The 6 best hams of 2024, reviewed by experts

When you buy through our links, Business Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

There are few foods more nostalgic and celebratory than one of the best hams.

Melissa Cookston

A gleaming, brown-sugar-glazed ham evokes feelings of bounty, holiday cheer, and meals enjoyed with loved ones. For a special occasion, why not splurge a bit on a legendary spiral-cut ham that everyone will remember? Even better, don’t stress over the prepping, cooking, and slicing — you can order one of the best hams online.

Whether you want a city ham, a country ham, or spiral-sliced, we have an option for you. Our best heritage breed pick was from Snake River Farms. With its impressive marbling and flavor, this ham is a flavorful centerpiece for the holidays. If you are cooking for yourself or a smaller crowd, we picked the Duroc Boneless Country Ham from Omaha Steaks. This ham is small but mighty, and since it doesn’t come presliced, it retains maximum savory and juicy flavors.

Learn more about how Insider Reviews tests and researches kitchen products.

Our top picks for the best hams

Best heritage breed: Snake River Farms Kurobuta Half Ham – See at Snake River Farms
Purebred, humane Berkshire pork, with rich color and flavor.

Best boneless: D’Artagnan Berkshire Best Boneless Smoked Ham – See at D’Artagnan
Marbled, tender Berkshire pork that was raised on pasture.

Best for a smaller crowd: Omaha Steaks Duroc Boneless Country Ham – See at Omaha Steaks
The perfect size for up to five.

Best honey-glazed: Cajun Ed’s Cajun Honey Glazed Ham – See at Goldbelly
The ideal balance of sweet and spicy.

Best smoked: Smoking Goose Peach Smoked Duroc Ham – See at Zingermans
Smooth and complex, thanks to the curing spices and peach tree smoke.

Best subscription: Crowd Cow Smoked Bone-In Heritage Ham – See at Crowd Cow
Flavorful, Paleo-friendly, raised with care.

Best heritage breed: Snake River Farms Kurobuta Half HamThis is a solid pick for ham aficionados. The marbling and rich flavors are exquisite.

Snake River Farms

Size: 6 and 8 pounds 

Shipping: $9.99 standard shipping; $24.99 express shipping; $49.99 overnight shipping; all dry aged products ship fresh and overnight for $49.99

Much like using different varieties of grape will lead to two very different red wines, different breeds of pig result in different ham experiences. Industrial meat production generally uses pig breeds that get big quickly and inexpensively. Heritage breeds, on the other hand, generally take longer to mature, but offer a more unique flavor.

This humanely-raised ham from Snake River Farms, one of our favorite meat delivery services, is 100% Kurobuta, a Berkshire breed. This breed is known for impressive marbling, a more saturated color of meat, and rich flavor. There’s a 6-pound and 8-pound option, both of which are bone-in and smoked over hardwood for even more flavor. If you’re looking for one of the best hams for a special occasion, consider this Kurobuta.

Read our full Snake River Farms review for more information. 

Best boneless: D’Artagnan Berkshire Best Boneless Smoked HamThe texture of this ham is buttery and delicious.

D’Artagnan

Size: 5-7 poundsShipping: Overnight from date selected at checkout (price based on cost and weight of order)

Longtime food lovers may recognize D’Artagnan, which has been sourcing humane, sustainable meat for more than 35 years, both for ethical reasons and because it believes that it’s more flavorful. Its Berkshire Pork Boneless Smoked Ham is a testament to that belief. You can order it fresh or frozen, and apply a glaze of your choice about 30 minutes before it’s done re-heating.

Another heirloom breed meat, this ham is made from Kurobuta (Berkshire) pork that was raised sustainably on pasture and smoked over applewood. Seasoned with raw cane sugar and sea salt, it’s free of nitrates, nitrites, phosphates, and artificial fillers. This is our boneless pick because it offers the convenience of boneless with exceptional texture. It is one of the best hams to buy solely based on texture.

Best for a smaller crowd: Omaha Steaks Duroc Boneless Country HamOne of the best hams if you are cooking for yourself or for a smaller crowd of people.

Omaha Steaks

Size: 2.5 and 5 poundsShipping: $20 up to $140; $10 up to $169; free over $169; express options available

The only issue with some of our other picks is that they’re best suited for a crowd (or for someone with plenty of room for leftovers). If you’re looking for a ham for a smaller group, consider the Omaha Steaks Duroc Boneless Country Ham.

Made from Duroc pork, a breed known for its juicy, super savory flavor, this ham is beautifully marbled and slow-smoked for up to eight hours over hickory. This one doesn’t come spiral-spiced, which may make it a little trickier to portion (you’ll have to slice it yourself), but will make storage easier if you do have leftovers.  

Read our full Omaha Steaks review for more details and gift ideas for the chefs in your life. 

Best honey-glazed: Cajun Ed’s Cajun Honey Glazed HamIf you are looking for a classic ham with a Cajun twist, this is an exceptional pick.

Cajun Ed’s

Size: 5-7 poundsShipping: Delivery only Tuesday through Friday (price based on local carriers)

There’s something so comforting about a honey-glazed ham. For us, it’s less about having a super sweet ham and more about using sweetness as a foil for the super savory, hammy flavors. That’s why Cajun Ed’s Cajun Honey Glazed Ham is so great. Just a bit of Cajun spice in each bite brings out both the honey and the savory meaty flavors in a way that’s the best of all worlds.

The ham is spiral cut and arrives frozen and packed with dry ice. It takes 40 minutes to reach serving temperature, which you can spot by the appetizing, burnished glaze.

Best smoked: Smoking Goose Peach Smoked Duroc HamA smoky and delicious ham for people who want a bit of flavor this holiday season.

Smoking Goose

Size: 4-5 and 7-9 pounds Shipping: Standard (up to 4 days), two business days, overnight, and Saturday delivery (price based on cost of order)

Zingerman’s sources this exclusive offering from the beloved Smoking Goose in Indianapolis. The ham is first procured from nearby Gunthorp Farms, which raises its heritage Duroc-breed pork on pasture. It’s cured with pepper, coriander, mustard seed, honey, bay leaf, and mead from Arvins Acres meadery in nearby Delphi, Indiana. Then, it’s smoked over peach wood, imparting a sweeter smoke flavor.

The thing with smoked ham is that it can quickly become all about the smoke. In fact, sometimes the smoke can be a way to distract from the meat’s lack of inherent flavor. This is our pick for the best smoked ham because, while the smoke certainly adds flavor, it’s in concert with the cured flavor of exceptional heritage breed pork.

Best subscription: Crowd Cow Smoked Bone-In Heritage HamYou can conveniently schedule this ham to be delivered year after year.

Crowd Cow

Size: 5.5, 6.5, 7, and 7.5 poundsShipping: Orders typically arrive in two days, no expedited shipping

If you love the idea of sustainable meat from smaller farms but don’t have a farmers market that is easily accessible, consider Crowd Cow. It offers meat subscriptions on your schedule, with customizable boxes. If you choose to become a member, you get 5% off, free shipping on boxes over $99, and exclusive access to new releases. If ham for dinner is a hallowed tradition in your home, why not set up a monthly ham delivery?

Crowd Cow sources its ham from Texas-based Pederson Natural Farms, which has been humanely and sustainably raising natural meats since 1992. Its Smoked Bone-In Ham is spiral-sliced, uncured, and has no sugar added. There are no added nitrates or nitrites and no MSG. It’s paleo-friendly, yes, but it’s also delicious and a great sustainable option.

This is one of the best hams to buy in terms of convenience and reliability.

What to look for in a ham

Ham is a deeply personal food. Everyone has their favorites, which are probably based on what was served in their home growing up. That said, there are a few objective categories to look at when assessing ham online. 

Sourcing: Ideally, the best hams should be sourced from responsible farmers who ensured that the animals led happy, pig-like lives, which entailed plenty of roaming around on a pasture. Not only does this make eating meat a little easier on our consciences, but it also happens to make for tastier meat. This type of meat costs more but is infinitely tastier and better for the planet. 

True to style: Cooked ham should be tender and flavorful. If a ham says it’s smoked, it should be smoked over wood rather than adding smoke flavoring. Ideally, it should be cold-smoked for maximum tenderness. Honey-glazed ham should actually taste like honey.

Reviews: Ham is the food of the people. There aren’t ham sommeliers peeking over your shoulder, telling you how to enjoy it; you know exactly what good ham tastes like, and you probably know within a few seconds whether you’re eating great ham. There will be a consensus on whether ham is good or not. Thus, reviews were considered to ensure that our picks were well-loved.  

Ham FAQs

What’s the difference between city ham and country ham?

City hams are wet-cured, while country hams are dry-cured. Wet curing involves injecting or soaking the ham in a brine. Dry-cured hams, by contrast, are rubbed or packed in salt and left to age at room temperature. 

Due to the difference in curing, city hams are nearly always sold pre-cooked (and the majority of our picks in this guide are city hams). Country hams can be sold uncooked or cooked since the dry curing process makes them safe to eat. In most of the US, city hams are far easier to come by than country hams.

Should I buy an unglazed or glazed ham?

The majority of our top picks are unglazed hams. The beauty of an unglazed ham is versatility: you can let the ham’s flavor shine on its own or add a homemade glaze for a personalized feel. If you have both savory and sweet ham lovers at your table, you can even glaze part of the ham and leave the other part unglazed.

On the other hand, if you know you want a sweet ham and don’t want to make your own glaze, buying a glazed ham will cut down on the work. Avoid adding a homemade glaze to a pre-glazed ham.

What is a spiral-cut ham?

A spiral-cut ham is a bone-in ham that has been professionally cut with a spiral-slicing machine. These machines carve the outside of the ham into even slices and provide a stunning presentation on your dinner table. While spiral-cut hams are easier to prepare and serve, they are more prone to drying out when cooked. A whole ham is typically juicier since it is cut after being cooked.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Subscribe

Related articles

Avatar