Ham Cooked in Coca Cola with Deep Fried Pickles


Ham Cooked in Coca Cola

As you can probably tell, I’m into American food at the moment; perhaps the pulled pork with Boston baked beans or wedge salad with blue cheese dressing gave it away? Cooking ham in coca cola is one of those ideas that sounds just outrageous but is actually brilliant. I’ve cooked it many times now. The cola imparts, as you would expect, a sweet and subtly spiced flavour to the salty ham and I finished it with a sticky glaze of molasses, mustard and rum, which melted into a glistening varnish.

While pondering how to eat it (it takes 2.5 hours to cook, I pondered a lot), my thoughts inched ever closer to the idea of a towering sandwich; a Man vs. Food style beast topped with deep fried pickles and hot sauce. Yes, deep fried pickles. I first saw this genius idea on Homesick Texan, a blog partly responsible for this American food phase. Pickles? Good. Deep fried stuff? Gooood. Together? BOOM! I decided on a combo of traditonal dill pickled cucumbers (I always use the Krakus brand since my friend’s Polish mother recommended them – so crisp), pickled chillies and those sweet little silverskin pickled onions which are totally under-rated. A crunchy cracker base (base, base, base) mixture surrounds juicy, crisp pickle. They made an excellent snack and a serious sandwich garnish that says I Mean Business.

The ham was easily torn apart with frantic fingers and stuffed, chunk on juicy chunk into a roll. We topped each with a selection of the pickles and sauce made with 50% home-made hot sauce and 50% ketchup. Oh my. This is what Sundays are all about.

Ham Cooked in Coca Cola with a Molasses Glaze

1 x 2kg ham. Mine was was just over this weight (I used a boneless one; a bone will add more flavour but you need to account for the weight)
1 x 2 litre bottle full-sugar coca cola
1 white onion, peeled and cut in half

For the glaze

100ml molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dark rum (or whisky)

Put the ham in a large pan, skin side down. Cover it with the cola and add the onion. Bring to the boil then reduce to a good simmer. Put a lid on, but not tightly; rest it so you have a teeny gap at one side. Cook for 2.5 hours (or just under if your ham is exactly 2kg).

When the ham is nearly finished cooking, preheat the oven to gas 7/210C

When the cooking time is up, drain the ham, put it in a dish then remove the skin so that you are left with a thin layer of fat. Score the fat into a criss-cross diamond pattern. Mix the glaze ingredients together well and brush the glaze all over the ham. Push a clove into the points of each diamond. Cook it for 5 minutes, then brush again with the remaining glaze. Cook for a further 5 minutes then remove the ham from the oven and allow it to cool.

Deep-fried pickles

5 good sized Krakus brand pickled cucumbers, cut into inch-thick slices
6 pickled chillies
6 silverskin pickled onions

1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pack Matzo crackers (about 75g. Matzo are very similar to the ‘Saltines’ that Homesick Texan uses)
1 scant teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper

Vegetable or groundnut oil, for deep-frying

Preheat the oven to Gas1/140C

Cover a plate with flour and sprinkle with pepper and paprika. In a bowl, mix the egg and buttermilk. Put the crackers in a food processor and pulse to crumbs; spread this mixture on another plate. Dip each pickle first in the flour, then the egg, then toss about in the crackers. Set aside. Heat your oil for deep frying in a sturdy pan until it shimmers. You can test if it is ready but putting a little piece of bread in – if that starts to properly sizzle and fry, you’re good to go.

Fry the pickles in small batches; do not crowd the pan. Put the cooked pickles on a plate lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and put in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.

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    Reply kellie @foodtoglow July 20, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Although I write a healthy recipe/cancer-focussed nutrition blog, I am from Nashville so this is right up my street. Looks so yummy, I wanted to lick the screen!

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    Reply deepa / lazy giraffe July 20, 2011 at 8:59 am

    I’ve always wanted to give ham and cola a go, I must try this.
    And the pickles, I saw them on Hollow Legs blog too and it is about time I made some.

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    Reply The Graphic Foodie July 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

    Oh. My. God. That is the most beautiful thing I have seen in a while. Can’t believe I haven’t thought about deep fried pickles before.

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    Reply Patrick July 20, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Marry me.

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    Reply Lizzie July 20, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I want this so much it makes me want to cry a bit.


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    Reply Edward J Norton July 20, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Deep fried pickles just sound wrong yet so right! My wife wont touch them and I’m sure it’s a physiological thing. I keep telling her just to try one, but she wont. I might get away if they’re cunningly disguised. I’m hooked on the big jars sold in Lidl’s at the moment.

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    Reply Bristol Bites July 20, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Now THAT is a sandwich! I’ve been meaning to make ham cooked in Coca Cola for a while – I think it was in one of Jamie Oliver’s books that I first saw it – and those deep fried pickles sound amazing. Link now bookmarked – thanks! 🙂

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    Reply Catherine Edwards July 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    The lame salad I’m picking at to try and be healthy has just lost it’s appeal…great stuff!!

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    Reply The Shed July 20, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I looove ham in coca cola. I did it for a shed once, served with ridiculously rich sides and called it the Capitalist Pig. I need some deep fried pickles in my life!

    Thanks (once again) for making me dribble all over my desk.

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    Reply Nina July 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    O.M.G, I say drooling I am going to have to try this one!!!

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    Reply Polly July 20, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    this made me weak at the knees. deep fried pickles? such a great idea I can’t wait to try them. I’ve never done the cola method, mainly because I’m such a fan of the salty porky stock that results if you use water and makes the best lentil soup in the world. this post has perhaps inspired me to try cola, especially as I never feel my glaze penetrates sufficiently. great post.

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    Reply katiem July 20, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    Have always wondered if ham in cola works and this has inspired me to try it. Deep-fried pickles are sheer genius. I use matzo meal a lot (it comes in different textures, fine and coarse) and now wondering if that would work instead of having to blitz the crackers? Am loving the American recipes, thanks.

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    Reply Rebecca July 20, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Wow! This looks immense… I think Sunday will be a ham and pickle day for me!

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    Reply oliver July 20, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Brap. Never heard of deep fried gherkins but they sound like a good idea.

    Is ham the same as a gammon (embarrassing lack of knowledge here but was never sure).

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    Reply Helen July 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Thanks everyone for your comments and tips. Edward – I will definitely have a look in Lidl for those pickles! Patrick – you really made me laugh, thank you! Katiem – I have never used Matzo meal I’m afraid! Sorry I can’t answer your question; only one way to find out…Oliver – Yeah a gammon is the same thing as a ham. When you buy a mild-cure gammon from a butcher nowadays you won’t need to soak it as it won’t be too salty. Ask your butcher for advice though if you’re unsure.

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    Reply GastroStu July 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I’ve done ham in coke before but it didn’t look quite as good at that. I didn’t use molasses or dark rum in my recipe though, defiantly going to give that a try, sound delicious. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    Reply Emma July 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

    you had me at ‘deep fried pickles’….

    I luurve cola ham, and also pickles, and also anything fried (it’s a miracle I’m not the size of a house, truly!), so this is pretty much heaven on a plate for me! Off to buy some pickles and matzo….

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    Reply thetwicebitten July 20, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Genius summer eating.

    Think i’ll make a version with plain jalapenos stuffed with cheese then fried. Im from Scotland so adding fat to fat is nothing new to me.

    Bring it on.

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    Reply Sam July 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Bloody hell, what an amazing looking sandwich that is, I have never deep fried a pickle before but I will be now!

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    Reply Robert July 21, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    I’ve done the Nigella cola ham but yours looks so much better than mine. Love to try fried pickles but where can I get some in London? Or perhaps I should get my chippie to batter and fry a wally.

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    Reply Food Urchin July 22, 2011 at 7:44 am

    I am picturing you atop a hillside Helen, with a group of people behind you, all holding this truly magnificent sandwich, singing ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing’.

    Looks bloody gorgeous.

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    Reply thelittleloaf July 22, 2011 at 7:54 am

    The ham looks good – I’ve copied something similar that Nigella does with delicious, sticky results – but the real revelation for me is those deep fried pickled chillies. They. Look. Incredible. Wow – am buying some today to recreate asap!

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    Reply Ryan July 22, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    I made ham in coca-cola once before but unfortunately my wife can’t stand it – I thought it was great. Another favourite of mine is slow-cooking a piece of Brisket in Coke, Ketchup and Onion Soup mix for 8 hours. Sounds wrong but is soooo good.

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    Reply katiem July 22, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Well, I tried doing the pickles with matzo meal (some with coarse and some with fine textured). It worked out well on both counts and saves having to crush crackers. Decided to try out something else too – made a creamed sweetcorn pudding (nigella) and turned it into balls, rolled in matzo meal and deep fried – a bit like a variation on arancini. Went nicely with the ham.

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    Reply Mzungu July 23, 2011 at 10:18 am

    I haven’t cooked this in an age, no idea why as it always goes down very well….

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    Reply miss south July 25, 2011 at 9:37 am

    I love Ham in Coke. We do one every Christmas and it just wouldn’t be Christmas without it now. I did the last one with a glaze of homemade quince jelly and molasses and wow!

    Today I was meant to be cleaning the house. I’m going ham shopping instead…

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    Reply Going With My Gut August 4, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    AWESOME. Was thinking of making ham the other day but got laughed at due to the season. This looks like a perfect summer version though!


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    Reply Adrian December 18, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Helen would you recommend smoked or unsmoked gammon for this recipe? Love the redesign by the way!

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      Reply Helen December 19, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Hi Adrian, unsmoked for this one. And thanks!

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