Brown Bag Baked Ham Recipe

This recipe offers a simple and effective way to cook a juicy and tender baked ham using a brown paper bag.


  • One bone-in or boneless ham (any size will work)
  • Optional: Brown sugar (for a sweeter crust)
  • Optional: Cloves (for added depth of flavor)


  • Preheat the oven: Depending on the size of your ham, choose between two cooking methods:
  • Low and Slow: For a larger ham (around 8-10 lbs), preheat your oven to the lowest setting (around 250°F).
  • Standard: For a smaller ham (around 4-6 lbs), preheat your oven to 325°F.

1. Prepare the ham

  • Remove any packaging from the ham.
  • Decide if you want a sweeter crust. If so, rub the entire ham with brown sugar. You can also insert cloves into the ham at this point, especially around the fatty areas, for an extra flavor boost.

2. Brown bag magic

  • Grab a large brown paper grocery bag. If using a bag with printed ink, consider using an “oven-ready” paper bag instead.
  • Cut off the handles of the bag.
  • Place the ham inside the bag, with the fat side facing up.
  • Fold the top of the bag down to enclose the ham loosely.

3. Bake the ham

There are two approaches depending on your chosen temperature:

  • Low and Slow: Place the bag with the ham on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake for a long cooking time, around 10-12 hours, or until the internal temperature of the ham reaches 190°F (82°C).
  • Standard: Place the bag with the ham on a wire rack set atop a baking sheet. This allows for better air circulation. Bake for 18 minutes per pound of ham. For example, a 5-pound ham would bake for 90 minutes.

4. Rest and serve

  • Once baking is complete, remove the ham from the oven and let it rest in the bag for at least 30 minutes before slicing. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.
  • Carefully remove the ham from the bag and discard the bag.
  • Slice the ham and serve.


  • You can add a splash of water or pineapple juice to the bottom of the baking sheet (not directly on the ham) to create a steamy environment for the ham while it bakes (especially for the low and slow method).
  • For the low and slow method, the ham will be very tender and may fall apart easily. This is perfect for pulled ham sandwiches.
  • If you prefer a crispier crust, remove the bag from the ham for the last 15-20 minutes of baking (standard method only). Be careful not to let the bag touch the oven heating elements.


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