How to Cut Through a Ham Bone: A Step-by-Step Guide for Home Cooks

As a home cook who loves serving juicy, flavorful ham for holidays and gatherings, I’ve learned that being able to properly cut through the bone is crucial When done right, it allows you to portion and serve the ham easily. If you’ve never cut a ham bone before, it can seem intimidating. But have no fear! With the proper tools and techniques, you’ll be slicing through ham bones like a pro.

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk through the entire process of cutting through a ham bone safely and efficiently. You’ll learn the best tools to use, proper techniques for different cutting methods, and tips for getting perfect slices every time Let’s get started!

Why Learn to Cut Through a Ham Bone?

Knowing how to cut through a ham bone provides several advantages:

  • Allows you to portion and serve the ham neatly
  • Helps release more flavor from the bone into the meat
  • Lets you use the bone for soups, beans, etc.
  • Saves money by buying whole bone-in hams vs pre-sliced
  • Enhances your culinary skills for preparing ham

Overall, it’s a valuable technique that can elevate your ham dinners to the next level.

Essential Tools for Cutting Ham Bones

Having the right tools makes cutting through a ham bone much easier. Here are the essentials:

  • Meat cleaver – The wedge shape provides force to chop through bone.

  • Hacksaw – The coarse blade can saw through tough bones.

  • Bone saw – Designed specifically for cutting meat and bones smoothly.

  • Carving knife – Thin and sharp for precision slicing around bone.

  • Carving fork – Holds the ham firmly in place while slicing.

  • Cutting board – A sturdy board prevents slipping while cutting.

  • Sharpener – Keep blades sharp for easiest cutting and cleanest slices.

Step-by-Step Instructions by Cutting Method

Let’s go through the step-by-step process for the three most common ways of cutting a ham bone: meat cleaver, hacksaw, and carving knife.

Meat Cleaver Method

  1. Place ham bone-side up on a cutting board. Hold firmly with non-dominant hand.

  2. Position meat cleaver above bone. Use wrist strength to lift cleaver and chop straight down through bone in one swift motion.

  3. Repeat chops as needed until bone is severed in two. Apply even pressure with each chop.

  4. Use cleaver to separate meat slices from bone. Chop parallel to bone for clean cuts.

Hacksaw Method

  1. Wrap bone ends in foil to grip better. Place in middle of ham bone.

  2. Apply firm, even pressure as you push and pull the hacksaw across bone. Let the saw teeth do the work.

  3. Saw back and forth steadily while holding bone still. Smaller bones may only need 15-20 strokes.

  4. Make sure hacksaw stays straight. Twisting can cause it to get stuck or damage the blade.

  5. Rinse blade occasionally if bone debris builds up. Wipe clean with towel.

Carving Knife Method

  1. Anchor ham with fork. Position carving knife vertically above bone.

  2. Press knife down with a rocking motion, letting the weight slice through meat down to bone.

  3. Once meat is separated, turn knife parallel to cut along the length of bone.

  4. Hold ham steady as you carefully detach slices from bone using tip of knife.

  5. Make parallel slices close to bone on both sides to fully portion the ham.

Handling Tricky Ham Bone Situations

You may encounter some difficulties when trying to slice through a ham bone:

  • For very dense, thick bones, use a handsaw or electric knife for easiest cutting.

  • If the knife becomes lodged in the bone, don’t force it. Carefully wiggle it free.

  • For brittle bones, grip firmly so bone doesn’t fragment while cutting.

  • When bone has an irregular shape, take extra time to cut around it.

  • For ultimate stability, ask someone to hold the ham bone while you slice.

  • If carving knife struggles, try a thinner or sharper blade.

Serving and Storing Leftover Ham

Once you’ve mastered cutting through the ham bone, here are some final serving tips:

  • Let ham rest 5-10 minutes before slicing to allow juices to distribute.

  • Cut slices across the grain for tenderness. About 1⁄8 inch thick.

  • Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for 5-7 days.

  • Use the bone and scraps to make soups, bean dishes, broths, and more.

  • Freeze sliced ham up to 2 months for longer storage.

Get Carving!

Now you’re ready to start carving hams like a true professional! With the right tools, proper technique, and a bit of practice, you’ll be able to cut perfect slices in no time. Serve your family juicy, flavorful ham dinners that don’t skimp on the meat thanks to your newfound bone-cutting mastery. Get carving and start enjoying ham’s savory goodness to the fullest!

How to Carve a Whole Bone-In Ham (For Beginners)


Do you cut a bone in ham side up or down?

Place ham, cut side down, on rack in shallow roasting pan; cover loosely with aluminum foil. Heat approximately 10 to 15 minutes per pound until heated through. Remove ham from oven and let stand, covered, 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

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