Easy Ham Salad

A great way to use up leftover ham, especially if it's been in the freezer. My version of ham salad keeps the mayonnaise to a bare minimum, just enough to bind the ham, sweet onion and celery together, highlighting that coveted smoky ham flavor. For anyone who still has Easter ham – or Christmas ham?! – in the freezer, get it out to thaw asap. Ham salad's on the menu.

Easy Ham Salad, another easy summer recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com, lightened up. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.

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Does Ham Freeze Well? The Hard Truth: It Doesn't.

Easy Ham Salad, another easy summer recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com, lightened up. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Ham doesn't freeze well, even our signature Twice-Smoked Ham. It's because ham is so moist, the internal liquids turn to ice crystals that expand (as ice does, right?) and change the meat's firm texture.

But we had little choice except to freeze several pounds of ham earlier this year when our Easter guest list turned smaller than expected at the last minute.

First, we cut the ham into manageable pieces a couple of pounds big, cutting right through the meat and bone with a bone saw. Then, we double-wrapped each piece and because my husband was doing the wrapping, secured the packages with manly duct tape. :-)

One piece went into Ham & Beans with Leftover Ham Bone, another into a killer pot of At Last! Black Bean Soup. But there are still several packages of ham in the freezer and they'll only degrade further, not improve. Time is of the essence.

RESOURCES This Wusthoff Bone Saw is a-m-a-z-i-n-g. It cuts through a ham bone, not exactly like butter, but with so little effort. My Disclosure Promise

Enter Ham Salad, Made From a Frozen Ham (Thawed)

And oh my! I am so happy to have an easy recipe for ham salad – not that meaty ham can be a salad per se except in that chicken salad, tuna salad or egg salad sort of way. But wait! Does animal protein + mayo = salad? What an imprecise language, our American English.

But I digress.

What makes me so pleased with Easy Ham Salad is that it works so well with ham from the freezer, you can't even tell that the ham's been in the freezer for a couple of months! Thaw the ham first, of course, but I suspect that all that freezer wetness may actually help make an extra-good ham salad. Could it be?

RESOURCES Here's how I make egg salad, Mini Egg Salad Sandwiches with Rhodes Multi-Grain Rolls. I'm super-picky about chicken salad, still working on perfecting that recipe!

Traditional Ingredients In Ham Salad

The ingredient list is short.

  • Ham, obviously, but smoked ham is especially good and the better the ham, the better the ham salad
  • Mayo + Greek yogurt + mustard for binding it all together
  • Sweet onion + celery for a little crunch
  • Sweet pickle for, duh, a little sweetness

Sweet pickle is traditional, just don't get a sugar-free sweet pickle, it's so darned salty you'll end up with Salt Salad. Sweet pickle really works in Ham Salad!

But me being me, I couldn't help but wonder if I couldn't find a natural sweetener and lo and behold, an ear of corn adds just the right amount of sweetness! So if you're avoiding sugar, skip the sweet pickle and just use the kernels from an ear of corn plus a splash of red wine vinegar. You won't miss that sugar, I promise!

A Hellmann's Girl Falls for a Duke ... Duke's Mayonnaise, That Is

Easy Ham Salad, another easy summer recipe ♥ KitchenParade.com, lightened up. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Weight Watchers Friendly.

Once upon a time, the South had the corner on Duke's Mayonnaise, the southern staple for potato salad, pimento cheese, deviled eggs and everything mayonnaise.

And for someone who finds that many salads with mayonnaise are "too mayonnaise-y," I sure did fall hard for Duke's when the company expanded distribution across the U.S. Duke's Mayonnaise has a few more egg yolks but it has no sugar – that's because the original recipe was developed during the war years, when sugar was rationed.

I still like to lace mayonnaise, even Duke's, with Greek yogurt, for calorie reasons, sure, but mostly because Greek yogurt somehow "clears the palate" for salads bound by mayonnaise. To my taste, a mixture of mayonnaise and Greek yogurt just tastes better on its own. But it also allows the flavors of the main ingredients to stand out.

Is Duke's showing up on your grocery's shelves? It's definitely worth a try!

FOR THE RECORD This is NOT a sponsored post. I just like this product and think others might too. My Disclosure Promise

You'll Love My Easy Ham Salad If You ...

  • look forward to a change from chicken salad or deli-meat sandwiches
  • find other ham salads heavy on the mayonnaise
  • can imagine in your mind a ham salad that actually tastes like ham
  • have time to let the flavors meld, a few hours works, 24 hours is better
  • need the flexibility of quick sandwiches (for bigger appetites?) or lettuce roll-ups (for lighter eaters?) from the same mixture
  • like to add a scoop of protein to impromptu supper salads

  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!


Midwestern & southern favorite, simplified.
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time-to-table: 4 to 24 hours
Makes 3 3/4 cups
  • A scant pound (400g) of ham trimmed of fat and bone, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 a sweet onion (about 50g), roughly chopped
  • 2 ribs of celery (about 70g), roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (112g) 0% Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup drained sweet relish
  • 1/4 cup (55g) mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

FOOD PROCESSOR Chop the ham to small bits but not mush, recently here, that was about 20 pulses; you want the ham to be identifiable as ham not mystery meat. Transfer the meat to a mixing bowl.

Add the onion and celery to the food processor and pulse until small but again, not mush. Transfer to the mixing bowl.

MIXING BOWL Add the remaining ingredients and stir together until well combined.

REFRIGERATE While the Easy Ham Salad is ready to eat on the spot, the flavors definitely meld and improve with at least a few hours (and up to 24 hours) in the fridge. It's worth the wait.

SERVING IDEAS Sandwiches, of course! This filling would even work for Canadian-style fancy sandwiches, except that I'd process the ham a bit finer and up the mayonnaise just a tidge. Spread on saltines for a simple, substantial cracker alongside a soup or salad. Add a scoop to a big salad, perhaps one of three scoops, one ham salad, one cottage cheese, perhaps one of cooked quinoa. Make an open-face ham melt (like a tuna melt!) by spreading the ham salad on a piece of bread or toast, topping with a slice of cheddar and popping under the broiler until it's all steamy hot and melty. Wrap ham salad in leaves of leaf lettuce or Swiss chard. So many ideas!

SHORT or LONG on HAM? A scant pound (400g) of ham yields about 4 cups of minced ham. If you're long or short on ham, just scale the recipe. Let's say you end up with 3 cups of minced ham. Reduce all the other ingredients by 1/4. The same thing is true if you end up with 5 cups of minced ham. Increase all the other ingredients by 1/4. In either case, there's no need to be precise, just eyeball it.

AVOIDING SUGAR? Skip the sweet pickle entirely. Instead, cut the kernels off an ear of corn and process them with the onion and celery. Add a tablespoon of red wine vinegar, that gives a needed bit of acid. You won't miss the sugar, I promise!

HAM The better the ham, the better the ham salad. We're especially fond of a ham that really tastes of smoke, it makes excellent ham salad. I strongly recommend weighing the ham instead of measuring it in cups. Why? There's such variability! I see other recipes that say that a pound of ham chops up to anywhere from 2 to 4 cups, obviously a big difference! In this instance, measuring by weight helps keep the proportions of ham:other ingredients in synch.
ONION I'm picky about onion in a meat salad. For example, I think it has no place in chicken salad! But. Strongly flavored ham can take a little onion, not much, and preferably a more gently flavored sweet onion. Finely chopped green onion would be a better substitute than a yellow or especially a white onion, say.
RELISH If you happen to have a hot relish, a chutney, etc., all these can substitute for sweet relish. In my family, we especially like Ripe-Tomato Relish with Peaches & Pears (Sharon's Pickle) in meat salads. If the pieces are a little big, just toss the relish in the food processor with the onion and celery.
OTHER INGREDIENTS Many recipes for ham salad include finely chopped hard-cooked eggs. This would be a great way to bulk up or supplement if you're short on ham but will change the flavor from definitely ham to a creamier ham. But if you want, here how I cook the eggs, Perfect Hard-Cooked Eggs.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per 1/4 cup: 90 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 18mg Cholesterol; 511mg Sodium; 4g Carb; 0g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 8g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 3 & Freestyle 2

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. I made this last night from the last of our Easter ham I had in the freezer. We really enjoyed it. I loved using Greek yogurt instead of all mayonnaise.


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