Spicy Raisin Sauce for Ham Recipe

My grandmother's recipe for the cinnamon- and ginger-spiked raisin sauce always-always served with the Easter ham, the Christmas ham, the Sunday ham. (You get the picture. That said, my favorite way to use Spicy Raisin Sauce is drizzled over a ham steak for an easy weeknight supper!) It's a "found" recipe: old-fashioned and 21st-century perfect, both at the same time.
Spicy Raisin Sauce for Ham ♥ KitchenParade.com, my grandmother's recipe, a real classic. Serve it warm with ham at Easter and Christmas or for an easy weeknight supper, a ham steak.

  • "It's perfect [for Easter ham] ... a timeless classic!" ~ Pamela
  • Add yours, leave a comment, below!

A Cousin's Gift

Before Christmas last year, my cousin Diane walked into a family cookie party in Winnipeg carrying a wooden box. She laughed, “I’m cleaning out the basement. This was Nana’s recipe box.”

Like magnets, my hands reached for our grandmother’s recipe collection, untouched for more than 25 years. For too long, I ignored the party to thumb through a long row of 3x5 cards, some familiar family recipes, many newspaper clippings including some from my mother’s Kitchen Parade columns, a few cryptic hand-written notes.

Nana had cut or taped tabs onto odd pieces of card stock to create her own dividers, Cheese Dishes and Crepes near the front, Puddings and Pickles in the back, with special sections for Peroghies and Turtles, two family favorites. My eyes filled with tears. Nana’s handwriting was so familiar, the make-do separators so typical of her Depression-era frugality.

When Diane said she’d brought the recipe box for me to keep, I sobbed, grateful for her thoughtfulness.

Spicy Raisin Sauce for Ham ♥ KitchenParade.com, my grandmother's recipe, a real classic. Serve it warm with ham at Easter and Christmas or for an easy weeknight supper, a ham steak.

But I saved Nana's recipe box until Christmas so that my sister and I might walk through it together. One of the first recipes we happened on was Nana’s recipe for the raisin sauce she served with the Easter ham. The next day, we made it to serve with our Christmas ham.

Yes, we agreed, this was Nana’s recipe, the one we remember our own mother insisting upon whenever she cooked a ham.

I don’t have children of my own so in due time, Nana’s recipe box will return to Diane’s daughter, the lovely Candice who now has her own daughter. Such gifts, they belong in the family.

Nana's Recipe Box

So this is Nana's recipe box, where we found her long-time recipe for Spicy Raisin Sauce.

My grandmother's recipe box, left untouched in a basement for more than 25 years.

Funny thing is? That recipe seems to be the first of Nana's recipes ever published here at Kitchen Parade. What a loss because Nana was an accomplished cook!

Oops, wait! I found one! There is Nana's Cucumbers! And then there's the recipe that might, just might have come from my grandfather, How to Roast Potatoes to Perfection. Still, Nana's legacy is embedded throughout Kitchen Parade in the many recipes shared by my Canadian family, her daughters (my mom and her sister, my dear Auntie Gloria) and all my cousins who are ever so generous.


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes but best if made 24 hours ahead
Makes about 2 cups
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • Sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/3 cup currants (my preference) or raisins or a mix of raisins and golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon butter

In a medium pot, stir together the brown sugar, flour, mustard, cinnamon, ginger, salt and pepper, pressing the mixture with the back of a spoon to smash any clumps. A tablespoon at a time, add the water, stirring in each tablespoon before adding another. Stir in the vinegar.

Cook gently on medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to thicken a bit. Add the raisins and cook for two minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter until melted.

Transfer to a covered container, refrigerate for 24 hours to allow the fruit to plump up with spiciness, the flavors to develop and the sauce to further thicken.

To serve, rewarm in a saucepan, serve hot draped over slices of ham.

ALANNA's TIPS The dry mustard acts as thickener as well as flavor so skipping or skimping isn’t advised. I’m especially fond of the hot Colman's dry mustard powder from England but supermarket-variety dry mustard works fine too, that's what Nana and my mom both used. Plain ol' white vinegar works fine, so does apple cider vinegar. I'd also use a white wine vinegar or an unseasoned rice vinegar. I've never tried a red wine vinegar but think it would make for an unappealing color. Smaller and less-sweet currants seem to "go further" in raisin sauce, 1/3 cup of currants seems like plenty of fruit. But if you're going to use raisins or golden raisins or other larger pieces of dried fruit, the sauce can take up to an entire cup of fruit vs just 1/3 cup. Visually, I do love the color interest you get with a mix of black raisins and golden raisins, even dried cranberries! We eat with our eyes, too, yes?!
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Quarter Cup: 73 Calories; 2g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 3mg Cholesterol; 85mg Sodium; 15g Carb; 1g Fiber; 13g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 1 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 4 & Freestyle 4

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. My grandma's recipe box looks almost exactly the same - I treasure it!

  2. How lovely that you found the recipe box. I have no idea what happened to my mother's recipes.

  3. Really sweet story. The original Balaban's in the West End served their Beef Wellington with raisin sauce-it became iconic for them, and I've used it many times with Beef Wellington as well-your recipe sounds just delicious.

  4. Pamela4/24/2011

    2nd year in a row that I've made this sauce for our Easter ham. It's perfect and I love making something that has been handed down through the generations, even if it's not from my own family. It's a timeless classic!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna