How Much Does a Ham Bone Weigh? A Closer Look at Ham Bones and Their Weight

Ham bones can vary greatly in size and weight depending on the type, cut, and size of the original ham. When cooking with ham bones, it’s helpful to have a general idea of how much a bone might weigh so you can plan recipes and meals accordingly In this article, we’ll take a closer look at ham bone weights to get a better sense of what to expect.

What is a Ham Bone?

First, let’s start with a quick primer on ham bones. A ham bone is the femur bone of a pig’s hind leg. Ham is the cured and smoked meat from this leg. The ham bone is left over after the majority of meat has been removed from the leg to produce ham products like sliced ham, spiral ham, and ham steaks.

Ham bones typically have some meat, fat, cartilage, and connective tissue still attached This gives them great flavor for making soups, beans, greens, and stock. The bone itself contains marrow, gelatin, and minerals that all add body, texture, and nutrients to dishes

Ham Bone Sizes and Shapes

Ham bones come in a variety of sizes and shapes depending on the specific ham cut:

  • Whole ham bone – From an uncut, intact ham leg. These bones are very large, around 8-12 inches long.

  • Shank end – From the lower narrower shank of the ham. Bones are 5-7 inches long.

  • Butt end – From the upper fatter butt of the ham. Bones are rounded, 4-6 inches long.

  • Half ham bone – From a ham cut in half across the middle. Bones are 4-5 inches long.

  • Slices/segments – From a spiral cut or segmented ham. Bones are 2-3 inches long.

Average Ham Bone Weights

The weight of a ham bone depends on its size, how much meat/tissue is attached, and many other factors like thickness, density, etc. Here are some general guidelines for average ham bone weights:

  • Whole ham bone – 1.5 to 2.5 lbs

  • Shank end – 1 to 1.5 lbs

  • Butt end – 0.75 to 1.25 lbs

  • Half ham – 0.5 to 1 lb

  • Slices/segments – 0.25 to 0.75 lbs

As you can see, weights range widely from around a quarter pound for bone segments, up to 2.5 pounds for a whole leg bone. Smaller bones like from spiral hams and half hams tend to be 0.5 to 1 pound. The meatier butt and shank end bones are heavier.

Within any category, bones can vary in weight by 0.5 to 1 pound or more depending on exact size, density, and amount of meat/tissue. Weighing the bone is the best way to know for sure.

Factors Affecting Ham Bone Weight

There are a several factors that contribute to the weight of a particular ham bone:

  • Bone size – Longer, wider bones with larger joint knuckles will weigh more.

  • Meat and tissue – More meat, fat, and connective tissue left on the bone adds weight.

  • Thickness – Thicker, denser bones weigh more than slender ones.

  • Curing – The curing process adds weight through absorbed salt and water. Heavily cured hams will have heavier bones.

  • Cooking method – Boiled/simmered bones retain moisture better than roasted bones.

  • Breed – Some heritage pig breeds have larger, meatier bones.

  • Diet – Pasture-raised pigs produce larger framed animals than conventionally raised.

  • Butchering – Careful hand butchering leaves more usable meat on the bone.

Estimating Bone Weight from Original Ham

If you have the original packaged ham weight before removing the bone, you can estimate bone weight as a percentage. Here are some general guidelines:

  • Whole bone – 20-25% of original ham weight

  • Shank end – 15-20%

  • Butt end – 10-15%

  • Half ham – 8-12%

  • Slices – 5-8%

For example, if you started with a 10 lb spiral sliced ham, the bones might weigh around 0.75 lb (10 lbs x 8% = 0.8 lbs). Or a 7 lb shank ham bone may be around 1.2 lbs (7 lbs x 18% = 1.26 lbs).

These percentages are rough estimates but provide a ballpark when you know the original ham weight. Weighing the actual bone will always give you the most accurate number.

Weighing Bones for Recipes

When developing recipes that use ham bones for flavoring, it’s important to know the bone weight. Here are some tips:

  • Weigh bones on a kitchen scale after removing meat from the original ham.

  • For soup recipes, calculate 0.25 to 0.5 lbs per quart of water.

  • For beans, greens, and stock, estimate 0.5 to 1 lb of bones per gallon of water.

  • Adjust seasoning and cooking times based on bone weight in the pot.

  • Lightly roast or char heavier bones to improve flavor extraction.

  • Debone soups and dishes before determining final yield for canning or freezer storage.

Getting in the habit of weighing ham bones provides useful information for recipe success.

Typical Ham Bone Uses

The weight of a ham bone influences what you can make with it. Here are some typical uses based on bone size:

  • Smaller bones under 0.5 lb – Flavoring for beans, greens, broth, or soup pots.

  • 0.5 to 1 lb bones – Small batches of soup beans or stock.

  • 1 to 2 lb bones – Larger soup pots, stew batches, and stock.

  • Whole leg bones over 2 lbs – Make stock by roasting bone, then simmering for 24+ hours.

  • Meaty bones – Combine with vegetables and barley for hearty soups.

  • Lean, cleaned bones – Long simmering for delicate stock.

Choose your recipes wisely to match the size and type of ham bone you have.

Storing Ham Bones

Here are some tips for storing ham bones:

  • Refrigerate fresh ham bones up to 4 days.

  • Freeze bones in air-tight packaging for 2 to 3 months.

  • For longer freezer storage, first roast bones at 400°F to evaporate moisture.

  • Vacuum seal packages for minimal freezer burn.

  • Wrap bones well to prevent freezer odors.

Properly stored, fresh ham bones keep well in the fridge for several days, and frozen bones can last for months.

Get the Most from Your Ham Bones

  • Simmer bones before using to remove excess salt from curing.

  • Roast meaty bones at 400°F for 30 minutes to intensify flavor.

  • Break apart bones with a cleaver or butcher knife to expose marrow.

  • Add a splash of vinegar or acid while cooking to help extract minerals.

  • Don’t let bones boil, just gently simmer for max gelatin extraction.

With a few tips and tricks, be sure to get the most from your ham bones!

Ham bone weights can range widely from just a quarter pound up to 2.5 pounds or more. Many factors impact the final weight, such as bone size, meatiness, curing method, and more. In general, whole ham leg bones and meaty end sections tend to be heavier. Smaller bones from spiral cut or half hams weigh closer to 0.5 lb to 1 lb. Weighing the actual bone gives you the most accuracy for recipes. With a little knowledge of bone weights and how to maximize their use, ham bones can add tremendous flavor and nutrition to soups, beans, stocks, and more thrifty dishes.

How Much Weight Does a Ham Lose While Aging?


How much does a bone-in ham weigh?

A whole bone-in ham (19lbs average weight) serves up to 30 or 40 people. Definitely the right choice for family reunions and other big get-togethers. A whole boneless ham (6.7lbs average weight) serves roughly 25 people. Same basic idea, plus a boneless ham is a little easier to carve.

How much meat is on a ham bone?

There’s quite a bit of meat on those bones! I usually get between 1 1/2 cups and 2 cups off one ham bone, plus the bone itself gives the soup a silky, rich consistency. You may have to do a bit of searching before you find them at your grocery store.

How many people will a 10 lb bone-in ham feed?

That means for a 10-person Easter dinner, you’ll need a bone-in ham that weighs between 7.5-10 pounds or a 5-pound boneless ham. If you’re serving country ham, though, you’ll need way less of it.

What is a serving size of bone-in ham?

1/4 – 1/3 lb. per serving of boneless ham. 1/3 – 1/2 lb. of meat per serving of bone-in ham.

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