Can You Really Glaze a Ham Without Fat? The Surprising Truth

Glazing a holiday ham is a time-honored tradition that adds a lovely sweet and sticky coating, but many recipes call for mixing up the glaze with some type of fat like butter or brown sugar. If you’re looking to cut back on fat or calories, you may be wondering if you can glaze a ham without using any fat in the glaze at all. I decided to dig into this question and discovered some surprising truths about glazing ham the healthier way.

Why Do Ham Glaze Recipes Use Fat?

Looking through many traditional ham glaze recipes, you’ll notice that the majority call for mixing some type of fat like butter, brown sugar, honey, or maple syrup into the glaze. This helps the glaze adhere to the ham and also adds flavor. The fat acts as a binding agent and helps the glaze stick and caramelize instead of just running off the ham. Many classic glazes are even made by mixing brown sugar with butter, pineapple juice, and spices. So fat seems pretty integral to getting that picture-perfect, shiny glazed ham.

Getting Creative with Lower-Fat Glazes

Even though fat helps traditional glazes stick to the ham, I found out you can actually glaze a ham using little to no fat! It just takes some creativity and clever ingredient swaps. For example, you can make a simple brown sugar and mustard glaze by mixing brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and just a small bit of butter or oil for a bit of richness. The vinegar helps the glaze cling while the mustard adds flavor. Or try a fruity glaze made with pineapple juice, apricot jam, and spices – no butter required!

Even just using 100% fruit preserves as a glaze works wonderfully I successfully made a succulent glazed ham basted with cherry preserves that turned out beautifully – no added fat needed The natural pectin in the fruit preserves helps them set up nicely on the ham into a shiny, sticky coating. So fruit-based glazes are a great option.

Basting Techniques for Fat-Free Glazes

While fat-free glazes can work amazingly, you may need to employ some basting techniques to help them coat the ham well. Here are some tips

  • Baste the ham with the glaze multiple times as it bakes. This helps the glaze adhere in layers.

  • Let the glaze cool and thicken slightly between bastings so it adheres better.

  • If the glaze won’t stick well, simmer it over low heat to reduce it down to a thicker syrup

  • Bake the ham at a high temp like 425°F to help the glaze caramelize on.

  • If the glaze won’t thicken enough, mix in a teaspoon of cornstarch.

  • Use a pastry brush to brush on glaze and press it onto the ham.

  • Place slices of fruit like pineapple on ham to add natural juices.

Best Fat-Free Ham Glaze Recipes

To inspire you, here are some of my favorite low-fat and healthy ham glaze recipes that produce amazing results:

Cherry Preserves Glaze

  • 1 cup cherry preserves
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1⁄4 tsp ground cloves

Pineapple Brown Sugar Glaze

  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1⁄4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp mustard
  • 1 tbsp vinegar

Cranberry Wine Glaze

  • 1 cup cranberry juice
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Apricot Mustard Glaze

  • 1⁄2 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1⁄4 tsp nutmeg

Don’t Be Afraid to Go Fat-Free!

While using some fat in a glaze helps it stick to the ham, I was pleased to discover you can bake up tasty low-fat glazed hams. It just takes a bit more effort with ingredients and basting techniques. Fruit-based glazes or glazes made with vinegar, mustard, and spices work wonderfully. And the health benefits are worth the extra effort! So next time you bake a ham, don’t be afraid to try out a fat-free glaze for a leaner but still delicious holiday centerpiece. Those who try your healthier ham will never know what they’re missing.

Honey Glazed Ham | The Perfect No Experience Required Recipe


Can I glaze a ham with no fat?

You need rind because the fat under the skin is what becomes sticky and golden once basted with ham glaze. If ham has no rind, it won’t have the fat layer so you can’t get a sticky glaze; Get smoked ham – it has better flavour than unsmoked ham.

Should I trim the fat off my ham?

If your ham has a fatty layer and a rind, you can trim it. However, you do want to keep a ¼ inch layer of fat to help keep the ham juicy, add flavor and ensure you don’t cut into the meat when you score it.

Is glazing a ham necessary?

Because most hams sold at grocery stores are smoked and fully cooked, they only require heating before eating. However, glazing a ham adds that special final touch if you want to wow your crowd with extra flavor and texture.

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