The Step-by-Step Guide to Perfectly Wrapping Your Ham in Foil

As any experienced cook knows, wrapping your ham in foil before popping it in the oven is a great way to keep it moist and tender. The foil creates a protective barrier that seals in juices and prevents the exterior from drying out.

But simply balling up some foil and tossing it on top doesn’t exactly lead to the most beautiful presentation. For picture-perfect results, it pays to wrap your ham properly.

Follow this foolproof guide to flawlessly wrap your ham in foil, whether it’s for a holiday feast or weekday dinner.

Why Bother Wrapping Ham in Foil?

You may be wondering – is it really necessary to wrap ham in foil at all? Why not just throw it in the oven bare?

Here are some key benefits of wrapping ham in foil before cooking:

  • Prevents drying out – Foil seals in moisture and steam to keep the ham juicy.

  • Makes basting easier – You can pour the basting liquid right over the foil

  • Speeds up cooking – The foil helps conduct heat more efficiently

  • Easy glazing – Foil tents allow glaze to be applied without making a mess.

  • Contains juices and fat – Less cleanup needed after cooking a drippy ham.

So while it’s possible to cook an unwrapped ham, covering it in foil leads to much better results.

Choosing the Right Type of Foil

You’ll want to use heavy-duty aluminum foil to wrap your ham. Standard lightweight foil can easily tear and won’t protect the ham as well during cooking.

Look for foil that is at least 18 inches wide. This gives you enough foil to generously wrap around even a very large ham.

You can use generic store brand foil, but Reynolds and Kirkland heavy-duty varieties are top choices that you can count on being sturdy.

Make sure you have enough foil to amply wrap the entire ham with some overlap. For hams over 15 pounds, you may need two foil sheets.

Preparing the Ham for Foil-Wrapping

Before you can become a foil-wrapping pro, take a few simple preparation steps:

  • Position rack – Place oven rack in lower third of oven so foil top won’t burn.

  • Remove packaging – Unwrap ham completely from all plastic, netting, etc.

  • Pat dry – Use paper towels to soak up any excess juices or moisture.

  • Apply seasoning – Coat with spices, brown sugar rub, or mustard if desired.

  • Preheat oven – Get the oven heating to the recipe temperature before foiling.

How to Perfectly Wrap a Ham in Foil

Once your ham is prepped, it’s go time! Follow these steps to flawlessly wrap your ham.

Step 1: Place Ham Foil-Side Down on Work Surface

  • Lay a large sheet of heavy foil on your work surface, shiny side down.

  • Center the ham in the middle of the foil.

Step 2: Bring Foil Up Over Ham

  • Bring the short ends of the foil up and over the top of the ham so they overlap in the center.

  • Smooth down the foil ends so they conform to the ham’s shape.

Step 3: Fold Over Long Sides

  • Take the long sides of foil and fold them snugly over the ham ends, creasing as needed.

  • Again, smooth the foil to adhere it to the contours of the ham.

Step 4: Fold and Crimp Ends

  • Fold under the foil flap at each end and crimp to seal.

  • Make narrow, evenly spaced crimps for a decorative effect.

Step 5: Check for Gaps

  • Inspect the foil wrapping and patch any small tears or gaps with extra foil pieces.

  • You want the ham fully sealed in an airtight foil blanket.

And that’s it – your ham is perfectly foil wrapped! You’ll impress everyone with your expert ham wrapping skills.

Basting and Glazing Your Foil-Wrapped Ham

A foil-wrapped ham makes the processes of basting and glazing much neater and easier. Here’s how to do both through the foil:

Basting: Use a baster to inject basting liquid through the foil. The foil will distribute it evenly over the ham.

Glazing: Carefully peel back foil to expose ham. Brush on glaze, then reseal with foil. The foil will keep sugary glazes from burning.

Cook Times for Foil-Wrapped Hams

Cooking times don’t change much for hams wrapped in foil versus unwrapped. Follow recipe guidelines, but add 5-10 minutes of extra cooking time to ensure the center is heated through.

Here are approximate oven cook times for hams wrapped in foil:

  • Bone-in half ham (5 lbs): 1 hour 10 minutes – 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Boneless half ham (4 lbs): 50 minutes – 1 hour

  • Bone-in whole ham (10 lbs): 2 hours 30 minutes – 3 hours

  • Boneless whole ham (8 lbs): 2 hours – 2 hours 30 minutes

Always use a meat thermometer to verify doneness rather than relying solely on cook times.

Removing the Foil After Cooking

You’ll want to leave the foil tent on for the entire cooking time. Only remove it once the ham is finished cooking.

Carefully peel off the foil, taking care to avoid hot steam and juices. Discard the foil.

Let the ham rest at least 15 minutes before slicing into the gorgeously moist, tender meat!

Foil-Wrapping Ham for Freezing

In addition to cooking ham in foil, you can also use this technique to securely wrap ham for the freezer.

Just follow the same steps to completely seal the ham in heavy-duty foil before placing it in freezer bags. The airtight foil protects the ham from freezer burn.

For the juiciest, most flavorful results, foil is a ham’s best friend! Try out these foolproof wrapping techniques and you’ll never have a dry holiday ham again.

Make Larger Foil for Covering Ham


Should you wrap your ham in foil?

If you don’t cover your ham while cooking it will quickly dry out. Instead: Put some aluminum foil over your ham while it’s cooking. It is recommended that the ham is covered for at least half of the cooking process and only removed during the last half when you glaze it.

Should ham be baked, covered or uncovered?

Ham is traditionally baked in the oven. Cook for approximately 15 to 20 minutes per pound at 300 F. No matter the size of the ham and the temperature of the oven, it should be cooked until the internal temperature reaches 140 F. Covering with foil throughout the cooking process keeps it moist.

Do I glaze ham before cooking?

The glaze should not be applied until the final hour to 30 minutes, in order to avoid burning the sugars. What you’re going to do with the glaze ingredients is just combine most of them into a paste, and then apply it to the ham. After that, the heat in your oven will take care of everything.

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