How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Ham (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 4 to 6 Hours

A Ham constitutes the rear leg of a pig or a hog, which is cooked or preserved through smoking, or salting. The two legs make up about 90 percent of the weight of the pig.

Thawing is process of warming up the frozen food so that it may be suitable for eating. It is necessary to thaw food

Thawing is process of warming up the frozen food so that it may be suitable for eating. It is necessary to thaw food consciously otherwise there is a risk of bacteria growing on it.

Different types of food require different periods of thawing as well as different types of processes. There are three ways of thawing ham, like in the refrigerator, in cold water, etc.

How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Ham

How Long Does It Take To Thaw A Ham?

There are three ways to thaw a ham, namely, to thaw a ham in a refrigerator, in a cooler, and cold water.

The easiest of those ways is to thaw a ham in the refrigerator, however, it also takes the longest time. Having the refrigerator at 1 to 2 degrees Celsius can thaw the ham just fine for eating without having any bacteria growing up on them. The ham should be placed inside some sort of a container on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator as to lower the risks of it contaminating other food products.

If the refrigerator is not comfortable or available, the ham can be thrown inside a cooler, with should be set to some distance, and the temperature should be set between 35–40-degree Fahrenheit or 1-4 degrees Celsius. The cooler can be reduced to the temperature suiting the ham through ice packs.

Another way to thaw ham is to put it inside the cold water, with an airtight or sealed packet so that it does not get wet. The ham should be put inside cold water of temperature below 4 degrees Celsius. The meat should be fully packed otherwise the water could change the texture and taste of the ham. The water should also be changed every 30 minutes. Moreover, ham that is thawed in cold water cannot be refrozen and must be put to use immediately.

Further, there is another type of thawing where the ham is put inside the microwave. This method is not suitable for larger pieces of meat, as in the microwave, the outside layer would be cooked before the inside and it would taste uneven.  

Type of ThawingTemperature Needed
In Refrigerator1-2 Degree Celsius
In Cooler1-4 Degree Celsius
In Cold WaterBelow 4 Degree Celsius

Why Does It Take 4 To 6 Hours To Thaw A Ham?

The ham should be cooked only after thawing it as thawing makes the meat easier to eat and does not risk any health conditions like food poisoning.  Thawing ham takes so long because of the reason that it needs to be defrosted slowly and not at a higher temperature than 4 degrees Celsius because the higher temperature increases the risk of bacteria growing on top of the food.

When thawing the ham in the refrigerator, the temperature should be about 1 to 2 degree Celsius and the ham should be placed inside a container to catch its water which would defrost and it should also be placed on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator as to not harm the other food products in the fridge.

Similarly, the ham should be placed inside the cooler and the cooler must be placed somewhere away in a remote location so that the air does not directly go to anyone. The temperature of the cooler should be between 1 to 4 degrees Celsius and ice packs can be used to increase the temperature. It would take long because the meat would be defrosted slowly and not all at once.

Further, if the ham is being thawed in cold water, the temperature of the water should be below 4 degrees Celsius as the higher temperature can risk the bacteria growing on the ham and could cause potential health problems like food poisoning.

The ham is not recommended to be thawed in the microwave for the very same reason that fast thawing can cause bacteria and microwave could result in the outer layers of the meat being cooked and the inside layers would remain frozen.


Ham is the leg part of the pig or the hog which comprises about 90% of the weight of the pig. Thawing is, essentially, the process of warming up or defrosting the meat so that it may be fir for eating. There are three ways through which a person can thaw ham, namely, by putting it in the refrigerator, in a cooler, or cold water. The reason it takes so long for the ham to thaw is that it should defrost slowly and at a cool temperature otherwise higher temperatures can risk the bacteria growing on the ham and can result in potential health conditions like food poisoning.  



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.


  1. The different methods of thawing ham were well-explained. I appreciate the clarity in the instructions on each method.

    1. Agreed, the details provided took into account the importance of food safety and preventing bacterial growth.

  2. I appreciate the detailed breakdown of why slow thawing is essential for ham. It really clarifies the underlying reasons we need to be mindful of.

    1. Agreed, it’s important to understand the science behind food safety. This article does a great job of explaining that.

  3. The section on how different thawing methods affect bacteria growth was really insightful. It’s important to know why certain methods are recommended over others.

    1. Absolutely, understanding the science behind food safety practices helps us make informed choices when preparing food.

    2. Yes, this article really emphasizes the importance of making informed decisions based on scientific principles.

  4. The author’s explanation on why thawing time is necessary for ham was really well-elaborated and informative.

  5. The section on the different thawing temperatures for ham was really interesting. I didn’t know there could be such variation in methods.

    1. It’s fascinating indeed. This article really delves into the specifics of thawing ham in different conditions.

  6. This article is very informative and well-detailed. I appreciate the thorough discussion of the different ways to thaw ham.

  7. The explanation on the risks of bacterial growth in different thawing scenarios was particularly interesting. It’s crucial information for food safety.

    1. Absolutely, this article does a great job of highlighting the importance of food safety measures, especially when it comes to thawing meat.

    2. Definitely, understanding the potential risks associated with different methods of meat thawing is essential for safe food preparation.

  8. I’m glad this article made sure to emphasize the importance of properly thawing ham to avoid health risks. It’s a crucial aspect of food safety.

    1. Absolutely, health and safety should always be top priority, especially when it comes to food preparation.

  9. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the section on why microwave thawing is not recommended. The explanation was quite insightful.

  10. I found the explanation on why it takes 4 to 6 hours to thaw a ham very helpful. It’s important to understand the reason behind it.

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