How Much Ham Should I Buy for 11 People?

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Boneless hams are easier to slice than their bone-in counterparts.
Boneless hams are easier to slice than their bone-in counterparts. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Snack-foods manufacturers are keenly aware that salt and sweetness drive the popularity of their product, so it's no surprise that ham -- with its beautiful balance of sweet and salt -- makes an alluring centerpiece to a meal. It's available in both bone-in and boneless forms, with boneless providing easier slicing but bone-in retaining its flavor and moisture better as you cook. More important, if you're cooking for a specific number of people, you'll need to buy a larger ham if it's bone-in.

Doing the Math

The U.S. Department of Agriculture suggests that you should allow three to four portions per pound of boneless ham, or two to three portions per pound of bone-in ham to compensate for bone's weight. For 11 diners, for example, that equals a boneless ham of approximately 4 pounds, or a bone-in ham of up to 5 or 6 pounds. These recommendations assume portion sizes ranging from 4 ounces to nearly 6 ounces.

A Few Variables

Those numbers are subject to adjustment, depending on some real-world variables. For example, if your guests will include the offensive line from your teenager's football team, it's prudent to assume larger portion sizes. On the other hand if your ham will be part of a buffet, or the second entree in a meal that also includes a turkey, you can probably get away with smaller portions.

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