14 Ways To Use Up Leftover Ham

Whether bone-in, spiral sliced, Black Forest, smoked, or glazed, ham is a beloved entrée on the American dinner table. In fact, Time Magazine reports that Americans buy about 318 million pounds of ham during the holiday season. Considering the fact that a large whole ham may weigh in at 18 pounds (with smaller hams weighing more than 10), it's no wonder many people don't know what to do with all those leftovers.

If your post-holiday meals up until now have featured days of uninspiring ham sandwiches, we have good news for you. Leftover ham works very well in a variety of dishes, and some of them are quick and easy to prepare. In fact, you can buy extra ham to use in tasty leftover recipes on purpose. Consider that you'll need one pound per person of bone-in ham or half a pound per person of boneless ham per meal. Plan to purchase more than that if you want to make sure you'll have leftovers. Leftovers get a bad rap, but these tips and ideas will have you looking forward to them.

Use leftover ham in soup

Adding leftover ham to soup is an easy way to enhance the flavor of the dish. Bone-in ham is a better choice in this case, so don't throw out the bone after the meat is gone! Smoked ham hock, or the knuckle that joins a pig's leg to its foot, is another good choice. Both the ham bone and the hock contain scraps of meat, leftover fat, bone marrow, and collagen, all of which will infuse a rich, smoky flavor into soups like split pea and ham soup, herby ham and bean soup, and cicerchia soup over the course of a few hours of gentle cooking time.

Cicerchia is an ancient legume similar to a chickpea that's popular in Italy. You can substitute chickpeas if you can't get your hands on any. To make cicerchia soup, first soak the dry beans in water for 24 hours at room temperature. Strain, rinse, put in a stockpot, and add water. Then add the ham hock and the remaining ingredients (celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper). Bring the water to a boil and then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for about 45 minutes until the beans are tender.

Don't worry if all you have is leftover boneless ham. This can be cubed and used in soup all the same. Try adding some to cabbage soup, a classic that's excellent on its own but can be made more robust with added ham.

Use leftover ham bone to flavor beans

There's a reason ham and beans are paired in soups; together, their flavors shine. Leftover smoked ham will give cooking beans a richer, more robust taste. Add ham to give your beans more flavor the next day too, as the ham will keep flavoring the dish long after you turn off the heat. Try this method with all kinds of beans, whether they're red or white or legumes like peas and lentils.

Many southern dishes use smoked pork to enhance bean dishes, and this decidedly rich New Orleans red beans and rice dish is no exception. Smoked sausage is added to sautéed onion and green pepper along with salt, pepper, and Creole seasoning. After about five minutes, when the meat starts to char, water and red beans are added to the pot. The mixture will slowly simmer for about five hours until the beans are tender. Ham bone can be used in a similar way. The collagen in the bone, once heated, will release gelatin into the beans, making them extra creamy.

Beans on toast combines the Tuscan classic ribollita, a soup thickened with mashed cannellini beans and bread, with crusty slices of bruschetta. Thickly sliced country bread is topped with a white bean mixture made fragrant with leeks, garlic, fennel seeds, lemon, and rosemary. Slices of baked ham are browned in a pan and placed on top of this creative re-imagining of these Italian staples.

Make breakfast with ham

It's morning, you want to make breakfast, and your fridge is full of leftover ham. What can you make? There's a good chance your leftover ham is sliced, especially after a holiday. Regular or honey-baked ham slices are great in the skillet. Just add a little oil to a frying pan and heat the slices for about four minutes on medium. Warmed ham slices are delicious on their own as a breakfast meat side dish or bacon substitute, but they can also be used as an ingredient in breakfast recipes.

Whip up a frittata that puts your leftover ham slices to delicious use. First, saute leeks in butter in a skillet with a little salt and pepper. While they cook, whisk together eggs, grated Gruyère, and tarragon with more salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and broil the frittata in the oven for about 12 minutes. Top with sliced ham and broil for another one to two minutes until completely set.

Opt for scrambled ham and eggs to avoid firing up the oven. Saute onion and green peppers in butter before adding leftover pieces of ham, cooked cubed potatoes, cheddar cheese, eggs, salt, and pepper. Stir until the eggs are just cooked. For a quick breakfast on the go, use those extra delicious slices of holiday ham in a sandwich made from an English muffin or, for a sweet treat, a croissant sliced in half. Add cheese if desired.

Bake a casserole containing ham

Casseroles are always a favorite, and leftover ham is a good fit for these warm, comforting, cheesy dishes. They're versatile and can even be served for breakfast. Ham and cheese strata is a breakfast casserole that layers sandwich bread, chopped ham, cheddar cheese, and Swiss cheese in a rich eggy mixture topped with a surprising layer of crunch corn flakes. A croissant casserole is another fun breakfast choice. It uses torn up sweet croissants as a base layer. A decadent egg mixture is poured on top and is flavored with fried pancetta, onions, garlic, mustard, thyme, and shredded fontina cheese. Just substitute ham for the pancetta; it works well. Here's a tip: Let the casserole sit for an hour before cooking. This will give the ingredients time to mingle and develop a deeper flavor.

For a more traditional dinner casserole with honey-baked ham, combine sauteed ham and onion in a baking dish with boiled cubed potatoes. Top with a cheesy sauce and breadcrumbs before baking. Alternatively, this cheesy ham and noodle casserole combines egg noodles, broccoli, ham, and cheddar cheese with condensed soup for a creamy, textured, tasty favorite. Lastly, think outside of the box with a ham pot pie! The golden-brown, crispy puff pastry crust will enclose a creamy filling made of smoky ham, vegetables, and gravy that's sure to delight.

Use cubed ham in a quiche

Quiches are quick to prepare and are suitable for any season. Serve one warm in the winter and at room temperature in warmer months. Mixing together the ingredients is simple, and then the oven does the work for you, so a quiche is a good way to use up leftover holiday ham without spending more hours in the kitchen. One of the best-known quiches is the quiche Lorraine. While traditionally made with bacon, ham is a good substitute in this dish. Ham and eggs will be combined with heavy cream, milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and poured into a bottom pie crust before baking.

You can also use that ham in a mini quiche. Mini versions of quiche are baked in a cupcake pan and resemble muffins. They bake quickly in only fifteen minutes, and they're convenient when made ahead for easy breakfasts or for snacks on the go. This ham, cheddar, and tomato mini quiche recipe has only five ingredients, so the prep won't keep you in the kitchen for long. Eggs, cream, and salt and pepper are combined with ham cut into small chunks, grated cheddar cheese, and quartered cherry tomatoes and baked until set. Like many savory baked foods, these are even better the next day, which is another reason they're ideal for easy breakfasts that are ready when you are.

Prepare appetizers with leftover ham

There is no shortage of appetizer ideas featuring ham, so don't think leftover ham is only good for casseroles, soups, or sandwiches. Leftover sliced ham can be used to make ham and cheese balls or ham and melted cheese sliders. Spread cream cheese on ham slices, roll them up, and slice them into one-inch wide pieces to make ham and cheese roll ups. The addition of chopped pickle or pineapple will add a fun acidic or sweet touch that is a good match for the smoky, hearty taste of the ham. Similarly, layer ham and cheese on flour tortillas, roll, and slice to create a pinwheel appetizer. Fold up slices of ham and arrange them on wooden skewers with mini mozzarella balls for a fun kebab idea. If it's prosciutto that's leftover, wrap slices around wedges of cantaloupe for a satisfying salty/sweet treat or arrange them on pieces of toasted crostini.

Other starters that may surprise your guests (in a good way) are deviled ham (ground ham mixed with hot pepper and other spices) spread on bread or crackers or ham salad made with celery, onion, pickles, mayonnaise, and mustard. If international flavor is more to your taste, try serving croquetas de jamón as an appetizer. This Spanish finger food is filled with a protein, covered in breading, and deep-fried. Some say the best and most authentic filling is Serrano ham, but if that's not available, you can use any leftover ham you have.

Combine ham and cheese in pastry

While puff pastry is often sweet, ham goes quite well in a savory version. The best-known way to combine the two is in a French dish called feuilleté au jambon, or ham puff pastry. To start, brown a chopped shallot in a tablespoon of butter in a small skillet. Unroll a puff pastry sheet and cut it into four equal pieces. Melt about two and a half tablespoons of additional butter in a clean skillet. Gradually add a third of a cup of flour and 100 milliliters of milk to the butter while stirring continuously to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and add four slices of leftover ham (previously cut into strips), about half a cup of grated or shredded cheese, and the shallots. Combine well and spread the mixture evenly onto the middle of the pieces of dough.

Fold each corner towards the center and press lightly. You can use an egg wash to help seal the edges before folding and pressing. Beat an egg yolk with a couple tablespoons of water and brush the edges of the dough before pressing. Brush the top as well to get a shiny, golden surface on the finished product. Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The French versions use French cheeses like Comté, Gruyère, Chèvre, or Tomme de Savoie, which are delicious if you're fortunate enough to have some of those on hand. If not, try an American ham and cheese puff pastry with cheddar.

Use extra prosciutto in Italian dishes

Sliced prosciutto crudo is usually served plain along with other cured meats and a selection of cheeses as an appetizer, but with a little creativity you won't run out of ways to use the leftovers in recipes. Add prosciutto to salad with walnuts and ricotta cheese, or make a prosciutto-wrapped pears as an appetizer. And don't forget, prosciutto is practically made for bruschetta. Try these toasted bread slices topped with prosciutto and mozzarella for a classic version, or prosciutto, smoked cheese, and honey for a fun taste. Add a thin grilled vegetable like pepper or zucchini for added flavor and interest.

Its salty, rich flavor is heavenly in baked dishes like quiches and omelets. Try a quiche with prosciutto, leeks, and goat cheese, which is even better if you let it cool and enjoy it at room temperature. This Italian meat is also delicious in a frittata with a vegetable like asparagus. You can substitute prosciutto for pancetta or bacon in pasta and rice recipes. Try a simple and quick tomato sauce with onions, tomato, butter, and prosciutto. Top pizza or focaccia with prosciutto slices or use it in an Italian sub. Leftover sliced prosciutto is perfect for topping Italian veal saltimbocca. Lastly, prosciutto is a great addition to savory fillings used in cannelloni and manicotti, pastry, and empanadas, especially when combined with creamy, melty cheeses.

Use leftover ham in a rice dish

Many risotto recipes call for ham and peas, leeks, or mushrooms, and this warm and creamy Italian staple is a good way to use up leftover ham. For a fun twist, try a pea risotto with ham and fried eggs, which was inspired by none other than the Dr. Seuss book "Green Eggs and Ham." First, prepare a classic risotto from olive oil, onions, chicken stock, white wine, and Arborio rice. While that simmers, fry slices of Serrano ham until crispy, and then fry eggs. Purée frozen peas, frozen spinach, fresh parsley, and water into a fragrant mixture that will give the dish its bright green color, and incorporate it into the risotto before serving along with butter and Parmesan cheese. Served topped with the fried ham and eggs, fresh chives, and lemon juice.

If the continuous stirring risotto requires is not your idea of fun, the ham and rice combination bakes nicely in casseroles too. Just mix together uncooked white rice, leftover ham pieces, milk or condensed soup, a shredded cheese like cheddar, and a vegetable like carrots, green beans, or green peas. For every cup of ham, use about one cup uncooked rice or two cups cooked rice. Add spices like dried parsley or garlic powder and season with salt and pepper. Make a crunchy topping with breadcrumbs, more shredded cheese, and melted butter, and distribute evenly on top. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.

Try a savory cake containing ham

Savory cakes aren't as famous as their sweet counterparts, but don't overlook savory baking if you've never tried it. You can bake your leftover ham into a warm, salty, cheesy cake that you can eat for dinner. Be creative. Whatever flavor combinations you love in a quiche will often work in a cake as well. Think ham and Gruyère, or ham, spinach, and nutmeg, or an Italian version with prosciuttto and provolone.

Inspired by the French cake salé, or salted cake, the classic version is pretty straightforward. Mix together four eggs and half a cup of milk and then add salt and pepper, a cup of flower, and half a tablespoon of baking powder. Mix well and then add ¼ cup olive oil, ¾ cup chopped ham, ¾ cup chopped cheese, and ¼ cup sliced olives, and stir to combine. Pour into a greased bread pan and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes.

Make a decadent ham sandwich

The boring leftover ham sandwich is officially a thing of the past. Take inspiration from some truly decadent ham sandwiches. Famous French chef Jacques Pépin's ham sandwich triumphed on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" when the chef competed against the show's host to see who could make the tastiest sandwich out of Thanksgiving leftovers. Pépin's version knocked it out of the park with creative inclusions such as mustard, olive oil, Sriracha and, in a surprising move, his mother's gratin, which is a rich and crunchy topping usually made from ingredients like breadcrumbs, minced garlic, grated Parmesan, salt, and fresh parsley and browned in the oven until crispy.

And talking about decadent... it's hard to beat the francesinha, Portugal's ultimate meat sandwich. Portuguese ham, sausage, and steak (all cooked in sausage fat) are placed between two slices of toasted bread, which are covered in melted cheese, a fried egg, and a spicy sauce made with beer, onion, and tomato. The francesinha is said to have been inspired by the French croque monsieur, which resembles a fancy grilled cheese sandwich with ham. Make this French staple authentic with Gruyère or Comté cheese, or use any firm cheese that melts easily. Add slices of leftover ham and top with a béchamel sauce.

Use ham on pizza

Leftover ham? Make a pizza! Salty, smoky, rich, and creamy, ham is an excellent pizza topping with endless combinations. Ham and pineapple is a popular combination because the sweetness of pineapple complements the fat content of ham. Another Italian-inspired combination tops the pie with prosciutto crudo, figs, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Many vegetables, like mushrooms, black olives, red onions, and bell pepper go well with ham on pizza. Try topping a pie with zucchini ribbons and sun-dried tomatoes, or caramelize onions before using them for a mouthwatering burst of sweetness and flavor that melds with the ham's robust taste. Italians favor pizza quattro stagioni, which has toppings arranged in four sections on the pie, each representing a different season of the year. It features artichokes, mushrooms, black olives, and ham.

All of these pizza topping ideas work well over a base of tomato purée and mozzarella cheese. If you prefer, you can hold the tomato for a white pizza and add more cheese, like fontina, ricotta, or burrata, to compensate. Any of these pizza toppings can be used as a filling for two Italian favorites very similar to pizza: calzone and stromboli. The difference is the crust is folded in half in the former, and rolled up to make the latter. Frozen pizza dough will make all three varieties quick and easy, but don't be intimidated by making your own dough at home – you can make pizza dough with just two ingredients.

Enrich mashed potatoes with leftover ham

Mashed potatoes and ham? Purists may insist mix-ins have no place in mashed potatoes, but they'd be missing out on new flavor combinations. In fact there's one in particular that's worth making just for the chance to pronounce its name. Rumbledethumps is a Scottish dish that features mashed potatoes mixed with cabbage and onion, topped with cheddar cheese, and baked in the oven. The cabbage and onion are integral to the dish, but the kind of cheese used is negotiable, and the dish benefits from the addition of ham or bacon. Salt, pepper, and butter will round out the flavor. The dish has humble origins and was traditionally made with leftover mashed potatoes to avoid anything going to waste, so using your leftover ham will not only be delicious, but it will respect the spirit of the dish.

As far as holiday leftovers, mashed potatoes are one of the most popular sides on the holiday table, so you may have plenty of extra in the following days to combine with all that leftover ham. Make mashed potato and ham patties with your Thanksgiving leftovers. Mix small pieces of ham with potatoes, form small balls, and fry in a skilled until browned. They're perfect for breakfast with a ham and egg scramble.

Use leftover ham in fried rice

Ham fried rice can be made in under half an hour and is a great way to use up leftover ham. In fact, it's better to use leftover rice for fried rice as well, because it's drier and won't turn mushy in the pan, so this dish will help limit food waste. The basic way to make ham fried rice is to mix cooked eggs and rice with diced ham, vegetables like carrots, peas, and scallions, and a little soy sauce for flavor.

There are many ways to prepare it, but Chef Justin Brunson's version from Denver's Old Major stands out. Inspired by his love of Chinese takeout fried rice, he created his own version of ham fried rice starring juicy chunks of smoked ham, hints of ginger and shallots, and flavor-packed oyster sauce. He browns the ham on medium first in a skillet and then removes the ham and uses the same skillet over a hot flame to cook sesame oil, day-old rice, ginger, and shallots for about five minutes. Carrots, peas, oyster sauce, and the previously-browned ham are added to the pan for another five minutes before the rice mixture is transferred to individual dishes. In a clean skillet, he then cooks eggs in butter for three to five minutes and tops each dish with fried egg. After a pinch of salt is dusted over each bowl, it is ready to savor.

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