Ham Salad

When you grow up in a big family on a limited budget, more likely than not one of those big picnic salads like potato salad or macaroni salad, is on the menu that week. Heck, we practically live on dad’s potato salad and mom’s tuna macaroni salad during the summer, even now, when the kids are all grown and at most there are only half as many of us at the dinner table. Here’s one of those feed-a-lot-of-people comfort food salads that you can easily make with leftover ham. Ham salad. Put it in a sandwich, eat it plain, add it to macaroni; it’s all good. The basic components are finely diced or ground ham (I could have done a better job dicing the ham for the sandwich pictured), sweet pickle relish (must be sweet, not dill), and hard boiled eggs. Then something for crunch (celery and/or bell peppers) and mayo to bind it.

This ham salad recipe is fairly straightforward. Do you have a twist on ham salad that you enjoy? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Ham Salad Recipe

  • Yield: Makes enough for 3 to 4 sandwiches.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups finely diced ham
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp minced onion
  • 2 Tbsp minced celery
  • 2 Tbsp minced red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 Tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • A large pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Mix everything but the salt, pepper and cayenne in a large bowl. Taste and add cayenne, salt and black pepper to taste. Serve chilled.

Serve straight, or mixed in with macaroni, or in a sandwich in a hamburger bun, a Kaiser roll, regular bread, in a pita or as a wrap. Good with lemonade on a hot day.

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Links:
Deviled Ham Salad from Lisa Fain our Homesick Texan
Ham Salad Sandwich Spread with a Basil Twist from Salad in a Jar
Fig and Parma Ham Salad from It's All Delicious
Thurns Ham Salad with a fried egg on top, from Restaurant Widow

47 Comments

  1. Kristin

    I bet some green apple finely diced could be a good alternative to the veggies. I’ve never heard of this sort of salad, but it seems like a valid way to use up Easter leftovers when my family has an overabundance of ham and hard-boiled eggs.

  2. Sue

    My mom ground the ham with an old hand-cranked meat grinder. Then mixed in the pickle relish, celery and mayo. This was the ‘on-the-road’ sandwich to eat in the car when we were taking a long road trip. Brings back memories!

  3. sarah

    It’s your mention of potato salad that prompted me to comment, actually. Like ham salad, potato salad is a great staple, but it needs that extra crunch to make it interesting. I tried one from Ruth Reichl’s book this week (the editor of Gourmet) and it was delicious. Ham salad is a bit more versatile, though, as I wouldn’t want to eat potato salad as a sandwich filling!

  4. Catherine

    My grandma makes a great ham salad and I will say the one thing we are sticklers about going into it it Miracle Whip. It just tastes better with the ham than the mayo, though frankly I have no clue what the difference is between the two.

  5. Mom4Max

    When my mother used to make this, she would run the ham and the pickles through a food grinder. This gave it more the consistency of a tuna salad.

  6. Tim Lewallen

    Try making it with smoked ham! It adds an entirely new dimension.

  7. Carroll

    My Mom always made ham salad but we ground the ham with one of those big metal grinders that clamps to the edge of the countertop. After grinding the ham, she put the pickles through the grinder too so we’d get lots of great pickle juice in there. Yum! Brings back great memories.

  8. James

    For a tangy variation, use dill pickles for sweet relish and scallions for onion. Sometimes I add a little grated cheddar also. It wouldn’t be summer without this in my refrigerator.

  9. Diane

    I am starting to feel like we grew up in the same house! First, hot dogs in spaghetti sauce and now ham salad. My Mom had an old fashion meat grinder that screwed onto the edge of the kitchen table. So our ham salad was “ground ham” not diced. Same ingredients though.

  10. Steve 802

    Ah … sometime we had ham salad, but for end of summer picnics, the special treat was bologna salad … pretty similar to the ham salad. The extra special treat was that we kids got to turn the crank on the meat grinder while my dad added the ingredients !

    (I think I will try this using my food processor :)

  11. Val from PA

    This is pretty much the same way I make ham salad but I love your addition of red pepper, fresh parsley and lemon juice… Will have to try your version soon…

    Ham salad is also great on rye flavored triscuits!! Yummmm!!!!

  12. Debbie

    I haven’t had Ham Salad in several years. This sounds good! Thanks! Wanted to share with you a variation I used to help make when I was little. Use Bologna, a solid chunk from the grocers, a pound or so, however much you want to make. We put it thru one of those old grinders that you clamp to the edge of the table. After grinding the bologna, grind a couple of sweet pickles. This cleans the grinder of any left in meat. Then we just added mayo or salad dressing, whichever you prefer. I guess now, I could think of a few other things to put in it,(onions, celery, peppers, spices) but we made sandwiches of this mix. Add your own extras if you want, but this is yummy just the way it is, and sure doesn’t taste like bologna anymore! And my family called it Ham Salad. I don’t know why! LOL

  13. susan from food blogga

    You know, Elise, I don’t think I ever ate ham salad growing up. Pasta was our go-to inexpensive meal. In fact, it wasn’t until I was working on my sandwich cookbook last year that I started eating all kinds of delicious old-fashioned salads like ham, chicken, and egg. I love that you don’t skimp on the sweet pickle relish. It’s so wonderfully tangy.

    PS- Tell your dad for me that I too could live on his potato salad. :)

  14. Sally

    This is one of my favorite things. When I was growing up there was an even cheaper variation made with ring bologna put through a meat grinder. Either way — it’s good, cheap and tasty!

  15. Kari

    My mom used to make a diced ham salad and she added cooked elbow macaroni and little tiny cubes of a real sharp cheddar cheese. (I guess it was kind of more a variation of macaroni salad than ham salad)I used to love it!! She also put diced celery and a little diced pimento in it as well. Mmmm….

  16. Brenda @ afarmgirlsdabbles.com

    You’ve hit on a nostalgic craving I’ve been having the past few weeks. My aunt used to make ham salad for every get together she was invited to when I was a kid. And I LOVED it! This recipe looks a bit more sophisticated than hers – I can’t wait to try it!

  17. Anne

    I have always been afraid of store bought ham salad. Just get an ick factor looking at it. But the ingredients you posted look pretty darn good.

    I am on Weight Watchers. So I am going to sub fat free greek yogurt for the mayo. I can’t wait to try it.

  18. Sandy

    Like a previous commentor, I, too, grew up with bologna used for making “ham” salad (probably because it was cheaper). And Miracle Whip, not mayo. When I first tasted ham salad actually made with ham, I didn’t like it!

  19. JR

    Like Debbie, my mother always made it with chunk or ring bologna and we always called it Ham Salad. BTW, my mother had a daughter named Debbie… hmmm…

  20. Li

    My grandma used to make something with similar ingredients, then run it all through the grinder and called it deviled ham. It was great on dollar rolls

  21. Mrs. K

    We had party meat or sandwich spread with bologna as opposed to ham salad. I just can’t being myself to eat regular ham salad but I may just give this recipe a try. Long time lurker. Thanks for all the great recipes. :)

  22. Monica

    Well…no one else has brought it up so I’ll speak up and admit my mom made it with SPAM. I know, I know, but boy it was good!!! Everything else was pretty much the same. Mash it up, add the relish and mayo (eggs were the rare addition) and some I remember some pretty good sandwiches!

    My dad loves spam, which had developed a taste for while in the Army. I have some vague recollection that he would make something like this with spam too! ~Elise

  23. Tres Amie

    Put the ham through a grinder (food processor) and add the rest of the ingredients, along with some minced or shredded cheddar cheese, then spread it on some really good bread, butter the outsides and grill it like a grilled cheese sandwich. That’s amazing :)

    Oooo, YES! Grilled cheese ham salad sandwich, awesome. ~Elise

  24. Christy

    I just asked my mom how to make her Ham Salad last weekend. She would throw the ham in the food processor and add Durkee’s Mustard (YUM!) and pickle relish. Especially good in a pita….and infinitely less messy. But Durkee’s is definitely the key ingredient!

  25. Delores

    Potato Salad sandwiches are very good…..as is mashed potato sandwiches (cold, with salt and pepper to taste). I like to toast the bread. I will try this ham salad. It looks delicious!

  26. cindy

    We added wasabi for some kick.

    Love it! ~Elise

  27. georgia

    My favorite school lunch was the days they served balogna salad sandwiches many years ago. Loved them and have tried different recipes but none taste the way those school balogna sandwiches did. Would there be a school lunch room cook who could tell me how they were made? Also, my favorite at home sandwich was leftover fried potatoes at room temperature on white bread with a big slice of sweet onion on the potatoes.

  28. Lana

    Your ham salad sandwich look so delicious!
    When I was growing up in Serbia, the only “ham salad” my mother prepared was Russian Salad (in Russia known as Salad Olivier, French Salad or Capitol Salad, if I am not mistaken). This was considered to be a fancy dish and was always served at special occasions and New Year’s dinners.
    All ingredients had to be chopped equal size, very small: ham, poached chicken breast, dill pickles, boiled carrots, boiled potatoes, hard boiled eggs (whites only – yolks were saved to make mayonnaise), and dill pickles. Blanched peas and homemade mayo were added in the end, and the salad was chilled.

  29. LynnD

    I make a ham salad with ground ham, crushed pineapple, no bell pepper, diced rib of celery, hellman’s, chopped pecans, grated onion, 1 t. mustard, white pepper, dash of tabasco, 1 T of india relish.

  30. Steve

    Like LynnD, for a change I used chopped pineapple in place of relish, also some chopped walnuts and cherries, scallions mixed with just enought mayo to keep it together

  31. michele

    I grind the ham (used to be a hand crank now I have an attachment to my kitchenaid thank goodness) then add as much grated cheddar as I have in the fridge and if there’s not enough, some swiss or fontina or a mix of all, then I mix it with just enough salad dressing (mw) to bind it and voila. The best way to eat it is to fill a cheese topped kaiser roll with the salad and put it in the toaster oven long enough to melt the cheese, toast top of the muffin and warm the ham. The perfect meld of crispy, melty, savory, creamy and salty.

  32. F-Troop Mom

    Like many of your other comments my grandmother used a meat grinder. The big difference is rather than pickles (and the other stuff) my grandmother used green olives. Those were all the ingredients, olives, ham and mayo and that’s the way I make it today, although the food processer is a lot easier than the meat grinder.

  33. melissa

    I have not made ham salad in a really long time and last recipie was not so good. So I made it again today with what I had ham miracle whip and egg. I thought yellow mustard might be good with it so I spooned a little salad on a soda cracker and toped with a tiny spot of mustard it was so good I will definitely always serve with mustard.

  34. Kim

    I had just baked a ham this weekend and saw your post – thank you! Never thought of making ham salad. I added some finely minced fresh jalapeno to the salad, and instead of Dijon, I mixed dry mustard powder with the mayo before adding to the salad. Pretty tasty!

  35. tommy2rs

    I’m in the grind it first crowd. Also grew up with bologna salad like many others here. These days I take a whole (log, chub, tube?) of bologna and put it the smoker first. Use my standard rub and, in a departure from true smoker form, sauce it during the last 30 to 45 minutes. Gives a whole new dimension to the bologna salad experience.

  36. dineindiva

    We always have ham salad with shredded cheddar, piled on kaiser roll halves and run under the broiler ’til hot and melty, on Christmas evening. It’s kind of the perfect end to ‘I have had my fill of holiday ham, thanks’.

    I also like to use finely chopped Tony Packo’s Sweet Hot Pickles instead or relish.

    Yum – I want some now.

  37. Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

    I am going to try this next time I have leftover ham. The only recipes for ham salad I seem to come across are for the pureed ham which sounds really gross to me. I know I wouldn’t HAVE to puree it but I just have never made it. This looks excellent! Thanks!

    Well, the thing about ground ham is that it is a lot easier to spread in a sandwich than cubed ham. But the cubed ham I think works better in a pasta salad or plain salad. ~Elise

  38. Ashley

    When I saw this post, I decided that I had to make this…NOW! I didn’t grow up with ham salad, but it really looked like comfort food to me. My husband and I loved it (and have been eating it leftover for a few days now). The only issue I had was that I had no idea how much (in pounds) ham to ask for at the deli counter. So I ended up with waaayyyyy too much ham. It’s in the freezer now though, and we’re really glad that you shared this wonderful recipe :)

  39. Tammy Collins

    Ham salad was and is one of my favorites but in our house we have quite a different twist on it! Like many of the comments here my mom and Grandma both used one of those crank things and of course sweet pickles. We also added onion which we would grate or grind into the salad and of course mayo. But as a teenager when I asked my mom why I thought other ham salads tasted so wierd to me she said that they probably don’t use peanut butter in theirs! I have tried it my different ways and I always come back to this way! You only need like a hardy tablespoon of it but it really adds something to it!!

  40. naomi raught

    My mom uses th basic version with ham, bologna or even chicken or turkey leftovers. I like grapes or apples, maybe some slivered almonds or pecans in my imaginary version. Though Mom has never and would never stray from her basic recipe of meat, onion, miracle whip and relish, I have 5 growing, hungry boys and I’m game for trying all sorts of variations. Thanks for giving my mind a little nudge about making that leftover meat, go further.

  41. Celia

    This was excellent! Like something from a really good deli. Thanks!

  42. Renee

    What I found makes a fabulous ham salad is to grind together half ham AND half bologna. The bologna cuts the saltiness of the ham and gives the ham salad nice spreadability. Add to taste some sweet pickle relish and either mayo or Miracle Whip and you will have a family favorite!

  43. Nancy Long

    Fond memories of my mother’s ham salad from the leftover Easter ham, but she didn’t put egg in her’s. It was always a special treat. I’ve made it a few times over the years, but not in a while now. Guess I know how some of the whole ham hubby got for just the 2 of us (lol) will be used. Happy Easter to everyone, sure miss my kids and grandkids.

  44. Jan

    Although my Mom is a fabulous cook – as a matter of fact, she wears an apron that says, “I’m your cook, not your doctor”- ham salad wasn’t one of those things she made often. However, my husband is a huge ham fan. Loves to cook whole hams and eat on them til their gone…he’s a great (fatty) cook, too! So, currently I have a large leftover ham that I will be putting towards this recipe! Can’t wait to suprise him! He’ll be so glad I’m not letting it go to waste! Thanks!

  45. Vicki

    Hi, this looked so good. I added a bit of horseradish, and left out the mustard. I also omitted the salt and added a sprinkle of Mrs. Dash. Like many of the posters, I added cheese. I used a fresh grated parmesean.

  46. Olivia

    My aunt put some oranges in, I think. It had a little bit of a citrus flavor to it…. We drank orange Tang with it, too ^^

  47. Rebekah

    Made this for lunch! Delicious! I read the other comments about it needing a little texture so I added a can of chopped Water Chestnuts. Adds a nice crunch without changing the flavor. I didn’t grind the ham just bought store bought that was cubed super fine so the ham wasn’t in huge chunks then I cut the rest of the ingredients the same size. This would be a great Party Food too!

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