Food safety experts advise using up ham leftovers within one week. Frugal living experts advise minimizing food waste. So what can you do with the leftover ham in your fridge after a holiday dinner or family celebration?
It turns out there are dozens of ways to use leftover ham, including some easy-peasy dishes that you can create quickly in your own kitchen, plus classic recipes that let you expand your culinary skills.
The ideas below are meant to inspire you to create yummy new meals from that leftover ham.
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How to to use leftover Easter ham
Leftover ham is a versatile ingredient with lots of possibilities. Here are some inspired ways to create yummy meals, from simple to sensational.
Simmer a pot of soup
For a quick-and-easy upgrade, add diced ham to your favorite canned vegetable soup.
Or, make soup from scratch, starting with a meaty hambone for the base. Classic ham soup recipes often include potatoes, white beans, or split peas; they make a thick and hearty meal. We’ve found that all types of dried and canned beans often come with a soup recipe right on the package!
Add some protein to your pasta
Balance out those carbs with a little bit of protein!
Substitute ham for bacon or pancetta in Italian dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara. If you prefer a cold pasta salad, add cubed ham to your favorite recipe for a new twist.
Jazz up your vegetables
Sneak a quarter cup of minced ham into sauteed spinach or green beans for a little extra flavor. Add the ham when the vegetables are nearly cooked and saute just long enough to warm it through and let the flavors mingle.
Concoct a yummy casserole
Find a classic recipe for scalloped potatoes and ham — the creamy goodness is pure comfort food. You can also add minced ham to a baked mac-and-cheese recipe. Or, substitute ham for turkey in a tettrazini recipe.
Toss together a stir fry
A last minute stir fry is the poster child for frugal ways to use leftovers. Hint: you can use up nearly anything in a big old pan of fried rice. For a classic flavor, use ingredients like soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, or garlic.
Step up your sandwich game
Sliced ham is a versatile ingredient in sandwiches. Go with simple grilled ham and cheese on your favorite bread, or take it up a notch and try your skills at creating at a classic Monte Cristo sandwich, which is cooked like French toast.
For a fun lunch, make sliders with sliced ham and provolone or Swiss cheese on Hawaiian rolls. Use a layer of fig jam, dijon mustard, smashed avocado, or honey mustard sauce to change the flavor profile. You can assemble the sliders ahead of time and pop in the oven at meal time — just long enough to get gooey, deliciously melted cheese. Many of the slider recipes we looked at suggest brushing the top bun with garlic or herb butter before baking.
And don’t forget about breakfast sandwiches! Layer up ham, egg, and cheese on a homemade biscuit or English muffin.
Sandwich ideas that are anything but ordinary
Load up a baked potato
Fully loaded for the win! There are endless options for topping and customizing a fluffy, steaming spud — and they include chopping up some leftover ham. For a really fun meal, you can create a Loaded Potato Bar and let everyone do their own thing. It’s similar to a DIY taco bar. Besides ham, you can set out toppings like shredded cheese, sour cream, snipped chives, broccoli, pico de gallo, black beans, etc.
Bring it on for brunch
Ham is a natural for breakfast and brunch recipes. When you have leftover ham, you can skip that time-consuming and greasy step of frying bacon. These are just a few ideas for weekend brunch, or those days you just want breakfast foods for dinner.
♦ The Western Omelette (aka Denver Omelette) is a diner specialty that melds together ham, onions, sweet bell peppers, and sharp cheddar cheese. But you can combine any ingredients you’d like to make a customized omelette.
♦ Breakfast skillets are a great way to combine ingredients quickly and informally. Add chopped ham to hash brown potatoes for a yummy meal. And if you’ve never mastered the skill of flipping an omelette perfectly, you can always go with the foolproof version — a ham-and-cheese scramble!
♦ Quiche is less work when you buy a frozen pastry shell. Try your hand at a a classic Quiche Lorraine and substitute diced ham for the crumbled bacon the recipe calls for. Or, skip the pastry completely and go with a frittata — which is like a crustless quiche that you start on the stovetop and finish in the oven.
♦ In case you missed the section on sandwiches above, just scroll back to see suggestions for breakfast sandwiches.
Spring for salad
Traditionally, Chef Salad and Cobb Salad include ham. But you can also add ham to a classic Cesar Salad for a change. And then of course there’s cold ham salad — possibly the best way ever to use up leftover ham. Just mix together minced ham with pickle relish, mayonnaise, celery, and whatever else you’d like in it. Serve on its own or as a sandwich filler.
Get controversial with Hawaiian pizza
Okay, let’s face it — pineapple is the pizza topping that divides the world. People argue over whether fruit belongs on pizza or not. But if you’re a fan of the tropical-style treat, you can use your leftover ham on a homemade Hawaiian pizza. Make your own dough, or buy a frozen crust — and be sure to post pics of your controversial creation on social media.
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