Best Ham Salad Recipe

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.

bowl of chopped ham salad spread with saltine crackers


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!

angle of ham salad sandwich


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.

  • 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.
ingredients for ham salad recipe in a glass mixing bowl

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.

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.

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

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.

  1. Combine ingredients. 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. Season. 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. Chill and serve. Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.
Angle View of ham salad ingredients

How to Serve this Recipe for 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.

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.

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!

close up of chopped ham salad sandwich with greens

Ham Salad Recipe Storage

Can I Make 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.

How to Store

Since it contains mayonnaise and chopped hard boiled egg, I would say if properly refrigerated, no longer than 4 days. According to the CDC, you should only leave ham salad out at room temperature for up to 2 hours.

A well wrapped ham salad sandwich will last in the fridge for 2-3 days. However, it will stay much more palatable if you store the ham salad filling separate from the bread for the sandwich. If storing together, wrap the sandwich in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.

Can You Freeze this Salad?

I am always weary about freezing mayonnaise based spreads or salads. I would recommend to not freeze this one.

How to make the best ham salad

Frequently Asked Questions

What is deli ham salad made of?

Deli ham salad is a ham salad but made with deli meat instead of a ham steak or ham roast. The pieces of ham are typically much thinner.

Where did ham salad originate?

Considered a vintage ham recipe, it was developed as a way to use leftover ham, much like ham bone soup. It was first recorded in recipe books around the 1920s, but popularized in the 1950s.

Why does my ham salad get watery?

All of the ingredients in ham salad, including the actual ham and many of the minced veggies, are loaded with water which starts to leach out while it sits. Simply stir it well before using again and it will be fine.

More Favorite Salads

A salad doesn’t have to be boring; in fact, it doesn’t even have to have lettuce! Here are a few of our favorite salads.

A close up of deviled eggs dusted with paprika

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Deviled Egg Macaroni Salad

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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! 
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close up of ham salad sandwich for pinterest
angle of ham salad sandwich

Ham Salad Recipe

4.47 from 28 votes
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 Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 6



  • 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.
  • 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: 335 kcal, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Protein: 12 g, Fat: 30 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Cholesterol: 102 mg, Sodium: 1163 mg, Potassium: 162 mg, Sugar: 1 g, Vitamin A: 555 IU, Vitamin C: 0.2 mg, Calcium: 14 mg, Iron: 0.7 mg
Author: Jessica Formicola
Calories: 335
Course: Main Course, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: best ham salad, ham salad sandwich, ham salad spread
Did you make this recipe?I’d love to see your recipes – snap a picture and mention @savoryexperiments or tag #savoryexperiments!
chopped ham salad for pinterest
Jessica Formicola in her ktichen

About the Author

Jessica Formicola

Jessica the mom, wife and food lover behind Savory Experiments. She is obsessed with butter, salt and bacon and spends all her time in the kitchen and behind a camera. Jessica is a contributor to PopKitchen by Parade, Better Homes & Gardens, The Daily Meal Food + Travel and more!

Read More About Jessica

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Recipe Rating

Questions and Reviews

  1. 4 stars
    Tasty way to use leftover ham, you use up 2 cups of ham and it makes lunch for 3-4 people. FYI- I would use little to no salt, there is enough salt via the ham. Yum.

  2. 3 stars
    I will try to make this again. I followed the receipe & made the mistake of adding the teaspoon of salt to the recipe vs. season to taste & it turned out way too salty for my taste. I tried adding more sweet pickle relish to it & hot sauce to see if it would make a difference & it still tasted too salty to me. I may just throw it out and start again.

    1. Hi Denise, sorry that happened! One teaspoon is a lot for salty ham, especially if you used a fine grain. I do hope you give it another try!

    2. I agree, if your ham has a standard salt level, you really don’t need to add much salt. I am glad I didn’t use the mentioned amount. But it is tasty.

  3. 4 stars
    The picture for your Chopped Ham Salad appears to include Dijon Mustard, but it’s not included in the actual recipe. The picture makes it look like it’s a tablespoon size squirt of Dijon. Is that correct?
    It’s delicious even without the Dijon Mustard, but I’d like to try it both ways.

    1. Hi Judy! You are very correct! We recently migrated recipes from one app to another and some of them ended up with a few errors. Thank goodness I kept all the originals. Changing it now.

  4. 5 stars
    I feel like I’ve been missing out my entire life. How have I not heard of ham salad until now?!

  5. 5 stars
    Thank you for the recipe! I really need this for using up leftover ham after Easter. No one ever wants to eat it after Easter dinner, so this salad will be perfect! I’ll pick up some fresh croissants from the bakery and then dinner will be all set for the Monday after Easter. Thanks!

  6. 5 stars
    Your ham salad sounds a bit like my potato salad, but with ham! I can’t wait to make this. I bet this makes a great sandwich.

  7. 5 stars
    Traditionall ham salad is a really Southern dish and this one has the perfect balance of chunky and creamy! Definitely want it on a buttery croissant!

  8. 5 stars
    This Ham Salad Burger is such a filler. Amazing ingredients and flavors to making this delicious feast.