Every year when Easter rolls around, I cook a baked ham instead of lamb. Although roasted leg of lamb might be synonymous with Easter dinner, I don’t enjoy its intense gamey flavor — so a glazed, smoky ham proves just the ticket. The only decision left to make is what type of glaze I should brush over the meat… savory or sweet? This year, I’m simplifying things by returning to a classic favorite: Coca-Cola ham. The world’s most popular soft drink turns ordinary baked ham into a sweet-glazed wonder. Keep reading to learn about the history of this ham, and how to make it for the upcoming holiday using only five ingredients.
The History of Coca-Cola Glazed Ham
In the 1950s, home cooks (particularly in southern regions) started using Coke in their everyday dishes. This drink’s vanilla and cinnamon flavors worked surprisingly well in a range of meals, including cakes and baked beans. Coca-Cola glazed ham also debuted at holiday meals and potlucks — winning over the hearts (and appetites) of many. Recipes for this dish incorporate the soda into the glaze with other ingredients, including brown sugar. The end result is a juicy, caramelized ham that’s salty, smoky, and sweet. No wonder it stands the test of time!
While the soda’s original flavor is traditionally used for this ham, diet and Cherry Coca-Cola varieties can work too. In fact, food writer Nigella Lawson swears by cherry soda-flavored ham due to the drink’s fruity taste. “I went really mad [when experimenting with ham and drink pairings] and took this a step further and thought, I’m going to do ham in Cherry Coke,” she told NPR. “There is a very long tradition of cooking ham with fruit — ham with pineapple, a great ’70s classic — and you cannot tell whether a recipe’s going to work or not until you try cooking it.”.
To sum it up: This staple soda makes a darn good Easter ham that your dinner guests are bound to love. Plus, it’s simple to cook — even if your holiday weekend is chock-full of egg hunts and family photoshoots.
How To Make Coca-Cola Glazed Ham
This Cola-Glazed Ham recipe from AllRecipes.com infuses sweetness into a spiral-cut ham using soda, brown sugar, grape juice, and canned pineapple. With only five total ingredients, preparation should be a breeze. Here’s how to whip up this easy ham recipe.
- 1 (8-pound) spiral-cut ham, preferably boneless
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar
- 1 (12-fluid ounce) can or bottle cola-flavored carbonated beverage
- 1 cup grape juice
- 1 (20-ounce) can sliced pineapple, drained with juice reserved
- Prep: 10 mins
- Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
- Rest: 10 mins
- Total time: 2 hrs 50 mins
- Yield: 12 servings
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Use knife to score diagonal lines onto ham, about 1 inch apart. Place ham in large roasting pan and pat brown sugar over entire surface. (It’s okay if some sugar falls into pan.)
- Bake in preheated oven until sugar begins to melt off ham, about 30 minutes. Remove ham from oven and pour Cola, grape juice, and reserved pineapple juice into pan. Baste ham with Cola mixture and return to oven.
- Continue basting every 20 minutes, about 2 hours. Cut pineapple rings in half. Remove ham from oven and float pineapple rings in drippings. Allow ham to rest about 10 minutes, then slice and serve with pineapple and sauce.
A Mouthwatering Meal
When it comes to holiday dinners, classic dishes always win. This is especially true for Coca-Cola glazed ham and Easter — it’s straightforward to make and produces delicious results. To go along with the ham, include these crispy roasted potatoes in your dinner spread, then end the meal on the sweetest note possible with Dolly Parton’s Southern Coconut Cake recipe.