If you’re a big fan of ham, you may have tried different cooking methods to give it the perfect flavor and texture. However, have you ever thought about cooking your ham in an air fryer? Not only is it a faster way to cook your ham, but it’s also a healthier option that will give you just as delicious results. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about cooking a ham in an air fryer, from choosing the right ham to making a delicious glaze to go with it.
Why air frying is a healthier way to cook ham
Air frying is a healthier way to cook your ham because it uses little to no oil, which reduces the overall calorie count of your dish. Additionally, the hot circulating air in the air fryer helps to cook the ham evenly and crisp it up perfectly, giving it a delicious texture without being too heavy or greasy.
Another benefit of air frying ham is that it helps to retain the natural flavors and juices of the meat. Traditional methods of cooking ham often involve boiling or baking, which can cause the meat to become dry and lose its flavor. Air frying, on the other hand, seals in the juices and flavors, resulting in a more succulent and tasty ham.
Furthermore, air frying is a convenient way to cook ham, especially if you have a busy schedule. Unlike traditional methods that require constant monitoring and basting, air frying is a hands-off cooking method that allows you to set the timer and let the air fryer do the work. This means you can spend more time with your family or attend to other tasks while your ham cooks to perfection.
Tips for choosing the right type of ham for air frying
The type of ham you choose will significantly affect the outcome of your air-fried ham. Opt for a boneless ham that is not pre-cooked and has a layer of fat on top to keep the meat moist and flavorful. Spiral-sliced hams are not recommended, as they may fall apart in the air fryer.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a ham for air frying is the size. A smaller ham will cook more evenly and quickly in the air fryer, while a larger ham may take longer to cook and may not cook evenly. It is also important to check the weight of the ham and ensure that it will fit comfortably in your air fryer basket.
Lastly, consider the flavor profile of the ham. Some hams may be too salty or sweet for your taste, so it is important to read the label and choose a ham that suits your preferences. You can also experiment with different seasonings and glazes to enhance the flavor of your air-fried ham.
Preparing the ham for air frying: trimming, seasoning, and marinating
Before cooking, it’s essential to trim any excess fat or connective tissue from the ham. Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in the fat on the top to allow the seasoning and glaze to penetrate the meat. Consider marinating the ham for even more flavor – a simple mixture of maple syrup, dijon mustard, and fresh herbs will work wonderfully.
Another important step in preparing the ham for air frying is to let it come to room temperature before cooking. This will ensure that the ham cooks evenly and prevents it from drying out. Additionally, you can add some extra flavor by rubbing a mixture of brown sugar and spices onto the ham before air frying. This will create a delicious crust on the outside of the ham while keeping the inside moist and tender.
Step-by-step guide to cooking a ham in an air fryer
Remove the basket from the air fryer and preheat it to 350°F. Place the ham in the basket, fat side up, and cook for 15 minutes per pound. After the first 30 minutes, baste the ham with the marinade or glaze, then continue cooking. If you have a larger ham, you can add a few extra minutes as needed, but be careful not to overcook it. Finally, remove the ham from the air fryer and allow it to rest for ten minutes before slicing and serving.
One important thing to keep in mind when cooking a ham in an air fryer is to make sure it fits comfortably in the basket. If the ham is too large, it may not cook evenly or fit properly in the air fryer. Additionally, you can experiment with different marinades or glazes to add flavor to your ham. Some popular options include honey mustard, brown sugar, and pineapple juice. With a little creativity, you can make a delicious and juicy ham in your air fryer.
How long does it take to cook a ham in an air fryer?
As mentioned earlier, a general rule of thumb is 15 minutes per pound at 350°F. However, for a precise measurement, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature; the ideal temperature for cooked ham is 140°F.
It's important to note that the cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the ham. It's always best to refer to the manufacturer's instructions for cooking times and temperatures. Additionally, you can add some flavor to your ham by brushing it with a glaze before cooking. A mixture of honey, mustard, and brown sugar is a popular choice for a sweet and savory glaze.
Checking if the ham is fully cooked: temperature, color, and texture
The most reliable way to check if the ham is fully cooked and safe to eat is to use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should reach 140°F. The ham should also look golden brown and crisp on the outside, and the meat should be juicy and tender when you slice it.
It is important to note that the cooking time for a ham can vary depending on its size and whether it is bone-in or boneless. A general rule of thumb is to allow 15-18 minutes of cooking time per pound of ham. However, it is always best to refer to the cooking instructions provided by the manufacturer or a trusted recipe source to ensure that the ham is cooked to perfection.
How to make a glaze for your air-fryer ham
There are many glazes to choose from when it comes to air-fried ham. A combination of maple syrup, dijon mustard, honey, brown sugar, and pineapple juice would make a delicious sweet and tangy glaze that complements the salty ham flavor. Mix your glaze ingredients together and brush it over the ham in the last 30 minutes of cooking time for optimal flavor.
Serving suggestions and side dishes for your air-fried ham
The beauty of air-fryer ham is that it pairs well with various side dishes. Consider making some roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or even some mac and cheese to go along with your ham. Alternatively, you can serve it with a side of homemade cranberry sauce or some honey mustard sauce.
Storing and reheating leftover air-fried ham
If you have any leftover ham, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. To reheat, wrap the ham in foil and place it in a preheated air fryer at 350°F for 5-10 minutes. Alternatively, you can microwave it for a minute or two.
Frequently asked questions about cooking ham in an air fryer
Q: Can I cook a pre-cooked ham in an air fryer?
A: Yes, you can cook a pre-cooked ham in an air fryer, but be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Q: Can I cook a frozen ham in an air fryer?
A: No, it’s not recommended to cook a frozen ham in an air fryer. Always thaw the ham completely before cooking it in the air fryer.
Comparing air-frying to other methods of cooking ham: pros and cons
|Air frying||Fast, healthy, evenly cooked, can be deliciously crispy||May not work for larger hams, requires an air fryer|
|Baking||Easy to do, can be moist and flavorful||Takes longer to cook, may not get as crispy|
|Grilling||Can add a smoky flavor, crispy outer layer||Requires a grill, can be challenging to keep moist|
|Crockpot||Easy to do, can be moist and flavorful||Can take a long time to cook, may not have as crispy a texture|
Air frying a ham is a quick, easy, and healthy way to prepare this classic dish. By following the tips and tricks we’ve shared in this article, you can make a delicious, succulent ham that will impress your guests. Whether you’re serving it for a special occasion or just for a weeknight dinner, air-fryer ham is a game-changer when it comes to cooking this beloved meat.