How To Slice Ham Thin: A Step-by-step Guide

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There are many different ways to enjoyed cured meats such as ham, but arguably one of the best ways is to have them sliced paper-thin.

But for a lot of home cooks, this isn’t the easiest task.

In fact, it should come as no surprise that a lot of people out there end up looking for the proper ways to slice ham thin.

You will need a freezer, cutting board, and a very sharp knife to slice ham thinly. It would help you a lot if you partially freeze the meat to a point where it is firm and can hold its shape, but not fully frozen right before slicing. This will make sure that the meat doesn’t crumble and allow the knife to glide through more smoothly.

In this article, we’re laying out a detailed guide so if you’ve been yearning to serve neat and paper-thin slices of cured meat at home, you’ve come to the right place.

Read on to learn more.

Why Is It Hard to Do?

Most people don’t know that the main reason they’re having a hard time slicing their cured meats is possibly the knife they’re using.

Using a blunt knife can really get in the way of slicing ingredients, whether it’s ham, potatoes, or just about any other ingredient in the kitchen.

This is because a blunt blade can lead to the meat crumbling before it’s fully cut.

If you find that the meat tends to crumble and fall apart before you can cut a full slice, that probably means your knife isn’t sharp enough or that you’re slicing with the wrong technique.

So to ensure that you slice your meats thinly and neatly, make sure to use the right equipment and proper technique.

What Equipment Do I Need To Slice Ham?

Sharp Knife

This is the most essential tool for any kitchen.

When slicing ham, it’s recommended to use a large, sharp, and heavy knife such as a chef knife.

For more accuracy, you can try using a carving knife or slicing knife if you have one, just make sure they’re sharp.

Cutting Board

Cutting neatly and evenly is a pretty tough task, but it’s made much easier with a cutting board.

It’s best to use wooden or food-safe plastic cutting boards as these won’t damage your knives too much and also make for a very stable cutting surface.

Freezer

Having a freezer can make almost any of your meat slicing tasks much easier.

This is because slicing meat is much easier to do when it is partially frozen as it can hold its shape more and since it’s more sturdy, you won’t have to worry about pieces falling apart as you cut through.

Step-by-step Guide

Step One: Partially Freeze The Ham

This is one of the most important steps when slicing any meat, especially if you want very thin slices.

If your meat is frozen, try putting it in the refrigerator to thaw overnight, that way, by the time it’s time to get slicing, it will be just the right consistency.

Alternatively, if the ham is already fully thawed, you can wrap it and keep it in the freezer for 15-25 minutes, and after that, it should be ready for slicing.

Step Two: Lay It Flat On The Cutting Board

Once your ham is nicely frozen, you have to lay it flat on a cutting board.

The more sturdy your surface is, the better, so make sure your ham is resting firmly on the board.

Also, make sure that the cutting board is clean, to ensure that everything you’re doing in the kitchen is safe and sanitary.

Step Three: Get Slicing!

After that, simply get your knife and start slicing!

It might help to run your knife on a honing steel a couple of times before slicing to make sure that your blade is razor-sharp.

Get a firm grip on the knife, and using your non-knife hand, hold the ham and start cutting against the grain to get thin slices.

Make sure to not apply too much pressure when slicing, as the motion of slicing and weight of the knife should be enough to slice through the meat.

It might take a couple of runs to really get the hang of this, but once you do, slicing ham into thin slices that are ready to be eaten will be a very easy task that you can accomplish in a matter of minutes!

Conclusion

So there you have it, a quick and easy way to do this task in the comfort of your own kitchen.

All you have to do is make sure that you’re using a razor-sharp knife, partially freeze the meat, and use a stable cutting board.

And for added safety, you can even use cutting gloves while doing this to keep your hands safe and accident-free.

But aside from that, there’s not much more to it, so all that’s left for you to do is get your equipment out and start slicing!

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.