FK Reviews

Battle of the Hams: The Best Pound-for-Pound Christmas Centerpieces

We tried 10 of the best Christmas hams available in the Philippines, and here's what we found out!

Still haven’t found the best Christmas ham to complete your Noche Buena? Look no further than this selection of flavorsome, juicy, and hearty hams that will please everyone at your dining table!

We mean everyone, and that includes Santa and his reindeers!

If the Americans have turkey and the Chinese have duck, Filipinos have ham as the centerpiece of their holiday. It’s like the word “ham” has already become synonymous with Christmas in the Philippines. After all, there’s nothing as tempting as a glistening Christmas ham at the center of the table. It’s the ultimate holiday indulgence that puts everyone in the mood to get together and eat.

Here are the best Christmas hams available in the Philippines that you should consider for your dinner table!

1. Purefoods Pre-sliced Fiesta Ham: Featherweight Champion

₱525 per 1kg

Purefoods fiesta ham straight out of the bag.

If there’s one brand that resonates with “ham”, it’s Purefoods. On this particular ham, you get a smooth outer surface surrounded by a sweet sauce with a slightly chunky consistency. It’s very tasty, with tons of brine coming through its fibers. It delivers a sugar-heavy profile with hints of saltiness and smokiness that work their way out as you chew. Thus, it evokes the classic Filipino-style Christmas ham profile.

For ₱525 per 1kg, you can have a budget ham with a passable taste!

RELATED: What is the Defining Taste of Filipino Food: Sweet or Sour?

2. Majestic Ham: Living Legend

₱1,500 per 1kg

Majestic ham is exactly as its name suggests…majestic! 

This brand has been offering ham to Filipinos since 1956. Through the years, they have perfected the formula on what makes a Christmas ham outstanding. Majestic utilizes oak barrels to traditionally cure the meat, then they have it smoked with aromatic woods, aged for full flavor, and cooked in selected spices.

It’s not really a budget ham considering its price. However, if you can spend a little more, you’ll get what you pay for. It’s one of the best Christmas hams out in the market, no doubt. 

3. Swift Festival Ham: Bantamweight Champion

₱525 per 1kg

Swift stands out with its darker-looking ham. It’s surrounded by a smooth but goopy, sweet, and salty syrup inside the package. It’s also on the lean-but-juicy end like Purefoods. But it has meat that feels like it was cooked rare. Plus, it carries more streaks of fat across the diameter. It contains an even sweeter taste than Purefoods, though, with less saltiness or smokiness for balance.

For ₱525 per 1kg, you can have a decent ham on Christmas eve for a reasonable price.

4. Cocina Muriel: The Rising Star

₱1,000 per 1kg

Cocina Muriel is one of the youngest brands among Christmas hams, but its made an impression on a lot of people. The family-owned local business has been serving some of the best Christmas ham since 2009, but it tastes like they’ve been doing it for decades.

If you like your ham on the smoky side, family-owned venture Cocina Murriel’s Heirloom Smoked Ham is for you. It takes after a special recipe that took 10 years to cook up. It is smoked for hours to infuse the meat with that deep savory flavor that’s great whether it’s taken plain, stuffed into pan de sal, or used in recipes. 

Battle of the Hams: The Best Pound-for-Pound Christmas Centerpieces

At ₱1,000 you can have a really merry Christmas with Cocina Muriel.

5. Excelente: The Eastern Dragon

₱980 per 1kg

Excelente Chinese Cooked Ham bought from the store.

Probably the most famous one on this list. Excelente’s ham is one of the most talked-about every Christmas. Taking into account the buyers that tirelessly line up outside their store, one can say that there is really something exceptional with their product. 

The ham’s complex flavor and distinct texture make it stand out from the rest, and the sweet sauce that comes with the ham can balance the salty and smoky taste of the meat.

For ₱980 per 1kg, you can have a top-tier ham for a budget that doesn’t break the bank.

6. Virginia Pineapple Ball Ham: Mr. Fundamental

₱725 per 1kg

Virginia’s is the most “predictable” of all Christmas hams on this list. It has a relatively lean texture that resembles sliced ham from delis, or your usual sliced hams in the refrigerator. What makes this ham stand out from the rest is that its flavors are subtle. It’s barely sweet or even salty for that matter.

But don’t be fooled! While Virginia’s ham might be called the most underwhelming of the bunch, it more than makes up for its well-rounded flavor profile. It can be used in sandwiches and other recipes – even after the holidays! It’s a solid leftover ham.

RELATED: Why the Philippines is the Christmas Capital of the World

7. Mekeni Gold Premium Ham: Lightning-Fast Jab

₱502 per 1 kg

With Mekeni, you get a ham of a delicate flavor profile of sweet and salty. At only Php 502 per kilo, this ham is one of the least expensive hams on the list – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth buying. It’s ready-to-eat, making it more convenient and accessible than other hams available now. 

Meaning, you can panic-buy this ham at the last minute and still be able to complete your table. 

Mekeni delivers a chewy texture and a sweet flavor profile as it balances the sweetness and the saltiness on your palate. So not only is it flavorful, but it’s also savory and juicy – making Mekeni a great choice for your Christmas centerpiece.

8. CDO Holiday Ham: Bang for the Buck

₱580 per 1kg (w/ free 225g Funtastyk Young Pork Tocino)

Battle of the Hams: The Best Pound-for-Pound Christmas Centerpieces

Coming in with free tocino, CDO’s flagship Christmas ham offers the greatest bang for your buck compared to many others on this list. This ham comes in a mesh packaging and is already pre-cooked – giving you options with how you prefer to have it. Frying it, of course, is the go-to.

This ham is said to be made of whole pork leg muscle. So you get a mix of lean, fatty, and gamey parts with a fair amount of juiciness. And although dotted with a myriad of textures, one thing that is consistent with CDO’s ham is its balanced flavor. It delivers a salty and smoky profile but still has enough sweetness to keep it in the Christmas ham category.

Overall, CDO is very satisfying for a grocery-bought ham, and offers the greatest value for money.

9. King Sue Piña Ham: The Southpaw

₱565 per 1kg

Disclaimer: there’s no actual pineapple here. 

King Sue’s piña ham gets its name from its netted appearance on the outside, mimicking the facade of a pineapple. This is a sauce-less ham, but the meat within is not as juicy compared to the others. The flavor profile is actually very salty, and the sweetness and smokiness come in very late – if it even comes. However, it feels like real pork and has a good depth of flavors that make up for a lack of consistency.

This ham is not your traditional, sweet ham. Among Christmas hams, King Sue’s piña ham is the most no-nonsense of the bunch. It knows its flavor lane and stays in it. It is for those who are looking for a saltier, meatier blend that is closer to Chinese-style hams, and for those who don’t want to conform to the traditional Christmas ham sweetness.

10. Adelina’s Ham: The Golden Boy

₱1,540 per 1kg

Adelina’s Ham has been the centerpiece of Christmas tables for as long as we can remember. A Filipino constant, its main selling point is its smoky, mild flavor that pairs well with its thick, syrupy sauce. Another point to address is that its flavor profile pairs well with the well-loved sweetness of hot pan de sal.

It breaks apart in your mouth as you eat it, but once you savor that smoky bite, you’ll find yourself reaching for another serving. And after the fourth or fifth plate, you’ll soon realize why this ham is so well-loved. Overall, Adelina’s will always leave an impression on your dinner table – whatever the occasion.

The Verdict

Ding, ding, ding! CDO’s Holiday Ham takes the bag on this one, ladies and gentlemen!

Nothing matches with its well-rounded flavor which could be paired with anything. Not to mention its enormous value for money. It is the ultimate bang for your buck ham and can be eaten in a myriad of ways.

Pair it with rice? No problem. Pair it with the free tocino? That’s what they had in mind. By itself? You won’t regret it!

But if you’ve settled for something else, fret not, a ham is still a ham! CDO may be King of the Ring on this list, and we can talk about hams for days, but in reality, just enjoy what’s on the table and have a joyous, intimate Christmas dinner with your family.

Ham a very merry Christmas from the Flying Ketchup team! 

RELATED: Christmas in the Spirit of a #HealthierPhilippines

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