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What do you put in your Ham Salad?

I have a hankering for ham salad. I don't have any leftover ham, but I bought a package of diced ham. So now I am set to go! I used to just make it with ham, mayo, sweet relish and maybe some finely diced celery. Last time I made it I went a little nuts and tossed in some cheese, which I chopped in my mini chopper so it was like small balls of cheese - not grated, some finely chopped black olives, no celery, and a bit of dill relish. It was very good. My mom made it with green peppers, but I don't really care for those in my ham salad, but then again, her ham salad was actually made from bologna, so . . .

Do you have any other things that you toss in to make it "more than just ham salad?" I don't care if it is eaten on bread, lettuce, crackers, or just with a fork!

Thanks, Dani

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  1. I like to add some chopped jicama, carrots and quinoa for added crunch and texture. I also make sure to use either wasabi or horseradish for that added "punch". Ham salad is one of the few times where I use Miracle Whip (and no mayo). Toss in some diced banana peppers as an alternative to relish.

    1. Funny. I read your title and thought "what the hell is ham salad?" I've never heard of it but what you describe sounds really good. I add capers to tuna salad if that appeals. Sun-dried tomatoes? Some mustard. Let's see. Ham and Swiss cheese on rye with mustard and mayo. So maybe some Swiss cheese cube-ettes and some carraway seed? This sound really good. Thanks for the education.

      1. Try your ham salad grilled with swiss cheese on seeded rye being careful to use medium heat or lower or the salad will not be hot when you are done. Used to really warm up on a cold Michigan day.

        I second the Miracle Whip. Some sandwiches just are better with it.

        1. Instead of relish, chop up your favorite dill pickles.
          You can also blend it all into cream cheese, instead of mayo or miracle whip.

          1. In the food processor, pineapple,jalepenos and pimento with low fat cream cheese. MMMMM

            1. Agreed on the Miracle Whip. I never buy Miracle Whip anymore (but was raised on it), and when I tried to make ham salad with mayo, it just did not taste right. I had to adjust the taste by adding sugar. Other than that I'm a purist - ham run through the grinder (or food processor if I'm not at my mom's - but I much prefer ground), MW, relish. That's it. I could just eat it out of the bowl with a spoon.

              1. I have always found "real" ham to be too salty in ham salad, whether I used the deli sandwich type ham or a ham that I baked or boiled myself. So, my fall-back position is canned luncheon meat (Spam type) with the fat scraped off-(I know,I know!). You mash that with a potato masher and add a mixture of half mayo and half homemade green tomato relish, not a cucumber pickle in sight, 'cause I can't stand 'em.

                1 Reply
                1. re: MemereDi

                  grate low sodium spam on a box grater

                2. Like c o, I'd never heard of ham salad. Sounds great. I'll make a version and let you all know how it turns out.

                  1. There are MANY threads on this if you search clicking relevance order over the last 5 yrs.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: greygarious

                      Thanks. This has piqued my interest especially when MrsCheese mentioned grinding the ham!

                      1. re: c oliver

                        My mom's version was named (I found out after she died) "Depression Salad" and she would drag out the meat grinder, an old one that sat on the countertop, and grind the meat. Of course I was too young to know what kind of meat it was, and she told me it was ham salad. So after she passed away I was nostalgic and wanted ham salad. I tried and tired to replicate it. The I was looking through some of her cookbooks and she had submitted a recipe for her Depression Salad. Bologna - could have knocked me over with a feather. No wonder mine didn't taste right! I tried it with bologna but we always got our bologna from a good old deli, and here in Houston I have not found a good old deli, and the stuff at the grocery store, with the red plastic around it, just doesn't do it - too fatty/greasy/yucky. And my mom was a big fan of miracle whip, although her recipe doesn't call for it. I haven't tried it with that, but it is worth a try - on a small portion ;-)

                        Now I have tried just plain yellow mustard in it, but that didn't do it for me, anyway. I did get some dijon mustard recently, and don't really care for it, but I though that maybe a dab of it might be really good. I have actually finely chopped up green olives w/pimentos, to add to it, and that was pretty good too.

                        I thought everyone knew about ham salad! So surprised that it isn't as popular as I thought. I have had samples at grocery delis, but if you go by that you would never eat it again - IMO! Most times the meat is more shredded than anything else, and that is just nasty.

                        1. re: danhole

                          Yumm....Never had it till I met my partner (26 yrs. ago...) They call it "ham relish". Leftover easter ham, put thru a meat grinder with green bell pepper, pickle relish, mustard and a lil' bit of mayo. Served on rye bread; de-lish! adam

                          1. re: adamshoe


                            I will admit that it is better with leftover ham, but if you don't have any, then the diced ham works in a pinch! Rye bread is a great idea for ham salad. I'll try that.

                            I also love the tip about grilling it w/swiss cheese. Man . . . I am so stoked about ham salad at this point.

                            1. re: adamshoe

                              Is Ham Relish a regional phrase? I have never heard it called that before. Sounds like it would be very finely shredded or chopped.

                      2. Ham relish is divine.

                        My ham salad is bound with homemade mayonnaise, heavy on the yolks for a very thick, creamy consistency. Dijon mustard, peas that've been defrosted, blanched to desired doneness and chilled, and fine dice of onion - half as much onion as peas. If I have them, I slice pickled cocktail "Gibson" onions in half and add those. I garnish the ham salad with slices of hard-cooked egg.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: shaogo

                          Sheesh, man, everything you describe sounds SO good. I'm not even a ham lover but am all ready to buy one just to make this.

                            1. re: shaogo

                              i was reading through to see if anyone else mentioned hard-cooked eggs. i add chopped egg to the salad.

                            2. Ham
                              Lime-mayo or aioli
                              Frozen Peas & Carrots
                              Diced Daikon (or red radishes if you can't find Daikon)
                              Dill Relish, not sweet pickle relish
                              Salt, pepper, paprika

                              1. As some of the other posters have indicated, this was so much a part of my childhood that I could not imagine varying from the Eternal Verities of ground ham, mayonnaise, a dab of mustard and sweet relish... and I don't even LIKE sweet relish! But that's how Grandma made it, and how Mom made it, and thus it shall be now and forevermore. Amen.

                                Oh, and it MUST be eaten on white bread, with lettuce...

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  Sounds like my Grampa! It must be ground country ham, Hellman's mayo (absolutely no substituting) and sweet relish (or finely chopped homemade bread & butter pickles). Must be served on white bread, no lettuce....ok, since Grampa's moved on I admit to wheat bread and lettuce....

                                2. Along with the usual Miracle Whip and relish, I add dried sour cherries.

                                  1. I have never made ham salad, but I have tried some pretty outrageous iterations with one in particular standing out in my recollection: chunks of ham, dressed with mayo, relish, celery, onion, olives and enough shredded cheddar to make the whole thing more resemble pimento cheese than ham salad. Were I to make it myself, I think I would start with a base of pimento cheese, Sriracha and mayo and work from there.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: JungMann

                                      I'm actually surprised that so many people have not come across ham salad until now -- maybe it's too ghetto for Chowhounders.

                                      But I think any tuna salad recipe would work for ham salad -- just sub out the tuna for the ham and adjust the seasoning a bit to account for added salt in the ham.

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        My ham salad is chopped sweet onion, a few dashes of worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise, homemade sweet relish, lots of pepper.

                                        This salad is also good made with leftover pork roast, less salty but still tasty.

                                    2. For me, simple is best--ground up ham, chopped celery and mayo. That's the way my Jersey-born, Florida-in-the-forties-raised mom made it, except she used a hand grinder and I use my food processor. I also make ham and egg salad--instead of grinding the ham I chunk it up with the eggs and mix it with mayo. Both are great in sandwiches or on top of a lettuce and tomato salad.

                                      1. Roommate, many years ago, brought home what he said was ham salad. It was actually small cubes of ham with cubes of some sort of palatable cheese, in a vinaigrette with roasted pepper and herbs. There might have been some garlic and onion.

                                        Poor roommate... not a foodie. I'd prepared soup and we got out the bread and sat down to eat. The "ham salad" got boring after two bites. It was really a rather small-dice "antipasto salad." It occurred to both of us at the same time that the salad was "raw tasting." We spread bread with it and popped 'em, open-faced, under the broiler.

                                        I've mixed ham and cheese, with olive oil, herbs, garlic and roasted peppers (and some chopped tomato) -- and broiled this on bread -- about twice a year since.

                                        1. I made my ham salad, and this is what I did:

                                          diced ham
                                          chopped up sharp cheddar
                                          chopped up swiss cheese
                                          sweet relish
                                          dill relish and some of it's juice
                                          chopped celery
                                          a dab of dijon mustard

                                          Came out pretty good. I find that it is better after it has been in the fridge awhile, so it was good when I made it (yesterday early) but even better today! I tried to make a sandwich with it, but just kept eating it with a fork! I really think the jicama is a great idea, but wasn't going to go out to buy that, or Miracle Whip, just for this. I think the sweetness of the sweet relish takes care of the MW factor. Thanks for all the ideas.

                                          Next I am going to make a sandwich and grill with the swiss cheese!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: danhole

                                            My grandma makes ham salad with her grinder and the sweet relish. I never liked it because I dislike sweet relish, but reading this thread made me realize I could make a ham salad I like! Now I'm hungry and I don't have any ham in the house...

                                          2. Confession time. I bought some ham today for the sole purpose of making ham salad which I'd never heard of a week ago :) I assume I should grind it larger rather than smaller? Excited about such a simple thing :)

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              C - that depends on your preference. I only used the diced ham because I didn't have leftover ham. If I had leftover, then I would put it in my chopper (don't have a meat grinder) and chop until it is small. That makes it more spreadable. I think if I make it with diced again I will run it through the chopper to get it smaller. I don't like it so spreadable that it resembles cat food, but not too chunky either. Bet that just confused you!

                                              If you google ham salad you can see some photos. Really it is just an anything goes type recipe. There is one photo of ham salad that is diced ham with shell macaroni - I had forgotten about that! Here is a photo of a ham salad that is the consistency I like. I do NOT use this recipe, but it looks like what I would want mine to look:


                                              1. re: danhole

                                                The only way I have ever made ham salad is as my NYC born and bred Nanny (grandmother) made hers...with Hellmans mayo, ground up hame and lots of chopped scallions. Yumm....making me hungry.

                                                1. re: MrsCheese

                                                  Thanks. I was leaning in that direction if it's supposed to be "spreadable." Too exciting.

                                              2. I just made a chunky ham salad and had some for lunch. Very good if I say so myself. I cooked a ham in the slow cooker and I have a ton left over. Drawing inspiration from this thread, I chopped up some ham and added a bunch of things I had on hand _ onion, celery, pickles. Mayonnaise lightened with some Greek yogurt, mustard, hot sauce. I tasted it and it was a little salty from the ham and the mustard so I wanted to add someting bland. I chopped up a couple of small potatoes, boiled them and added them. Now it's a ham and potato salad. Not elegant looking, but tasty.

                                                1. I find that a jar of sweet gherkins makes all the difference for me. I just made some the other day with left over baked ham and didn't have any so i used relish and was grossed out!! It had this gelatinous like quality that you just don't get with copped up gherkins. I usually get a big beefsteak and a vidalia and layer it up. Instant ham salad napolean!!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: juli730

                                                    I'm curious where you get Vidalias and beefsteak tomatoes at the same time. Vidalias are late spring and really good tomatoes late summer. It's something I'd love to have in my afterlife (if I get to go to the "good place") but have never seen on Terra Firma.

                                                  2. Like so many others, I am tasting this in my mind, and wishing I had some good ham! I don't remember having it at home growing up, but my aunt Arlene used to make it. As I recall, it was just minced, not ground, ham, mayo and sweet pickle, probably a little onion. At Christmas time, Sam's here (Mazatlán) usually has some real smoked ham, and I have already decided to get one this year so I will have lots of leftovers and can make ham salad! Meanwhile, I think my best option would be Spam. I bet it would turn out better than the what is called ham here normally! Thanks for the memories.

                                                    1. Always sweet pickles and red pepper.

                                                      1. The ham salad in my local deli seems to have grainy mustard in it. And chopped pickle but I can't tell if it's sweet or sour. Now I'm tempted to finally try it!

                                                        It's a German deli and they use German mayo in everything which is closer to the flavour profile of Miracle Whip (touch of sweet and vinegar), than it is to regular mayo. So the MW makes sense to me too. Meat salads seem quite mitteleuropean in origin to me. At least, I've only ever seen them in mid-european delis.

                                                        1. I like a pretty simple ham salad.
                                                          Ham (oven baked, Virginia, bolied , or any combo), Hellman's mayo (NO Miracle Whip good lord, it's a sugary, starchy crime against nature), a dash of Coleman's Mustard (dry), a few grinds of fresh black pepper, and lately, a small spoonful of pickle relish.
                                                          Coarsely mashed together with a fork and it's done.
                                                          I love the stuff on toast.

                                                          1. Well, a month and a half later and I finally made ham salad. And I love it! I had one of those salt-cured boneless ham hunks. Ground it up. Added a good amount of carraway seed and black pepper. Capers, minced cornichons, horseradish, Dijon mustard and mayo. It definitely didn't need any additional salt. I could easily just sit down with the (huge) bowl and eat it. But will wait the hour and a half til noon and make a sandwich with toasted sourdough and Swiss cheese.

                                                            Thanks to all of you who brought me to the true religion of ham salad. Mmmmm.

                                                            2 Replies
                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              Glad you like it C! You had a very creative first try. Now you can branch out from there. I think it is an "anything goes" type dish. I used to see it in the grocery stores, but I have been looking around for it and haven't seen it again. I like it on crackers, too, but my favorite is with just a fork!

                                                              Now, Sam . . . have you tried it yet?

                                                              I recently heard that there was a po boy, called "The Piggy", at a place in town. Sounds like an interesting combination:

                                                              "Its filling is a surprising pinkish mixture of ham, hard salami, dried oregano and mayonnaise. The sandwich is finished with jalapeño jack cheese and slices of pickles"

                                                              Now I just have to drive across town and try one!

                                                              1. re: danhole

                                                                Yes, thank you! Processed a bit of left-over ham; then mixed in with a fork: homemade mayo, Coleman's mustard, some chopped pickle, and some of one of my ground chile powders. On a rye bread.

                                                            2. Ham salad is an article of faith in our family spanning three generations only we call it "ground ham". We definitely are in the "purist" camp. We make our version by cutting all the baked ham off the bone when what's there is no longer sliceable. We grind in a meat grinder or chop coarsely in a Cuisinart the ham and a generous amount of sweet gherkin pickle. Mix this with a lot of mayonnaise and a little Dijon mustard. Nothing else, and especially no jicama, quinoa, celery, banana peppers, bologna, pineapple, cheese or butternut squash: yuck. We eat ours either on soda crackers (accompanied by Vernor's Ginger Ale or Amstel Beer) or in a sandwich on thin-cut seeded rye bread. The latter form goes well on plane trips when added to the contents of one's carry-on bag.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                mmm that sounds good and reminiscent of something my mother used to make. I forget the details but it was ground ham, formed into a shape that would fit into a nice dish, set in the fridge to firm up a bit, then spread w about 1/2" of cream cheese. She must have softened it with a bit of cream or milk or mayo to make it spreadable. Then sliced green olives were decoratively arranged on it (the kind from the jar w pimento, of course). It was a party snack to have on crackers with drinks. I don't know what held the ham together. Maybe just more mayo . . .

                                                              2. I just came across this link, as I was looking for a recipe for ham salad! Probably once every couple of months, I have a craving for it.. have yet to be able to make it myself..but have always love my grandmother's ham salad finger rolls! I "claim" to not like mayo, but I love the finger rolls..(which contain mayo) my problem is, I don't want to "see" the mayo being put into the mixture... I know...odd..... Oddly enough, my brother is the same way!

                                                                1. I got to thinking that when Veggo does his pimento cheese finger sandwiches for his poker buddies that these, with crusts removed of course, would make a nice addition to the platter.

                                                                  1. Our ham salad was originally made by my grandfather (born in 1890) and my Mom made it for us. It travels well, especially when you spread softened butter from edge to edge of the bread. Once chilled, the butter protects the bread from getting soggy.

                                                                    Ingredients: Ham and green olives chopped in food processor (no need for a meat grinder like the olden days). Moisten with mayo and some yellow mustard then spread on bread.