Can You Freeze Ham?
The answer is a resounding yes. Here, how to freeze bone-in ham, spiral cut ham and honey baked ham cold cuts.
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
Going to the store and buying a ham to cook for a holiday can be daunting. They’re big, your family isn’t and what are you going to do with the leftovers? We have lots of ideas for ham leftovers. But can you make and eat all of them before the ham isn’t good anymore? Maybe, but hot tip: you can freeze cooked ham to prolong its life. Follow our step-by-step guide for the how-to. Oh, and if you're looking for more info on how to cook ham, we've got you covered with our complete guide: How to Cook Ham.
How Long Can You Keep Ham In the Refrigerator?
When you buy a ham, the package will say what the use-buy date is. Once you take the ham out of the packaging and cook it, you can keep the leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days. When serving your cooked ham, make sure you don't let it sit out at room temperature for a long time; put it in the refrigerator as soon as possible and care it up for freezing the next day when you have more time.
Can You Freeze Ham?
You might be wondering: can you freeze cooked ham? The answer is a resounding yes. It’s not hard if you follow these steps, but bear in mind that frozen ham will lose a bit of quality in terms of texture. The flavor won’t be affected.
- Cut the ham off the bone. If the ham has a bone, use a knife to cut all the meat off the bone into 8-ounce pieces, if possible (that's what most recipes call for). If you're freezing spiral cut ham, make 8-ounce stacks of slices.
- Wrap the ham in plastic wrap and transfer it to an airtight bag. Tightly wrap each chunk or a stack of slices in plastic wrap. Transfer them to resealable plastic bags. Of course, if you have a vacuum food sealer, use it instead.
- Wrap the ham bone too. Wrap the ham bone in plastic wrap and transfer it to an airtight bag. You can use it later to make tasty soup like Food Network Kitchen's Ham Bone Soup.
- Label the packages. Label each package with the name, date and weight if you have a scale. Knowing the weight will make it easier to choose a package when you’re grabbing one.
- Transfer to the freezer.
Can You Freeze Honey Baked Ham?
Honey baked ham can be frozen, whether it's a spiral ham or actual honey baked ham deli slices. In fact, deli meat is easy to freeze because it comes in weighed-out portions. Use the technique above, but slide pieces of parchment paper between deli meat slices so they don't freeze together into 1 block.
How Long Can You Keep Ham In the Freezer?
Once you’ve properly wrapped and frozen your leftover ham, you can keep it in a frost-free freezer for up to 2 months without loss of flavor. If you store it longer, it'll develop freezer burn, which is the meat drying out at the edges. The longer it stays in the freezer, the more freezer burn it will develop. If you are lucky enough to have a free-standing non-frost-free freezer, you can keep the ham up to 4 months without freezer burn.
Can You Refreeze Ham?
The admonitions about refreezing anything are not about food safety. As long as you have kept the meat (or anything) at a safe temperature when it was thawed (i.e. in the refrigerator), you aren’t risking anything. The issue is with the texture: freezing creates ice crystals that rupture cells. That’s why when you thaw meat there’s liquid in the package that wasn’t there before. Refreezing just compounds the issue, so your ham will be dryer after a second freeze.
Recipes Using Leftover Ham
This recipe for Scalloped Potatoes with Ham has over 160 reviews for a reason: it’s that good. Set yourself up for success when you're freezing by marking a packet "12 ounces ham" - the exact amount the recipe calls for.
This breakfast casserole looks happy to us: like the cheese, the little slices of tomato, mushrooms and the ham are having a party. Make it for brunch or just any day of the week.
Ready to eat in just 40 minutes, a frittata is always a great 1-pan option for any meal. The recipe calls for 3/4 cup ham, but a little more or less is fine: use whatever you have in a packet in the freezer.
Using a package of potato gnocchi makes this a super-quick dish to prepare.