Honey Baked Ham vs. Nueske’s Ham: Differences & Which Is Better

Honey Baked Ham vs. Nueske's Ham Differences
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Nothing says Christmas like a juicy turkey or a ham. The holidays wouldn’t be so magical without these delicious meats, so no holiday gathering is complete without one of these at my house. 

This time, I am giving the spotlight to ham, and in this article, I will compare Honey Baked and Nueske’s hams. After an elaborate online research, as well as offline research I did by cooking and endlessly enjoying these delicious meats, I am here to tell you everything about them.

Differences Between Honey Baked Hams and Nueske’s Hams

Honey Baked Ham and Nueske’s Ham are distinct in appearance, taste, and preparation. Honey Baked Ham is known for its iconic, glossy glazed appearance and sweet, succulent flavor, while Nueske’s features a deep purple interior and smoky aroma, with a robust, smoky taste. Both offer various sizes and are ready to serve, with minimal preparation needed.

But, let’s delve deeper into the culinary world of these two premium hams and discover which one might reign supreme for your festive feasts.

Appearance and Sizes

When comparing these two hams in appearance, I must stress that both brands are true masters of their crafts and have managed to create products you can easily distinguish. 

Honey Baked Ham is known for its glossy glazed appearance, giving it depth and complexity and a delightful crispy look. This glaze makes it so appealing to the eye and so attractive to the palate you just can’t help it but get a slice. Its appearance is almost iconic, and among 1000 hams, you can definitely tell which one is Honey Baked Ham. 

On the other hand Nueske’s is known for its Applewood smoked hams which is visible on the surface. Their hams have a deep purple color on the inside and a lovely brown shade on the outside. Although they aren’t known for their glaze, like Honey Baked Ham, you will definitely tell them apart for their distinguished smoked appearance and aroma. 

Both brands offer different sizes and packaging fitted for different numbers of people.

Honey Baked Ham vs. Nueske's Ham Differences in appearances

Varieties

Although I don’t like to change a winning game, i.e., a winning ham, I do appreciate the variety, and both of these brands have plenty to offer.

Nueske’s ham comes in three main varieties: boneless ham, bone-in ham, and spiral sliced. They also offer ham steaks as a bonus feature. 

All of their hams are Applewood smoked and come in different sizes. Some of the varieties are honey-glazed, and there’s also a black pepper-coated variety. 

Honey Baked Ham doesn’t experiment with the flavor very much, but they do offer variety. You can choose from bone-in-half smoked for up to 24 hours, whole boneless ham- smoked for up to 12 hours, bone-in-quarter- smoked for up to 24 hours, boneless ham- smoked up to 12 hours, and a pack of bone-in-whole two halves

Whatever you prefer, I am sure you can find it among the rich selection both of these brands have. 

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Taste

And now, what we’ve all been waiting for, the taste, because let’s face it, that’s all these hams are about. 

Honey Baked Ham are known for their sweet glaze which is way more than aesthetics. It colors the flavor into shades of sweet and savory, dancing on your palate in perfect harmony. The meat is soft, tender, very palatable, and succulent.

These hams have a softly caramelized flavor, which complements the meat’s richness, enhancing the already-present flavors and giving a whole new flavor perspective. 

On the other hand, Nueske’s Hams are more like the rebellious sibling Honey Baked Hams, especially since they have varieties that come with honey glaze. While the richness is the main feature of the Honey Baked Hams, the Nueske’s hams’ main feature is the deep, complex, and smoky flavor. 

They are more potent and robust than Honey Baked Hams better suited for palates that prefer more expressive flavors. They are, of course, very rich and juicy, soft, chewy, and succulent. 

Preparation

Both Honey Baked Hams and Nueske’s are ready to serve and don’t require any special preparation, which doesn’t mean that you can’t heat them if you want to. 

All you need to do for Honey Baked Hams is to remove the ham from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, then warm it slightly in the oven, which is what I do to get the juices moving. 

No thawing, seasoning, or basting is needed.

On the other hand, Nueske’s Hams may require some preparation, depending on the specific product. Still, the maximum you’ll need to do is warm them up. Since they are all smoked, you won’t have to cook them thoroughly.

Nevertheless, for Nueske’s Hams, I recommend reading the instructions on the packaging to be entirely sure what to do since the exact cooking instructions vary slightly from one variety to another. 

My standard procedure is removing the meat from the fridge and popping it in the oven to heat up for about 10 minutes per pound at °F 375.

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How to Heat Up Precooked Ham Without Drying It Out?

Animal Treatment

Honey Baked Ham and Nueske’s Ham are known for their meat quality. Neither of the brands uses antibiotics or growth hormones, and the meat they offer is natural, sourced from grass-fed animals, and treated humanely. 

Prices

Both brands sell premium hams, which means they aren’t too cheap, but on the other hand, they are affordable. Their prices vary depending on the season, store location, and variety, so the best way to know how much you should pay is to take a look yourself. 

Still, as a reference, at the time of writing this article, 8 lbs. of Nueske’s Spiral Ham costs about $55.92, while 6 lbs of Honey Baked Ham costs about $94. As you can see, Honey Baked is steeper than Nueske’s, but I’ll let you be the judge who brings the final verdict. 

Availability 

Both ham brands offer hams year-round; again, the supply varies from location to location since the demand isn’t the same everywhere. You can order both online and find them in the chain markets or local retailers. 

Nueske’s has its own wholesale service with locations all over the US. 

Final Verdict: Which Is Better?

Although featuring the same impeccable quality, Honey Baked Ham and Nueske’s ham are very different when it comes to taste, making it very hard to answer which is better. 

The best answer would be that they require different palates because if you are more inclined toward softer flavors, Nueske’s ham could overwhelm you. On the other hand, if you like more robust tasting notes, Honey Baked Hams could be underwhelming. 

Both are delicious, but that doesn’t mean that you will like them if you prefer a different flavor. So, it is best to approach this pragmatically and decide based on your palate. 

I prefer Honey Baked Ham, but I enjoy Nueske’s very much.