There is nothing better than the tasty and tender meat from a perfectly cooked ham.
But how can you keep a cooked ham warm once it’s finished?
I imagine a busy holiday dinner waiting for the last guest to arrive.
Or maybe you didn’t get some timings quite through your cooking methods.
Let’s look at how to store and keep a smoked ham warm for later consumption.
Effective Methods for Keeping Smoked Ham Warm
Here are my methods for keeping a smoked and pre-cooked ham warm.
You will notice a time stamp for each of my instructions.
This will help you to figure out which one best applies to you.
I will note that smoked ham is delicious hot or cold.
So as a last resort, you can always cheat and serve the ham cold as if nothing happened!
Wrap & Rest the Smoked Ham in Tin Foil (1 Hour or Less)
You should plan a bit of time after cooking to rest.
While a ham might not need as long as a turkey, it is still important.
This crucial stage will allow the juices to be absorbed back into the meat proteins.
So you don’t lose it when carving and cause dry meat.
It will also allow the smoke flavor to develop and mix with a homemade glaze.
I recommend resting at least 5 minutes per pound.
– Check the correct internal temperatures have been met.
– Remove the ham from your smoker or oven space.
– Place on a wire rack in an oven tray.
– Double wrap with foil.
Oven Method (1 hour)
A preheated oven on low or medium setting will keep your ham warm!
But be very careful not to keep it in for an extended time as it can dry out your meat.
Do not warm it at a high oven temperature due to the risk of burning.
– Wrap the ham in a double layer of foil.
– Switch your oven to the lowest temp setting.
– Monitor the internal temperature to make sure it doesn’t continue cooking.
Slow Cooker Method (2-3 hours)
An easy way to reheat your smoked ham is by using a slow cooker or crockpot.
This will slowly reheat your ham and make sure that it stays moist and juicy.
– You can place your smoked ham into the cooker.
– Pour some liquid over top like chicken broth or apple juice.
– Set the cooker to medium heat.
Note: Adding extra glaze or even a couple of cups of water will stop the meat from drying out.
The ‘Faux Cambro’ Cooler Method (4 hours)
Below is my last and recommended warming technique.
It is used by professional pit masters to maintain temperatures for cuts of meat.
– A clean and good quality insulated cooler. (Big enough for your smoked ham)
– A clean towel(s).
– Heavy duty aluminum foil.
– Hot water.
– Temperature probes.
Step 1 – Prepare the Cooler
– Wash the cooler thoroughly.
– Fill with hot tap water & close the lid.
– Wait 30 minutes.
– Dump out the water.
Step 2 – Prepare the Ham
– Insert the temperature probes into the thickest part of your ham. (Avoid the bone if there is one)
– Wrap the ham in a double layer of aluminum foil.
– Isolate the bottom, top, and sides of the cooler with towels.
– Cover the wrapped ham with more towels.
Step 3 – Insert the Ham & Keep Warm
– Place the whole ham in the cooler.
– Cover again with a top layer of towels.
– Monitor the internal temperatures to make sure it doesn’t drop below the danger zone.
Note: We will cover the role of a temperature probe and the danger zone further.
Serve the Smoked Ham Cold
So you’ve had to postpone your holiday meal but your ham is in the smoker.
This isn’t the end of the world!
Smoked ham is just as delicious cold as it is hot.
It may be better to serve cold to avoid the risk of contamination or dry meat.
Allowing the meat to cool helps ensure that temperatures stay consistent.
Doing this will ensure bacteria growth is minimized.
– Follow the above instructions when resting the ham.
– Monitor the internal temperature from 165°F down to 140°F.
– Slice into portions and pour over any natural juices that were lost when carving.
– Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
What Temperature Does Pork Need to Reach Before Its Ready To Eat?
The thermometer in the meat should read 165°F.
These need to be reached before you need to keep your ham warm.
Carry On Cooking When Maintaining the Warmth of the Ham
On average the internal temp will raise 10°F when resting or keeping warm.
Bear that in mind when you are monitoring the above temperatures for the meat.
Smoked Country Ham – What You Need to Know Before Keeping It Warm
Food Safety – The Growth of Harmful Bacteria
Food poisoning from pork is no joke.
The ‘Danger Zone’ – Check for Food Safety!
It is important to note the safe temperature range when keeping warm.
Dangerous bacteria will multiply in temps below 140°F.
Why a Meat Thermometer Is Crucial for Keeping Ham Warm
The key piece of cooking equipment (apart from a heat source) is a thermometer.
So you can accurately monitor the proper temperature…
When cooking or keeping meat warm.
We touched on the temp parameters to avoid bacteria growth or overcooking.
So prepared and know the actual temperature in your cooking and warming methods.
Other Factors to Consider When Keeping Food Warm
Keep the Right Internal Temperature to Avoid Dry Meat & Illness
We touched on maintaining a safe temperature to avoid illness.
But there is also a cap on the higher end.
Keep the ham between temperatures of 140°F and 180°F.
If you go above 180°F then you are effectively still cooking the ham meat.
This heating process for precooked meat will dry it out completely.
How Long Does It Need to Stay Warm?
I recommend using the below methods for a maximum of 5 hours.
Any longer and maintaining those temperatures will be tricky.
Is it going to be longer?
You might want to consider a reheating process or serving your cooked product cold.
Do You Have the Correct Equipment?
One of the methods requires a good-quality insulated container.
You probably aren’t prepared with the correct equipment.
Don’t try and keep it warm without a few fundamentals.
Especially if you can’t accurately monitor the temp with a meat thermometer.
Food Safety for Keeping Food Hot
– Pay attention and wash any surfaces or utensils you have used when handling raw meat.
– Don’t leave raw or cooked meat out of the refrigerator for more than 30 minutes.
– Use a meat thermometer to measure internal temperatures accurately.
– The equipment you use to keep the finished product warm should be sanitized.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
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 adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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