The Ultimate Whole Ham Air Fryer Recipe Guide

whole ham air fryer recipe

Cooking a whole ham in an air fryer may seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques, it can result in a succulent and flavorful centerpiece for any gathering. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the food science, culinary details, selection, cleaning, preparation, tips, variations, doneness checks, and a delicious recipe for cooking a whole ham in an air fryer. So, let’s dive in and discover the secrets to mastering this culinary delight!

Understanding the Food Science behind Cooking a Whole Ham

Before we delve into the specifics of air frying a whole ham, it’s important to understand the food science behind cooking this delicious cut of meat. A whole ham typically comes from the rear leg of a pig and can be either bone-in or boneless. It is a versatile cut that can be enjoyed in various ways – from savory holiday feasts to casual weeknight dinners.

When cooking a whole ham, it’s crucial to reach the desired internal temperature to ensure its safety and flavor. The USDA recommends cooking ham to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) for uncooked varieties and 140°F (60°C) for pre-cooked hams. This temperature ensures proper pasteurization while keeping the meat moist and tender.

Selecting the Perfect Whole Ham

When selecting a whole ham for your air frying adventure, there are a few factors to consider. First, ensure that the ham fits comfortably inside your air fryer, ensuring even cooking throughout. Secondly, choose a ham with a good fat content, as this adds flavor and helps maintain juiciness during the cooking process. Finally, consider whether you prefer a bone-in or boneless ham. While boneless options are generally easier to slice, bone-in hams tend to yield richer flavors.

Cleaning and Preparing your Air Fryer

whole ham

Before embarking on your ham-cooking journey, it’s essential to clean your air fryer thoroughly. Remove any residual grease or debris from previous cooking sessions to prevent unwanted flavors and ensure proper heat distribution. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for specific cleaning guidelines for your air fryer model.

Once the cleaning is complete, prepare your air fryer by preheating it to the desired cooking temperature. The recommended temperature for air frying a whole ham ranges between 325°F (163°C) and 350°F (177°C), depending on your recipe and personal preference. Preheating the air fryer ensures even cooking and reduces the overall cooking time.

Tips for Preparing a Whole Ham for Air Frying

Now that your air fryer is ready, it’s time to prepare your whole ham for cooking. Follow these essential tips for optimal results:

1. Thawing the Ham

If using a frozen ham, ensure it is completely thawed before air frying. Plan ahead by allowing sufficient time for the ham to thaw in the refrigerator. This will prevent uneven cooking and ensure the ham’s internal temperature reaches the desired levels.

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2. Score the Ham

To enhance both the presentation and flavor of your ham, take a sharp knife and carefully score the surface in a diamond pattern. This will allow the glaze to permeate the meat, creating a beautiful caramelization and maximizing the taste.

3. Apply a Glaze

Applying a glaze to your ham adds a burst of flavor and a delightful caramelized finish. There are numerous glaze options to choose from, such as honey mustard, brown sugar, or pineapple glaze. Make sure to evenly brush the glaze over the ham, paying extra attention to the scored areas.

4. Seasonings and Spices

To further elevate the flavors of your ham, consider adding complementary spices and seasonings. Popular choices include ground cloves, cinnamon, cracked black pepper, or garlic powder. Rub these seasonings over the glazed ham, ensuring they are evenly distributed.

Cooking the Whole Ham to Perfection

close up view of air fried whole ham

With the preparations complete, it’s time to start cooking your whole ham in the air fryer. Follow these steps carefully to achieve a scrumptious result:

1. Placement and Timing

Carefully place the prepared ham into the preheated air fryer basket or tray, ensuring it fits comfortably. Position the ham fat side up to allow the rendering fats to baste the meat during cooking. Cooking times vary depending on the size of the ham, but a general guideline is approximately 20 minutes per pound.

2. Monitoring and Rotating

Throughout the cooking process, regularly monitor the ham to ensure it doesn’t become too brown or dry. Some air fryer models may require rotating the ham halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning. Adapt your cooking method based on your air fryer’s specifications and any visual cues you observe.

3. Basting

To lock in moisture and intensify flavors, occasionally baste the ham with the rendered fat or additional glaze during the cooking process. This will ensure a succulent texture and create a delightful caramelized crust.

4. Doneness Checks

To determine if your ham has reached the desired internal temperature, use an instant-read meat thermometer. Carefully insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the ham without touching the bone. Once the thermometer reads 145°F (63°C) for uncooked ham or 140°F (60°C) for pre-cooked ham, it is safe to remove the ham from the air fryer.

Delicious Variations and Serving Suggestions

Now that your whole ham is cooked to perfection, it’s time to unleash your creativity and experiment with delicious variations. Here are a few ideas to inspire your culinary adventures:

1. Glaze Variations

Get creative with your glazes by incorporating different flavors. Consider an orange marmalade glaze for a tangy twist or a maple-bourbon glaze for a touch of sophistication. The possibilities are endless, so let your imagination run wild!

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2. Fruit Accompaniments

Pairing your ham with fruits can add a refreshing contrast to its rich flavors. Serve sliced pineapples, roasted apples, or even a tangy cranberry sauce as a delightful side dish. The sweet and savory combination will leave your taste buds craving for more.

3. Ham Leftovers

If you find yourself with leftover ham – which is almost guaranteed – don’t worry! There are plenty of delicious ways to utilize it. From ham and cheese sliders to hearty soups or tantalizing omelets, your leftover ham can be transformed into a variety of mouthwatering dishes.

Whole Ham Air Fryer Recipe

Now that you have mastered the art of cooking a whole ham in an air fryer, it’s time to put your skills to the test with a tried-and-true recipe. Here’s a mouthwatering recipe to get you started:


  • 1 whole ham (bone-in or boneless)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Preheat your air fryer to 325°F (163°C).
  2. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, ground cloves, and ground black pepper. Mix well to create a thick glaze.
  3. Score the ham’s surface in a diamond pattern, then evenly brush the glaze over the ham, ensuring it covers all scored areas.
  4. Place the ham in the preheated air fryer basket or tray, fat side up.
  5. Cook for approximately 20 minutes per pound, monitoring the ham’s color and basting occasionally with the rendered fat or additional glaze.
  6. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to check the ham’s internal temperature. Once the thermometer reads 145°F (63°C) for uncooked ham or 140°F (60°C) for pre-cooked ham, it is ready to be removed from the air fryer.
  7. Allow the ham to rest for a few minutes before carving. This ensures the juices redistribute and the ham remains juicy.

Wrapping Up

Cooking a whole ham in an air fryer may require some time and effort, but the results are well worth it. With this comprehensive guide, you now have the knowledge and confidence to air fry a succulent and flavorful whole ham. Remember to adapt the timings and techniques based on your air fryer model and personal preferences. So, gather your ingredients, fire up your air fryer, and prepare to impress your friends and family with a perfectly cooked whole ham that they won’t soon forget!

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  • FAQS On Whole Ham Air Fryer Recipe

    How Long Should I Cook A Whole Ham In An Air Fryer?

    The cooking time for a whole ham in an air fryer depends on the weight of the ham. As a general guideline, cook a whole ham for approximately 12-15 minutes per pound at 375°F. It is important to remember to flip the ham halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning.

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    Can I Use A Frozen Whole Ham In An Air Fryer?

    Yes, you can cook a frozen whole ham in an air fryer. However, you need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. It is recommended to increase the cooking time by about 25-30% if using a frozen ham. Make sure to check the internal temperature of the ham to ensure it reaches at least 145°F.

    Do I Need To Preheat The Air Fryer Before Cooking A Whole Ham?

    Yes, preheating the air fryer is recommended when cooking a whole ham. Preheating ensures that the air fryer reaches the desired cooking temperature, allowing for more consistent and efficient cooking. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F before placing the ham inside.

    Should I Cover The Whole Ham While Cooking In The Air Fryer?

    It is not necessary to cover the whole ham while cooking in the air fryer. The hot air circulation inside the air fryer will cook the ham evenly and create a nice crispy exterior. However, you can cover it loosely with aluminum foil if you prefer a less crispy crust.

    Can I Glaze The Whole Ham In The Air Fryer?

    Yes, you can glaze the whole ham in the air fryer. If you prefer a glazed ham, apply the glaze during the last 10-15 minutes of cooking time. Brush the glaze evenly over the ham, ensuring it adheres well. The hot air in the air fryer will help caramelize the glaze, adding flavor and a beautiful finish to the ham.

    How Do I Know When The Whole Ham Is Cooked?

    The best way to determine if the whole ham is cooked is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the ham, making sure it doesn’t touch the bone. The ham is considered fully cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of at least 145°F.

    Can I Reheat Leftover Whole Ham In The Air Fryer?

    Yes, you can use an air fryer to reheat leftover whole ham. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F and place the sliced ham in a single layer without overlapping. Reheat for approximately 5-8 minutes or until the ham is heated through. Keep an eye on it to prevent it from drying out.