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Fall Apart Beautiful Boiled Ham Recipe – An Easy Crowd Pleasing Meal

A delicious boiled ham recipe that falls apart and melts in your mouth. This recipe is perfect for special occasions like Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner or anytime you are feeding a crowd of guests because its easy, doesn’t require a lot of your attention, and it works every time!

a pork shoulder in a pot with water and vegetables ready to cook

Boiled ham is our families favorite way to eat ham.  One because it tastes damn good, but also because its as easy as filling a pot with water, adding some seasonings, a few vegetables and walking away.  

The simplicity makes it an awesome dish to feed a crowd of people, and the taste makes it the perfect choice for special occasions.  

Boiled ham dinner with scalloped potatoes is one of Kevin’s favorite meals so I like to make it for him once in a while, but I usually do this when we are having guests as well, just because its so good, everyone loves it, and its such an easy meal!  

I also get a ton of leftovers when I am boiling a ham so it makes lunches easy and delicious for Kevin and I over the next few days.  I usually pick a big ass ham regardless of how many people were having over just to make sure I have leftovers.  

A meal that’s easy for entertaining but also makes my life easier during the week as well is a win win!

Why Boil A Ham?

Boiling is a great way to heat up your ham before serving. This method keeps the moisture in the ham while cooking and therefore, the ham stays tender and juicy. It also adds flavor to the ham when you add aromatic veggies to the pot as well as other flavors like spices or juice.

Tools You Need

  1. Kick Ass Stock Pot – this monster stock pot is awesome quality and will end up being your go-to for these boiled hams as well as soups
  2. Slightly Smaller Enameled Stock Pot – a little smaller, but way prettier and cheaper.  Will do the trick nicely!  
  3. Tongs – a necessity for getting your boiled ham out of the pot

Best Ham to Buy for Boiled Ham

You can use a couple of different cuts, but the main thing you want is to boil a ham with the bone in.  A picnic ham, country ham, or any dry-cured bone in cuts will work.

You can also use a fresh ham, but you don’t see those very often.  I think they would work really well actually and you would use the exact same method.

Do not try to boil a ham without a bone, I haven’t tried this, but I just don’t think you will get good results.

Is the Ham Already Cooked?

Most hams you buy will already be smoked so yes, it’s basically cooked. But you need to warm it up before eating it and boiling is a great way to do that.

Cooking the Ham

Its honestly so simple. This is all you need to do:

  • add your ham to a big pot
  • add your veggies, spices, bay leaf and fill the pot with water or any other liquid you want to use
  • bring the pot of liquid to a simmer
  • simmer the ham for about 15 mins per pound at a low temperature/simmer
  • while its cooking, every once in a while skim any foam off the top of the pot. This is normal.

Tips to Make it Perfect

  • I always make this boiled ham recipe with water because broth can get too salty, but you can use any liquid you choose.  I like it sometimes with Apple Juice or Apple Cider.  You could use Orange Juice…  Or a mix…  Whatever you feel like.  
  • just barely cover the ham with liquid. You don’t need it to be fully submerged.
  • just simmer the ham gently. Don’t boil it at a high temperature.
  • if you have the time, allow the ham to cool in the liquid before taking it out.
boiled ham being cut into with a knife

How long do you boil a ham?

A boiled ham should take about 15 mins per pound.  Start with this calculation, but then you can check the ham every once in a while.  If the meat starts separating from the bone really easy, that’s a good indication that it’s done.

You can also check the internal temperature with a thermometer.  If the meat in the middle reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit then its done.

If you use the temperature method, make sure to wiggle the bones a bit too so you can make sure it’s really tender before you take it out.

Can You Overcook a Ham?

Yes you can. Make sure to simmer at a low temperature and for not longer than necessary. Its harder to over cook a ham when you are boiling it, but it is possible!

Should You Let Ham Rest?

Yes! Always let any kind of cooked meat rest. It allows the molecules to slow down and relax. Then when you cut into it, the juices don’t all run out. Let your ham rest for about 15-20 mins after removing it from the water.

a plate of ham with mustard sauce drizzled on top and scalloped potatoes in the back

This boiled ham recipe always comes out so dang juicy and tender when its done.  It pretty much just falls apart.  You don’t need any fancy sauce to go with this and we often eat it with plain old mustard, but honey mustard, or apple sauce or apple compote would be yummy too.  

Don’t forget to save the bone.  Once you get the meat off, throw it in a freezer bag and into the freezer.  Then later on, make bone broth with it and then split pea soup or some other ham soup with it.  It will make your soup so much better than ordinary broth!  

What to serve with your boiled ham dinner:

If you’ve tried this boiled ham recipe then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let us know how it turned out in the comments below.  We love hearing from you!

We love to see your creations!  Tag @Cookswithcocktails if you post a picture of this recipe on INSTAGRAM

Fall Apart Boiled Ham

A delicious boiled ham recipe that falls apart and melts in your mouth. Perfect for special occasions and feeding a crowd of guests!
4.26 from 110 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Canadian
Keyword: boiled ham, christmast ham, cooked ham, easter ham, thanksgiving ham
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings: 10 people
Calories: 275kcal
Author: Julie & Debbie


  • 4-6 lbs bone in ham this is sometimes called a picnic ham or country ham
  • 2 large onions cut into quarters
  • 3 sticks celery chopped in quarters
  • 2 large apples cut in quarters
  • 5 – 8 cloves garlic smashed but not peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • liquid to cover water or a mix of water and juice is good


  • Rinse the ham well and put it in a big pot. Big enough so that all or at least most of it can be covered by the liquid.  Throw in all the other ingredients into the pot and fill with the liquid until the ham is covered or almost covered. Water or whatever liquid you choose.
  • Bring it to a boil and then lower the heat so its simmering.  Let it simmer for 20 mins per lb or until a thermometer reaches 155 degrees when inserted into the ham.
  • Pull the Ham out of the pot, cover it and let it rest for 20 mins.
  • Cut the fat and skin off and slice or pull it into pieces. Serve it up and watch the ham melt in your mouth! So good!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 275kcal | Protein: 24g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g

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  1. I always do a boiled picnic shoulder, this year for convenience sake i want to boil it day before. I have been told to warm it up the following day by wrapping it in tin foil and place in slow cooker. Do I add liquid. Does this sound like a good way to warm it up.

    1. To be honest, I would just put it in a covered roaster and bake it in the oven at say 250 degrees and yes, I would add some liquid to the roaster. You could do the slowcooker too I guess, but it would take way longer. I might be worried about it drying out some too though, so you could make a glaze for it before you put it in the oven or slow cooker.

  2. After reviewing a dozen or more articles on this subject, yours was the most informative. Thank you so much for the excellent information and recipe. My search is over!

    1. Yes, cover the pot if you can. Sometimes my ham is too big and it sticks out the side. Thats ok too, but if you can cover most of the pot at least its good. Otherwise you will loose too much liquid and have to keep adding some. Let us know how it turns out!

    1. Hi Rachel, I actually dont know, Ive never tried it. I think that it might not just because the bone and fat is what keeps it really tender and boneless ham tends to be much much leaner. Although Im really not sure so if you try it, please let us know how it turned out!

  3. Your recipe for boiled ham sounds wonderful! I am wondering whether the left-over broth should be saved as a basis for Senate Bean soup, or if it would be unsuitable for the soup or other dishes. Thank you for any comment you could give me.

    1. Hi Charlotte, good question! I actually never have, but I don’t see why you couldn’t use it. You would just need to strain it and remove the fat. Either way, make sure to save the bone from the ham to boil again later for soup too!

      1. I had the same question – that is, using the left over water from the boiled ham as a base for making soup. I am going to try it but am wondering if it might result in a soup that is too salty. Because of this I’m thinking of using half water and half broth in the recipe when boiling the ham bone. Any thoughts about ratio?

        1. Hi Sue, your right, it could get salty. I want to say that you will probably be safe with half and half, but a safe bet is to taste it first and start with half and half for about half the liquid you need for your soup, taste it, and then add more broth or more water or a little of both depending on the taste. Hope that helps

          1. I want to boil a gammon ham without a bone. How long do l cook it for as is nearly 1.435 kg in weight ?

          2. You can use the same length of time per pound and use a meat thermometer so you dont overcook.

  4. Hi, i’m new to your site but this sounds great. Just one question. Your recipe calls for a bone in shoulder ham. Around here we call shoulders Boston butt and a ham is the rear upper rump of the hog. Am I missing something? Shoulder or ham?

    1. Hi Prentice, were talking ham here, not the shoulder (or Boston butt) cut. The ham comes from the rear leg. Hope that helps.

  5. I feel crazy. My mil tells me to get a pork shoulder picnic and low boil it 4-5 hrs and it’s perfect. I’ve tried a million times and mine always ends up like tasteless white meat and hers is always pink and salty. What the heck am I doing wrong over and over. I’ve tried covered. Uncovered. Simmering. Half heat. It’s making me feel absolutely silly! And they are expensive to keep cooking wrong.

    1. Hi Rachel. I can really understand your frustration! Couple things… First of all, are you sure you have the right cut? That makes a huge difference. And does it have a bone in it? Also, maybe if your cut is smaller, you don’t need 4 or 5 hours. Check it after 1 and then 1.5 and then 2. Stick a fork in it and see if its getting tender. Start off with 20 mins per lb and then go from there. Also make sure your cooking at a slow simmer, not a full boil. Ive also seen some recipes say to leave the ham sit in the cooking broth for a couple hours after its done. You could try that too maybe? I think I might try that next time I make this in case it helps make it even more juicy. I hope you try again and I would love to hear if it finally works for you!

  6. I always save the leftover ham water to make beans or split pea soup… for soup I usually only use 1/2 ham water, 1/2 other liquid so its not too salty. The ham water can be frozen so it can be used later (strain it first)… I freeze my ham bone too!

    Also, I read Rachel’s post… maybe she is buying a “pork shoulder picnic” pork roast, not a ham. I have cooked this kind of pork roast before also… it is mostly white when cooked – the “pork shoulder picnic ham” is a pink, smoked ham.

  7. Try boiling a ham with seafood boiling mix. I’m in Louisiana, so I use Zatarain’s. Also add onions, lemon and celery. It is awesome!!!!!

  8. I have a question regarding the fat rind. Do you trim it before you cook, or after?

    I’ve cooked both ways but I’m curious how you do it. I always save the bone and broth and use it for pea soup. I check for saltiness and use water to offset as needed. I also freeze it to use at a later date if I’m not going to use it by the next day or two. If you refrigerate or freeze, the fat solidifies on top and makes removal a snap.

    Great job on presenting your recipe. Merry Christmas!

    1. I leave the fat on while cooking, but especially when boiling a ham, I don’t believe it matters much either way. Merry Christmas to you as well!

  9. This recipe is like the way my mom cooked her ham, but instead of water, she used gingerale. It makes the ham sweeter…not salty.

  10. Im trying this recipe as i write this lol. Have you ever heard of adding a bit of vinegar to the pot while boiling die down the salti.

  11. I just found your recipe and it sounds delicious!
    I have a 10.24 pound fully cooked Smithfield hardwood smoked bone in half ham shank portion and I’m worried this is not the correct ham for boiling. My intent is after boiling the ham, I will use the pot liquor to boil some red potatoes and cook my collards.
    My late husband always cooked collards this way, but I can’t remember what type of ham he would use..
    My children are wanting this for Christmas dinner this year in honor of him so I want to get it right.
    Will this ham work?

    1. Hi, I love that you are doing this in honor of your late husband. Yes, you can use the ham that you have. Just a note… if you have a meat thermometer, use it to determine when the internal temperature of the ham is about 135 degrees. That’s the best way to make sure you don’t overcook it. You can also do 10-15 mins per lb but using a thermometer is your best bet to be accurate. Also, make sure to simmer on a low temperature. Wishing you and your family a merry christmas!

  12. To reduce the saltiness of the none in shank ham or a smoked picnic ham, I bring the water to a boil for about 2 minutes. Turn it off and immediately drain the water. Then immediately cover the ham again and bring to a simmer. I always go with 2 1/2 hours ….boiling or baking. Anything more seems to really risk drying it out. Has worked for me for about 50 years! I like this website.

    1. Thats a good idea to reduce the saltiness. I have had one ham that was very salty, but for the most part I find them ok. If you arent a salt fiend like us, then this might be a good way to start.

  13. I have a bone in butt half. Would this ham be appropriate for this recipe? Thank you! I don’t normally cook ham and my husband wanted ham and cabbage. 😀

  14. Since my daughter and grandson are on the sick list for Easter, I’ll be booking a small quarter ham for just me. It’s boneless, but I need to get as much salt out of it as possible, so am thinking a slow simmer might be all that’s needed. I know you advise against boneless, but it’s all our small local store had. And modifications recommended?

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