How Long to Cook Spiral Ham in an Instant Pot for Perfectly Tender and Juicy Results

Cooking a delicious spiral ham in an instant pot is a great way to save time and effort while still ending up with a juicy, flavorful main dish. By using an instant pot, you can cook a spiral ham in a fraction of the time it would take in a conventional oven However, getting the cook time just right is important to ensure your ham turns out moist and tender. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about how long to cook spiral ham in an instant pot

What is a Spiral Ham and Why Cook it in an Instant Pot?

A spiral ham refers to a bone-in cooked ham with the meat sliced in a spiral pattern around the bone. This method of slicing allows for more surface area, which means more flavorful crispy edges and caramelization when cooked. Spiral hams are a popular choice for holidays like Easter and Christmas since they make an impressive centerpiece and serve a crowd.

Cooking a spiral ham in an instant pot has several advantages over using a conventional oven:

  • It’s much faster – The pressurized environment helps food cook up to 70% faster than standard cooking. A 7 lb. ham would take only 20 minutes in an instant pot versus over 2 hours in the oven.

  • More moisture is retained – The closed cooking environment traps steam so more moisture stays in the meat instead of evaporating like in an oven.

  • Adds tenderness – The high pressure softens tough collagen proteins in the meat for a more tender texture.

  • Enhances flavor – Flavors get concentrated under pressure, leading to a more intense ham flavor.

  • Frees up oven space – You can cook side dishes in the oven while the ham cooks in the pot.

How Long Does it Take to Cook a Spiral Ham in an Instant Pot?

The basic timing guideline for instant pot spiral ham is:

  • 2 minutes per pound – This allows enough time for the ham to heat through to a safe internal temperature.

  • Plus 10-15 extra minutes – The extra time ensures the entire spiral ham is tender and hot since the dense meat takes longer to heat than other cuts.

So for example, a 7 lb. spiral ham would take:

  • 2 minutes x 7 lbs = 14 minutes
  • Plus 15 extra minutes = 29 total minutes at high pressure

This timing reliably produces a juicy, fully cooked spiral ham every time.

Always use a meat thermometer to check the thickest part of the ham reaches 145°F for food safety. If it’s under, you can put it back in the instant pot to cook longer.

More Timing Recommendations Based on Ham Size

Follow these instant pot spiral ham cook times for different sizes:

  • 4 lb. ham → 13 – 15 minutes
  • 5 lb. ham → 15 – 17 minutes
  • 6 lb. ham → 17 – 20 minutes
  • 7 lb. ham → 20 – 22 minutes
  • 8 lb. ham → 22 – 25 minutes
  • 9 lb. ham → 25 – 28 minutes
  • 10 lb. ham → 28 – 31 minutes

The lower end of the time range will leave the ham slightly pinker in the center while the higher end will ensure it’s warmed through completely. Go with your preference.

If your ham is frozen, add 5 extra minutes to compensate for the temperature change. And let the pressure release naturally for at least 15 minutes before quick releasing to allow time for the center to cook through.

Tips for Finding the Right Size Instant Pot

Making sure you have an instant pot big enough to fit the spiral ham is crucial. Here are some size guidelines:

  • For a 5-7 lb. spiral ham, use a 6-quart instant pot.

  • For a 7-9 lb. spiral ham, go with an 8-quart instant pot.

  • For even larger 10+ lb. hams, choose a 10-quart instant pot.

If your ham is slightly bigger than the pot, you can trim the ends to make it fit. Just be sure to completely submerge the ham in liquid to generate enough steam.

Having the right size pot ensures the spiral ham cooks evenly. If the pot is too small, the meat touching the sides may overcook.

Step-by-Step Guide to Cooking Spiral Ham in an Instant Pot

Follow these simple steps for perfect instant pot spiral ham every time:

1. Prepare the Ham

  • Select a bone-in spiral sliced ham that fits your instant pot size. Allow 1 inch of space on all sides for even cooking.

  • For added flavor, score the ham by making shallow cuts in a diamond pattern.

  • Mix up a glaze if desired. An easy brown sugar and maple syrup glaze adds sweetness that complements the salty ham.

2. Add Liquid to the Instant Pot

  • Pour 1 cup of water, broth, juice or wine into the instant pot. This liquid creates steam to cook the ham. The flavorful liquids like juice or wine also impart extra taste.

3. Place Ham in Instant Pot

  • If cooking the ham wrapped in foil, create a sling by folding a 24-inch piece of foil in thirds lengthwise.

  • Place the ham on the foil sling and wrap it tightly. This helps contain glaze juices.

  • Lower the ham into the pot using the foil sling.

4. Secure Lid and Set Pressure Cook Time

  • Lock the lid into place. Select manual/pressure cook mode and set the time based on size. See the timing recommendations above.

5. Allow Pressure to Release and Remove Ham

  • Allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10-15 minutes before quick releasing the remainder.

  • Carefully remove the hot ham from the pot using the foil sling and oven mitts.

  • Brush on any glaze and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.

6. Check Internal Temperature

  • Test the thickest part of the ham with a meat thermometer. It should reach the safe 145°F temperature.

  • If under, you can put it back in the instant pot to cook longer.

And that’s all there is to it! Following this easy process will give you a tender, juicy spiral ham cooked to perfection in your instant pot.

Testing Doneness of a Spiral Ham

Using a meat thermometer is the most reliable way to assess doneness and ensure food safety. Check in a few spots to confirm the entire ham is fully cooked:

  • Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the ham, away from the bone.

  • It should reach the minimum safe temperature of 145°F.

  • Also check near the bone, which heats slower. Look for at least 130°F.

  • Test in a few different places to confirm even heating.

If the thermometer reads under 145°F, re-seal and cook for a few more minutes before rechecking. This guarantees every bite is safe to eat.

What to Do if a Spiral Ham is Undercooked in the Instant Pot

It’s easy to remedy an undercooked spiral ham. Here are a few options:

  • Put it back in the instant pot – Cook for 5-10 minutes longer depending on how underdone it is. Let the pressure release naturally again before checking temperature.

  • Finish in the oven – Transfer to a baking sheet and roast at 400°F for 10-15 minutes until 145°F.

  • Sear on the stovetop – Heat a skillet with oil to sear the ham for added browning and heat.

  • Simmer in sauce – For a wet cooking method, place ham in a sauce or glaze over low heat until cooked through.

Taking the extra time to bring an undercooked ham up to temperature ensures you wind up with a properly cooked, safe-to-eat spiral ham with the instant pot method.

How to Tell if Spiral Ham is Overcooked in the Instant Pot

It’s also possible to overcook spiral ham in the instant pot if the time is too long. Here’s how to tell:

  • The meat has pulled away from the bone.

  • It looks very firm and dense instead of sliced.

  • The meat has a dry, stringy texture.

  • The edges are hard versus sliceable.

While an overcooked ham won’t make anyone sick, the quality suffers. Prevent it by sticking within the recommended time for the weight of your ham.

If it is slightly overdone, you can chop or shred the drier meat to use in casseroles, omelets, sandwiches, or soups. Add extra glaze or sauce to moisten it.

Expert Tips and Tricks for Instant Pot Spiral Ham

Use these pro tips for the most flavorful, foolproof spiral ham made in the instant pot:

  • Cook it frozen – For convenience, cook frozen hams straight from the freezer. Add 5 minutes to the cook time.

  • Natural release – Always allow the pressure to release naturally for at least 10-15 minutes. This prevents overcooking.

  • Make it holiday-ready – Adorn with pineapple slices, maraschino cherries, or whole cloves after cooking.

  • Use a rack – Place a steamer rack beneath the ham if it doesn’t quite fit flat to elevate it off the bottom.

  • Turn the leftovers into soup – Dice up extra ham to make split pea or bean soup. The smoky flavor takes it up a notch.

  • Stick to bone-in hams – Bone-in hams retain moisture better than boneless. The bone also imparts extra flavor.

  • Play with flavors – Experiment with different glazes like brown sugar-orange, honey mustard, or maple-bourbon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to the most common questions about making instant pot spiral ham:

How long does it take to cook ham in an instant pot?

It takes 2 minutes per pound of ham, plus 10-15 additional minutes. A 7 lb. ham takes about 20-25 minutes at high pressure.

Can you cook a frozen ham in an instant pot?

Yes, you can cook frozen spiral ham in an instant pot. Add 5 extra minutes to the cook time and allow for natural pressure release.

Do you put water in the instant pot for ham?

Yes, add 1 cup of water or broth to generate steam. Juices, wine, and other liquids also work.

What temperature should cooked ham be?

Cook ham until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F. Check in multiple spots with a meat thermometer for doneness.

Can you overcook ham in an instant pot?

It is possible to overcook ham if cooking longer than needed. Make sure to stick within the recommended time of 2 minutes per pound plus 10-15 minutes extra.

Do you cook an instant pot ham on high or low pressure?

Always cook ham on high pressure in an instant pot. Low pressure does not get hot enough to properly cook a ham.

How long does a 7 lb. ham take in an instant pot?

A 7 lb. spiral ham takes around 20-25 minutes at high pressure (2 minutes per pound + 15 extra minutes).

The Takeaway

Cooking delectable spiral ham in an instant pot is simple when you follow the timing guidelines of 2 minutes per pound plus 10-15 extra minutes. Allowing at least a partial natural pressure release and using a meat thermometer guarantees your ham turns out perfectly juicy and cooked through every time. In just 20-30 minutes, you can enjoy impressive instant pot spiral ham ready to serve a crowd.

Easy Instant Pot Honey Spiral Ham recipe that is perfect for the holidays.

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