Flavors of the Season Recipe for Jamaican Christmas Ham

Flavors of the Season Recipe for Jamaican Christmas Ham

It's the most wonderful time of the year on the island of Jamaica. Cool Christmas breezes, sunny beach days and the smell of, food glorious food, everywhere!

Traditional Christmas dishes are at the top of everyone’s list for the foods everyone looks forward to indulging in. The main star of the Christmas dinner table has to be the traditional pineapple covered juicy Christmas ham. Flavorful cloves and sweet pineapple pair up perfectly with ham in this traditional recipe.

The origin of baked ham on the Jamaican holiday table goes back to colonial times. The British brought their religious customs and the associated foods like the holiday ham which pop up on the island’s tables at Easter and Christmas time.

Here is one suggested recipe for this traditional Jamaican Christmas dish.


  • 4 kg (8.5 lbs) Ham, Shoulder Cut

  • Whole cloves

  • Sliced Pineapple

  • Maraschino Cherries


  1. Place ham (with mesh cloth still on) in a large pot. Cover with water, add 1 tsp (5 mL) of whole cloves and bring to a boil. Cover pot, reduce heat and simmer on low for 2 hours.

  2. Remove mesh cloth from ham and trim fat.

  3. Score fat in a diamond pattern and stud with cloves

  4. Dress ham with pineapple slices. Hold pineapple in place with 1 or 2 Maraschino cherries and toothpicks placed in the center of each pineapple.

  5. Bake ham in a 350 F (180°C) oven for 15 minutes while preparing the glaze

  6. Remove ham from oven and glaze with half the sauce. Place back in oven for 10 minutes. Remove ham and glaze with remaining sauce and place back in the oven for 10 more minutes to set the glaze.

Ingredients for glaze: 

  • 1 1/2 cup (250 mL) Guava, Mango or Strawberry Jam

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Orange juice

  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Pineapple juice (from canned pineapple)

  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) Lemon juice

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) Mustard

  • 1/4 tsp (1 ml) Ground Cloves



  1. In saucepan stir together all ingredients

  2. Simmer and stir sauce uncovered for about 15 minutes to until it thickens to a syrup

  3. Use sauce to glaze ham as instructed above


Serves a large group (10 to 15 people)


Cooking Tips:

There are three different cuts of ham available at most supermarkets: shank, butt and shoulder. Shank and butt cuts are usually fully baked and glazed in the oven.

The shoulder cut is best prepared by first boiling it then finishing it in the oven which is the method for the above recipe. Some find it juicer (and of course you’ll have a lovely bone to make soup with afterwards!) but the other cuts and method will also make a beautiful ham.

If you choose to not go with a shoulder cut then simply preheat the oven at 300 degrees F, then place ham skin side up on a baking tray and bake for 90 minutes. When done, remove from oven and score the ham placing cloves in the grooves.

For more quintessential Jamaican food recipes, visit our food recipe page

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