What Is Picnic Ham?

Here, a small smoked ham that’s perfect for everyday occasions.

February 01, 2022

Related To:

Boiled ham from black boar.


Boiled ham from black boar.

Photo by: Lesyy/Getty Images

Lesyy/Getty Images

By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen

Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.

Christmas and Easter may be the two main ham-centric holidays, but opt for a picnic ham, and you can enjoy it on any Sunday dinner too. Smaller, easier and faster to cook than a whole ham, a picnic ham is perfect for a family meal. Learn all about them here.

What Is a Picnic Ham?

Picnic ham is a specialized cut of pork including the upper part of the front leg and bottom part of the pork shoulder. The meat may be boned or not, but it is always cured, smoked and precooked. As such, it can be sliced and eaten in sandwiches or used in other dishes like pasta, mac and cheese, etc. A picnic ham has more fat than a classic ham, so even though it's cured and smoked and can be eaten as is, cooking it at 325 degrees F completely covered in foil until it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees F will melt some of the fat and tenderize the meat even further.

Piece of smoked pork meat, cold plate


Piece of smoked pork meat, cold plate

Photo by: grafvision/Getty Images

grafvision/Getty Images

Why Is It Called Picnic Ham?

Ham is often reserved for special-occasion dinners, while picnic ham is less expensive and can be eaten on a more casual occasions, like picnics, hence the name.

What Is the Difference Between a Ham and a Picnic Ham?

Place it comes from: Ham is the entire back leg of a hog. Picnic ham is the front leg and shoulder of a hog.

Fattiness: Ham is leaner than picnic ham, and therefore needs to be cooked lower and slower.

Weight: Ham is larger; it typically weighs 10 to 18 pounds. Picnic ham is in the 5 to 8 pound range.

Cure: Ham can be fresh, cured or cured and smoked. Picnic ham is always cured and smoked.

What Is the Difference Between a Picnic Ham and a Pork Shoulder?

A pork shoulder is exactly that: the entire shoulder of a hog. It's a fatty cut that's sold fresh and is extremely versatile. It can be used as a roast, sliced into “steaks," braised or smoked and turned into pulled pork.

Picnic ham is a cured, smoked cut of leg meat and shoulder meat. The leg meat is leaner than the shoulder meat.

How to Cook Picnic Ham

Most picnic hams have cooking instructions on the side of their packaging. But generally, picnic hams cook the same way as regular hams, only for less time because they're smaller. Keep in mind that picnic hams are pre-cooked, so all you're doing here is re-heating it and adding a glaze if you choose.

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the ham on a rack in a roasting pan, fat side up. Add 1 cup of water to the pan and cover it tightly with foil.

Roast for 22 minutes per pound. So a 5 pound picnic ham would roast for about 1 hour 50 minutes. It's done when a meat thermometer reaches the internal temperature of 160 degrees F.

Glaze the ham (optional). During the last hour of cook time, remove the ham from the oven, remove the foil and pull the rind off the ham using a pair of tongs. Score the top of the ham into a 1/2-inch-deep diamond pattern. Brush the ham with your favorite ham glaze. Continue to bake the ham, glazing it once more 30 minutes later.

Rest the ham. Rest the ham in its roasting rack for 10 minutes before serving.

Slice the ham. Use a carving knife to slice the ham into 1/4-inch-thick pieces.

Picnic Ham Recipe and Recipes for Leftover Picnic Ham


Photo by: Charles Masters

Charles Masters

A slow cooker is the perfect way to cook a picnic ham: low and slow to melt some of the fat out of the ham itself and tenderize the ham. The BBQ ingredients come together as a sauce as the ham cooks with the beans.

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

Scalloped Potatoes with Ham

Photo by: Teri Lyn Fisher

Teri Lyn Fisher

Plain leftover picnic ham is perfect as the ham you add to the potatoes in this scalloped potato recipe.

Photo by: Brian Kennedy ©2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Brian Kennedy, 2013, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

The perfect way to use leftover picnic ham: make the casserole and stir the ham in, then proceed with the recipe. Enjoy it the next morning.


Photo by: Christopher Testani

Christopher Testani

If your picnic ham came with a bone, add it to the pot when you add the water and cook it with everything else.

Weeknight Cooking



Earthy gruyere meets smoky ham is this quiche. The recipe calls for cubes of ham, but leftover sliced ham cut up is just right.

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