In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Making Thanksgiving Dinner with Coca-Cola

Turkey Day, it’s right in the name. You’re supposed to spend hours basting a giant bird in the oven proudly presenting it to the family on a beautiful platter, all smiles, proceeding to carve, passing a slice to each person at the table.

Turkey may have its fans but, many families prefer a different entree for Thanksgiving, HAM! Slices and slices of bone-in, tender, dripping in sweet goodness, HAM! For some, it just isn’t a holiday without the sweet aroma of pork and pineapple roasting in the oven. And only one marinade will do, a can of Coca-Cola.

It may sound unusual but Coca-Cola as an ingredient began appearing in recipes during the 50’s everywhere it was bottled. With facilities in Huntsville, Birmingham and Atlanta, it’s no wonder that southern cooks used this readily available product to add even more sweetness to their food. These heirloom recipes are still circulating today and just like grandma we know that only real Coca-Cola bottled right here in the south will do!

Try something different this year, surprise your Thanksgiving guests with a Coca-Cola Ham.


Recipe: Coca-Cola Ham 1 (6 to 8 pound) fully cooked, shank-end half ham

  • 1 to 2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
  • Sliced pineapple, optional
  • Whole cloves, optional
  • Cherries, optional
  • 1/2 can of (regular) Coca-Cola Classic


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large roasting pan with aluminum foil to help with clean-up. Lay aside another section of aluminum foil for wrapping loosely around the ham.

Score the ham into a crosshatch pattern and stud the intersections of the crosshatches with whole cloves. Place the ham cut side down into the aluminum foil tub. Mix 1 cup of the brown sugar and mustard together then spread it all over the ham. Use 2 cups if you like it sweeter. If you are going to use pineapple, you can substitute most or all the mustard with the pineapple juice. Add pineapple slices if desired, and using a toothpick, decorate the center of the pineapples with a cherry.

Pour the cola carefully over and around the ham, pull the foil up loosely around the ham and bring it together, but in a way that you can easily get into it because you will be to be basting. Bake at 350 degrees F for roughly about 18 minutes per pound, or until the center of the ham reaches slightly over 140 degrees F on an instant read thermometer, basting occasionally.

Unwrap the ham and place it under the broiler to brown, with the door ajar, about 5 minutes, watching it carefully. Remove ham to cutting board and allow to cool.

Plate the ham and pour the pan drippings all over the top.

Next enjoy the lip-smacking goodness.