The Biltmore House's Tawny Baked Ham

The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham

If you’re looking for a showstopper of a ham recipe for a fall or winter holiday, look no further. Simple to make but absolutely stunning, The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham has it all despite my horrible photography: Great looks and great taste, even though the pics don’t do it justice!

The Biltmore House's Tawny Baked Ham

The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham


A little rub and a little basting build up a gorgeous caramelized crust on the outside of The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Seriously, that crust is almost addictive – it’s like ham candy. A little crisp, a little chewy and yielding to a gentle bite. Then there’s the sweet port spiked fruit surrounding the ham. It’s pretty special and you’re going to want to make this ham!

About The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham:

This recipe, as you might have guessed by the name, originally came from the Biltmore Estate. I’ve never been one to want to visit houses of the rich and famous but we were in the Asheville area (just taking in the views and doing a little skiing…I taught the kids, so that was fun) and I’m so glad we did! It’s truly an incredible place and a self-sustaining estate. The restaurants featured many items grown or raised at the Biltmore. I picked up a cookbook, along with a few bottles of wine. The wine’s long gone, but I’m still enjoying that book.

This ham just seemed like such an old-fashioned romantic formal dinner kind of ham that I just had to make it. And it truly is. The gorgeous, glazed ham is surrounded by seasonal dried fruits, plumped in apple cider and Tawny port. (If alcohol isn’t your thing, use all apple cider and about a tablespoon of vinegar.) While those fruits absorb all the flavors of the cider & port, their flavors are melding into the sauce, too. That slightly sweet, deep, rich earthy sauce just about steals the spotlight in this dinner. Even my son, raiding the fridge tonight, came to find out what had happened to the sauce (it was buried in the fridge) and he dipped every bite of that ham in it, both at dinner and when he had his midnight snack.

We served the ham today with mashed potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, but while I was eating this, my mind kept wishing I’d made my Pureed Parsnips, instead of the potatoes. The sharper flavor of those parsnips would have been so marvelous with that sauce. Baked or twice-baked Sweet Potatoes would be good, too.

The Biltmore House's Tawny Baked Ham

The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham

Making The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham:

This is really an impressive ham, perfect for just about any holiday or any winter dinner party and super easy to make. The hardest part about the whole ham is scoring and adding the cloves (the cloves are optional.) No one ever told me how to properly add cloves to a ham and it wasn’t until I had an “aha” moment that I realized they are so much easier to add if you use some pointed object, like an ice pick or a nut pick to poke a hole in the ham first. If you don’t have either, maybe you have a skewer for kebabs or some other sharp object around.

You will want to be close at hand to baste this ham several times during the cooking process. That’s going to build up the marvelous crust and that’s what really makes the ham so delicious, and so different from many hams.

Saving Money on The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham:

Since we’re not all Vanderbilts, be sure to buy ham during holiday weeks when it’s at a rock bottom low and the stores are almost giving them away. Hams keep for weeks in the fridge and can be chucked in the freezer if needed. A regular old ham rather than a spiral cut are always going the best bet price-wise & stay moister during cooking.

There’s no better time to pick up dried fruit, either, than right now during the Holiday Sales. Use this recipe to go through any stock you might have from the last year and replenish with sales priced specials (and use coupons) so you’ll have what you need during the upcoming year. Alcohol, too, is very likely to be on sale at a deep discount during holiday weeks.

The Biltmore House's Tawny Baked Ham

The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham

The Biltmore House's Tawny Baked Ham

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 9 pound ham, precooked & bone in
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups total of a mix of any of these dried fruits: dates, prunes, figs, apricots, apricots halved, dried cherries and/or cranberries)
  • 1 cup tawny port

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove skin of ham (if it has skin, and most modern hams don’t) and score fat in a diamond design (about an inch apart; score through the fat to the ham.) Place ham fat side up in a greased or oiled baking dish (large cast iron skillet works well) and rub first with the Dijon, then pack on the brown sugar. Pour the apple cider around the ham.

Insert a meat thermometer, making sure it doesn’t touch the bone, and bake, uncovered, for one hour, basting several times. (Watch the level of the liquid and add a little more if it seems in danger of completely evaporating.)

After the initial hour is up, add the fruit and port and continue to bake another 30 minutes, basting now and then until internal temperature is 140 degrees. Transfer ham to a platter, surround it by the fruit (or add fruit to a compote dish) and add sauce to a saucepan. Reduce the sauce by half. See note if your ham is a different size.

Slice ham and serve ham with the fruit and the sauce.


  • For a cooked ham, the rule of thumb is 10 minutes per pound. The initial cook was 60 minutes. At 9 pounds, this ham will need another 30 minutes. If your ham is another size, adjust accordingly, either subtracting or adding more time.
  • If desired, whole cloves may be inserted in the center of each diamond. Use a sharp object, ice pick, skewer, etc. to pierce the ham, then insert clove in the hole.


I’ll be bringing this to Fiesta Friday #198, hosted this week by two women of great taste; both well seasoned bloggers: Judi @ and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.This is going to be a fun party with all kinds of Holiday foods!

Simple & absolutely stunning, although my pics are awful, The Biltmore House's Tawny Baked Ham has it all: Great looks & taste. The ham has a crust that's crispy, chewy deliciousness, the seasonal dried fruit lends flavor to the cider and port and the cider and port flavor the fruit and it all makes an incredible sauce. You'll want to drag every bite of ham through it. #TheBiltmoreHouseTawnyBakedHam #BiltmoreHouseHam #HamPortFruit #HolidayHam


27 thoughts on “The Biltmore House’s Tawny Baked Ham

  1. Kyla Matton Osborne

    I have never seen anyone bake a ham quite like this. I can imagine the port and dried fruits would add to the flavour and help keep the ham moist.

  2. Tweety

    Awwwwww the ham was deliciousss and amazing it was not at all dry it was just right all the sides we had with it was good as well. I enjoy all your cooking and especially your hoilday cooking

  3. Mollie, I what a fabulous recipe! I dream about ham on the bone, glazed to perfection come Christmas time. Of course, we’re moving into summer here in New Zealand but I don’t see why that should put me off. Could eat this any time of the year.

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