If the responsibility of preparing a ham dinner has fallen on your shoulders, and you’re not quite sure of how many pounds of ham per person you should be shopping for, you’re going to love this detailed guide!
How many pounds of ham per person? As a general rule, you should buy three quarters of a pound of ham or so per person. A 9 pound ham should comfortably feed 12 people.
Not only do we cover how many pounds of ham per person you’re going to want to buy, but we also cover what to think about when buying and whether or not you want to cook the ham you’ve purchased, too.
Let’s dig right in!
How Many Pounds of Ham Per Person, On Average?
Though you can usually get away with estimating about three quarters of a pound of ham per person as a general rule of thumb, if you really want to dial in your portions and guarantee that you have plenty of ham for everyone – and leftovers to boot! – you’re going to want to think a little bit harder about the kind of ham your purchasing, the type of ham you are preparing, and some other factors, too.
Boneless ham choices are always a good go to when you want something simple, something straightforward, and something that will still be delicious.
With boneless ham, though, you know that there’s going to be absolutely zero waste whatsoever when it comes to bones and a lot of fat. Every part of a boneless ham should be completely edible, and that’s going to produce a much greater yield than when you’re looking at bone in or country ham, for example.
For these reasons, it’s a good idea to shoot for anywhere between about 1/3 of a pound and ½ a pound of boneless ham for each guest.
That means that if you’re going to have six people over for dinner you want a boneless ham that’s between two and 3 pounds. 12 people would require a 4 to 6 pound ham, and once you start to go above say 20 people or so you’re going to be looking at 10 pound hams and up – or multiple, smaller hams.
Bone-In Spiral Ham
Bone in ham (like spiral ham) will have a little bit more weight waste when you factor in the bone that runs through the center of this ham.
For this reason, you’ll want to be sure that the bone in ham you buy is a little bit on the porky side of things (pun fully intended) – with an average ham weight per person that’s about three quarters of a pound or so, on average.
If you’re going to be feeding people that are big ham fans or just big eaters in general it may not be a bad idea to go for a single pound of ham per person, either.
At worst, that extra quarter of a pound of ham per person will make for great leftovers!
Country ham is always a lot saltier than traditional ham options, and that usually means you can get away with having a little bit less on hand.
Shoot for about a half a pound of country ham per person, or even a little bit less – sometimes as little as ¼ of a pound per person – long as you are going to have any of sides and other dishes, too.
Plenty of folks that go with a country ham slice everything up ahead of time and serve it buffet style, which (usually) also encourages people to take smaller portions than they might have otherwise.
Still, if you feel like the people you are serving are apt to go ham crazy it may not be a bad idea to bump that per person ham weight up to three quarters of a pound with country ham.
Ham appetizers – salted and cured ham, like prosciutto for example – are always a big hit when you are entertaining.
Often a little bit on the expensive side of things, though, you’ll be happy to know that you won’t have to stock up on quite as much cured ham appetizers per person as you would have with main entrées.
Usually just a couple of ounces of cured ham appetizers per person will be more than enough to make sure that everyone gets their fill.
Tips for Buying the Right Ham
The absolute easiest way to make sure that you have bought enough ham for everyone is to make a list of all the people that are going to attend your dinner and assume that they are going to eat three quarters of a pound of ham no matter what.
Yes, you will inevitably buy a little bit more ham than you probably need – but that’s always a much better “problem” to have than to have too little ham on hand when dinner rolls around.
If you are going to be entertaining more than 10 people you’ll want to shy away from the gigantic hams you can sometimes find in the supermarket, though.
Instead opt for a couple of smaller hams that are all about the same size (a couple of 5 pound hams, for example). That’ll make things a lot easier to cook, lot easier to cut and prepare, and a lot easier to serve for sure!
To Cook or Not Cook Your Ham?
Another thing you are going to have to consider when calculate how much ham to give everyone is whether or not you are going to cook the ham that you are planning on serving.
Cured ham (like prosciutto, for example) can and should be served just the way it is – right out of the package, ready to go.
This means that you aren’t going to lose any ham yield to the cooking process, which makes calculating how much ham you need per person a little bit easier for sure. Just divide the amount of cured ham by the amount of people you are entertaining and you’ll know whether or not that number is on the money.
On the flip side of things, though, if you are going to be cooking a ham (which is usually the case) you’ll want to add about 10% on top of your per person weight to make sure that the yield comes out correctly.
You’ll always lose a bit of ham weight during the cooking and slicing process. It’s always better to go a little overboard than to find that you cut corners (and portion sizes) by not taking this into account.
At the end of the day, as long as you shoot for about three quarters of a pound of ham per person (clear across the board, really) you should be all set.
Obviously, tailor the amount of ham you buy to the people that you are entertaining, their love or ambivalence towards ham, and the kinds of appetites that you are expecting.
Just know that you can always fall back on that three-quarter of a pound per person and figure and knock a dinner out of the park!