Make-Ahead Garlic & Herb Mashed Potatoes!
This delectable Crockpot Ham has been the top holiday recipe on my site since 2014. Literally millions of happy readers have made it over the years, returning to this post time and time again!
So today, I've decided it's high time I update my slow cooker ham recipe with some new step-by-step photos, tips, and tricks! I'm keeping the main photos the same, however, because I want this post to be recognizable to anyone returning to make the "Brown Sugar Slow Cooker Ham" that they've grown to know and love on previous holidays. 😉
To be honest, cooking ham in the crockpot is perhaps one of the most brilliant holiday cooking decisions I've ever made! As we all know, when preparing a holiday meal, oven space is at a premium. There are a ton of side dishes to bake, not to mention homemade rolls, desserts, and more. That's why it's always nice to ensure that some of your dishes don't rely on said oven.
And that's also why this Crockpot Ham recipe has been so popular with so many people for so many years! Not only is it effortless to throw in the slow cooker, but it's also so mouth-watering-ly delicious that countless reviewers have commented that they'll never cook their hams in the oven again!
Another beautiful quality of this slow cooker ham is that it requires just a handful of basic ingredients.
- Ham. What say we chat about the star ingredient first?!
- You're going to want to start with a fully cooked ham, and this recipe will simply serve to heat it to a safe temperature and glaze it.
- The most standard ham at the grocery store will probably be cured but not smoked. However, you may choose cured or uncured, plain or smoked...it's really just a matter of personal preference.
- The ham in these photos was actually uncured, which is why it's a lighter color than deep pink, cured ham.
- If your ham includes a flavor/glaze packet -- or if it has a plastic cap over the end of the bone -- be sure to discard those before cooking.
- Scroll down for even more commonly asked FAQs related to the ham you choose for this recipe!
In addition to the ham itself, this Crockpot Ham requires just a few additional ingredients for slow cooking and glazing:
- Pineapple juice. I only buy pinepple juice a few times a year...and it's always for this recipe! Ha. It's true, though...the flavor that pineapple juice lends to this slow cooker ham can't be beat. That being said, if you don't care for pineapple juice or don't have any on hand, I have successfully subbed apple juice and the ham still turns out delicious. I think you could even swap in another type of juice, so long as you enjoy its flavor and wouldn't mind it in a glaze. For example, a pineapple juice combo (such as pineapple orange juice) would be lovely.
- Brown sugar. This is the primary ingredient for the paste that later turns into the glaze. Dark brown sugar or light brown sugar will work, though obviously your resulting glaze will be lighter or darker as a result.
- Dijon mustard. Dijon is recommended, but another type of mustard can be substituted if you wish. Commenters have reported success using spicy brown mustard, honey mustard, or even regular yellow mustard.
- Balsamic vinegar. I think the balsamic vinegar contributes key flavor to this recipe, so I'd be hesitant to substitute it. But if I found myself making this recipe without any balsamic on hand, I'd choose red wine vinegar as the closest best swap.
- Honey. Maple syrup would work as well.
- Cornstarch + cold water. When you mix together these two ingredients with a fork, they form a slurry that is used to thicken the glaze.
The above ingredients melt down into the most tantalizing glaze. And once thickened, it's served alongside (or drizzled all over) the ham.
The glaze is honestly my favorite part of this recipe! Let's just say I
have eaten could eat it with a spoon. 😉
How to Cook a Ham in a Crockpot
(The below photos are intended to be helpful, but please refer to the recipe card at the bottom of this post for FULL DIRECTIONS.)
Well, we've rounded up the ingredients. Now you won't believe how easy it is to prepare your holiday meal by cooking a ham in the crockpot!
Slow Cook the Ham
- Remove the ham from the packaging, discarding any plastic cap and/or glaze or flavoring packet.
- Pour the pineapple juice into the bottom of a large slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and honey until a paste forms.
- Spread the brown sugar mixture all over the ham. Place the ham (flat side down) in your slow cooker.
- Cover the crockpot and set to LOW. Cook your ham for 4 to 6 hours or until the meat is tender and the internal temperature reaches 140°F.
If desired, you may flip and baste your ham halfway through cooking time, and again about an hour before it's done. But this step is optional.
Once your ham is done, remove it to a platter and tent it with foil to keep it warm.
Then it's time to...
Make the Glaze
- Skim any fat and then strain the juices from the crockpot into a saucepan. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and bring the juices to a simmer.
- In a small bowl, use a fork to stir the cornstarch into the water until smooth. Slowly pour this slurry into the pot of simmering ham juices while whisking. Allow the mixture to bubble and thicken for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. (For a thicker sauce, make and stir in additional cornstarch slurry.)
- After it's rested for about 15 minutes, slice your slow cooker ham and serve it warm. You may offer the glaze on the side or spoon it on top.
What Kind of Ham Works Best in the Crockpot?
Here's the thing about this recipe: it's very forgiving. It can be adapted to just about any cut and any size of ham, provided you can fit it in the crockpot. But of course, keep in mind that the specifics of the particular ham you choose are going to dictate its ultimate cooking time.
You may use a bone-in ham or boneless...whole or spiral-sliced...cured or uncured...smoked or not...shank, butt, or shoulder.
As with most cuts of meat, a bone-in ham is more likely to stay juicy, but boneless will work, too.
And while a sprial-cut ham is convenient for serving and certainly adapts to this recipe, know that it may dry out a bit faster than a whole, uncut ham. To prevent this as much as possible, baste all over the spiral slices a few times throughout the cooking time. And be sure not to overcook...serve as soon as the internal temperature of the ham tests done.
What Size Ham Do I Need?
The size of ham you buy depends on how many people you are going to feed. You can go with a large ham for a big group. Or I've halved this recipe and reduced the cooking time to use as small as a 2-pound petite ham half as an everyday, weeknight meal for my family.
To determine number of servings, estimate approximately ½ pound of boneless ham per person, or ¾ pound of bone-in ham per person.
I would recommend up to an 8-pound ham as the size that will most readily fit in a large (7- to 8-quart), oval crock pot. But of course, that also depends on the shape of the ham!
What If My Ham is Too Big for My Crockpot?
If you put your ham in the crockpot and it extends in a way that the lid won't fit snugly, you have two choices:
- You can either trim off a piece of your ham to make it fit; or
- You can use a triple-layer of heavy-duty foil to cover your slow cooker with a tight seal. (And then I would still rest the lid on top of the foil!) Just beware of very hot steam escaping when you remove the foil.
How Long Does It Take to "Cook" a Fully Cooked Ham?
The FDA recommends reheating a fully-cooked ham to 140°F.
So depending on how hot your crockpot runs, a very small ham may reach that point within 2 to 3 hours set on low.
A large ham should be to that temperature by 4 to 6 hours on low.
Just keep in mind that each time you remove the slow cooker's lid, you may have to compensate for lost heat with a bit of additional cooking time.
And while you're welcome to try it at your own risk, I do not recommend slow cooking a ham on high heat. It's just too likely to dry out the ham.
Can I Make My Slow Cooker Ham Savory (Not Sweet)?
If you enjoy more of a savory ham versus sweet, it's easy to adapt this recipe.
Simply eliminate both the pineapple juice and the brown sugar from your ingredient list. Instead, pour a chicken or vegetable broth in the bottom of your slow cooker. This will ensure that the ham stays moist while it cooks.
If you like, you could even add crushed black peppercorns, minced garlic, and/or a little white wine to your broth as well.
For the coating mixture (which won't really be a paste without the brown sugar), increase the mustard, balsamic vinegar, and honey (assuming you can handle a *little* bit of sweetness) to 2 tablespoons each. Combine and smear all over the ham. Then follow the same directions as far as cooking time.
How to Reheat Leftover Crockpot Ham
Place leftover ham in a baking dish (cut side down). Add a couple tablespoons of water or broth, and tightly cover with heavy duty foil (or two layers of regular foil).
Reheat in a 325°F oven, anticipating 10 to 15 minutes of reheating time per pound of ham. The FDA recommends that you reheat any type of leftovers to an internal temperature of 165°F, so that's what you should test for.
Alternatively, you may reheat individual servings of ham in the microwave.
Helpful Tips & Tricks
- Make sure you have a tight seal on your slow cooker and avoid opening the lid unless necessary. Allowing the steam escape while cooking can result in a dry ham.
- Be sure not to skip the tenting and resting part of this recipe. You want to give your ham time to redistribute its flavorful juices. If you slice into it straight out of the slow cooker, those juices will leak right out.
- Once it's done, if you'd like for your Crockpot Ham to have an oven-baked effect, you may brush the entire ham with thickened glaze. Then simply pop it under the broiler for about 5 minutes (watch closely!) before serving.
- To carve your ham, place it on a cutting board, flat-side down. Then slice against the grain for the most tender slices.
Using a slow cooker is truly the easiest, most delicious way to cook a ham. In fact, for no less than ten years now, I've looked forward to making this recipe every time Easter and Christmas (and even Thanksgiving) roll around! I sometimes even use this technique with a small ham for an effortless dinner any day of the year.
Crockpot Ham is a fabulous staple recipe to have in your arsenal. I hope you have a chance to try it soon if you haven't already. And, most importantly, I hope you love it as much as we do! 🙂
Recipes to Use Up Leftover Ham
- Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup
- Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes with Ham
- Cordon Bleu Casserole
- Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup
The BEST Crockpot Ham | Slow Cooker Ham
- Fully-cooked ham, approximately 7 to 8 pounds (*see Notes below)
- 2 cups pineapple juice
For the paste/glaze:
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ tablespoons honey
For the slurry (to thicken the glaze):
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- Remove ham from the packaging and discard any flavoring packet. If using a bone-in ham, check the end of the bone for a plastic cap and, if present, discard.
- Pour the pineapple juice in bottom of a large (6- to 9-quart), oval slow cooker.
- In a medium bowl, mix the brown sugar, Dijon, balsamic vinegar, and honey into a paste. Spread brown sugar mixture all over ham and place, flat side down, in slow cooker.
- Cover slow cooker with lid and set to LOW. Cook ham for 4 to 6 hours or until the meat is tender and the internal temperature reaches 140°F. If desired, flip and baste the ham halfway through cooking time and again about an hour before the ham is done.
- Once ham is done, remove to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm and rest for 15 minutes. Skim any fat and strain the juices from the crock pot into a saucepan. Place the pot on the stove over medium heat and bring the juices to a simmer.
- In a small bowl, use a fork to stir the cornstarch into the water to make a slurry. Slowly pour the slurry into the pot while whisking the ham juices. Allow the mixture to bubble and thicken for a minute or two, stirring occasionally. If you desire a thicker sauce, you may make and stir in a bit more cornstarch slurry.
- Serve the ham warm, with the sauce on the side or spooned on top.
- You may use a bone-in ham (recommended) or boneless, whole or spiral cut, cured or uncured, smoked or not, shank, butt, or shoulder.
- To determine number of servings, estimate approximately ½ pound of boneless ham per person and ¾ pound of bone-in ham per person.
- A ham that's less than 7 or 8 pounds will probably reach 140° sooner than 4 to 6 hours. The ham is already cooked, so all you are doing is heating it through to a safe temperature and allowing it to absorb the flavors of the glaze. For example, a small 3-pound ham will probably be done in 2 ½ to 3 hours. Overcooking will lead to a tough, dry ham, even in the crock pot! You may also want to halve the other recipe ingredients if cooking a ham that's smaller than 4 pounds.
- Try to ensure that your ham is going to fit in your crock pot before buying it. However, if your ham is particularly large or of a shape that will not allow the lid of the slow cooker to properly close, trim off a chunk of ham to make it fit. As a last resort, you may cover the slow cooker with a tightly-sealed, triple layer of heavy duty foil instead. Beware of hot steam when you remove the foil!
- If you prefer an oven-cooked ham effect, you may brush the entire ham with the thickened glaze and pop it under the broiler for about 5 minutes (watch it closely!) before serving.
- When thickening your glaze, do not add straight cornstarch to the hot liquid or it will clump, and do not over stir the sauce once the cornstarch has been added or it may not thicken properly.
Post originally published on April 4, 2014, and republished on March 22, 2019, and December 7, 2021.