ham for breakfast

Making the Most of Leftover Ham 

Last Updated on April 14, 2020

Ham is to Easter what turkey is to Thanksgiving—the chance to puzzle creatively through the leftovers is a big part of why we serve such a large piece of meat in the first place.

Early in the week after Easter Sunday, leftover ham might be taking up precious real estate in the fridge; so now’s the time to work through what to do with all of that meat.

Get Started

The freezer is your friend. You want to make the most of your leftovers, but you also might not be in the mood to feature ham at every meal until it’s gone.

So start by carving the meat off the bone and wrapping the bone tightly in foil, labeling it, and sticking it in the freezer. You can use the ham bone to make stock, which might become the base of some extra-flavorful beans or a split pea soup enriched with chunks of ham.

Next, dice up some of the meat and pack it in labeled freezer bags.  Freezing ham changes the texture slightly, but if you’re using it in cooked dishes, it’s barely noticeable. The diced ham can then find its way into any number of dishes, like gratin, frittata, or countless pasta preparations.

ham frittata

Ham at Any Meal

Once you’ve squirreled away a freezer stash, take a look at what’s left. Ham works at every meal – here are some ideas:

For breakfast, ham and eggs are a timeless pairing. Try:

  • This amazing Asian-inspired ham omelet sandwich, which pairs thinly sliced ham and a thin omelet with buttered white bread.
  • A galette complète, the famed buckwheat crepes from Brittany, France, filled with a thin slice of ham, grated Gruyere cheese, and an egg.
  • This simple frittata-like breakfast casserole combines ham, parmesan, and eggs for a quick and portable first meal of the day.

Truly, the possibilities are endless. Slice some of the leftover ham thinly and dive into any one of these sandwiches for lunch:

cubano sandwich
Homemade Traditional Cuban Sandwiches with Ham, Pork, and Cheese
  • A Cubano sandwich technically calls for both ham and roast pork (and sometimes salami), but if your pork stash is limited to just ham, don’t let that stop you from making your own version of the famous pressed sandwich.
  • Keep it classic with the jambon-beurre, Paris’s signature ham and butter sandwich on baguette.
  • The croque-monsieur is another delightful French ham and cheese vehicle that begs to be made once in a while. Make sure you have some good pickles and a beer to cut through all the gooey richness of this sando.

If you haven’t tired of finding inventive ways to put ham between slices of bread, there’s no reason not to eat any of the above sandwiches for dinner—but you might be ready to switch things up. To that end:

  • Add diced ham to potato croquettes for a satisfying dinner—serve with a green salad alongside.
  • Ham and peas with pasta is classic for a reason—toss diced bits of ham with frozen peas and pasta in a creamy sauce for a comforting dinner that comes together in minutes
  • Speaking of ham and peas, they can also come together for fried rice—another quick and comforting meal that makes the most of what you have on hand.

Sprinkle these meals throughout your weekly menus for up to two months—even thinly sliced ham can keep well in the freezer for that long. And don’t forget to make some soup!

Leigh Belanger is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Her 2018 cookbook, My Kitchen Chalkboard, features a year of seasonal family dinners with menu ideas and meal planning tips to help make home cooking easier.