Jump to RecipeJump to VideoLeave a ReviewPin Recipe

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

This ham and cheese casserole is ooey, gooey, cheesy, and full of flavor! The baked mac and cheese with ham includes gruyere and sharp cheddar cheeses, smoky leftover ham, and a buttery garlic breadcrumb topping. It’s a cozy, made-from-scratch, family-friendly dinner that’s perfect alongside a simple green salad, tender green beans, or a basket of old-fashioned corn sticks!

Hands serving ham and cheese casserole from a white baking dish.

Mac and Cheese with Ham

This easy ham and cheese casserole recipe is essentially just baked mac and cheese with ham as an added bonus. How bad could that be, right?! We’re turning a favorite American side dish into a lunch or dinner entrée by using up the leftovers from a holiday ham; however, rotisserie chicken, crispy bacon, pulled pork, or ground beef will all work well, too.

Boiling noodles in a Dutch oven.

We like to pair the casserole with veggies or a salad on the side, but you can certainly stir vegetables right into the dish, too. Try frozen peas or parboiled broccoli! Take the base recipe and make it your own. Nobody can resist those garlicky, crunchy, buttered bread crumbs on top!

Adding grated cheese to a pot.

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the ingredients that you’ll need for a ham and cheese casserole. As always, specific measurements and complete cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Short pasta: I like these “shellbows,” but elbow macaroni, cavatappi, rotini, or medium shells will all work well. Pick a short shape with ridges or curls that the creamy sauce can cling to!
  • Olive oil: a splash in the pasta water helps to prevent the noodles from sticking to each other.
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper: enhance the other flavors in the dish.
  • Salted butter: the fat that forms the base of the roux for the cheese sauce. You’ll also need some butter for the crunchy breadcrumb topping.
  • All-purpose flour: combines with the butter to make the roux that thickens the sauce.
  • Whole milk: to thin the white sauce. You can substitute with heavy cream or half-and-half if you prefer.
  • Gruyere cheese and sharp cheddar cheese: I love the combination of the nutty gruyere with the bold cheddar. Really, you can use any combination of good melting cheeses. Try Colby, Monterey Jack, Pepper Jack, or Velveeta, too.
  • Ground nutmeg: a classic addition to any creamy white sauce.
  • Ham: use leftover ham from a previous meal, or buy diced, smoked ham from the meat department at your local grocery store.
  • Panko bread crumbs: buttered and seasoned with a touch of garlic powder, this crunchy topping is a classic addition to a baked mac and cheese recipe.
  • Garlic powder: to season the bread crumbs.
Sprinkling breadcrumbs on top of casserole.

How to Make Ham and Cheese Casserole

This recipe uses a roux to make a creamy béchamel that coats the noodles and ham in sauce. If you’re looking for the best baked mac and cheese with ham recipe, then you’ve come to the right place!

  1. Boil the pasta; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, make the cheese sauce in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over low heat.
  3. Add the cooked pasta and diced ham to the cheese sauce; stir to combine.
  4. Pour the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish that has been greased or sprayed with cooking spray.
  5. Top with buttered breadcrumbs.
  6. Bake in a 375°F oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the top is toasted and golden brown.
  7. Serve hot and garnish with a dash of paprika or chopped fresh parsley, if desired.
Hands holding a white baking dish full of baked mac and cheese with ham.

What to Serve with Mac and Cheese with Ham

While mac and cheese is often served as a side dish, the addition of ham makes it a perfect main dish casserole. Here are a few great sides that go well with the cheesy noodles and ham:

Overhead shot of hands eating ham and cheese casserole from a gray bowl.

Storage

  • The ham and cheese casserole is best when served immediately, so I do not recommend preparing the dish in advance. The dish tends to get dry as the pasta soaks up more of the sauce the longer it sits.
  • Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Baked mac and cheese does not freeze well, since the cream-based sauce has a tendency to “break” or separate when thawed.

How to Reheat Leftover Ham Casserole

Cover the dish and reheat the casserole in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 15-20 minutes. You can also reheat individual servings in the microwave for 1-2 minutes.

Overhead shot of baked mac and cheese with ham in a white dish with a serving spoon.

Recipe Variations

  • Use leftover baked ham from a previous meal, or purchase a package of diced ham from the grocery store. You can also substitute with diced kielbasa or other sausage, leftover chicken or shredded rotisserie chicken, crispy bacon, pulled pork, or cooked ground beef.
  • Don’t have “shellbows”? Other small pasta shapes such as elbows, rotini, farfalle, medium shells, or cavatappi will also work.
  • Add herbs, such as fresh thyme, to the cream mixture. A dash of ground mustard or garlic powder is also a nice touch.
  • Try different types of cheese. For instance, swap out the cheddar or gruyere and try white cheddar, Monterey Jack, Colby, Pepper Jack, Velveeta, or gouda.
  • Instead of the buttered breadcrumbs, add crushed Ritz crackers on top.
  • Add vegetables! Stir sauteed mushrooms or onion, frozen peas, spinach, steamed (or parboiled) broccoli or green beans right into the dish.
  • I typically use whole milk, but you can substitute with 2% milk, half-and-half or heavy cream. Just don’t use a lower fat milk like skim, or your sauce won’t have that creamy mouthfeel and it will be more likely to curdle.
  • Cooking for a larger family? Double all of the ingredients and bake the casserole in a 9 x 13-inch dish. You will likely need to increase the total baking time by about 5-10 minutes.
Side shot of a bowl of mac and cheese with ham.

Tips for the Best Ham and Cheese Casserole Recipe

  • To cut down on the prep time, get the pasta water boiling while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (such as grating the cheese). Then, as the pasta cooks, you can whisk together the cheese sauce. This way the pasta isn’t sitting around getting cold while you prepare the sauce, and everything comes together quickly at the end.
  • Use cheese that you grate by hand. Do not use pre-shredded cheddar cheese in a bag, because those packaged cheeses include a powdery coating with stabilizers that prevent the cheese from melting as smoothly into the sauce.
  • Salt the water before boiling your pasta. This is your chance to season the noodles for a flavorful dish!
  • Boil the pasta for about 1-2 minutes shy of the recommended time for al dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, and you don’t want to end up with mushy, overdone pasta in your dish.
  • Remove the pot from the heat before adding the cheese (or keep the flame very low) so that the sauce stays creamy and smooth. When cheese gets too hot, it separates and gives the sauce a grainy texture.
Overhead shot of ham and cheese casserole on a wooden table with parsley garnish.

More Ham Casserole Recipes to Try

Here are even more great ways to use leftover ham in your kitchen!

Hands serving ham and cheese casserole from a white baking dish.

Ham and Cheese Casserole

5 from 1 vote
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 4 – 6 people
Calories 629 kcal
This ham and cheese casserole is ooey, gooey, cheesy, and full of flavor! The baked mac and cheese with ham includes gruyere and sharp cheddar cheeses, smoky leftover ham, and a buttery garlic breadcrumb topping!

Ingredients
  

  • 8 ounces (½ lb.) short pasta, such as elbows, medium shells, “shellbows,” or cavatappi
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ cup (half of a stick) salted butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
  • 2 cups grated gruyere cheese
  • 1 ½ cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 ounces cooked diced ham (about 1 cup)

For the Garlic Breadcrumb Topping

  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon salted butter, melted
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Optional garnish: dash of paprika; chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Add the pasta and cook for about 1-2 minutes less than the package instructions for al dente. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, melt ¼ cup butter in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Whisk in the flour; cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly whisk in the room temperature milk. Increase the heat and cook for 2-4 more minutes, stirring constantly, until the white sauce bubbles, thickens, and becomes creamy. Remove the pot from the heat.
  • Stir in the gruyere, cheddar, 1 teaspoon salt, a dash of black pepper, and the nutmeg. Add the cooked pasta and the diced ham to the pot with the sauce. Stir to combine. If the sauce seems too thick, stir in a little bit more milk to thin to the desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
  • Transfer mixture to a greased 2-quart (about 8-inch square) baking dish.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the panko breadcrumbs, melted butter, and a dash of garlic powder. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the top of the dish.
  • Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the crumbs are golden brown. Serve hot and garnish with a dash of paprika or chopped fresh parsley, if desired.

Notes

  • To cut down on the prep time, get the pasta water boiling while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (such as grating the cheese). Then, as the pasta cooks, you can whisk together the cheese sauce. This way the pasta isn’t sitting around getting cold while you prepare the sauce, and everything comes together quickly at the end.
  • Use cheese that you grate by hand. Do not use pre-shredded cheddar cheese in a bag, because those packaged cheeses include a powdery coating with stabilizers that prevent the cheese from melting as smoothly into the sauce.
  • Salt the water before boiling your pasta. This is your chance to season the shells for a flavorful dish!
  • Boil the pasta for about 1-2 minutes shy of the recommended time for al dente. The noodles will continue to cook in the oven, and you don’t want to end up with mushy, overdone pasta in your dish.
  • Remove the pot from the heat before adding the cheese (or keep the flame very low) so that the sauce stays creamy and smooth. When cheese gets too hot, it separates and gives the sauce a grainy texture.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/6 of the casseroleCalories: 629kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 32gFat: 37gSaturated Fat: 22gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 1115mgPotassium: 274mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1127IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 762mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: baked mac and cheese with ham, ham and cheese casserole, mac and cheese with ham
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American, Southern
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

Square overhead shot of hands serving a chicken pot pie recipe with biscuits
Overhead image of a bowl of chili mac on a dinner table with cornbread
Hands serving a platter of sheet pan sausage and potatoes

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Comments