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Cutting Class: How to Carve a Ham

Cutting Class: How to Carve a Ham

Savory and tender, a fresh-baked ham is the star of many a holiday feast, especially on Easter. But while the ham takes center stage, don’t forget that you’re in the spotlight, too, as you carve this culinary delight for your family and friends.

The last thing you want to do is butcher this task, in a manner of speaking. But no worries: With the following step-by-step instructions and a well-sharpened knife like the CHICAGO CUTLERY® DESIGNPRO™ DUAL MATERIAL 8” CHEF KNIFE, you’ll cut with confidence and give your holiday ham the treatment it deserves. After all, Chicago Cutlery has been creating innovative, precision blades for more than 80 years! You couldn’t ask for a better carving partner.

Without further ado, here’s how to carve a whole bone-in ham:

Bone-In Ham

  1. Place the ham on its side and cut off two or three slices from the bottom, parallel with the bone. This creates a stable, flat cutting base that makes for safer slicing.
  2. Flip the ham onto the flat side. The meatier side now faces up.
  3. While holding the ham in place with a large carving fork, make one vertical slice near the shank (narrow) end of the ham, down to the bone.
  4. Make a 45-degree-angle cut to remove a wedge-shaped piece of meat on the shank end.
    Starting at the wedge, make thin, vertical slices down to the bone.
  5. After you’ve made eight to 10 slices, insert the knife blade into the wedge-shaped space and carefully cut horizontally along the bone. This will release the slices.
  6. Remove the slices and neatly place on a serving platter. Repeat the same vertical and horizontal cuts as many times as needed.
  7. Only cut as much as needed; storing leftover ham on the bone. This will keep it more moist. Wrap leftovers and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

Or maybe you prefer to serve a spiral-cut ham, which is precut in nice, uniform slices. Time-saving, yes, but you should know that you’re not entirely off the hook! Here’s how to finish the job and neatly carve a spiral-cut ham:

Sprial-Cut Ham
  1. With your slicer or chef’s knife, cut around the bone, cutting half way around one side, and repeat on the other. Only cut as deep as needed. For example, if you only need eight slices for your crowd, cut no deeper.
  2. There are natural breaks in the ham, generally where a line of fat runs. Cut through those fat lines to separate into slices.
  3. Place slices on a serving platter and present.
  4. Only cut as much as needed; storing leftover ham on the bone. This will keep it more moist. Wrap leftovers and store in the refrigerator up to 5 days.

TIP: If you prefer smaller pieces, cut the larger muscle section of meat in half.


  • Allow a ham to sit for 10 or 15 minutes after removing it from the oven; this lets the juices redistribute, leaving you with a firmer and juicier ham that’s easier to carve.
  • Use a well-sharpened knife that’s long enough to cut the entire length of each piece of meat.
  • Slice only as much ham as you think you’ll eat in one meal; any leftover meat will stay moist and juicier if it remains on the bone.

Now that you have the technique in hand, we have an easy recipe to try. For a succulent ham with a tropical twist, our Hawaiian Holiday Glazed Ham hits the sweet spot. Need ideas for leftovers? We’ve got ’em right here with 10 Ways to Ham It Up.

YOUR TURN: Is this your first year carving a ham or have you had lots of practice?