a whole smoked ham in a paper bag

We’ve got a holiday to celebrate! Similar to Thanksgiving and Christmas, my family’s Easter menu doesn’t change too much from year to year. There’s always Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole in the morning, followed by a feast including Party Potatoes Deluxe, Green Beans and Bacon, Wild Rice Stuffing, gluten-free dinner rolls, and Brown Bag Baked Ham.

I can’t believe it’s taken 8 years to share this IGE-family holiday staple with you!

sliced baked ham on a plate

What is Brown Bag Baked Ham?

Brown Bag Baked Ham is as simple as the name implies – throw a ham in a brown paper bag then bake it. HA! My Mom, and her Mom before her, has been making our holiday hams using this method for decades and it yields the most delicious, juicy ham you’ll ever slice into.

Plus, like I said, it’s a no-brainer: bag + ham + bake. No glazing, no broiling, no brushing – just ham in all its juicy, porky glory. Amen.

I recognize that cooking a big hunk of meat can be intimidating, and I was in the same boat until my Mom taught me her paper bag baking ways several years ago. If you’re hesitant too, baking a fully-cooked smoked ham is a great way to dive into the world of big meaty meats because all you’re doing is warming it up. You get all the glory of pulling a piping hot ham out of the oven, but none of the pressure that comes along with making sure an entire turkey is cooked through, for instance!

The Elephant in the Room

Now, I just have to put this out there – as soon as Ben found out I was baking a ham in a paper bag he said “you know that’s incredibly dangerous, don’t you?” Honestly, the thought never occurred to me because brown bag baked ham is just what my family does. Stepping back, SURE I recognize the fact that putting paper into a hot oven could be risky, but my Mom’s been baking our hams using this method as long as I’ve been alive without incident.  Plus the bag doesn’t come anywhere near the sides, bottom, or top of the oven. That said, if you don’t feel comfortable baking a ham in a bag in your oven then of course, don’t.

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork


Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

As for the rest of you? LET’S DO THIS.

sliced ham on a plate with vegetables

How to Make Brown Bag Baked Ham

Start with a bone-in smoked ham. My family has always used Amana hams, made in Amana, IA, and boy are they delicious! Plan on 1/2lb ham per person which sounds like a lot, but that’s figuring in the weight of the bone plus any fat that will be trimmed away.

a smoked amana ham on a cutting board

Next, cut the handles off a brown paper grocery bag. Then, wait for it….

Put the ham in the bag. Told you it was easy!

NOTE: if you’re nervous about using a paper sack, you can use one of these “oven ready” bags like this or this.

Fold the top of the bag down then place on a cooling rack set atop a 9×13″ baking pan and press the bag down around the ham.

a whole smoked ham in a paper bag

Move the oven racks to the very top and very bottom of the oven then place the ham inside and bake for 18 minutes per pound at 325 degrees. So, for example, you will bake a 2lb ham for 36 minutes. Be sure the bag isn’t touching the racks, back, or oven door.

Ta da!

a juicy baked amana ham

As soon as you press the ham, the juices start flowing. Truly, the brown bag baking method makes The. Best. Ham. EVER. You’ve got to try it!

juice running down a baked amana ham

Slice the ham then serve it up with your choice of sides. Like I said, we usually go the party potatoes and green bean route, but the ham will be the star.

From our family to yours – enjoy!

sliced baked ham on a plate

What to Make with Leftover Ham

Brown Bag Baked Ham

5/5 (4 REVIEWS)


Brown Bag Baked Ham produces an unbelievably juicy ham that's holiday-table ready. All you need is a ham and a bag!


  • Smoked, bone-in ham (1/2lb per person)


  1. Place oven racks in the lowest and highest positions then preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place a cooling rack on top of a 9x13" baking dish then set aside. Cut the handles off a paper grocery bag then place the ham inside. Roll the opening of the bag down then press the bag around the ham and place on top of the cooling rack. Bake for 18 minutes per pound (so for a 2lb ham bake for 36 minutes,) then remove ham from bag, slice and serve.


  • Be sure the paper bag is not touching the sides of the oven, back of the oven, or baking racks.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

photo collage of brown bag baked ham