How to choose the best Christmas ham

Kaczanowski Christmas ham

If you’re looking for the best Christmas ham in Australia, there’s a lot to consider. Such as: origin, size, style, awards, reviews and more!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, never fear. To help you avoid any ham disasters, here’s our top tips for choosing the perfect Christmas leg.

1. Choose Australian Christmas ham 

For a start, you’re going to want an Australian leg ham. (Many cut-price supermarket hams use imported pork from Canada and Denmark).

Choosing Aussie is the best way to support local farmers and producers, and of course, your ham will be fresher and taste better too.

So when you’re shopping for Christmas ham, look out for the pink ‘PorkMark’ logo, indicating that your ham is 100% Aussie grown. And if your local supermarket doesn’t have Aussie xmas hams, try your local deli or butcher.

2. Awards & customer reviews

It is also a good sign if the ham producer has a long history of awards. Generally, meat industry awards are a better gauge of quality compared to retail awards. Industry awards will look at elements like the ham colour, size, and consider the flavour in a more expert manner.

Excellent customer reviews are another good sign. And if you’re still unsure, simply ask your local stockist for a tasting!

3. Traditionally smoked & cured

Most people choose a cured ham, rather than a raw / uncooked leg. It’s just simpler. The curing process eliminates bacteria, adds colour and flavour, and means the ham is ready-to-eat. Some people choose to glaze and cook their cured ham, but this is purely for decorative reasons.

Avoid ‘smoked’ flavourings

Traditional curing is important. We’ve come across ham varieties that aren’t traditionally smoked at all – instead they’re simply injected with smoke flavouring. 

Avoid watery hams

Another trick is for meat producers to add extra water, increasing the weight (and price) of the ham, sacrificing flavour along the way. When it comes to Christmas ham, you certainly get what you pay for. 

Christmas Ham in the Inner West

At Kaczanowski, we cure our hams by first ‘brining’ – soaking the ham in a mixture of salt, water and spices – and then cold-smoking.

The cold-smoking process unfolds over many hours, at a very low heat. The length and type of smoking varies the flavour. For a traditional flavour, choose the Traditional Leg Ham or for a more intense and smokey flavour, choose the Smokehouse Leg Ham

4. Bone-in or boneless Christmas ham? 

Bone-in ham options

Bone-in Christmas hams are the traditional option, the kind of ‘Fred Flinstone’ ham you’d expect to see in yuletide feasts.

Some customers find that bone-in hams are a little easier to hold when carving off slices. And some chefs believe that keeping the bone-in adds to the flavour and moistness when cooking. But generally, the difference is negligible.

Ultimately, if your Christmas dinner or lunch is a traditional affair, then a bone-in ham is the way to go. 

Boneless ham options

If you would like to avoid the hassles of bones, Kaczanowski boneless Christmas hams are a good option.

Boneless varieties, such as Virginia Ham, are formed into an oval and cooked. Boneless hams provide maximum meat for your money, but lose some of the style of a traditional xmas ham. 

Another option is to choose a semi-boneless variety, such as the Easy Carve Ham, which has all but a single central bone removed. The ham meat is formed around that bone – either in a ‘Bulb’ or a ‘Long’ shape. Keeping the central bone makes the ham easier to hold and slice with an electric carving knife.  

5. Whole or half Christmas ham? 

No matter what style of ham you choose, you’ll need to decide on either a half or whole ham.

A whole ham is exactly that: An entire cured leg of pork, including bones and skin. This is the most traditional option, great for feeding large families (or a small family of Christmas ham fanatics). Whole legs can easily feed a dozen people. 

If a whole ham sounds like too much for your Christmas feast, then a half ham may be a more economical choice.

Half Christmas hams come in two styles: the top half (called a Butt) or the bottom half (called the Shank). Many chefs find the Butt to be leaner, and more tender. While the Shank is considered to be fattier but more flavoursome. Once again, a tasting may help split the decision.

Where to buy the best Australian Christmas ham

You won’t find Kaczanowski Xmas hams in the big supermarkets. If you would like to order one of our award winning Christmas leg hams, you have two options:

Buy direct

Order online, via our web store, and collect from our factory in Strathfield South. We will confirm and process your order – but you will need to pay on collection.

Local stockist (100+ locations)

Order from one of our stockists. You’ll find our hams in IGA stores, delis, butchers and independent grocers across the country. Many of our stockists offer home delivery, and free tastings during the Christmas period.