Last Updated on November 7, 2022 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD
Pressure Cooker Ham. This recipe is so simple and fast, and delivers succulent, ultra-juicy, fall-apart-tender ham.
Pressure Cooker Ham
This method could arguably be the best way to heat up a ham. I love how incredibly fall-apart moist it turns out. You can pressure cook a toupie, bone-in or spiral ham by simply cutting the bigger options down and nestling in the pieces to fit. Couldn’t be easier!
Here’s why you’re going to LOVE cooking ham in the pressure cooker for Easter, Christmas, or any holiday dinner:
- Cooking ham in a pressure cooker takes a fraction of the time it would take in the oven.
- The ham is so tender. The pressure cooker keeps all that moisture in, so you can expect super moist and juicy ham without the oven’s drying heat.
- You can still glaze it. Preheat the broiler for a few minutes and pop the ham in for just a few minutes to caramelize a glaze, if you love those sweet, crispy bits as much as I do.
The Simple Pressure Cooker Ham Recipe
The reason I love this method so much is because it is just so easy.
No fussing with aluminum foil, worrying about drying out, or staying home for hours waiting for a ham to slowly oven-bake.
It’s almost an embarrassment to call this a recipe. Let’s just say it is going to be a short ingredient list!
Here’s all you need for instant (pot) ham:
- Ham: You can do any ham (like a small boneless Toupie ham, a larger bone-in cut, or even a spiral ham). See below for notes on prepping a larger cut.
- Liquid. Anytime you pull out the pressure cooker you need to add liquid. The ham itself comes pre-seasoned and has a lovely smokiness. The results are perfectly delicious and flavourful with just water in the bottom, but feel free to swap in apple juice or cider, or an unsalted broth if you like.
- OPTIONAL: if you love a spiced ham, feel free to poke in some whole cloves all over.
How to Heat a Ham in a Pressure Cooker
Ham in North America is almost always fully cooked unless you go to a butcher and specifically asked for an uncooked ham. So although I am repeatedly referring to “cooking” the ham, we are actually just using the pressure cooker to reheat it. Here’s what to do:
- Find the rack / trivet insert that came with your appliance and place it in the bottom of the pressure cooker bowl. If you don’t have one, you can coil up some aluminum foil to lift the ham off of the bottom.
- Next, cut your ham as needed to fit it into your appliance. A ham is an oblong shape regardless of the size you buy. A larger ham especially will have to have a good chunk cut off the longer end in order to fit it into a pressure cooker. I have an 8-Quart Instant Pot and found an 8 1/2-lb ham fit comfortably after trimming the sides and nestling them in.
- Finally, cook the ham. Pour in the water, seal the lid, and set the pressure to high.
How Long Does a Ham Take to Pressure Cook?
- When planning cook time, expect 6 minutes per pound of ham. (It took my 8 1/2-lb ham 50 minutes to be heated through.)
- Factor in 30 minutes for the appliance to reach high pressure if you’re cooking a large ham straight from the fridge.
- Don’t forget the rest time. All meats benefit from a resting period after cooking to allow the moisture to redistribute for maximum juiciness. You can piggy-back this with the steam release by using the natural steam release method.
- Grab your meat thermometer. The internal temperature of a fully-cooked ham should reach 145ºF (simply for it to be heated through).
How to Glaze a Pressure Cooker Ham
If you’d like to glaze your ham, heat your broiler during the final few minutes of pressure cooking.
Transfer the ham to a foil-lined baking sheet (this makes for easier clean-up). Brush the outside of the ham with your favourite glaze recipe and broil until bubbly and caramelized.
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover ham can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or pack slices into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months.
Leftovers should always be thoroughly heated to 165ºF for food safety.
The best part of leftover ham for me is this insanely-delicious Yellow Lentil Soup with Ham. The smoky, rich umami flavour infuses the entire pot. So good.
What to Serve This With
- If serving this ham as a main course, my favourite hearty side dish is scalloped potatoes.
- A simple steamed vegetable, like asparagus, snap peas or carrots, makes an easy fresh accompaniment.
- For a holiday dinner, you don’t want to miss these Life-Changing Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Maple Syrup.
Moist and Juicy Pressure Cooker Ham (quick and easy!)
- 8 ½ lb ham (any kind: boneless, bone-in or spiral)
- 2 cups water
- Fit the rack / trivet insert into the bottom of the pressure cooker bowl. See notes below if you don't have one.
- Cut your ham as needed to fit it into your pressure cooker and place it on the rack inside the pressure cooker.
- Pour in the water, seal the lid, and set the pressure to cook on high for 6 minutes per pound (51 minutes for an 8 1/2-lb ham).
- Release the pressure. Use the natural release method for 10-15 minutes (this will serve as the resting time for the ham to redistribute juices). Then switch to the quick release if desired to release remaining pressure.
- Grab your meat thermometer. The internal temperature of a ham should reach 145ºF (simply for it to be heated through, since they come fully cooked anyway).
- Expect an additional 30 minutes for the Instant Pot or other pressure cooker to come to high pressure if the ham is fridge cold. Add this time on to the total cook time when planning your meal.
- Pressure cook on high for 6 min per pound (50 min for 8.5 lb bone-in ham)
- If you don’t have the trivet/rack insert, you can coil up some aluminum foil to lift the ham off of the bottom.