Tried and True: Nigella Lawson’s Coca Cola Ham

It goes without saying that I have been rather successful when it comes to trying out Nigella Lawson’s recipes.  She has this tendency to make practical recipes that will make you feel like a culinary diva.  During my can’t cook my way out of a paper bag period, I remember watching her show “Nigella Bites” on the Style network and she did this “Coca Cola Ham.”  For the holidays this year, I decided to be adventurous and try to make my first ham – of course flashing back to one of the first recipes that made me think “hey – I could do that!”

Thankfully, I had Coke already in the pantry for entertaining along with many of the ingredients so off I went on Christmas Eve to get the ham and the English Mustard (thank GOD for the British section at Genuardis!)  I didn’t think about the logistics about cooking the ham as I realized I initially had to BOIL the immense ham and this gal doesn’t have a 7.5 qt. Le Creuset (I know, shame on me, right?)  Thankfully, I did have a stock pot and I used that but I had no idea HOW I was going to get the ham out of the pot.  My well stocked gadget drawer was sans turkey lifters or a carving set.  *sigh*  No worries, I thought as I tried to MacGyver it with tongs, a skimmer and some other instrument ala an octopus and, next thing you know, *boom* I had boiling Coke running down my right arm and was covered in the hot sticky goo.   Thankfully, the only injury was to me as the ham and most of of the coca cola stock was saved from disaster.

My arm, however, had me thinking back to my initial restaurant days – under cold water it went.  Thankfully, I keep a first aid kit of sorts in the kitchen and immediately went to grab this fabulous burn cream, Burn Cream MD,  that a thoughtful publicist sent me some time ago.  I honestly believe that this cream is a godsend and is a must for every kitchen – it helped relieve the stinging and itching and, here it is 3 weeks later and you could barely tell that my arm was redder than Rudolph’s nose on Christmas.  Lesson learned – I have plans on getting the proper tools before I cook this ham again.

I have to say that everyone should try this recipe at least once.  The ham was so flavorful and the mustard/muscovado sugar crust had the perfect spicy & sweet flavor.  Nigella truly is the workin’ gal’s Domestic Goddess!

Nigella Lawson’s Coca Cola Ham
For the Ham:
  • 1 (4¼ to 4½-pound) bone in ham
  • 1 onion, peeled, cut in ½
  • 1 (2-liter) bottle cola (recommended: Coca-Cola)
For the Glaze:
  • 1 handful cloves (Note: I used 1 tbsp. of ground cloves mixed in the sugar/mustard mixture)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon molasses
  • 2 teaspoons English mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons Demerara (raw cane sugar) or granulated brown sugar (Note: I used 2 tablespoons of Muscovado sugar that I had in the pantry in lieu of the molasses/sugar combo)
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  1. Peel and cut 1 onion in half.
  2. Place the ham in a large pot or Dutch oven along with the onion and pour the Coca-Cola over the ham. Please, do not use Diet Coke – you have to go with the tried and true coca-cola for this recipe.
  3. Over medium high heat, bring the cola to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover with a lid, leaving it partially adjar and allow to cook for 2½ hours. (Note – it's 1 hour for every 2 pounds.)
  4. Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
  5. Pull the ham from the pot, and allow to rest on a cutting board reserving the cooking liquid.
  6. Using a sharp knife, trim the skin, leaving a thin layer of fat on the ham.
  7. Score the fat diagonally with the knife so it resembles large diamonds.
  8. In each diamond, pierce the fat with 1 clove.
  9. Spread the molasses over the meat.
  10. Gently pat the powdered mustard and sugar around the meat, so it sticks to the molasses. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.
  11. Gently place the ham in the roasting pan and cook the ham for about 10 minutes or until glaze is a dark brown.
  12. [Nigella's Note: For braising the ham in advance and then letting the ham cool, take ham from the refrigerator, glaze it according to the recipe, and give it 30 to 40 minutes to sit at room temperature. Place in a 350 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, then turning up the heat if you think it needs a more crispy exterior.]
  13. Enjoy!
Slightly adapted from Nigella Lawson


Gather the ingredients


Time to boil


Preparing the Glaze


Off to the roasting rack – burn be damned!


Time for Dinner…


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  1. says

    looks so good. Love Nigella. When I lived in Israel, my host mom cooked an entire chicken immersed in Coca Cola on top of the stove: such sweet memories.

  2. says

    looks amazing! am going to have to try this. I think my hubs will love it!

    p.s. thanks to your arm twisting 😉 I did get the dutch oven and you are right, FABULOUS! Loves it!

  3. jillian says

    i think i need a ham tutorial..what to buy? is it smoked? already fully cooked? do they all come with the fat on them? i looked at whole foods and they are foil wrapped and seem to only need heating in the oven until hot…thanks to anyone who can answer this

    • says

      Hi Jillian! Per Nigella’s website, you can heat the ham in the oven following the instructions, loosely cover with foil, add a bit of cola to the bottom of the pan and base every 30 minutes or so while it reheats. Then you make the glaze per the recipe adding 2 tablespoons of cola to it and finish it from here. Hope that helps! :)


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