The Best Fresh Ham Roast Recipe (Easy)

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The Best Fresh Ham Roast Recipe (Easy). Perfectly seasoned with herbs, spices, and a hint of brown sugar, this makes for the juiciest ham roast with a delightfully crispy outer layer.

This is a beautiful holiday ham recipe (Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter). Serve it for special occasions, or make it a family dinner night favorite! Serve with roasted potatoes and a beautiful salad. For leftovers, try Baked Ham and Cheese Pasta.

fresh ham roast on a plate with roasted potatoes and green beans.
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The Best Fresh Ham Roast Recipe (Easy)

This easy ham roast recipe is the best way to cook fresh ham. Fresh ham is, for the money, the most delicious cut of pork available.

There is something to love for everyone in this recipe: the crackle fat crust on the outer layer and the herby, salty, and sweet with a slight orange aroma to the tender fresh ham meat.

We cook it low and slow to break down the tough parts of the ham and make it super tender. The meat is cooked to perfection. Some pink is in the center, juicy and yielding slightly to the touch!

This beautiful fresh ham roast inevitably leads to applause and awe from everyone at your special gathering. 

You will also love these recipes Seared T-Bone Steak Recipe and Roasted Beef Tenderloin!

Simple Ingredients

The star of the show is the fresh ham roast. The other ingredients are simple and only highlight the flavor of the delicious ham meat.

fresh ham roast on cutting board (not cooked).
  • Fresh ham (not precooked or cured)

Rub

  • Kosher salt
  • Brown sugar 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh thyme 
  • Fresh Rosemary

Cooking Liquid

  • Cold Water
  • White wine 

Oranges for cooking (optional)

See the recipe card for quantities.

ingredient shot for recipe

What is a Fresh Ham Roast

A ham roast is not pre-cooked like a typical precooked ham variety, spiral-cut ham, ham steaks, country ham, city ham, or cured ham.

A fresh ham roast is raw ham called “fresh” since it is uncured, uncooked, and unsmoked. Fresh ham is not processed in any way. You can compare it to other varieties of roasts, such as rump roast and pork shoulder roast.

Ham roasts are very tender and come from a leaner cut of pork. Ham roast comes from the hind leg of the pork with a nice fat layer.

Where to Buy a Fresh Ham

You can buy fresh ham in almost any grocery store. If you don’t see it out where you see all the other meat ask the grocer if they have some in the back, or they can order it for you. You can request bone-in ham (more flavor, in my opinion) or boneless ham.

Suppose you want to make this for a special occasion or serve it for Easter dinner or another holiday meal. In that case, I suggest ordering it in advance from grocery stores since everyone is running to buy a fresh ham or other ham roast variety.

fresh ham roast on cutting board (not cooked).

How to Make The Best Fresh Ham Roast Recipe (Easy)

This fresh ham roast is so easy to make. The hardest part is remembering to baste it during the cooking process.

fresh ham roast on cutting board scored on the top fat skin (not cooked).

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Score ham in a diamond pattern (crisis cross) of ½-inch-deep cuts about 1½ inches apart.

process of making fresh ham roast.Brown sugar rub on ham roast.

In a small bowl, combine salt, brown sugar, pepper, and thyme, pinching the thyme until it becomes fragrant. Pat mixture all over the ham and into scores on the ham roast.

process of making fresh ham roast. Orange slices on bottom of roasting pan.

Place orange slices on the bottom of a roasting rack in a large roasting pan (this step is optional and only if using oranges). Place ham fat side on the rack on the bed of orange slices. Pour water and white wine into the bottom of the pan.

process of making fresh ham roast. Rub on ham roast before cooking.

Roast for ½ an hour at 425 degrees F.
Turn the heat down to 300 degrees F. We want to cook it low and slowly to tenderize the meat. If needed, add water to the pan to keep pan juices from burning.

Cooked fresh ham roast with oranges coming out of oven in roasting pan.

Bake until a meat thermometer is pressed into the thickest part of the ham and the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees*, about 3-31/2 hours. The top will be nice and golden brown, and the interior will be tender.

Cooked fresh ham roast with oranges coming out of oven ion wood cutting board.

Tent the fresh ham roast with aluminum foil and let the roast rest for 30-45 minutes before slicing with a sharp knife. Save pan drippings to make pan gravy, or spoon over the meat. 

Cooked fresh ham roast with oranges coming out of oven ion wood cutting board.

Variations

The next time you try this fresh ham roast recipe, you can try these variations.

  • Spices – if you want to add more traditional American flavors to this fresh ham roast, try adding cloves to the spice rub.
  • Sweet – you can add more brown sugar to make it sweeter or even a bit of maple syrup to make it a maple spice glaze. Alternatively, you can use honey to make a honey glaze. A little soy sauce to the honey glaze would add a nice touch. I love this fresh ham more savory than sweet, but you can customize it as you, please.
  • Pineapple Juice – add instead of the wine for a sweeter sauce.
  • Whole Cloves – poke in the outer layer of the skin for added taste.
  • Cooking Liquid – for the cooking liquid, you can use beer, cider, stock, or all water.
Cooked fresh ham roast with oranges coming out of oven on white serving platter. Carved meat from the bone.

Pan Gravy

If you wish to make pan gravy, degrease the pan juices, thicken with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour and add a bit of stock.

You can also pair this ham with our Brown Sugar Ham Glaze!

pouring au jus over the plate of freshly cut ham.

Equipment for Easy Ham Roast

Storage

If you have leftovers store the sliced ham in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Enjoy the leftover ham in sandwiches with our focaccia bread. You can also use the leftovers to make Baked Ham and Cheese Pasta (with White Sauce) or this Bean Soup with Ham.

Cooked fresh ham roast with oranges coming out of oven on white serving platter. Carved meat from the bone.

Top Tips

  • Let your fresh ham roast come to room temperature on the counter before roasting in the oven. The roast will be largely overcooked around the outside, with only a tiny ring of perfectly cooked meat in the very center if it is cooked straight from the fridge. Take it out a couple of hours before cooking for the best results.
  • Keep an eye on your fresh ham while it cooks: During the roast, be sure that the liquid in the bottom of the pan doesn’t dry out (add more water if needed).
  • Let it rest! The resting time is crucial for flavor. Be patient; let it rest; you’ll be happy you did when you cut into your succulent fresh ham roast.
resh ham roast on a plate with roasted potatoes and green beans. A bread basket with rolls to the side.

Fresh Ham FAQs

Is fresh ham the same as a pork roast?

In short, no, it is not. Ham is made from the hind legs of the pork, and the pork shoulder corresponds to the front legs of the pig.

Is a fresh ham roast the same as a cured ham?

No, it is not the same as your “standard ham.” A fresh ham is an uncured leg of pork. Fresh ham will have the term “fresh” in the product’s title. The term fresh signifies that the product has not been cured in any process. Fresh ham is also not pre-cooked. It is raw ham.

How long should you cook a fresh ham?

For fresh, unsmoked ham, a bone-in whole leg cooks for 22-26 minutes per pound. A boneless whole leg cooks for 24-28 minutes per pound. Half the bone-in cut cooks for 35-40 minutes per pound. The internal temperature of the baked ham should reach 150-160 °F (with a 30-minute rest time- at least). Cook in an oven set no lower than 300 °F.

How do I know my ham roast is done cooking?

A general rule for cooking fresh ham is to remember that the ham roast will have carryover cooking. This means the meat continues to rise in temperature as the roast rests (about 10º). This means that you will take it out when it is about 10º below your desired doneness based on this chart.
The Final Temperature (after resting) for Medium Done ham is: 150º F
– This means you take it out at around 140º F
– After letting it rest for about 30 minutes, it will reach 150º F

The BEST way to check for doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer. This will ensure that it is cooked perfectly, no matter the size of your fresh ham roast.

What to Serve with Fresh Ham Roast

Cut your fresh ham roast into thin slices, or thick slices depending on your preference, and serve with a side of good quality dijon mustard. Here are a few delicious side ideas to consider when serving this outstanding meat dish.

Green beansBrussels sproutsCreamy Cauliflower BakeCrispy PotatoesItalian Mashed Potatoes, or Easy Green Beans and Pinenuts. Make sure to get some crusty bread or rolls for the sauce. You can also pair it with this Fresh Cranberry Relish!

fresh ham roast on a plate with roasted potatoes and green beans.

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The Best Fresh Ham Roast Recipe (Easy)

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5 from 6 reviews

The Best Fresh Ham Roast Recipe (Easy). Perfectly seasoned with herbs, spices, and a hint of brown sugar this makes for the juiciest ham roast with a delightfully crispy outer layer. This is a wonderful holiday ham recipe (Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter). Serve it for any special occasion, or make it a family dinner night favorite! Serve with roasted potatoes and a beautiful salad.

  • Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 10-pound fresh ham bone-in or bone less (not precooked or cured)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 34 oranges, cut into 1-inch slices
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
  • 2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine

Instructions

  1. Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Leave the fat layer on the ham. Score ham in a diamond pattern (crisis cross) of ½-inch-deep cuts about 1½ inches apart.
  2. In a small bowl, combine salt, brown sugar, pepper, and thyme, pinching the thyme until it becomes fragrant. Pat mixture all over the ham and into scores on the ham roast.
  3. Place orange slices on the bottom of a roasting rack that is in a large roasting pan. Place ham fat-side up on the bed of orange slices on the rack. Pour water and white wine into the bottom of the pan.
  4. Roast for ½ an hour at 425 degrees F.
  5. Turn the heat down to 300 degrees F. We want to cook it low and slowly to tenderize the meat. Add water to the pan, if needed, to keep pan juices from burning.
  6. Bake until a meat thermometer is pressed into the thickest part of the ham and the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, about 3- 3 1/2 hours (see notes). The top will be nice and golden brown, and the interior will be tender.
  7. Tent the fresh ham roast with aluminum foil and let the roast rest for 30-45 minutes before slicing with a sharp knife. Save pan drippings to make pan gravy, or spoon over the meat. 

Notes

*For food safety, ensure your ham reaches at least 150-160 degrees F. If you cook a bigger ham roast, you may need to increase the cooking time. Get a Good Meat Thermometer here.

How do I know my ham roast is done cooking?

For fresh, unsmoked ham, a bone-in whole leg cooks for 22-26 minutes per pound. A boneless whole leg cooks for 24-28 minutes per pound. Half the bone-in cut cooks for 35-40 minutes per pound.

A general rule for cooking fresh ham is to remember that the ham roast will have carryover cooking. This means the meat continues to rise in temperature as the roast rests (about 10º). This means that you will take it out when it is about 10º below your desired doneness based on this chart.
The Final Temperature (after resting) for Medium Done ham is: 150º F
– This means you take it out at around 140º F
– After letting it rest for about 30 minutes, it will reach 150º F

The BEST way to check for doneness is to use an instant-read thermometer. This will ensure that it is cooked perfectly, no matter the size of your fresh ham roast.

Pan Gravy

If you wish to make pan gravy, degrease the pan juices, thicken with about 1 1/2 tablespoons of flour and add a bit of stock.

Variations

  • Spices – if you want to add more traditional American flavors to this fresh ham roast, try adding cloves, to the spice rub.
  • Sweet – you can add more brown sugar to make it sweeter or even a bit of maple syrup to make it a maple spice glaze. Alternatively, you can use honey to make a honey glaze. Even a little soy sauce to the honey glaze would add a nice touch. I love this fresh ham more savory than sweet, but you can customize it as you please.
  • Cooking Liquid – for the cooking liquid you can use beer, cider, stock, or all water.

Storage

If you have leftovers store the sliced ham in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. Enjoy the leftover ham in sandwiches with our focaccia bread, or make Baked Ham and Cheese Pasta (with White Sauce).

 

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: about 3 hours (depending on size of roast)
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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28 Comments

  1. I have a 20 Lb. roast. According to the formula it would call for over 400 minutes of cooking. My roast is lightly tented with foil.
    I am observing with a very accurate meat thermometer that it will reach a temperature of 140 long before six hours. It reached 335 degrees in 3 1/2 hours. I wanted the prescribed slow cook, so I shut the oven off and left the roast in. I’m sure it will reach the desired temp as the oven cools while the roast remains. I will crank the oven to 400 for a short while before removing to crisp the skin for crackle.

    Perhaps the main point is to use a good thermometer and check several times along the way so as not to overcook. Even more critical on a prime rib!






    1. I’ve never done this on a charcoal grill. The oven is a better option for cooking consistent temperatures for a roast like this.

  2. This looks incredible. I have a tiny little fresh ham roast (2.5 lbs) — is there any major change I should make to the recipe besides reducing the ingredients and cooking time?

    1. You can reduce the topping by 1/4 and still cook until the recommended internal temperature. It will take less time.

    1. Cover the ham with foil and place it in the oven.

      Reheat the ham for about 10 to 15 minutes per pound or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C).

      Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving and serving.

      Note: You can also reheat the ham in a slow cooker or on the stovetop. To do this, place the ham in a slow cooker or large pot with a little liquid (water or chicken broth) and heat on low for several hours until heated through.

  3. Super tender and juicy ham. I don’t love precooked and cured ham, but I love the taste of this fresh ham roast recipe. Enjoy!






  4. I don’t love precooked and cured hams from the grocery stores. I love a good fresh ham that I season myself and bake. This recipe makes a perfect roast every time!