Can You Eat Ham on the Keto Diet – Why Should You Not Worry?

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One of the hottest diet plans in the world today is the keto diet. It is similar to the Atkins diet in that you eat fewer carbs and more fat. Up to 90% of the calories that you eat every day while on the keto diet come from the fats you consume.. Many claims limit your intake on keto of carbs to just 50 grams or less, with some people eating even less. As something as simple as a banana can have nearly 30 grams of carbs, it’s easy to see that you can’t eat many of your favorite foods on this diet.

A big question that some want to know is, can you eat ham on the keto diet? Ham is no different than some of the other meats you can enjoy on keto. For example, you can fry up a thick ham steak in the morning for breakfast, or have a few slices for lunch. You can learn more about why ham is good for keto dieters and how you can incorporate this meat into your meal plan with some fun and delicious recipes.

Table of Contents

Is Ham Keto?

The short answer to this question is yes, ham is keto friendly. 

Ham comes from pigs and does not naturally contain any sugars, which means that it is fine to eat. Some forms of ham have a low ratio of fat to calories, though you should read the nutritional information to make sure. One important thing to keep in mind when looking to answer “is ham keto friendly” is that it depends on the type of ham you eat.

Let’s say that you plan to attend an Easter or Christmas dinner with your family. Don’t assume that you can eat as much of the ham in the center of the table as you want. Many recipes for baked ham call for a lot of ingredients that are not keto friendly. Think about the ham roasts you made in the past. Did you bake the ham as-is, or did you add honey and orange juice? Many ham recipes call for extra ingredients that have a lot of sugar and carbs to make a glaze. 

While you can take a day off from your keto diet, there’s always a risk that you might fall into bad habits again and stop sticking to your diet. So be vigilant, especially if you’re adhering to a strict new lifestyle.

Can You Eat Ham on the Keto Diet_alice's kitchen

Can You Eat Ham on a Keto Diet? The Basics of Lunch Meat

When you’re in a hurry and don’t have a lot of time, it’s tempting to grab a sandwich for lunch. While ham is keto friendly, deli ham is a whole different story. 

If you compare a slice of deli ham to a slice of a ham you made at home, you can clearly see how different they are. The brands that make deli meats use a lot of preservatives to ensure that the meats can stay on store shelves for weeks and even months. It doesn’t matter if you buy from the deli counter or you pick up a container in the refrigerated section. All types of deli ham have a lot of added preservatives and ingredients that you cannot have on the keto diet.

A single slice of deli ham can have up to 4 grams of sugar, along with some carbs. You should always check the ingredient label to see what brand is used. The nutritional label also gives you relevant information on how many calories and fats there are per serving. 

Do not assume that all deli hams are the same. Though some brands claim that they offer ham with natural flavors, the label will show that those “flavors” include a lot of salt and sugar.

Ham and Dirty Keto

Another thing to know when looking at whether or not ham is keto diet friendly is that many consider it dirty keto. 

Dirty keto refers to ingredients that you can only eat in small amounts. 

Though you can enjoy ham on your diet, you need to watch how much you eat, especially if you choose deli ham or ham that has a lot of processed ingredients. Dextrose is one of the worst ingredients found in processed ham. It gives the meat a slightly sweet flavor but can also increase your blood sugar levels. (also, dextrose is sugar, so not keto-friendly)

Some even worry that sticking to a dirty keto diet will keep them from losing weight or make it harder for them to drop their bad habits. 

Ham Recipes for Keto Dieters

Do you like the idea of starting the keto diet and enjoying all of the diet’s benefits but worry that you can’t stick to it? This is a common way of thinking. Many people worry that they can’t say no to their favorite dishes or ingredients and are too afraid to start. 

Before you jump on the keto bandwagon, check out some of the top recipes that use ham. These recipes are just as delicious as those you tried in the past, but will help you stick to your diet.

Spiral Sliced Ham

Once you’re on the keto diet, you might miss the meals you had around the holidays. A popular and yummy recipe is one for spiral sliced ham with a delicious glaze. Not only will this recipe help you celebrate the way you love, but it tastes so good that no one in your family will even know it’s keto. 

This recipe cuts out the brown sugar that ham glazes usually use and replaces it with monk fruit sweetener, which is one of the top keto sweeteners on the market.

What You Need to Know About Spiral Hams

While there are different types of hams available, spiral sliced is one of the top options. You can pick one up from most grocery stores and check with specialty stores too. You should read the nutritional label though to make sure the brand didn’t pack the ham with sugar and harsh preservatives. 

The ham is already sliced and cooked, but you need to heat it through before you serve it. All you really need are a few ingredients to make the glaze, along with a baking dish and an aluminum foil. We also recommend a meat thermometer to make sure the meat reaches the right temperature.

How Much Ham Do You Need?

We usually buy a larger ham than we think we need because we love using the leftovers in other dishes. If you plan on hosting a small meal with up to four people, feel free to go with a ham that weighs three to four pounds. You usually need an average of ¾ pound of ham per person. A 12-pound ham is suitable for a bigger celebration because it will feed up to 12 people and give you some leftovers. 

Keep in mind that some guests may eat more than the average amount and that some will eat less, especially if you have a lot of side dishes.

When and How to Cook Spiral Ham?

As spiral ham comes already cooked, so you don’t need to cook it for a  long time in the oven. Experts suggest that you cook the ham at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for no more than 10 minutes per pound. If you use a thermometer, you will remove the ham from the oven when it reaches 140 degrees. For a 10-pound ham, expect it to spend no more than one hour and 40 minutes in the oven.

Making the Glaze

Making a ham keto friendly glaze is as easy as mixing a few ingredients together in a pan. For this recipe, you will need:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 cup golden monk fruit sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried cloves
  • 10 cloves chopped and peeled garlic
  1. Combine the water and monk fruit sweetener in a small pan on the stove. Start it on low heat and stir until the sweetener dissolves in the water. 
  2. You will then add all of the other ingredients and remove the mixture from the stove. 
  3. Though you can leave the glaze in the pan, it’s helpful to pour it into a new bowl.

We also recommend taking a look at this video as it offers a twist on the classic ham recipe with a glaze that uses Sriracha sauce.

Baking Your Ham

  1. Baking a keto ham is easy. Place the ham in a glass or metal baking dish. 
  2. Add just enough water to the bottom of the dish to cover the base of the ham. While water is a good option, you can add more flavor when you replace it with either chicken or vegetable broth. 
  3. Pour half of the glaze over the top, using a brush to wipe the glaze in between the slices and around the sides.
  4.  Insert your meat thermometer into one of the fleshy sides of the ham. You then need to cover the top and sides of the baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving the top of the thermometer sticking out from the top. 
  5. Bake the ham at 325 degrees Fahrenheit until it hits 120 degrees. 
  6. You will then remove the ham and brush it with more of your leftover glaze. 
  7. Place the dish back in the oven without the foil and bake until it hits 140 degrees. 
  8. Give the ham at least 15 minutes to rest before you serve it, which allows it to absorb all of its juices.

Frozen vs. Thawed Ham

While this recipe requires a spiral ham, you may find that your store only offers this type already thawed or frozen. 

If you buy a thawed ham, simply keep it in your refrigerator until you’re ready to cook. Store a frozen ham in your refrigerator too, making sure that you have enough time for it to completely thaw. 

You should never cook a frozen or partially frozen ham as there is a risk it might contain some bacteria

To save time when you’re in a hurry, fill your sink with cool water and place the ham in it. You need to change the water once an hour until the ham thaws.

Ham Steak Ideas

No matter which grocery store you hit, you’ll find ham steaks sold in the refrigerated section. A big question on the mind of many keto dieters is, “is ham steak keto friendly?” 

You can absolutely have ham steak on the keto diet. Some even find that they prefer it to traditional ham. 

One thing to look for as you shop is whether the ham steak has a bone running through it. This will add some weight to the steak and increase the price you pay. It’s possible to find boneless ham steaks in some stores.

How to Cook Ham Steaks

Cooking ham steaks is easy because you just need a frying pan and some type of fat. Though ham steak has a lot of fat on its own, it doesn’t have enough to cook the steak. 

  1. Place your frying pan on the stove and coat the bottom with a thin layer of oil or butter. You can even use bacon grease if you have some available. 
  2. When the oil gets hot, place the steak in the pan. 
  3. You’ll want to cook it for four to five minutes and turn it over before cooking the opposite side for the same amount of time. A benefit of using ham steak is that it is already cured, so it doesn’t require a lot of cooking.

Ham Steak with Keto Red Eye Gravy

Though there are different ways to cook ham steak, one of our favorite methods is to fry the ham and top it with red eye gravy. There are many stories about the origin of red eye gravy, but most believe that it came from the south. A popular version of the story claims that a cook ran out of drippings for their gravy and replaced it with coffee.

  1. To make this gravy, simply cook your ham steak and then remove it from the pan.
  2. Add ¼ cup of warm water and ¼ cup of brewed coffee to the pan. 
  3. Use a spatula or a spoon to stir the mixture and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan. This will incorporate all of the delicious drippings from the ham steak. 
  4. Once the gravy thickens, add salt and pepper along with a pat of butter. This gravy will be a little thinner than you might prefer but adds a nice flavor to your steak. 
  5. You can serve this dish as-is or with a side of fried or scrambled eggs. Red eye gravy is also suitable for dinner when you serve the steak with mashed cauliflower.

Is Ham Keto Approved for Lunch?

While you’ll find tons of recipes for using ham at dinner, you won’t find as many options for lunch. 

As we said before, deli ham is potentially risky for keto dieters because of how many carbs it has. That does not mean you can’t enjoy ham at lunch, though. 

One of our favorite recipes is for a ham salad that works for keto dieters. Ham and keto go hand in hand, especially when it comes to this salad. This recipe offers a twist on the classic deviled ham salad that many people eat on bread or crackers. It is easy to make and a perfect use of any leftovers you have after making a spiral ham.

Can You Eat Ham on the Keto Diet_alice's kitchen

How to Make Keto Ham Salad

  1. To make keto ham salad, you need to start with two cups of chopped ham. While we recommend using leftovers, you can also use cooked ham steaks or any other ham that you have on hand. 
  2. Chop the ham finely and mix it with ¼ cup of chopped pickles. You can use dill pickles if you like a tangy ham salad or sweet pickles if you prefer a sweeter taste. 
  3. Add three tablespoons of mayonnaise to the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Turning basic ham salad into deviled ham salad is easy. Use this same recipe but mix in one teaspoon of spicy brown mustard and one teaspoon of cayenne pepper. You may find it helpful to start with ½ teaspoon of cayenne and slowly add a little more until you get the spicy kick you want. Some like adding a hard-boiled egg to the mixture or some thinly sliced celery sticks. If you prefer a sandwich spread to a salad, toss all of the ingredients in a food processor and mix until it reaches the consistency you like.

You don’t need to waste a lot of time trying to decide how to serve your ham salad either. There are several brands that make bread with fewer carbs, but you may want to replace the bread with tortillas. Tortillas come in different flavors that help you mix up mealtime. Try one with sun-dried tomatoes or spinach to incorporate more veggies into your diet. Keto ham salad also goes great with celery sticks, which have a high amount of water to help you feel full without eating as much. If you need to eat quickly, feel free to grab a spoonful whenever you have a moment.

Is Ham Keto Diet Friendly?

Many people want to know “can you eat ham on keto” because they heard many stories about the foods they can’t eat on this diet. Ham is one of the safest things to have on the keto diet, as long as you use caution. Make sure that you pay attention to the nutritional labels and that you pick hams that don’t have a lot of carbs or sugar. While it’s hard to find deli ham that works on this diet, you can make spiral ham and enjoy ham steaks. Thanks to some great recipes, you won’t miss the sugary ham that you loved in the past.


Can I Eat Ham on a Low Carb Diet?

The answer is yes. Ham steak often has a nice amount of fat but does not have any carbs. You should use caution when picking ham from the deli counter or refrigerated section of the grocery store though. These hams have a lot of preservatives and more carbs than you might expect. If you can’t handle the idea of giving up sandwiches, pick up a cooked ham from the butcher shop or counter. Most butchers will cut the ham for you and make slices that are perfect for sandwiches. You can also make ham salad from ham steaks or spiral hams. Spiral hams are easy to make in the middle of the week or when you want to celebrate a special occasion.

What Deli Meats Can You Eat on Keto?

Most deli meats are dirty keto, which means you need to eat them in moderation. Not only does this include sliced ham from the deli counter, but it also includes other types of cured meats such as pepperoni and salami. Bacon is another potentially dangerous food because some types of bacon have a lot of sugar and preservatives. If you’re a fan of hot dogs, check the label before you buy. Hot dogs are usually safe for keto dieters, though. You just need to use caution when it comes to what you eat on your hot dogs. Some of the best meats for keto dieters include roast beef and turkey.

Is Ham and Bacon Keto Friendly?

When you look for answers to “can you eat ham on the keto diet”, you might also wonder if you can eat bacon. What could be better than sitting down to a plate of bacon and eggs in the morning? Bacon is so popular with Atkins dieters that they often make a big batch on the weekend and snack on it throughout the week. Most of the bacon that you see in stores is safe for the keto diet. It has only 0.1 grams per serving and is easy to make when you don’t have a lot of time.

The problem with bacon is that many brands make processed forms that aren’t quite as good for you. Have you ever seen sugary bacon in your grocery store or a maple flavor? These varieties come packed with tons of sugar and have more carbs than others do. So be careful what variety you choose. Turkey bacon has slightly more carbs but less sodium, which is helpful if you want to cut back on your salt intake. Bacon is perfect for breakfast when you serve it with eggs, but it also makes a convenient snack when you keep cooked bacon in the fridge. You can also incorporate bacon into dishes like using bacon grease for ham steaks or wrapping asparagus in bacon. Both bacon and ham are keto approved.