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A pride of Virginia culture, ham is a Southern tradition that has been loved for centuries. This classic ham salad recipe combines the salty, smoked meat with crisp celery, bright green onions, hard-boiled egg, and a creamy mayonnaise-based dressing. It’s perfect as an appetizer or lunch spread with crackers, or equally delicious in a ham salad sandwich. Buy ham steaks at the store, or use up your leftover ham from a holiday feast!

Close up side shot of ham salad recipe on sandwiches on a table

If there’s one thing that we know a lot about in Virginia, it’s pork! Here in Madison, Kite’s produces some of the best cured country ham that you’ll ever taste. It’s absolute perfection when paired with a flaky, buttery biscuit! But just a couple of hours away, in Smithfield, Virginia, they’re producing pork in almost every variety you can imagine — including beautiful smoked hams (that are ideal for your holiday table) and ham steaks (perfectly portioned for every day breakfasts and suppers). Needless to say, Virginians are proud of our pork — and today’s ham salad recipe is no exception!

Adding ham to a food processor

What is ham salad?

Ham salad is a classic Southern dish that’s similar to tuna salad, egg salad, and chicken salad. Minced ham comes together with minced or finely chopped vegetables or relishes, and is bound with a mayonnaise dressing. The dish is typically served cold, and is popular at baby showers, bridal showers, and other luncheons on little ham salad sandwiches, or also commonly served as a spread with crackers for an appetizer or snack.

Ham salad tastes like the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and smoky. Depending on the sweetness of your ham, you may even like to add a bit of honey or brown sugar to the mayonnaise dressing to balance out the salty smoked meat. With a bit of crunch from the fresh celery, a ham salad recipe is really just a satisfying and easy way to take advantage of leftover ham from Christmas or Easter!

Chopped ham salad ingredients in a food processor

Ingredients

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

  • Ham: use leftover ham from a holiday, or buy thick slices of ham like these boneless ham steaks at the grocery store.
  • Hard-boiled egg: adds a little bit of flavor, but also helps bring the ham mixture together.
  • Green onions and chives: for bright, fresh, mild onion flavor and a bit of color.
  • Celery: adds nice flavor and crunch to the salad.
  • Mayonnaise: the base of the dressing. Duke’s mayonnaise is my top choice!
  • Dijon mustard: for a bit of zesty tang in the dressing. You can substitute with yellow mustard if you prefer.
  • Sweet pickle relish: this optional ingredient gives the dressing a briny, acidic touch and a hint of sweetness. Sub with dill pickles if you don’t like it sweet, or omit this ingredient altogether.
  • Worcestershire sauce: a “secret” ingredient in the background that adds a little bit of salty, umami flavor.
  • Salt and pepper: use sparingly, because the salad will likely be salty enough thanks to the sodium in the ham, mayonnaise and Worcestershire sauce.
Whisking a mayonnaise based dressing

How to Make Ham Salad

Thanks to help from a food processor or blender, this easy ham salad recipe comes together with very little prep time!

  1. Combine ham, hard-boiled egg, green onions, celery and chives in a food processor or blender.
  2. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped, but do not puree into a paste.
  3. Whisk together the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, sweet pickle relish, and Worcestershire sauce in a large bowl.
  4. Add the ham mixture to the mayonnaise dressing and stir to combine.
  5. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if necessary.
  6. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Stirring together ham salad in a white mixing bowl

Serving Suggestions

Ham salad is a versatile dish that works well as an appetizer or snack when served as a dip or spread with crackers. You can also spread the salad on sandwiches for an easy-yet-elegant make-ahead lunch!

Ham Salad Sandwich

Tuck the ham salad inside little dinner rolls, King’s Hawaiian sweet rolls, slider buns, or mini croissants for bite-size luncheon sandwiches. It’s also great on regular white bread for a simple make-ahead lunch option to enjoy throughout the week.

The salad is so full of flavor that you really don’t need much else on the sandwich; however, you can’t go wrong with crisp lettuce and juicy ripe tomatoes, when available. Extra pickles or thinly-sliced onions are also nice touches.

Tray of ham salad sandwiches

Ham Salad Spread

Ham salad spread is a tasty option to set out for appetizers or snacks at Game Day gatherings or holiday parties. Pair the spread with Ritz crackers, saltines, Triscuits, Club crackers, or Table Water crackers for an easy, crowd-pleasing dish. Garnish the salad with fresh herbs like parsley or extra chives, if desired.

Overhead shot of a sideways bowl of ham salad spread

What to Serve with Ham Salad Sandwiches

Here are some easy sides that go well with a ham salad sandwich:

Overhead shot of ham salad in a bowl with crackers on the side

How much ham salad per person?

This recipe yields about 3 ½ cups of ham salad, or enough for about 14 small sandwiches (on slider buns). If you’re offering the ham salad spread as an appetizer, about ¼ cup per person is probably enough. If you’re serving larger sandwiches or if the ham salad is the entrée for your meal, it’s safer to plan on about ½ cup of ham salad per person.

Storage

Keep ham salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-5 days.

Can you freeze homemade ham salad?

While leftover ham freezes very well on its own, I do not recommend freezing this ham salad recipe. Mayonnaise tends to separate when thawed, which will give the dish a grainy, unpleasant texture. The vegetables in the mixture will also become watery and mushy.

If you have leftover ham that you would like to freeze after a holiday, store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw the ham in the refrigerator overnight, and then use it in this recipe as instructed.

Recipe Variations

  • Omit the hard-boiled egg if you don’t care for this ingredient. Similarly, you can add extra hardboiled eggs to the mixture if you have some leftover that you’d like to use.
  • Swap out the green onions and use sweet Vidalia onion instead. The raw Vidalia onion will have a much stronger onion flavor than the green onion, though.
  • Fold in green peas for a touch of color and sweetness.
  • Grated cheddar cheese is another popular addition to this classic salad.
  • Add diced, boiled potatoes to bulk up the salad.
  • The sweet pickle relish is optional. You can omit this ingredient entirely, or substitute with dill pickles instead.
  • Depending on the sweetness of your ham, you might like to add up to 1 tablespoon of brown sugar or honey to sweeten the dressing.
  • Some folks prefer to make ham salad with bologna or canned ham (like Spam). I have not tried this myself, but please weigh in if you give it a shot!
  • Cooking for a smaller family? Cut all of the ingredients in half to prepare a smaller portion. If you’d like to serve a larger crowd, you can easily double or triple all of the ingredients.
Close up side shot of ham salad sandwich on a white cake stand

Tips for the Best Ham Salad Recipe

  • Use a food processor or blender to finely chop the ham, egg and vegetables. You can certainly do this by hand with a good knife and cutting board, but it will take much longer!
  • Do not puree the ingredients into a paste. Instead, just pulse the food processor or blender in short bursts until everything is uniformly minced.
  • Use a high-quality mayonnaise since this important ingredient adds so much flavor to the dish. Duke’s mayo is our favorite!
  • Use an ice cream scoop to perfectly portion the ham salad onto slider buns for little sandwiches.
  • Add more mayonnaise, to taste, if you like your salad a bit looser.
  • If time allows, let the salad sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavors can come together. It’s even better the next day!
Close overhead shot of the best ham salad recipe in a blue and white bowl

More Ham Recipes to Try

Close up side shot of ham salad recipe on sandwiches on a table

Virginia Ham Salad Recipe

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 0 minutes
Chilling Time 30 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings 14 servings (about ¼ cup each)
Calories 138 kcal
This classic ham salad recipe is perfect for sandwiches or as a spread with crackers. Smoky, salty, creamy and sweet!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lbs. leftover or thick-cut ham, trimmed and chopped (about 4 ½ – 5 cups total)
  • 1 hard-boiled egg, quartered
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chives (optional)
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • Optional, for serving: assorted crackers, rolls, or bread

Instructions

  • In the bowl of food processor or blender, combine ham, egg, green onions, celery, and chives. Pulse until the ingredients are very finely chopped, scraping down the sides and stirring as necessary.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, pickle relish, and Worcestershire sauce. Add the ham mixture and stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
  • Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with assorted crackers or on sandwiches.

Notes

  • Use a food processor or blender to finely chop the ham, egg and vegetables. You can certainly do this by hand with a good knife and cutting board, but it will take much longer!
  • Do not puree the ingredients into a paste. Instead, just pulse the food processor or blender in short bursts until everything is uniformly minced.
  • Use a high-quality mayonnaise since this important ingredient adds so much flavor to the dish. Duke’s mayo is our favorite!
  • Use an ice cream scoop to perfectly portion the ham salad onto slider buns for little sandwiches.
  • Add more mayonnaise, to taste, if you like your salad a bit looser.
  • If time allows, let the salad sit in the refrigerator overnight so that the flavors can come together. It’s even better the next day!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cupCalories: 138kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 9gFat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 707mgPotassium: 149mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 68IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 11mgIron: 1mg
Keyword: ham salad, ham salad sandwich, ham salad spread
Course: Appetizer, Lunch
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!

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