Loving Leftovers: Creative Leftover Ham Recipes


Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.


How It Began

I grew up in the 1950s, the youngest of six children in a family that had survived the Great Depression. We were frugal, and we restored, reused, and repurposed long before doing so was "green." Times were tough, but we were tougher. No food was wasted (I think it was a sin against the 11th Commandment), but we didn't have "leftovers." We had "planned-overs." That's the way I was raised and the method I use in my own kitchen, even 60+ years later.

This is my seventh article in a regular first-day-of-the-month series on using leftovers in a thoughtful, frugal, and tasty way. The first six installments focused on

  1. Leftover mashed potatoes
  2. Meatloaf
  3. Stale bread
  4. Zucchini
  5. Barbecue meats
  6. Spaghetti

Leftover ham is no stranger when it comes to repurposing. The internet is crammed with recipes for ham and potato casseroles, ham soup or chowder, sandwiches, and ham-macaroni salads. You won't find those here. Let's use our imagination.


Many years ago, my mom made a batch of biscuits with crisp cooked bacon folded inside. It was amazing—without a doubt, the most wonderful biscuits I had ever experienced. Sheryl (LadyBehindTheCurtain) must have been watching. These biscuits are every bit as good as mom's... and maybe even better. She uses ham (in place of the bacon), and then adds CHEESE!

These biscuits are amazing. Have them with tomato soup at lunch. Have them split to accept a poached or fried egg for breakfast, or just have them for whenever you want something decadent.

Barbecued Hawaiian Pizza

Hawaiian pizza {{sigh}}. It's every taste you want in a single bite. The crust is crispy, the pineapple is sweet and tangy, red onion gives a little "bite," and then the ham is salty. A perfect foil for all of the other ingredients. This barbecued Hawaiian pizza from NutmegNanny is absolute perfection!

Chicken Cordon Bleu Casserole

Traditionally, chicken cordon-bleu is a beautiful meal of boneless, skinless chicken breast, butterflied, pounded thin, layered with prosciutto and Gruyere cheese, breaded, sauteed, and then baked until the chicken is cooked and the cheese is melting. It's an easy but decadent dish.

SixSistersStuff (yes, they really are six sisters) recreated the dish in this chicken cordon bleu casserole.

Ham Loaf

This is a sweet memory from my childhood. We lived in the south-central part of Tacoma. But about once a month my sister and I (she was 26 years older than me and was the primary cook in the house) would hop on the bus and ride to downtown where we would visit the Jackson Market, a deli where we would purchase dill pickles, cheese, and a wonderful mix of cooked ham and ground pork called "ham loaf".

My sister would combine that meat with grated potatoes or cracker crumbs, shape the mix into a loaf, and bake. The inside was soft and tender and the outside edges were crisp and savory.

Jackson Market went out of business in 1978 and my sister passed away 25 years ago. The original recipe is lost, but this version by Paula tastes remarkably like that original.


Instead of red sauce, this lasagna is made with Monterey Jack cheese and a creamy white sauce. Diced ham and tender pasta sheets caress the sauce to create a mouth-watering casserole, savory and creamy on the inside, with crispy golden edges. It's all the flavors of a ham and cheese sandwich, only better!

Thank you to TheKitchenIsMyPlayground for the wonderful idea.


Stromboli. Calzone. What's the difference? Calzone originated in Naples. Think of it as a pizza folded over to make a large (LARGE) turnover. Stromboli? Now, that's a different story. The stromboli actually originated in the United States in the 1950s. It's named after an Italian movie (of the same name) starring Ingrid Bergman and directed by Roberto Rossellini. Not folded over, this bready treat encases the filling jelly-roll style.

DinnerAtTheZoo has created a tasty and colorful stromboli, filled with ham, cheese, and broccoli.


I could not leave you without providing a recipe with pasta (my absolute favorite food). This dish from AllRecipes creates a creamy Cheddar cheese sauce to cloak tender strands of spaghetti and salty bits of diced cooked ham. This is definitely comfort food for a cold winter day.

© 2018 Linda Lum


Lisa Jane39 on December 07, 2018:

Okay. Your welcome.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 06, 2018:

Lisa, I'll bet one could make meatballs from the ham loaf recipe (above), but I've not tried it. The raw mixture is actually quite firm and so should be easy to shape into balls. I'll have to give this a go because honestly my favorite part of the ham loaf is the crusty bits on the edge of the pan. More surface area means more crusty bits. (You're making me hungry).

What I DON'T know is how long to bake them. You would need to have an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature needs to be at 160 degrees. I'm guessing that you would bake at 350 degrees and start checking at about 25 minutes, assuming that the meatballs about about 1 to 1 1/4 inches in size (smaller than a golf ball).

If you experiment with this, please write back and let me know your findings. If I have a chance at it before you, I'll write again. Thanks so much for stopping by. Great question.

Lisa Jane from Washington on December 05, 2018:

How do you make ham meatballs?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 05, 2018:

Eric, that sounds wonderful. Good on you for repurposing that leftover ham in such a creative way.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 05, 2018:

So last night, nearing the end of Ham we made ham meatballs. A little of this and that and my Mongolian BBQ sauce. We had fun grating to the tiny.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 05, 2018:

Shauna, I love biscuits. My mom made the best and how I wish I had learned the secret. Thanks for stopping by.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 05, 2018:

Everything looks so yummy! The ham and cheese biscuits are definitely worth a try. My son loves biscuits. I'm sure he'd really enjoy these.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 04, 2018:

Thanks, Flourish. Truth be told, I wrote this months ago. I have about a dozen articles in the hopper waiting for me to hit the publish button. (Shhh, don't tell anyone, OK?)

FlourishAnyway from USA on December 04, 2018:

What a terrific article just in time for Christmas ham and all the leftovers. My daughter loves ham, and those biscuits and stromboli have her name all over them! Totally trying those! You're burning it up these days, Diva -- not in the kitchen but with your computer! Woo hoo! Happy Holidays to you!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 02, 2018:

Lisa Jane, welcome to our little "leftovers" group. Yes, I love leftovers. I see that you are in "Washington". So am I. We're neighbors!

Lisa Jane from Washington on December 02, 2018:

This is a great article. Now I am hungry for ham. Growing up, we always had leftovers. Nowadays, we still have leftovers. I love leftovers.

manatita44 from london on December 02, 2018:

Yes ... yes! Worth remembering. My own mom was awesome! When she passed both house and church was so full! The Prime Minister and wife also came.

She raised seven, five boys and two girls with some, but minimal support, which came only after I was about ten years old or so.

I stood at her grave and sang Sri Chinmoy's Invocation amongst other songs: "Supreme, Supreme, Supreme, I bow to Thee, I Bow." I cried, but with the Heart's joy of knowing she was a great servant and did her best. I started work at 15 and brought all the money home. I'm supposed to be the brightest and yet the only one who never went to high school.

Just sharing this beautiful Sunday. God bless all your own family. Glory be!

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 02, 2018:

Manatita by today's standards we were quite poor, but we were wealthy beyond measure with our Christian faith and our love for each other. There is no greater treasure than a house full of love.

manatita44 from london on December 02, 2018:

Somehow I thought that I had read this one before. Perhaps I had started. That sometimes happens.

You have an amazing ability for left overs and here you write like a daunting survivor of the war years. Perhaps your mom was pretty tough. I keep saying that our Lord is always merciful. Too true.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 01, 2018:

Bill, I would love to hear more about that ham (really, I would). Is it being smoked, or brined, or cured with a dry rub. That will be some amazing ham!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 01, 2018:

There are few things as heavenly as a ham right out of the oven...and I like it for about two days after that....then I'm done for about six months. Maybe these suggestions will help....certainly hope so because Bev's son butchered a pig awhile back,and we have ham available any old time we want it. :)

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 01, 2018:

Pamela, it is my pleasure to seek out these new recipes and share them with all of you. I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on December 01, 2018:

John, I actually PLAN on leftovers and am always looking for imaginative ways of using them, hence this monthly series. Thank your support and kind words.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 01, 2018:

Linda, This is an amazing selection of great recipes. I am going to checkout a couple, like stomboli as I have never tried tha one. Thanks for your effort in sharing them.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on November 30, 2018:

Wow, those recipes look mouth-watering, especially the Stromboli and the lasagna. In our household, we always use and look forward to left-overs. I know people who refuse to eat any left-overs and waste so much food it is unreal.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on November 30, 2018:

Eric, how do you take the ham out of ham? I look forward to hearing back from you on these.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on November 30, 2018:

Linda this is great and will go into the playbook. Every night since my wife got that 300 lb ham butt it has been on the menu. I entice the little guy with beef, fish and chicken. But ham since thanksgiving is his call. How fun is that? Lasagna tomorrow. I think a problem is that I cook it so it is not like "ham". Life is good on the gravy train of food.

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