Can You Deep Fry a Fully Cooked Ham? The Ultimate Guide to Deep Frying Ham

Deep fried ham is a delicious, yet unorthodox way to enjoy everyone’s favorite holiday protein By submerging cooked ham in hot oil, you get an incredibly crispy, bacon-like exterior that pairs perfectly with the tender, juicy meat inside

I know what you’re thinking – deep frying an already cooked ham seems weird. And you’re not wrong – it’s definitely an unusual technique. But don’t knock it ’til you try it! Deep fried ham is an absolute treat and I’m excited to share everything you need to know to deep fry ham successfully at home.

In this guide, we’ll cover:

  • The basics of deep frying ham
  • What type of ham to buy
  • How to prepare the ham
  • Frying tips and oil temperature
  • How long to fry ham
  • Serving suggestions
  • Safety tips

So let’s get frying! Here’s my complete guide to making the ultimate deep fried holiday ham.

Can You Deep Fry an Already Cooked Ham?

The short answer – yes, absolutely! Fully cooked ham is the best type to use when deep frying.

Raw, uncooked ham takes too long to cook through in the hot oil. The exterior will burn long before the inside is properly cooked.

Fully cooked ham, on the other hand, can go straight into the fryer to crisp up the outside while the interior stays juicy and tender. It’s quick, easy, and insanely delicious!

Both bone-in hams and boneless hams work equally well. Boneless may be slightly easier to handle. The key is finding a fully cooked ham that’s ready to eat as-is.

What Type of Ham Should You Buy for Deep Frying?

There are a few varieties of fully cooked ham that are ideal candidates for deep frying

Spiral sliced ham – The most popular choice. These hams come pre-sliced in a spiral pattern, which allows the interior to absorb glazes and seasonings. The slices separate easily after frying.

Bone-in ham – Leaving the bone in results in a dramatic presentation. Choose a half ham or quarter ham to make it easier to lower into the hot oil.

Cured ham – Opt for a wet-cured or dry-cured ham that’s been smoked or aged for full flavor. Prosciutto hams are a great choice.

Glazed ham – The sweet, sticky glaze will caramelize into a crunchy coating when fried. Brown sugar glazed and honey glazed hams are especially good.

Picnic ham – Smaller and more elongated than other hams, so it may be easier to fully submerge. But any style of fully cooked ham will work!

How to Prepare Ham for Deep Frying

Preparing the ham for deep frying is simple:

  • Start with a fully cooked, ready-to-eat ham. Do not use a raw, uncooked ham.

  • Leave the ham whole. Do not slice or cut the ham prior to frying.

  • Remove any plastic, netting, or metal hock pins. Leave any bone in place.

  • Pat the ham dry thoroughly with paper towels. Remove any excess moisture or the oil may splatter.

  • If using a glazed ham, avoid any hard, burnt areas of glaze which may fall off into the oil.

  • Do not bread, flour, or coat the ham. You want the hot oil to crisp up the natural exterior.

And that’s it – the ham is prepped and ready for the fryer. Time to get your oil heated up!

Tips for Deep Frying Ham

Deep frying uses extremely hot oil to quickly crisp and brown the exterior of foods. Here are some tips for safety and success when frying ham:

  • Use a heavy stockpot or large Dutch oven – do not fill more than halfway with oil.

  • An electric turkey fryer with thermostat is ideal for controlling temperature.

  • Choose a frying oil with a high smoke point like peanut, vegetable, canola or sunflower oil.

  • Heat oil slowly over medium heat until it reaches 325-375°F. Use a deep fry thermometer.

  • Carefully lower the ham into the hot oil using long tongs. Be extremely cautious of splattering.

  • Fry relatively small hams or pieces – a whole bone-in half ham may be too large/heavy.

  • Turn the ham occasionally to evenly brown all sides.

  • Monitor the temperature and adjust the heat to maintain it at 325-375°F.

  • Remove immediately when the ham is golden brown. Drain on a wire rack or paper towels.

How Long to Deep Fry Ham

Frying time can vary based on the size and style of your ham, but these general guidelines will help:

  • Boneless ham: Fry for 4-6 minutes per 1 inch of thickness

  • Bone-in ham: Fry for 6-8 minutes per lb

  • Spiral sliced ham: Fry for 5-7 minutes total

  • Ham slices: Fry for 90 seconds – 2 minutes per side

  • Glazed hams: Add 1-2 minutes to compensate for thicker glaze

For example, a 6 lb bone-in cooked ham would take 36-48 minutes to fry, flipping occasionally. Smaller hams and pieces won’t take nearly as long.

The best way to test doneness is by taking the internal temperature in the thickest part with a meat thermometer. Fully cooked ham should reach 130-140°F after frying.

If the exterior starts to darken too quickly, turn down the heat slightly. Slow, gentle frying is the key to perfect deep fried ham.

Serving Deep Fried Ham

The possibilities are endless when it comes to serving your decadent deep fried ham! Here are some delicious ways to make the most of this crispy, crunchy treat:

  • Slice the fried ham and serve like steak, spooning pan drippings on top

  • Chop and add to salads, pizza, baked potatoes, or scrambled eggs

  • Crumble into green beans, soups, or casseroles for a smoky twist

  • Pair slices with mac and cheese or over biscuits for an upscale take on ham and…

  • Stuff into sandwiches and paninis – the crispy bits take these to the next level!

  • Mix cubed fried ham into cornbread batter before baking

  • Garnish Bloody Mary cocktails with fried ham strips and pickled okra

However you serve it up, the contrast of crispy, caramelized exterior and tender, juicy ham is incredible! It probably goes without saying, but deep fried ham pairs perfectly with all your favorite holiday side dishes too.

Is Deep Frying Ham Safe? Tips to Avoid Pitfalls

While deep frying ham isn’t complicated, it does come with some safety concerns if not done carefully:

  • Hot oil can easily cause burns. Wear protective gear and be cautious.

  • Never leave a hot fryer unattended – if overheated, oil can combust.

  • Only deep fry in a well-ventilated area as oil will produce smoke.

  • Do not overfill the fryer with oil – leave plenty of room for bubbling.

  • Carefully lower the ham into the oil to prevent splattering.

  • If the ham isn’t fully cooked, it may discharge blood into the oil.

  • Monitor the temperature and do not let oil exceed 375°F.

As long as you take precautions, deep frying ham should be a fun, safe and delicious cooking adventure!

Frequently Asked Questions About Deep Fried Ham

If you’re new to deep frying ham, chances are you still have some questions about how to nail this untraditional technique. Here are answers to some of the most common deep fried ham FAQs:

Is it safe to eat deep fried ham?

Absolutely! Fully cooked ham is already safe to eat. Deep frying simply crisps up the exterior – the meat itself is already cured and safe when you buy it from the store.

Does the bone get cooked through if left in?

Good question! Yes, the bone will heat through just fine during frying. The key is using a fully cooked, ready-to-eat ham – this ensures the entire cut is safe and thoroughly cooked.

Should you flour or bread the ham before deep frying?

There’s no need to flour, batter or bread fully cooked ham. You want the hot oil to come in direct contact with the ham to crisp it up. Any coating could create a barrier and lead to greasy results.

What’s the best oil temperature for frying ham?

Aim for 325-375°F for the best results. The hot oil rapidly crisps the exterior while preventing the inner ham from overcooking. Use a thermometer and adjust the heat to maintain the ideal temp.

How long does fried ham last in the fridge?

Leftover deep fried ham will keep for 3-4 days refrigerated. Reheat slices in a hot skillet or oven until warmed through before serving again. Freeze any longer term leftovers for up to 2-3 months.

Can you re-fry leftover deep fried ham?

It’s best not to re-fry ham that’s already been deep fried once. The ham would likely dry out with a second fry. Instead, gently reheat using an oven, skillet, or microwave to preserve that juicy interior!

Ready to Give Deep Fried Ham a Try?

Well there you have it – everything you need to know to create indulgent, crispy deep fried ham at home. From selecting the right ham to prepping, frying tips, doneness, serving ideas and troubleshooting, I’ve covered it all in this comprehensive guide.

While it may seem unorthodox at first, one bite of that incredible crispy exterior contrasted with moist, tender ham will leave your tastebuds thanking you. I hope these tips help you nail perfectly fried ham worth fighting over!

The keys are finding a fully cooked ready-to-eat ham, maintaining a steady oil temp between 325-375°F, and frying low and slow until golden brown. Monitor closely, take precautions against splattering, and enjoy this decadent treat.

So gather your frying supplies, grab a cooked ham from the store, and get ready for the best fried ham of your life. Trust me, this is about to become your new favorite way to enjoy juicy, delicious ham! Now who’s ready for some crispy fried goodness?



Can you fry cooked ham?

Definitely! Leftover cooked ham slices can be a great option for frying. The already cooked ham will just require minimal cooking time to crisp up the edges and warm through. Frying leftover ham slices can be a quick and delicious way to repurpose them into a new meal.

How do you cook a ham that is already fully cooked?

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place the ham on a rack in a large baking pan and add about 1/4- to 1/2 inch of water to the pan. If the ham is labeled “fully cooked” (does not require heating), heat it in the oven for about 10 minutes per pound, or to an internal temperature of 140 F.

Can you fry ham like bacon?

No, ham is already precooked. You can make fried ham out of it, but that’s about as close as you can get. It’s kinda similarly brined/cured, but different. Bacon is pork belly.

Can you eat a ham that says fully cooked?

Cooked canned ham and cooked vacuum-packaged ham, both from federally inspected plants, can be eaten right out of the package. All of these along with spiral-cut cooked ham are safe to eat cold or can be warmed to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C), as they are already fully cooked.

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