If you find yourself with leftover ham, you need to make this simple recipe for classic old-fashioned ham salad. A great way to enjoy a family favorite recipe for a quick and easy meal.
I do not know the true origins of ham salad, but I do know it was a recipe my grandmother made for my dad and one my dad made for me.
It was our families favorite way to use up leftover holiday ham or to make for a quick weeknight dinner.
The best part about this recipe is that it’s only four simple ingredients and can be served in a variety of ways, making it a perfect snack or even as an elegant dish that can be served at a brunches or at baby showers.
Grab the recipe below or read through the article to get more information on making the best ham salad. Let’s dive in!
- Food Processor
- Large Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Rubber Spatula
Use my guided culinary notes below to help answer commonly asked questions, get ingredient substitution ideas, and learn the best methods for serving, storing, and more.
Ready to cook? Jump to the recipe card below!
Is ham salad healthy?
Ham salad is a great source for getting a lot of protein into your diet. While some hams can be more processed than others, it’s generally not considered to be an unhealthy meal option.
The benefits of eating ham salad on occasion is that it is naturally lower carb and with a few ingredient swaps (I’ll mention these below) it can be added into your rotation with the likes of tuna salad, chicken salad, or egg salad as well.
Ham however can be higher in sodium and nitrates. If you’re trying to limit these in your diet, you may want to limit how often you enjoy this recipe.
I have this one or two times a year to help use up leftover ham recipes after Christmas or Easter holidays.
What is in ham salad?
Ham salad ingredients are very simple. Here is what you need:
- Ham: This can be a fully cooked leftover ham or even use ham steaks for the base.
- Mayo: I prefer traditional mayo or even avocado mayo for a healthier alternative. Some of the older recipes your parents and grandparents grew up on may have included miracle whip as well.
- Dijon Mustard: I like just a little to add a little zing to the recipe and it pairs so well with the ham.
- Sweet Pickle Relish: I love sweet relish in this because it provides both sweetness and a little acidity from the pickle juice. It also naturally pairs well with the beautiful balance of salty ham. If you want a lower carb or sugar free option, sub with chopped dill pickles or dill pickle relish.
This salad already is salty naturally from the ham, but you can also season it with a little black pepper too if desired.
How to make old fashioned ham salad:
The best way to make the ham salad base is to use chopped ham. It needs to be finely chopped to get a nice overall texture and to allow the other ingredients to get folded in nicely.
If the ham pieces are too large, it makes it harder to spread or hold up well on a cracker or on bread etc. To get it fine enough, I find a food processor works the best.
I like to roughly chop the ham up with a knife into slightly smaller chunks. Place the ham pieces into a large food processor and pulse until it becomes fine and you get the desired consistency you like.
Remove the ham from the food processor and place into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients (the mayo, Dijon, and relish).
If you prefer your ham salad spread to be a little more moist (sorry, I know we all hate that word), then adjust the mayo as desired.
Everything should be thoroughly mixed and combined and can be eaten right after assembly.
Easy ham salad serving ideas:
Serve you ham salad in a variety of ways.
Here are some classic methods for enjoying this sandwich spread:
- Add to your favorite bread, sandwich buns, or oven on a croissant. Serve with slices of swiss cheese and lettuce for a delicious sandwich.
- Serve with your ham spread on your favorite crackers (my family favorites are Triscuits or with gluten free crackers too).
- Want to get a little fancier? Roll it up into a large tortilla with some cream cheese and slices of green onion to make the perfect ham salad pinwheels for a party appetizer.
How long will ham salad last?
Ham salad will last up to seven days in the fridge after the ham was initially cooked or opened from the packaging.
If you made a ham for the holidays and then make ham salad several days later, it will only keep from the date the ham was first cooked.
Be sure to keep leftover salad stored in an airtight container so you can enjoy this delicious treat for a quick meal whenever you want!
If you love salads like this, check out these other recipes you will love:
- California Cobb Pasta Salad
- Grilled Curry Chicken Salad
- Cedar Plank Salmon Salad
- 10 Healthy Salad Recipe Ideas
Old Fashioned Ham Salad
- 4 cups Chopped Ham
- 1/2-3/4 cups Mayo
- 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 cup Sweet Pickle Relish
- Black Pepper to taste
- Roughly cut up your ham slices into larger pieces and place them in the base of your food processor.
- Pulse the ham so it is chopped into finer pieces or to your preferred consistency.
- Place the chopped ham into a large mixing bowl and add the mayo, mustard, and relish. Season with some black pepper and mix everything until combined. Adjust the amount of mayo (I start with a 1/2 cup and a little more if needed).
- Serve with crackers, croissants, or your favorite bread and enjoy!