Why Soda is The Secret Ingredient for Your Easter Ham

From Dr Pepper to ginger ale, Southerners know that soda makes a tasty ham glaze.

Pepper Jelly and Ginger Glazed Ham
Photo: Photo: Iain Bagwell

If ham is the main event on your Easter table (and we're guessing it is), it needs a proper glaze. A great glaze should balance the saltiness of the meat with plenty of sweetness and also give the ham that gorgeously lacquered look.

While there are plenty of ways to glaze a ham, one of our favorite methods is decidedly retro: soda-glazed ham. Yes, soda. You probably already have it in your refrigerator and it's the key to an effortless and surprisingly versatile ham glaze.

Depending on the soda, you can flavor the ham several different ways. One of our favorite combinations is Dr. Pepper and pineapple juice. The soda's fruity, vanilla notes taste great with tangy pineapple juice and the salty, savory meat.

WATCH: How to Glaze a Ham

Ginger ale adds spicy notes that pair well with other spices (like cloves or cinnamon) and something sharp, like mustard. You can even add a bit of grated fresh ginger for even more heat. Bourbon, apple juice, pineapple juice, or orange juice are delicious in a ginger ale glaze.

Cola adds caramel sweetness to a ham glaze and can stand up to other strong ingredients like bourbon and cloves. If you'd rather not cook with alcohol, use apple juice instead.

Start with our Classic Cola-Glazed Ham recipe and give it your own spin, depending on the soda you're using. You can swap out the cola for an equal amount of Dr Pepper or ginger ale, and replace the bourbon or apple juice with pineapple juice or orange juice. Whatever soda you choose, be sure that it's not sugar free.

Classic Cola-Glazed Ham

1 (6- to 7-lb.) fully cooked, bone-in ham

30 to 32 whole cloves

1 (16-oz.) box dark brown sugar

1 cup spicy brown mustard

1 cup cola soft drink

1/2 cup bourbon or apple juice

1. Remove skin from ham, and trim fat to 1/4-inch thickness. Make 1/4-inch-deep cuts in a diamond pattern, and insert cloves at 1-inch intervals. Place ham in an aluminum foil-lined 13- x 9-inch pan.

2. Stir together brown sugar and next 3 ingredients until smooth. Pour mixture evenly over ham.

3. Bake at 350° on lower oven rack for 2 hours and 30 minutes, basting with pan juices every 20 minutes. Remove ham, and let stand 15 minutes before serving.

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