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The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

Never again will you have to buy ham salad from the deli! Let me teach you how to easily make The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe from scratch, using only 3 ingredients!

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

Growing up, one of the few sandwiches I would eat was a ham salad sandwich. I’ve always been what I consider reverse-picky. Meaning that I loved all the foods that most people avoided, but shunned normal foods like sandwiches and soup. Give me all the carrots, broccoli and red peppers. I’ll pass on the chips and cake!

But let’s get back on topic – I consider myself a ham salad aficionado. I’ve been there and tried that. But too often was honestly disgusted with the ham salads you’d routinely purchase. I’m the type of person who keeps trying the same food from everywhere, while constantly complaining about how awful it is (just wait until I tell you about my love-hate relationship with macaroni salad!)

Again, I was lucky to come from a family who made so many things from scratch, ham salad included.

Did you know that many store bought versions of ham salad are flavored with beet juice? So weird. I found that out way back in the 1990’s when I was trying to understand what made store bought ham salad so strangely flavored, compared to what we would make at home. And they are either sickeningly overly sweet or dry and yucky. And don’t get me started on my frustrations with miracle whip in ham salad!!

While I’m sure if you’re reading this post you’re already familiar with ham salad – but if this happens to be a completely NEW food for you, I’m really exited to share The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe with you!

What is Ham Salad

Similar to other cold, protein based salads like Tuna salad, Chicken Salad, Egg Salad and Turkey Salad; Ham salad is finely chopped cooked ham mixture coated with mayo and finely diced other ingredients such as pickles.

Most people are familiar with purchasing Ham Salad (or it’s similar cousin; sandwich spread) at their grocery store deli counter. (Ham salad is also know as Ham Spread but is not to be confused with sandwich spread.)

What’s the difference between Ham Salad and Sandwich Spread? While they can taste extremely similar, Sandwich spread is most often made using Bologna/Baloney instead of ham as the ‘meat’ thus making it less expensive than ham salad, since ham is generally more expensive than baloney.

OFF TOPIC: Did you know we had a cat named Baloney? I have to say ‘DID HAVE’ because our neighbors who refused to quit feeding her, eventually STOLE her from us. And yes, before you ask, I’m still terribly bitter over the whole situation….. And you know how much I love my animals…. Judy, if by chance, you are reading this, shame on you. When I refer to Bologna, I always would say Bologna, like the meat, not Baloney, like our cat, but I digress.

What Ingredients are in Ham Salad

You can find countless variations and ingredients for ham salad, depending on who you ask or the recipes you may find on Pinterest. For the purpose of this Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe, I’m focused on sharing the best deli-style ham salad recipe, and that means, we’re sticking to the less is more approach, using just 3 basic ingredients but trust me this Ham Salad Recipe is extremely full of flavor:

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

I want to QUICKLY address why we are using Sweet Gherkin Pickles in our this ham salad recipe.. after may tests they provide the best taste and texture. Sweet Relish can overpower your ham salad, it can work in a pinch but isn’t the best option. If you are unfamiliar with sweet gherkin pickles, they are basically small or petite whole sweet pickles, THESE are my favorite.

Because I’m only using these 3 ingredients in THIS Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe, it does not mean that you can’t add other things – I always want to encourage you to do what works best for you and your taste preference, in creating your own unique recipe variations… and that may include adding other ingredients such as:

  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Egg (hard boiled)
  • sweet pickle relish (instead of gherkins)
  • dill pickles or dill pickle relish
  • dijon mustard
  • cheddar cheese
  • lemon juice
  • parsley or other herbs
  • salt (often unnecessary, since ham is a salty food)
  • black pepper

What Type of Ham is Best for Ham Salad

The best type of ham to use when making ham salad is…. the ham you have available!. I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed a huge difference in the different types of ham that I’ve used when making The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe.

Here are a list of options if you are seeking ham specifically for making The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe:

  • Leftover Ham (ie from holidays such as Easter or Christmas)
  • Ham Steak
  • Baked Deli Ham
  • Chopped Deli Ham
  • Boneless Ham

Most of us are MOST familiar with making ham salad as a creative way to utilize leftover holiday ham, just like we make turkey salad after Thanksgiving.

When I am craving ham salad but don’t have leftover ham from the holiday, I reach for those small 1-2 pound boneless hams that you find in your grocery store meat section, near the bacon, sausage and packaged lunch meats.

Consequently, You an also ask at the deli counter for a ‘chunk’ of your favorite baked (or chopped) ham by weight.. “may I please have a 1/2 pound piece of the Virginia baked Ham, unsliced

What is the best way to Prepare Ham for Ham Salad

Once you have your ham, you need to prepare it for ham salad, unlike chicken salad where you can shred or coarsely chop the meat, ham salad requires a very fine chop. There are 2 ways to achieve the prefect finely chopped consistency for ham salad:

Well, I guess technically you CAN totally use a knife and chop away until the ham is extremely finely chopped but nobody has time for that, right!?!

Most of you will decide to use a food processor to finely mince your ham (along with other ingredients like sweet gherkin pickles) because it’s a popular kitchen appliance you probably already have. It’s easy and highly effective. This is what my mom and grandmother have always used.

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

I prefer to use the Meat Grinder attachment for our kitchen aid mixer to prepare my ham and pickles for Ham Salad. It create the same texture as you are likely familiar with ham salad and sandwich spread from your grocery store’s deli section.

The photo below is old, like from waaaay back when I originally posted this recipe in 2017! But you get my point,,,

World's Best Ham Salad Spread

How to Make Ham Salad

Making The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe is so extremely easy – in a large bowl (or small bowl, depending on how much or little ham salad you’re making)…. combine your finely chopped ham, gherkins and mayonnaise….

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

Then fold or mix it all together!!

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

Easy peasy, right?!?! That’s all it takes to make The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe!!!

What to serve with Ham Salad

We are most familiar with using Ham Salad to make Ham Salad Sandwiches; ‘sandwiching’ a generous scoop of ham salad between 2 slices of bread or on a soft roll or bun.

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

But it’s also delicious served on crackers or for a keto or low carb option; serve ham salad on cucumber slices on in celery boats.

Admittedly I’ve most often eaten ham salad plain, on it’s own with a fork. Nothing extra needed.

Optional toppings for a Ham Salad Sandwich:

  • Lettuce
  • Pickles
  • Sliced Cheese (cheddar, American, etc)
  • Banana Pepper Rings
  • Sliced Tomato

I’m curious to know, what is YOUR favorite way to enjoy ham salad??? Do you enjoy it as a sandwich with potato chips on the side as a light meal? or served as an appetizer?

Ham Salad FAQ

Can I freeze Ham Salad?

Can you freeze ham salad with mayonnaise can seem like a strange thing to do, but yes you can freeze ham salad in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

How long can you keep Ham Salad in the Refrigerator?

Ham salad will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Do you put eggs in Ham Salad?

Generally the ham salad you purchase at your local grocery store deli counter does not contain eggs or hard boiled eggs in it, however when you are making it at home you definitely can if desired. I do not include them in my ham salad or in this recipe but as I mentioned previous I want you to do what is best for you.

How can you tell if Ham Salad is Bad?

You can tell if Ham Salad has gone bad if it’s been in the fridge for over 7 days, is a different color from when you made/purchased it and if the smell starts to change.

If you like this Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe, try these related recipes:

The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe

The Best Ham Salad Recipe

Never again will you have to buy ham salad from the deli! Let me teach you how to easily make The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe from scratch, using only 3 ingredients!
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Pulse the chopped ham and sweet pickles in a food processor until you have very small pieces. Take care not to overprocess.
    The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe
  • Transfer the ham to a medium bowl and add the mayonnaise, fold to combine.
    The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe
  • Serve chilled, as a sandwich spread or a topper for crackers or cucumber slices. Enjoy!
    The Best Ham Salad Sandwich Recipe
  • The spread will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

Note: Add additional mayonnaise if think your ham salad is dry

Nutrition

Calories: 339kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 14g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 47mg | Sodium: 2029mg | Potassium: 190mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 204IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @hayley_inthekitchen or tag #hayley_inthekitchen!

 

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Haley, I picked up the ham and gherkin pickles yesterday. I plan to get out my grinder this afternoon and have a ham salad sandwich for lunch. My Mom always used bologna, but if you & Aunt Esie make it with ham, it will surely be great. Pam

    1. Thanks of your comment! I hope all is well and YES ham is so much better than bologna! Let me know how it turns out for you.
      Hayley

  2. Thank you very much for this idea ! Very frugal and simple ! Hayley, I’ll be back for more 🙂 have a nice weekend !

  3. Ohmygosh girl…..there is nothing I like better than ham salad with pickles. It instantly brings me back to my childhood…..

    Thanks for the recipe!

    1. It will be GREAT! We make our turkey salad the same way – only Ray prefers it with finely diced celery and onion, too.

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