This Old Fashioned Ham Salad Recipe is so easy to make with any leftover ham and only requires a few ingredients to create a delicious ham spread for sandwiches, crackers, or adding to a salad plate alongside tuna salad, egg salad, or chicken salad. It's also great stuffed into hard-boiled eggs for a twist on deviled eggs.
This recipe is not to be confused with deviled ham which is a spicy ham mixture often found in a small can in the grocery store. This version is perfectly seasoned, but not spicy at all.
My Mom has been making this ham salad, or sometimes called ham spread, since I was a child and it is one of my favorite ways she used up leftover holiday ham. While there are many different versions, I consider this one to be a classic recipe that makes a delicious sandwich spread.
Ham salad and ham spread usually describe the same recipe of finely chopped ham mixed with mayo and a few other ingredients to make a delicious afternoon snack!
Suggested Kitchen Tools for Ham Salad
- Food Processor OR a sharp knife
- Mixing Bowl
- Silicone or Wood Spatula
- Cutting Board
Ingredients & Substitutions
You can use any kind of cooked ham that you like. This recipe is a great way to repurpose leftover ham and it doesn't matter what glaze you put on your ham, it always turns out perfect! This year I made a honey baked ham with a sugar crust and turned the leftovers into ham salad and, surprisingly, it wasn't too sweet!
So, use any kind of ham you want as long as it is fully cooked, and most US hams found in grocery stores are fully cooked. I find it easier to use a boneless ham, but bone-in works you just have to cut around the bone to get the chunks of ham.
Technically, you could use deli ham in this recipe but I would ask them to cut thick slices so the texture is correct in your ham salad.
There isn't any substitution for the ham in this recipe.
I recommend using a good-quality mayonnaise in this recipe and not Miracle Whip. Miracle Whip has a completely different flavor profile and your ham salad will not turn out the same.
This is a key ingredient and should not be skipped. The mustard balances out the saltiness of the ham and the sweetness of the pickle relish. Ham salad made without it is kind of boring.
I recommend using a spicy brown mustard or a Dijon mustard for the best results. Yellow mustard can be used, but it is my last choice and I recommend using half the amount and then adjusting to taste because it just doesn't have the same balancing effect as the Dijon or spicy brown mustard.
If you don't have or don't like mustard, you can try adding a splash of apple cider or white vinegar to provide the acid needed to cut the richness of the ham and mayo.
Some people may argue this, but the only type of pickle relish to use is sweet relish! Trust me on this one, dill pickle relish isn't the same and the ham spread just won't taste like it should.
However, if you really don't like sweet pickle relish then go ahead and add a little dill pickle relish or chopped dill pickles and see if you like it. You may just love it!
If you don't have sweet pickle relish, you can use sweet pickles that are finely chopped.
I have seen some recipes that include finely chopped celery and/or onion. This is not something I put in my classic ham spread, but if I were going to try one of these, it would be the celery for sure. I don't think onion is going to improve the taste of the ham salad and can easily become overpowering. However, it is your ham salad and you make it however you like!
You can also chop up hard-boiled eggs and mix those in if you like.
Salt and black pepper are also optional ingredients that you can add to taste.
How to Make Old Fashioned Ham Salad
I wrote the recipe for 1 cup of chopped ham, but you can make less or more depending on how much ham you have.
You can also chop the ham and freeze it before adding in the other ingredients so you can thaw and whip up a batch of ham salad anytime you like. I will give those directions for freezing at the bottom of the post.
1½ pounds of leftover ham = about 4 cups of finely chopped ham
A food processor makes easy work of chopping the ham to the correct consistency, but if you don't have a food processor you can use a sharp knife and a cutting board to chop the ham into small pieces. The size you want is about ⅛" or a fine dice.
You could also use a kitchen aid mixer with the meat grinder attachment and use the largest cut die to process the ham.
Prepare and Chop the Ham
If you are starting with a large chunk of ham, you will want to cut it into smaller pieces to fit into the food processor. I usually make the chunks a few inches in size.
Add the ham to the bowl of the food processor with the blade attachment installed.
Each food processor will have different settings, but I found that the "pulse" function works the best to chop the ham. By using the pulse function you can control the size of the chopped ham.
I like my ham salad with finely chopped ham that is about ⅛", however, you can make the chopped ham a little larger for a chunky ham salad or process it more so it is very finely ground.
The smaller the ham pieces, the more spreadable the ham salad will be. So, if you want a smooth ham spread, pulse a little longer.
Once the ham is processed and chopped like you want it to be, remove the ham from the food processor and measure how many cups you have.
Mix the Ham Salad
It's best to make the ham salad based on ratios and here is the breakdown for 1 cup of chopped ham.
- 1 cup chopped ham
- 1 teaspoon spicy mustard or Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
- 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
You can increase or decrease the mayo, mustard, and pickle relish based on the amount of chopped ham you have. Also, some ham is drier than others so once you mix everything together, you may need to add a touch more mayo to get the consistency you want.
Serve & Enjoy!
If you want to make a ham mousse or paté, process the ham into a paste and add sweet pickle juice instead of the relish for a smooth texture.
Different Ways to Serve Ham Salad
Ham salad is not just for sandwiches! There are so many different ways to serve ham salad as an appetizer, lunch, or an afternoon snack. Here are some suggestions.
- Lettuce Wrap: Place the ham salad into a leaf of Romaine lettuce and enjoy a crunchy wrap that is bursting with flavor.
- Macaroni Salad: Mix your ham salad into boiled and cooled macaroni noodles for a flavorful pasta salad. Add extra mayo, mustard, relish as needed and add in some frozen peas and cheese chunks if desired.
- Ham Salad Appetizer: Put the ham salad in a serving bowl and serve with assorted crackers like Ritz crackers, Saltine Crackers, or Club crackers.
- Ham Salad Sandwhich: Place ham salad on a piece of white bread and top it with potato chips and a second slice of bread for a crunchy and savory sandwhich.
- Mini Sandwhich Appetizers: Place a Tablespoon of the ham salad between two pieces of pumpernickel or rye cocktail bread or on slider buns.
- Lunch or Dinner Salad: Add the ham salad to a bowl of leafy greens along with a boiled egg.
How to Store Leftover Ham Salad
The number of days your ham salad will last in the fridge will depend on how many days your ham was in the refrigerator before making ham salad with it. It also makes a difference if it was in its original packaging or opened and reheated before turning it into ham salad.
The basic rule of thumb is that smoked ham will last about 5 days once opened. So, if you just opened a package to make your ham salad, it will stay fresh for 5 days.
If you previously opened the ham packaging, then the ham salad will stay fresh from that date for 5 days.
For example: Ham package was opened on December 24th, warmed, and served on December 25th and the ham salad was made on December 26th, the ham salad should be consumed by December 29th.
If you have more leftover ham that you want to turn into ham salad, but you can't eat it before it goes bad, chop and freeze the ham only. Directions are below.
I do not recommend freezing already prepared ham salad because of the mayonnaise. It won't be the same when thawed.
However, the chopped ham freezes just fine in either a freezer bag, a vacuum-sealed bag, or an airtight container. It will stay good for up to 3 months when packaged correctly.
I recommend taking the chopped ham out of the freezer the day before you want to make your ham salad and let it thaw in the refrigerator.
If there is any liquid after thawing, drain it from the ham before mixing up the ham salad.
More Recipes Using Leftover Ham
Here are some recipes that are great for leftover ham!
- Pressure Cooker Split Pea Soup with Ham
- Ham and Lima Bean Soup in the Ninja Foodi
- Ham and Broccoli Casserole in the Ninja Foodi
- Overnight Breakfast Casserole ~ Ninja Foodi Slow Cooker
- Ham & Brie Grilled Cheese with Blueberry BBQ Sauce
- Egg Bites in the Ninja Foodi
- Hawaiian Fried Rice ~ Ninja Foodi Recipe
- Ham Pot Pie
Old Fashioned Ham Salad Recipe
- Food Processor or Sharp Knife
- 1 cup finely chopped ham about 6 ounces of ham
- 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
- 1 teaspoon spicy mustard or Dijon mustard
- Cut the ham into large chunks and place them in the bowl of your food processor with the blade attachment installed. Use the pulse function to chop the ham to the desired consistency. My preference is about ⅛" chop.
- Place 1 cup of the chopped ham into a medium-sized mixing bowl and add the mayonnaise, mustard, and pickle relish. Mix all ingredients together. If the ham salad seems dry, add a touch more mayo.1 cup finely chopped ham, 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish, 1 teaspoon spicy mustard or Dijon mustard
- Serve immediately or refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
ABOUT THE RECIPE AUTHOR, LOUISE LONG
Louise is a full-time recipe creator and food blogger @ The Salted Pepper. She has over 30 years of experience with cooking and recipe development. She owned a restaurant for several years and was a full-time RN until retiring to blog full-time.
She published her first cookbook in the Fall of 2018 and is very interested in writing several more.
Louise is also the creator of an online Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooking Course with over 100 instructional step-by-step videos. People absolutely rave about the course and all the value they have received from it.
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