Christmas Ham in Cola with a Treacle Glaze
christmas ham

Christmas Ham in Cola with a Treacle Glaze

Total time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8
christmas ham

When you find an excellent article and a recipe like this one from Nigella Lawson for her Christmas ham you just have to include it in your favourite recipes. Try her recipe for yourself, you won’t be disappointed.

Nigella says:

I defy anyone who cooks this Christmas ham to only do it once. When you taste the tender ham with the spices and cola-infused flavours you will be a convert I assure you.

Get the Right Joint

Make sure you start with a lightly cured or smoked ham for the best flavour. Unsmoked hams tend to be very salty and need a soak before cooking to remove the excess salt.

bone-in ham joint
Bone-in half leg uncooked ham

If the ham is your centrepiece on the dinner table, you should get a quality farm-cured bone-in joint from your local butcher. Supermarket-bought joints are good value for money, but it can be a hit-or-miss experience. I find they tend to shrink a lot because they have high water content.

Boneless joints are great for easy carving but the bone gives the ham an extra depth of flavour, plus if you are carving at the table it does look impressive.

Size Matters

I don’t know why but dinner guests seem to eat more ham than they would say turkey or beef. For that reason, at Christmas, I buy a pretty big ham like a half leg. It looks huge but after my lot has tucked in at dinner, made sandwiches in the evening, and had cold cuts buffet style on Boxing day, there is not much left.

I have even caught a couple of midnight fridge raiders red-handed. You know who you are 👉.

Cooking Time

The recipe cooking times are for a 2kg 4-1/2lb joint. If you buy one significantly bigger or smaller then you will need to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

Especially if are cooking a large ham then invest in a meat thermometer and cook until the joint reaches an internal temperature of 65℃ / 145℉.

lakeland meat thermometer
Lakeland Meat Thermometer

I like this Lakeland meat thermometer, you insert the probe, run the cable out of the oven and close the door. The display is magnetic and sticks to the surround. You can then monitor the meat as it cooks.

Insert the thermometer into the meat near the bone near the end of the cooking time. When it reaches 63℃ / 140℉ remove the joint from the oven, cover with foil and a couple of folded tea towels to keep the heat in and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes.

The meat will carry on cooking outside the oven, and the juices will evenly spread through the joint making it juicier.

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christmas ham

Christmas Ham in Cola with a Treacle Glaze

Simply the best ham you can cook.
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: 🇬🇧 British
Keyword: chocolate, Christmas, ham, treacle
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 328kcal
Author: Nigella Lawson


For the Ham

  • 2 kg gammon joint smoked
  • 1 onion peeled and cut in half
  • 2 litres coca-cola

For the Glaze

  • 1 handful cloves
  • 1 tbsp black treacle
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar


  • Put the joint in a pan covered with cold water, bring to a boil, then tip into a colander and drain. Put the gammon in a pan, skin-side down if it fits like that, add the onion, then pour over the Coke.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce to a good simmer, put the lid on, though not tightly, and cook for just under 2½ hours.
  • Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 9/450ºF.
  • When the ham is cooked take it out of the pan and let cool a little for ease of handling. Remove the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat. Score the fat with a sharp knife to make fairly large diamond shapes, and stud each diamond with a clove. Carefully spread the treacle over the bark-budded skin, taking care not to dislodge the cloves. Gently pat the mustard and sugar onto the sticky fat. Cook in a foil-lined roasting tin for approximately 10 minutes or until the glaze is burnished and bubbly.
  • Should you want to do the braising stage in advance and then let the ham cool, clove and glaze it and give it 30-40 minutes, from room temperature, at 180°C/gas mark 4/350ºF, turning up the heat towards the end if you think it needs it.


Calories: 328kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 55g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

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Grandads Cookbook may reference or include sections of text and images reproduced courtesy of:


  1. This is exactly the same as Nigella recipe, word for word in fact. Who’s copied who?

    • Hi Ben,
      Grandads Cookbook is a collection of my favourite recipes rather than a body of original work. I try to make it clear when I incorporate work from others and give credit where it is due.

      I have amended the page and recipe to make it clearer that it originates from Nigella.

      Please don’t let this stop you from trying her recipe, it really is very good.

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