Shank or Butt Ham: Which Cut of Pork Is Better?

Are you wondering what the difference is between shank and butt ham?

You planned a ham dinner and now you’re at the store. There are so many options!

Which ham should you buy? Which type of ham is best? What even is the difference?

Keep reading to learn all you need to know about ham, especially shank and butt ham.


What Is Shank Ham?

The shank portion of ham is the lower part of the pigs leg.

Many people prefer the butt because it is fattier and juicier. Therefore, it has a richer flavor!

It has an oval shape and funnels off towards the end, making it a bit bigger than the upper portion.

The shank is a popular cut to cure for ham.


What Is Butt Ham?

The butt portion of the ham is found closer to the pig’s butt.

Do not confuse it with the pork butt, which comes from the front end of the pig.

Some people also think that the butt ham is called the shoulder.

The pork shoulder comes from the front shoulder of the pig. Some people also refer to this as the picnic shoulder.

While the entire ham is the butt, the actual butt ham is closer to the pig’s rump.

You could also refer to the butt ham as the upper portion of the ham.

This cut is fairly lean for pork. That makes it the “healthy” option!

However, it comes with a t-bone that can make carving difficult.

Fortunately, there are many online tutorials to help you improve this skill.

This is a smaller cut of ham.

Thinking of smoking ham on a Pit Boss? See my recipe here


What Are Some Other Types of Ham?

Ham is the portion of meat near the pig’s butt. It is usually about 18-20 pounds.

There are many types of ham you might find at the store.

These are always prepared from either the shank, butt, or center cut of ham.

They also have usually gone through a curing process.

Center Cut

You can also find the center cut of the ham. This is usually about an inch thick.

This cut is what separates the shank from the butt.

Bone-in or Boneless Ham

You could get a boneless or bone-in ham.

The biggest thing to consider is whether or not you want to carve a ham with a bone.

It can be tricky to carve a bone-in ham. However, with a little bit of practice, it’s not too hard.

Many people like to save the bone to make stock for soups.

Boneless meat is easier to cook and carve.

Hams With Different Flavors

When looking for ham, you may find different flavors.

This is because butchers prepare ham with different seasonings and methods.

Black Forest ham comes from German pigs. This ham is seasoned with a very particular seasoning blend.

Smoked ham, or city ham, has already been cooked. Usually, smoked hams were wet-cured before smoking.

Country ham is another popular type of ham. It has been dry-cured, smoked, and aged.

Spiral Ham

Spiral-cut ham is ham that has been prepared and sliced.

This is perfect for anyone who may be a bit too busy to worry about cooking the ham.

When you heat this type of ham, be careful not to dry it out.

Since the meat is already cut, there is more surface area to be dried out.

You can cover it with aluminum foil to heat it or just microwave a few slices for a short amount of time.


What Is the Best Type of Ham?

The butt ham is leaner than the shank ham. The shank ham is easier to cut than the butt.

They each have their pros and cons.

Boneless ham is convenient when you’re preparing a big meal. Ham bones are delicious in soups.

Different rubs, cures, and glazes can make or break a ham. But everyone has different taste preferences.

Do You Need to Cook Ham?

Generally, you do not need to cook a ham.

Unlike fresh pork, ham has been cured and is usually cooked. Therefore, you don’t need to cook it.

In rare instances, you may be able to purchase fresh ham shank or butt.

Then you will need to learn how to prepare fresh ham!

You may want to heat it, though. You can expect about 10 minutes of cooking time per pound at 350°F.

A lot of people will add some flavors by glazing or seasoning the ham.

PIneapple-glazed ham is a favorite recipe. A lot of people like to make a brown sugar crust for their holiday ham.

You can use something sweet like maple syrup or add some salty flavors.

There are countless baked ham recipes to choose from.


How Do You Serve Ham?

Many people season or glaze a ham before warming it up and serving it.

Once the ham is ready to eat, carve it.

You can expect to serve 1/3 pound per person. If you’re buying a bone-in ham, count on 1/2 pound of meat per person.

You can store ham in the refrigerator for up to a week. Keep it away from strong-smelling foods.

Freeze ham for two months. We recommend freezing smaller pieces of ham for easy reheating.

Reheat leftovers in the oven or microwave.

To avoid drying it out, cover it with aluminum foil and cook it for minimal lengths of time.

Whether you’re serving ham at a family meal or a backyard cookout, there are many options out there.

Both shank and butt ham have that pork flavor that people love to eat!


Smoke On!


Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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