Swedish Christmas Ham: not just for Christmas

The Christmas buffet is a staple of pretty much every household here in Sweden on Christmas Eve. The family gathers round and eats endless amounts of salmon, marinated herring, potatoes, meatballs, sausage, roasted ribs…you name it; returning to the buffet time after time.

The best bit of the Julbord (or Christmas table) though, is the Swedish Christmas ham. Essentially it is a ham, like all other hams; depending on who you ask, it should either be boiled, or oven roasted; smoked, or not. That detail is of little importance. What makes it the perfect Swedish Christmas ham is the final glazing: a divine coating of mustard and breadcrumbs that gives it that all important Christmas taste.

Most people indulge only on Christmas Eve. I tend to go overboard and make it at least one week in advance, eating it thickly sliced for breakfast and on crisp bread, as a late night snack, before, during and after Christmas.

It might look like an ordinary ham to you

The key to a good Swedish Christmas ham is the glaze, which should be neither too sweet, nor too sharp. My preference is to boil the ham with peppercorns and bay leaves, to give it a touch of spice; and to overcook it slightly, so it errs just on the side of dry. You can Google a recipe, to get it just to your liking.

Then comes the glaze. With this there is no option. You need to find Swedish mustard, which is ever so slightly sweet (if push comes to shove, head to your nearest IKEA to pick some up), for the essential Swedish taste; anything else is just plain old ham.

…but with a bit of magic it becomes the food of the Gods for a few weeks in December


Swedish Christmas Ham Glaze


  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 dl grainy Swedish mustard
  • 1 dl Dijon mustard
  • 1 dl fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 dl ginger snap biscuits (again, head to IKEA if you can’t find the real thing)


Beat the egg yolks and mustard together

Paint the mix over a cold cooked ham (about 1-2 kilos in weight)

Crush the ginger snaps into crumbs and mix with the bread crumbs

Sprinkle the crumb mix so it coats the ham

Grill in an oven at 200c for 15 minutes or until golden brown

That’s it

  • Monica-USA

    Looks delicious. On our Christmas ham we use some brown sugar with a little bit of pineapple juice mixed together and that gives the ham a nice sweet glaze. :o )

  • daphnebascos

    great recipe you have here. thanks for sharing.

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