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This fresh pineapple ham puts a modern twist on your grandmother's go-to Christmas meal. Enjoy the savory-sweet flavors as juicy pineapple complements the smokiness of the ham, smothered with a balsamic honey glaze that caramelizes to perfection. It's a winning centerpiece for any occasion: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter – or whenever you're just craving a delicious ham dinner!
Remember when grandma would bring out a delicious ham at Christmas time, adorned with toothpick-secured canned pineapple rings? Classic. Simple. Nostalgic. Delicious. Well, this recipe takes that, replaces the brown sugar with a delicious honey balsamic glaze, and switches the tinny canned pineapple for fresh. It also ditches the maraschino cherries, and serves it with a contemporary and beautiful presentation. This fresh pineapple with ham recipe will be requested at the Christmas tables for years to come.
This fresh pineapple ham recipe is a showstopper, yet it only calls for a handful of simple ingredients. Leave the brown sugar in the cupboard, this balanced, sweet, sticky glaze doesn't need it! Here are the ingredients:
- Smoked ham: Smoky undertones contrast beautifully with the pineapple.
- Pineapple: Creates the sweet-savory contrast that defines the dish.
- Honey: Provides natural sweetness, caramelizes the ham, and gives a glossy finish.
- Balsamic vinegar: While it has a little sweetness, it brings the tangy and acidity to balance the other ingredients. It also makes the glaze dark and delicious.
- Dijon mustard: For a little tang.
- Cayenne: Just a pinch for subtle warmth.
How to make fresh pineapple ham
This fresh pineapple ham recipe blends sweet and savory flavors and – is served alongside a dose of nostalgia! Here is how to cook a fresh ham with pineapple:
- Preheat and prep: While the oven is heating up, prepare a roasting pan. Then, take the ham and make slices every half inch, cutting until around halfway through the ham.
- Add the pineapple: Cut up the fresh pineapple, then tuck those sweet slices into the cuts in the ham.
- Make the glaze: Combine the honey, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and cayenne. Brush a bit of the pineapple ham glaze over the meat, then pop it in the oven so the ham bakes.
- Bake, glaze, and serve: Bake for 1 ½ hours, then remove it from the oven. Pour the remaining glaze over the ham, letting it seep into the pineapple-filled slices. Place ham back into the oven for another half an hour. When it's done, let it rest on the counter for 15 minutes before serving.
How to pick the perfect pineapple
The perfect pineapple is your ticket to success in this recipe. As fresh pineapple contains an enzyme that breaks down meat proteins, an overly ripe or juicy pineapple will contribute excess juice that will soften your ham. You want to find a pineapple that is just turning ripe. Here are some tips:
- Color: Avoid overly green or brown pineapples and look for one that has some green but has a golden hue.
- Fragrance: The base of the pineapple should smell sweet and tropical. If there is no aroma, or if it smells over fermented, it points to being overripe.
- Feel: Push on the pineapple with your thumb, it should yield slightly but not have any soft spots or be rock hard.
- The frond test: Those leaves on top are called fronds (remember this for your next trivia night.) If you gently tug on a frond, it should feel loose or come off easily when the pineapple is ripe. If it's holding on tight, the pineapple may not be ready yet.
Does fresh pineapple make ham mushy?
Fresh pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which breaks down proteins. This is why your lip sometimes tingles when you enjoy a fresh pineapple! While it can soften meats, there are some simple tips you can do to maintain the texture of your ham:
- Use a fully-cooked, smoked ham: Choose a ham that is fully cooked and smoked. The pineapple won't break it down in the same way it does to uncooked ham.
- Precook the pineapple: If you are using a cooked ham, you don't need to worry about pre-cooking your pineapple. However, if you are feeling particularly cautious, put your pineapple slices in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes.
- Dry your pineapple: If your slices are on the juicy side, give them a quick pat to remove any excess, bromelain-laden juice.
What to serve with fresh pineapple ham
This dish is a star recipe for Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Easter lunches and dinners – or for any evening you're craving a ham dinner. Round the meal out with some delicious side dishes that include vegetables to boost the nutrition:
Can I store leftovers?
Your ham with fresh pineapple can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. You can reheat leftover ham or use it to make other meals such as ham sandwiches or ham soup.
Can I use canned pineapple for pineapple ham?
While this recipe is best with fresh pineapple, you could use canned pineapple in a pinch. Ensure to drain the pineapple juice from the can before tucking it into the ham. The canned pineapple slices may be thicker than that of a cut-up fresh pineapple, so cut them accordingly.
Can I make this dairy-free or gluten-free?
It already is – just be sure to read any product labels in case there are additives outside of your dietary requirements.
Can I make this recipe with uncooked ham?
We recommend making this recipe with a pre-cooked ham that has been smoked.
If you want to use uncooked ham, bake the pineapple slices on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes. This will neutralize the enzymes in the pineapple, so they won't affect the meat. You can use a boneless ham, or spiral cut bone-in hams.
- 3 ½ lb smoked ham (see notes!)
- ½ medium pineapple
- ⅓ cup honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- A pinch of cayenne
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking dish large enough to fit the ham with parchment paper. (To make cleanup easier.)
- Slice your ham into ½-inch thick slices, cutting halfway through.3 ½ lb smoked ham
- Cut the bottom and top of your pineapple then cut it in half lengthwise. Cut the skin off one half then cut it in half lengthwise again. Cut the tough core out of the two quarters then lay them flat and slice them into thin (⅛ inch thick) strips. Tuck these strips into the cuts you made in the ham, 2 pineapple slices per cut.½ medium pineapple
- In a small bowl, mix the honey, balsamic vinegar, dijon, and cayenne. Brush a small amount over the ham.⅓ cup honey, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, A pinch of cayenne
- Bake the ham 1 ½ hours then remove it from the oven. Pour the remaining glaze over the top, making sure it seeps into the pineapple filled cuts. Return the ham to the oven for another half hour. Let the ham rest on your counter for 15 minutes before serving.
We have thoroughly tested this recipe for accuracy. However, individual results may vary. See our full recipe disclosure here.