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Updated: 1 Feb 2022

How to cook a gammon joint

Basic roast gammon recipe and serving tips. Plus, find out how to cook gammon in a slow cooker, recommended gammon cooking times and what size joint to buy.
Jade Harding
How to cook a gammon joint

Roast gammon is traditionally served for Boxing Day dinner in the UK but is delicious all year round. It's a rich and generous joint of meat that can be eaten hot or cold.  

Just as perfect paired with roast potatoes and gravy as it is stuffed into a sandwich or mixed into a summer salad, a joint of gammon – or ham as it’s called once it’s cooked – is simple to prepare. 

Whether you’re roasting gammon in the oven or using a slow cooker, our expert guide covers everything from how long to cook your gammon to how much ham you’ll need per person. 

Make sure to also check our guides to the best roast potatoes and top-rated red wine - based on our independent consumer taste tests.

How to cook a gammon joint 

  1. Weigh your joint to calculate the correct cooking time – it’s approximately 20 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 20 minutes. 
  2. Put the joint into a big pan along with any flavourings you want to add (for example, peppercorns, onion, cinnamon, bay, carrots). Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
  3. Boil for half the cooking time, skimming and getting rid of any white froth that rises to the top. 
  4. Drain (reserving the water for stock if you want to) and leave to cool slightly before removing the rind and scoring the layer of fat. 
  5. Set the oven to: 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4
  6. Place the meat in a foil-lined roasting tin, loosely cover with foil and put into the preheated oven.
  7. Bake for the remaining cooking time. 
  8. 20-30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the foil and brush the joint with the glaze of your choice - for example, honey or maple syrup.  
  9. Cook uncovered until the glaze is golden. 

Do you need to boil a gammon before roasting? 

Not necessarily. However, boiling it first is much quicker and ensures the meat stays moist. But if you prefer not to boil your gammon or you don’t have a big enough pan, you can just use the oven.

You will need to soak the gammon for around 12-48 hours to remove the excess salt before roasting. You don’t need to do this if you’re boiling a gammon. 

The cooking times will also be longer – it’s approximately 30 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 30 minutes.

Gammon cooking times

Once you know the weight of your gammon joint, you can work out roughly how long it will take to cook. The total cooking times for a joint of boneless gammon – boiling and roasting – are as follows:

  • 750g – 1 hour
  • 1kg – 1 hour 5 minutes  
  • 1.5kg – 1 hour 25 minutes 
  • 2kg – 1 hour 50 minutes
  • 2.25kg – 2 hours
  • 2.50kg – 2 hours 10 minutes
  • 2.75kg – 2 hours 25 minutes 
  • 3kg – 2 hours 45 minutes

If you prefer it roasted in the oven only, you can alter the cooking times to 30 minutes per 450g, plus an extra 30 minutes. 

Make sure you also check the cooking times listed on the packaging, or ask the butcher if you’re not buying from a supermarket.   

Cooking times can also vary depending on how well your oven sticks to its temperature. When we've tested ovens, we've found that some overheat by 30ºC more than the temperature you set on the dial – enough to turn a perfectly tender joint of ham into a chargrilled mess. 

Choose an oven that will cook accurately and evenly – see all of our built-in ovenfreestanding cooker and range cooker reviews.

What size gammon joint do I need?

If you’re trying to calculate how much gammon you’ll need to cook, a good rule of thumb is approximately 200g per person for a boneless joint. The list below will give you an idea of roughly what weight of gammon you'll need to feed everyone around your dinner table.

  • 400g – 600g serves two people 
  • 800g – 1kg serves four people 
  • 1.2kg – 1.4kg serves six people 
  • 1.6kg – 1.8kg serves eight people 
  • 2kg – 2.4kg serves 10-12 people
  • 2.6kg – 3kg – serves 13-15 people 

Avoid serving undercooked gammon to your guests –  see our reviews of the best meat thermometers

Slow cooker gammon joint 

  1. Weigh your joint to calculate the correct cooking time – it’s approximately one to two hours per 450g in the slow cooker, plus an extra 15-20 minutes in the oven. 
  2. Put the gammon in the slow cooker with a quartered onion and cover with cold water. 
  3. Cook for the calculated cooking time on low until the gammon is tender. Top up with boiling water, if necessary, to keep the meat covered. 
  4. Drain (reserving the water for stock if you want to) and leave to cool slightly before removing the rind and scoring the layer of fat. 
  5. Set the oven to: 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas mark 7
  6. Place the meat in a foil-lined roasting tin, fat side up and brush on your glaze of choice - for example, honey or maple syrup.  
  7. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 15–20 minutes, or until the fat is nicely browned.

See all of our slow cooker reviews

Gammon glaze recipes 

There are lots of different ingredients you can use in a glaze, but a good rule of thumb is to include a combination of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavours. For example:

  • Sweet – brown sugar, honey, marmalade, maple syrup
  • Tangy – pineapple juice, cider vinegar, orange juice
  • Spices – mustard, cloves, garlic

A classic combination is honey and mustard, but you can experiment to find your favourite. 

Simply stir the ingredients together and brush onto your gammon. If you prefer a thicker glaze, you can also boil it before adding it to your meat. 

See all of our best food and drink 

What to serve with gammon

  • Potatoes – roasted, mashed, boiled or gratin
  • Summer vegetables – asparagus, corn on the cob, peas, broad beans
  • Winter vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, kale, leeks, carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, sweet potato, squash, celeriac
  • Cold meats and pickles 
  • In a sandwich - with fillings such as mustard, chilli jam, cranberry sauce, rocket and cheese
  • Salads  Caesar salad, Waldorf salad
  • In a quiche - with a side salad
  • Soups - pea and ham, vegetable and ham
  • Fried egg and chips

Leftover cranberry sauce or stuffing from Christmas Day can also be served up with your ham, and for the ultimate Boxing Day sandwich you can add these and some leftover cheese, such as brie, to your ham slices to make a truly indulgent snack.

Instead of gravy, parsley sauce is a good pairing with a gammon joint and a nice change after a Christmas Day turkey.

The A-Z of wine pairings - discover which wine works well with ham and gammon. 

More gammon recipes

Jamie Oliver's gammon recipes

Coined as the 'perfect festive centrepiece', Jamie's sticky mulled wine glazed ham is a great alternative to your traditional Christmas turkey. It's made with a mix of orange marmalade, pineapple, festive spices and, of course, wine. 

Another one of Jamie’s gammon recipes swaps out the wine for rum and jerk seasoning. However, it requires an overnight marinade, so you'll need to start preparing it the day before serving.

Nigella Lawson's gammon in Coke recipe

Instead of water, Nigella boils her gammon in Coke before drizzling it with treacle and roasting it. 

It might sound odd at first, but don't judge until you've tried it. Nigella's ham in Coca-Cola recipe has actually become one of the most popular gammon dishes out there. 

Delia Smith's gammon recipe

Delia's gammon recipe features just a handful of ingredients, and requires you to create a parcel for your gammon to cook in. 

Seasoned with mustard, sugar and cloves, Delia's sugar glazed whole gammon recipe is delicious served hot or cold. 

Once you've perfected your gammon recipe, head straight to our guide on how to make roast potatoes

What to do with leftover ham

Leftover ham is a great sandwich filler, and you can also have leftovers in gravy or parsley sauce with fried-up veg (bubble and squeak). You could use it in a pie along with some leftover turkey and perhaps some leeks and carrots.

Can you freeze a gammon joint?

Yes, gammon (cooked and raw) can be frozen for up to four months in an air-tight container or bag. 

Make sure the ham cools completely before freezing, and once it's defrosted only reheat it once. 

You should also bear in mind that a whole joint will take a while to thaw - you should allow at least 36 hours for it to fully defrost in the fridge. 

See all of our fridge freezer reviews