Cooking ham in coca cola may seem odd, but after trying this recipe you won’t make ham any other way. It’s sweet, sticky, juicy and DELICIOUS!
Coca Cola Ham
If you think about it, cola ham totally makes sense. Most ham recipes use a sugary glaze, because pork takes on sweetness (like brown sugar or honey) insanely well. For the longest time I used to boil ham in water before roasting. But as of recently I’ve switched to cola and haven’t looked back. By boiling ham in cola you lightly infuse it with a sweet flavour. It offers an added layer of flavour you miss out on if using water. The coke itself takes on other spices really well too, which we’ll get into in just a sec.
What does gammon cooked in Coke taste like?
In all honesty you don’t get an overwhelming taste of Coke once this is cooked. It’s more about the hint of sweetness it brings.
Can I use Diet Coke?
I HIGHLY recommend using full sugar cola. As I said, this is more about the sugar than it is the actual flavour of cola. Diet coke has a much more acidic taste to it which would through off the balance of flavours.
Slow Cooker Cola Ham
Gammon vs Ham
Just to clear things up quickly, here in the UK an uncooked ham is called a Gammon, then named a Ham once cooked. My understanding that a ham is a ham in the US, which makes much more sense 🤣
When it comes to cooking gammon the 3 easiest methods are either: roasting, boiling then roasting or slow cooking then roasting. My preference is to slow cook then roast. I find the ham comes out the juicest and most tender with an initial slow cook. It also gives time for the cola and spices to work their way into the surface of the meat.
Can I boil cola ham?
You can boil then roast. This is my second favourite method (more on this in the recipe card). I don’t recommend just roasting cola ham as the cola doesn’t cling particularly well to the ham, even if you baste throughout.
Process shots: add gammon to slow cooker (photo 1), pour in coke (photo 2), top up with water if needed (photo 3), add onion, carrot, cinnamon, star anise and peppercorns (photo 4), put lid on (photo 5), slow cook (photo 6).
How to Roast Ham
Once you’ve slow cooked the gammon (now ham) it will be completely cooked through, and it will have picked up some flavour, but we want more. Now it’s time to roast.
First things you’ll want to do is score the fat. This serves two purposes: first is it will allow the glaze to infuse the fat and work its way to the meat. Second is it will prevent the ham from bending/shrinking. Just like pork chops, when ham cooks the fat shrinks and tends to bend the meat. Scoring in a diamond shape will help prevent this.
Do you have to put cloves on ham?
Short answer is no, but it does inject flavour and adds a nice garnish. I tend to add them here, simply because the flavour pairs nicely with the cola.
Process shots: score fat with sharp knife (photo 1), stud with cloves (photo 2).
Cola Ham Glaze
Alrighty, let’s talk glaze. This is largely made up of brown sugar and honey, but I also like to add in a little cola, just to add a hint of flavour that’ll round everything off nicely. Alongside this I like to add dijon mustard. Mainly because honey and mustard is one heck of a combo, but also because it adds a gentle background heat which cuts through the sweetness of the glaze.
To make the glaze just simply simmer everything in a pot until the sugar dissolves and a glaze starts to form.
From there grab a brush and slather it over the ham, saving a bit to reglaze half way through roasting.
Process shots: make glaze (photo 1), brush over ham (photo 2), fully coat ham then roast (photo 3).
Serving Cola Ham
Once it’s out the oven it’s crucial to let the ham rest. I usually let it rest for around 15mins. This gives chance for the meat to rest and retain its juices. It’ll still be piping hot in the middle, don’t worry!
From there, if you’ve got the patience you can remove the cloves. I tend to just slice it up and let people remove their own. Up to you.
How long does leftover ham last in fridge?
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for the cola ham shall we?!
How to make Coca cola Ham (Full Recipe & Video)
Coca Cola Ham
- Slow Cooker or Large Pot with Lid (see notes)
- Baking Tray & Aluminium Foil
- Small Pot & Wooden Spoon
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
- Cooling Rack
Ingredients (check list):
- 3lb / 1.4kg Boneless Gammon Joint (smoked or unsmoked, skin on or off - see notes)
- 50 fl oz / 1.5litres / 2.6 pints Coca Cola (NOT diet or zero, must be full sugar)
- 1 medium Onion, quartered
- 1 medium Carrot, quartered
- 2 Star Anise
- 1 3" stick or 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/2 tbsp Black Peppercorns
- 1/3 cup / 65g Brown Sugar
- 1/4 cup / 50g Honey
- 1/4 cup / 60ml Coca Cola (save before adding to ham to cook)
- 3 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- handful of Cloves
- Add gammon to slow cooker and pour over cola until just about covered, saving 1/4cup/60ml. Top up with water if needed. Add in onion, carrot, star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns. Place on the lid and cook on high for 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a small pot over low-medium heat combine sugar, mustard, honey and leftover cola. Simmer for 5mins until the sugar dissolves and it starts to thicken, stirring frequently. It will continue to thicken as it rests.
- Remove ham from slow cooker and place on a wire rack above a tray or plate (to catch juices). Make sure it's fat side up. Once cool enough to handle, score the fat in a criss-cross style to create large diamonds. Be careful not to slice into the ham. Stud a clove at the tip of each diamond.
- Place ham on a foiled baking tray. Scrunch up some foil to prop the ham up so it doesn't fall over if you need to. Brush around 2/3 of your glaze all over the ham.
- Place in the oven at 200C/390F for 15mins, take out and reglaze with leftover glaze then pop back in the oven for another 10mins or so until it starts to caramelize and lightly char.
- Allow the ham to rest for 10-15mins (important) then slice up. Can remove cloves before slicing if you wish!
Quick 1 min demo!
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