Best Ham Salad

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  • I don’t think I’ve ever set out to make ham salad just to make ham salad. But I have used leftover ham to make ham salad. It is the perfect summer lunch food and great for a picnic in the park.

    close up of ham salad sandwich

    Ham salad seems to be the most popular the days following Easter. Leftover ham and hard boiled eggs from egg hunts make it a seamless no brainer as how to use them. Pile in minced vegetables and a lightly seasoned creamy mayonnaise base and you have perfection on a platter.

    But a good ham salad can be so much more than that!


    This is one of those age-old debates and depending on your geographic location, the “correct” ham salad recipe. Can we all just agree that there are many right ways to make it? This is just one of them, don’t dis it until you try it.

    ingredients for ham salad recipe in a glass mixing bowl
    • Cooked Ham- Ham deserves its own section, so see more on that below.
    • Hard boiled eggs– Oddly, this has the potential to be the most difficult part of making this recipe. Lucky for you, I have 3 foolproof ways to make them! Here are instructions on how to make hard boiled eggs on the stove, in the oven and in the Instant Pot! You can always just buy a bag of precooked eggs too.
    • Mayonnaise– Oh, shucks, here comes the debate. What type of mayo do you use? Duke’s? Miracle Whip? Tell me in the comments, but also know that to save a few calories, you can swap out the mayo for plain Greek yogurt. Make sure it is Greek for thickness.
    • Dijon Mustard- Use a smooth mustard for this one, but also note that a spicy Dijon might add some fun flavors.
    • Sweet Pickle Relish– Pickles are another touchy subject. It adds the acidity needed to balance out the salty ham, but I also like it for the crunch. Dill pickles also work.
    • Veggies: Carrots, red onion and celery- feel free to add more or less of any of these.
    • Coarse kosher salt & white pepper– Make sure to taste the ham salad before adding seasonings. Ham is by definition cured and therefore very salty. Depending on the leftovers or brand, it can be even saltier. Some creations won’t even need salt. I prefer finely ground white pepper for mine so it doesn’t have tiny black flecks and provides a milder peppery taste that isn’t overpowering.
    • Hot sauce– This one is optional, but added in just a few dabs will give a little more sophistication to the mix, not be overpowering or spicy.

    The Ham

    If you are using leftover ham, the ham glaze will determine some of the flavoring, but I often cut off the ham skin before making this recipe. If you want some of that flavor, feel free to leave it on. Here are some of my favorite ham recipes to use for ham salad:

    Ready to heat ham steak and boneless cooked ham are also great options. You might need a little more seasoning since they will be fairly plain other than salt.

    A plate of food with a slice cut out, with Ham and Thyme
    Thyme Honey Ham

    After you get paste flavor, we now need to discuss the texture. Oh yes, I like a chopped salad with toothiness, I want to know I’ve just enjoyed a cube of ham. But others like more of a fine mince or even ground ham, sometimes referred to as old fashioned ham salad.

    No need to haul out the meat grinder, just give it a few pulses in a food processor. This is best for a ham spread, but also works for a sandwich or salad. You can also quickly chop the veggies and save some time on the cutting board.

    How to Make Ham Salad

    This is the easy part. I only have two words of advice: don’t over mix it and make sure to taste before you season.

    Angle View of ham salad ingredients
    1. Combine the finely diced ham, hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, carrot, red onion, celery and hot sauce in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine, do not over mix or the eggs get gummy and weird.
    2. Taste the ham mixture and then season with coarse salt and pepper, if desired. This will vary depending on the saltiness of the ham.
    3. Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.
    How to make the best ham salad

    How to Serve Ham Salad

    Ham Salad Spread. One is has a ham salad spread, more of a dip, and served with crackers. Salty crackers do best. Here, ham diced a little smaller or ground works a little better.

    bowl of chopped ham salad spread with saltine crackers

    Ham Salad Sandwich– Load your chilled salad up onto buttery biscuits, croissant rolls, white bread or a hearty roll. No need to add anything else.

    If you opt for a sandwich, there is also much debate about the proper greenage. Some prefer Romaine lettuce, others a crisp iceberg and still others a frilly Bibb.

    angle of ham salad sandwich

    Ham Salad Pasta Salad– Um, what is this? A fusion of ham salad with a cold macaroni salad. And it is delicious. This is best when you just have a little left. Not really enough for a full meal, but you can transform it into a sid.

    Easily do this by tossing leftover ham mixture with 2-3 cups of cooked pasta and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Best pasta choice for ham and cheese pasta are elbow macaroni, shells or corkscrews- something with nooks and crannies. You can even add a packet of dry ranch dressing mix to liven it up!

    Make Ahead & Storage

    Can I make ham salad ahead of time? You sure can! In fact, I think it tastes best when it sits for an hour or two to let the flavors marry. I would no make it more than 24 hours in advance.

    It might also need to have the salt and pepper seasoning corrected since chilling foods like this can sometimes mute the flavor profile.

    close up of chopped ham salad sandwich with greens

    How long is ham salad good for? Since it contains mayonnaise and chopped hard boiled egg, I would say if properly refrigerated, no longer than 4 days.

    How long can ham salad sit out? According to the CDC, you should only leave ham salad out at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

    Can you freeze ham salad? I am always weary about freezing mayonnaise based spreads or salads. I would recommend to not freeze this one.

    chopped ham salad for pinterest

    You might also enjoy these favorites:

    Classic Deviled Eggs
    A close up of deviled eggs dusted with paprika
    This is southern Classic Deviled Egg recipe. An easy, make ahead appetizer using hard boiled eggs and just a handful ingredients. 
    Curry Chicken Salad
    overhead of curry chicken salad
    A creamy, sweet & savory sauce coats tender bites of chicken in this Curry Chicken Salad. Chunks of crisp apples and celery, chewy raisins, and crunchy cashews are in every bite!
    Deviled Egg Macaroni Salad
    Overhead view of deviled egg macaroni
    Deviled Egg Macaroni Salad is a cold macaroni salad using deviled egg filling, pasta and finely minced vegetables. The perfect make ahead side dish for parties and potlucks! 
    close up of ham salad sandwich for pinterest

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    angle of ham salad sandwich
    Print Recipe
    4.5 from 16 votes

    Best Ham Salad

    The best Ham Salad Recipe using leftover ham, minced vegetables, hard boiled egg and a lightly seasoned creamy mayonnaise base. Serve with crackers or as a sandwich. 
    Prep Time10 mins
    Total Time10 mins
    Course: Main Course, Main Dish
    Cuisine: American
    Keyword: best ham salad, ham salad sandwich, ham salad spread
    Servings: 6
    Calories: 335kcal
    Author: Jessica Formicola



    • Combine chopped the ham, hard boiled eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, relish, carrot, red onion, celery and hot sauce in a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine.
      ham salad ingredients in a mixing bowl
    • Taste the mixture and then season with coarse salt and pepper, if desired. This will vary depending on the saltiness of the ham.
    • Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.
    • Serve as a ham salad spread or as a sandwich.
    • If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or ratings.


    *You can substitute plain Greek yogurt or even mashed avocado, or some combination of the three!


    Calories: 335kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 102mg | Sodium: 1163mg | Potassium: 162mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 555IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.7mg
    image of jessica formicola

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