Can You Dehydrate Ham? A Guide to Drying and Storing Ham

Ham is a versatile and delicious meat that can be enjoyed in many ways. From savory ham steaks to salty deli slices for sandwiches, this pork product provides a range of flavors and textures. While fresh ham has a limited shelf life, dehydrating ham allows you to preserve it for long-term storage.

Dehydrated ham makes a tasty and lightweight snack for hiking or camping trips. It can also be easily rehydrated to use in soups, casseroles, beans, and more. If you have leftover cooked ham, dehydrating allows you to save it instead of letting it go bad.

So can you dehydrate ham at home? The answer is yes, it’s absolutely possible with the right equipment and some simple techniques. Here is a complete guide to dehydrating ham safely and storing it for months to come.

Benefits of Dehydrating Ham

There are several advantages to dehydrating ham at home:

  • Extends shelf life from days to months when stored properly

  • Creates lightweight portable protein snacks for outdoor activities

  • Allows repurposing of leftovers that would otherwise be wasted

  • Intensifies flavor when dehydrated ham is reconstituted in dishes

  • Provides nutritious meat that is easily transported on camping or hiking trips

  • Enables long-term food storage with minimal storage space required

Dehydrating ham takes a perishable food that would only last about 3-5 days in the fridge and transforms it into a shelf-stable item. It’s an easy and effective preservation method.

Equipment Needed for Dehydrating Ham

Dehydrating ham is a simple process but does require some basic equipment:

  • A food dehydrator with adjustable temperature controls

  • Fruit roll trays or parchment paper to line dehydrator trays

  • Sharp knife for slicing ham

  • Cutting board for safe prep

  • Storage containers like mason jars or vacuum seal bags

The key piece of equipment is the food dehydrator, which allows you to steadily dry the ham at 140-160°F. Fruit roll sheets help catch any drippings from the meat. High-quality storage containers prevent moisture from seeping in and ruining your dried ham.

How to Prepare Ham for Dehydrating

Proper prep is key to successful ham dehydration. Follow these steps:

  • Start with fully cooked ham, either leftover or from a roast or ham steak.

  • Trim off any thick outer fat, which can go rancid when dehydrating. Leave just a thin layer.

  • Slice the ham into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick pieces. Cut any large chunks into smaller pieces.

  • Optionally marinate slices in a salt-free marinade for added flavor (see recipe below).

  • Pat the slices dry with paper towels before dehydrating.

Cutting the ham into uniform thin slices allows it to dry quickly and evenly. Removing excess fat improves shelf life. A salty marinade is optional but adds lots of flavor.

Marinade Recipe for Ham

Try this easy marinade to infuse your ham slices with extra flavor.


  • 1⁄4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp ketchup or chili sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Whisk all ingredients together in a shallow dish.
  2. Add ham slices and marinate for 1-2 hours in the fridge, flipping halfway through.
  3. Pat ham slices dry before dehydrating.

The sweet and tangy marinade helps counteract the saltiness of cured ham. Apply it just to the slices you’ll be making into ham jerky, not those for reconstituting later.

How to Dehydrate Ham in a Food Dehydrator

  1. Line dehydrator trays with parchment paper or fruit leather sheets.

  2. Arrange ham slices in a single layer on the trays, leaving space between them.

  3. Dehydrate at 145°F for 6-8 hours. Rotate trays and check ham every 2 hours.

  4. Ham is done when slices are dry to the touch with no moisture. They should be brittle but not crunchy.

  5. Let ham cool completely before packing into airtight containers.

Keep the dehydrator temperature on the lower end, around 145°F, to prevent case hardening where the outside dries but the inside doesn’t. Rotate the trays and check the ham periodically for doneness.

How to Store Dehydrated Ham

Storing the dehydrated ham properly is key to preserving flavor and preventing waste. Here are some tips:

  • Let ham cool fully before packing into storage containers.

  • Use mason jars, mylar bags, or vacuum seal bags to prevent moisture absorption.

  • For the best shelf life, store in a cool, dry place like a pantry instead of the refrigerator.

  • If storing long-term, consider refrigerating or freezing for max freshness.

  • When taking ham out for use, reseal the original container quickly to avoid spoilage.

  • Look for signs of moisture, mildew, or grease stains before consuming dehydrated ham stored long-term.

Vacuum sealing or using oxygen absorber packets creates the optimal low-moisture environment for dehydrated ham storage. Refrigerating or freezing extends shelf life even further.

How Long Does Dehydrated Ham Last?

When properly dehydrated and stored, ham can last for:

  • 1-2 months at room temperature

  • 6-12 months in the refrigerator

  • 1-2 years in the freezer

The exact shelf life depends on storage conditions. Refrigerating or freezing is recommended for storage beyond 2-3 months. Discard any ham that shows signs of moisture or smells rancid or off.

Uses for Dehydrated Ham

Dehydrated ham is wonderfully versatile. Here are some of the many ways to enjoy it:

  • Rehydrate in soups, beans, pasta dishes, and more

  • Make ham jerky for convenient high-protein snacks

  • Use in place of fresh ham in casseroles, omelets, sandwiches etc.

  • Crumble over salads or greens for added flavor and texture

  • Powder in a blender and use as ham seasoning for vegetables, eggs, etc.

  • Add to rice, quinoa, or other grains for a protein boost

  • Include in dehydrated or freeze-dried camping meals

The options are endless! The concentrated ham flavor is perfect for intensifying soups and casseroles. Keep bags of ham jerky on hand for nutritious snacks on the go.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you get started dehydrating ham, here are answers to some commonly asked questions:

What’s the best type of ham to dehydrate?

Fully cooked ham is ideal, whether leftover from a ham roast or fresh packaged ham steaks. Avoid drying cured ham like prosciutto.

Is it safe to dehydrate deli or prepackaged ham?

Prepackaged ham is considered safe, but it’s best to avoid deli ham which carries a higher risk of bacterial contamination.

How can I make ham jerky in a dehydrator?

Simply slice ham very thin and dehydrate into leathery strips. A marinade adds lots of flavor. Dehydrate fully before storing.

What temperature should I dehydrate ham at?

145°F is optimal for drying ham without case hardening the outside. Some moisture should remain inside.

How long does dehydrated ham last at room temperature?

Properly dried ham will keep for 1-2 months at room temp in an airtight container. Refrigerating extends the shelf life.

Can you rehydrate dehydrated ham?

Yes! Soak the ham in warm water for 15-30 minutes until pliable. Then use in any recipe calling for fresh cooked ham.

Is dehydrated ham safe to eat without rehydrating?

Absolutely! Dehydrated ham makes a tasty high-protein meat snack in jerky form.

Enjoy Your Dehydrated Ham

As you can see, dehydrating ham at home is easy, safe, and adds a tasty preserved meat to your pantry. With so many options for enjoying this versatile ingredient, dehydrated ham is sure to be a hit whether at home or on your outdoor adventures.

Follow the tips above for successful ham dehydration and storage. Soon you’ll be whipping up delicious soups, casseroles, snacks, and meals with your homemade dehydrated ham. Get creative with recipes and seasonings, and enjoy the convenience and portability of this delightfully savory preserved meat.

Video 2: Dehydrating Ham!

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