Sous-Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze

[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Note: Most hams come in thick vacuum-sealed packaging that can be used for sous-vide cooking. If not, seal your ham in a vacuum-sealed bag before cooking it sous-vide.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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Sous-Vide City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze

About This Recipe

Yield:Serves 8 to 12
Active time:20 minutes
Total time:3 1/2 to 6 1/2 hours
Special equipment:Sous-vide cooker
This recipe appears in: Sous-Vide 101: Slow-Cooked City Ham With Balsamic Brown Sugar Glaze


  • 1 bone-in half ham (7 to 10 pounds), packing intact (see note above)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar


  1. 1

    Preheat sous-vide cooker to 140°F. Add ham and cook for at least 3 hours and up to 8. Meanwhile, heat brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue to cook until deep brown but not black, and immediately add all of balsamic vinegar, standing back as you add it. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved. Reduce to a bare simmer and continue to cook until mixture is thick and syrupy and coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

  2. 2

    Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 500°F half an hour before ready to serve ham. Allow oven to preheat for 15 minutes. Remove ham from water bath, remove packaging, and set cut-side-down on a rack set in a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Wipe surface dry with paper towels and brush with glaze.

  3. 3

    Place in oven and roast for 5 minutes. Pull out oven rack, apply another coat of glaze, and repeat. Repeat glazing step 2 more times. Remove ham from oven and let rest 5 minutes.

  4. 4

    To carve ham, place cut-side-down on a cutting board and make a single slice right next to the bone, dividing ham in two. Place boneless side with the newly cut side facing down and slice thinly into serving pieces. Repeat with remaining ham, cutting it from the bone one section at a time before slicing it into serving portions.


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