How to Thaw Frozen Ham (4 Easy Methods)

Do you have a frozen ham on your hands and need to figure out how to thaw it out?

You’ve come to the right place!

In this guide we’ll cover:

  • How to thaw frozen ham
  • How long it takes to thaw frozen ham
  • And much more!

What You Need to Know About Thawing Frozen Ham

If you’ve purchased a whole ham to serve for the holiday season, chances are it came frozen. Even if it didn’t you may have tossed it in the freezer to keep it fresh for your even. Either way, you need to thaw it before it can be put in the oven.

You can thaw a ham in your refrigerator, in a cooler, in cold water, or in a microwave. The method you choose to use will depend on how long you have to thaw your ham as well as the materials you have on hand.

Read on to learn more about the methods you can use to thaw frozen ham and to discover which method is best for your ham.

Materials Needed to Thaw Frozen Ham

Like any other big cut of meat, you’re going to need a few materials to get it properly thawed. While you won’t need all of these, we recommend having some of them on hand before you begin the thawing process.

  • A pan to place the ham
  • A ham bag (or turkey bag)
  • Temperature probe
  • Hard sided cooler large enough to fit the ham
  • Ice packs
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How to Thaw a Frozen Ham (4 Methods)

Method 1: In the Fridge

Leave your ham wrapped and place your ham in a pan on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator. Ham will thaw at a rate of 4-6 hours per pound using this method so you will need to calculate in advance.  

If the bottom shelf isn’t available, another one will work, just be cautious of any juices dripping off that could contaminate other food in your fridge.

Method 2: In a Cooler

If your house is anything like ours, then fridge space is at a premium. In these cases, it is best to thaw your ham in an external cooler.

For this method, you will want to place the ham in a waterproof bag or wrapping and put it in a cooler of cold water where it can be completely submerged. It’s best to use a cooler that has a temperature probe to alert you when the temperature of the water exceeds 40°F.

You will need to change the water in the cooler whenever the temperature rises above 40°F. If you don’t have a temperature probe, then plan to change the water every 30 minutes. If this sounds like a lot of work, you can also use ice packs to keep the water at temperature—just be sure you have quite a few on hand that you can rotate out!

Using this method, your ham will thaw at a rate of 30 minutes per pound. You will want to calculate this in advance so you will know when your ham is thawed.

Method 3: Sink Method

The sink method is very similar to the cooler method, it just takes place in your sink instead of your cooler.

Start by giving your sink a scrub and placing your ham in a waterproof bag. Plug the sink and allow it to fill with cold water. Plan to drain and refill the water every 30 minutes.

Because your sink doesn’t retain temperature as a cooler does, with this method you must drain and refill the sink every 30 minutes. Do not use ice packs.

Using this method your ham should thaw at a rate of 30 minutes per pound. You’ll want to take the time to calculate this in advance, so you know when to expect your ham to be thawed.

Method 4: In the Microwave (Last Resort)

Did you forget you needed to thaw your ham until it was too late? While it is never advised to microwave your ham (it causes the meat to cook unevenly) you can thaw your ham in a microwave when you are in a pinch.

You should use the defrost setting on your microwave or consult the ham wrapping for more information on how long it should take to thaw in the microwave.

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Can You Thaw Frozen Ham at Room Temperature?

Hams can take a long time to thaw, and many people think they can cut corners by just leaving their ham at room temperature for a period of time. This is not a safe way to thaw ham.

Ham, like turkey, is a breeding ground for bacteria once it reaches a certain internal temperature and must be kept cold even during the thawing process. This leaves only a few safe methods that can be used to thaw ham which we will cover below.

Related >> How Long Can Ham Sit Out?

How Long Does It Take to Thaw Frozen Ham?

The length of time it takes to thaw your frozen ham will depend on the method you have chosen for thawing as well as the size of your ham. Therefore, it’s critical to know the weight of your ham so you know how much time it will likely take to thaw.

In general, ham thaws at a rate of 4-6 hours per pound of meat when thawed in the refrigerator. This means for a 10-pound ham you are looking at 40-60 hours of thawing time.

Thawing your ham in cold water is slightly faster than thawing it in the fridge, but it will still take 30 minutes per pound of meat, or about 5 hours for a 10-pound ham. This is why you want to plan well in advance for thawing your ham prior to cooking it.

Related >> How Long Does Ham Last in the Fridge? 

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Hope Davis

Born in Denver, Colorado as the oldest of 5 children, I learned at a young age that the grill was one of the best ways to prepare food for a crowd. And during the winter storm months, when the snow was likely to knock out the power to our house, the propane grill was a lifesaver! You wouldn’t believe the number of things you can cook on a grill when necessary. With parents who couldn’t tell salt from pepper unless you told them, I spent my late teen years making my own seasoning mixes and marinades to dress the meat before barbecues. It wasn’t long before I developed a secret marinade that people still beg me to make for them today! When I was 21 years old I bought my first smoker. Picked up some cedar chips for making a cedar plank salmon...and well, the rest they say is history! I’ve been grilling and smoking all kinds of creations ever since and I’m always excited to share my passion with others through my favorite medium--writing!

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