Easy Homemade Ham Salad

Easy Homemade Ham Salad is the perfect classic ham salad spread. This homemade version tastes better than any store-bought version.

Sure, you can make this with leftover holiday ham, but why wait?

We will show you a great way to use packaged ham to make a delicious old-fashioned ham salad recipe. 

Ham salad sandwich and a scoop of ham salad on lettuce in a bowl.

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What Makes Old Fashioned Ham Salad So Good?

I should name this recipe Gloria’s ham salad. Gloria makes an amazingly tasty, quick, and easy ham salad without eggs. I was recently at a party and Gloria brought the most delicious ham salad I’ve had. I wasn’t the only person at the party who thought this was the most amazing ham salad imaginable. I knew with one bite, I had to ask her for her recipe and share this recipe with you.

You don’t need to have leftover ham to prepare this recipe. I love that she uses simple slices of ham to make this homemade old-fashioned ham salad. She also uses many unique ingredients in it, and I thought it would be a great recipe to add to the website.

In no time at all, you can enjoy this easy-to-make ham spread.

When you start with great-quality ingredients, you get results that are quite good. I had one of the best ham salad sandwiches in recent memory and best of all, this was made with this easy ham salad.

Why You Should Try This Recipe

This recipe is unique; the brown sugar, and Gherkin pickles add a lot of flavor. This isn’t your ordinary ham salad.

Ham Salad Ingredients

Here’s a list of what you need:

  • Ham
  • Brown sugar
  • Red onion
  • Gherkin pickles
  • Pickle juice
  • Mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
Ham salad ingredients on a tray.

How to Make Ham Salad

  1. Place ham slices and brown sugar in a pot with enough water to cover the ham. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the ham from the water and let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Place the ham, red onion, gherkin pickles, juice, and mayo in a food processor. Pulse several times. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
A scoop of ham salad on top of lettuce.

Ingredient and Recipe Notes

Gloria started her delicious ham salad spread with a package of sliced ham. While packaged ham slices are nothing to get excited about, this lunch meat is transformed by cooking.

She first cooked the ham in water with brown sugar. This helps to remove some of the saltiness of the ham. The brown sugar adds a nice touch to the flavor. I have made this with smoked ham and some of the cheapest ham you can buy, and both worked great.

She uses gherkin pickles. These are small, sweet pickles. You could use sweet pickle relish, but I think using the gherkin pickles adds a unique flavor. I guess you could also use India Relish (made by Heinz), which could also work well. Pickle juice adds to the taste.

She claimed her real secret was also grating red onion in the salad. You get a subtle onion flavor by grating the onion into the salad, yet many people can’t quite figure out that you grated onions in there. This is a great tip for when you want the flavor but not a bunch of finely chopped onions in your dish.

Why cook the ham again? Ham is already cooked.

Gloria, the lady who gave me her recipe, said she thought that cooking the ham again with brown sugar added flavor to the ham salad. After having sampled a fair amount of her ham salad, I agree that it does indeed add to the flavor of it.

Ham salad sandwich, ham salad on top of lettuce, and a fork.

Ham Salad Recipe Variations

Of course, you can mix other ingredients into this ham salad recipe to make it your own. Customizing your recipes is one way to enjoy exactly what you and your family will love. Here are a few suggestions to make this ham spread recipe one you will love.

  • Chopped dill pickles
  • Chopped onions and celery
  • Boiled eggs
  • Cheese
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Green onions

Making the Best Ham Salad Sandwich

What makes for a delicious sandwich? Starting with good quality ingredients. Here are just a few tips for creating your best ham salad sandwich ever!

  • Use good bread – try a different hearty bread like wheatberry or sourdough.
  • Use condiments like mayonnaise – did you know the fat of the mayonnaise or other sandwich spread like Miracle Whip keeps the bread from getting soggy? No one wants wet bread. Sure fresh tomatoes and freshly washed lettuce are great, but not if they make your bread soggy.
  • Spread condiments and the filling right to the edge – don’t just put the filling in the center. Spread it out so every bite is the same. Do the same with the condiments like mayonnaise. No one wants a sandwich with dry bread.
  • Use fresh veggies – Use tomatoes at the peak of their ripeness.
  • Cut the sandwich into triangles – Did you know people will eat 50% more if you simply cut your sandwich into a triangle?
  • If you can, get someone else to make your sandwich – a sandwich made by someone else always tastes better.
Closeup of a ham salad sandwich with wheat bread.

What to serve with the best ham salad recipe?

You can serve this with tuna salad, egg salad, or pimento cheese salad. You may want to bring a tray of sandwiches to a party. I recommend serving this with potato chips or even some homemade Chex Mix.

How to store leftovers and how to freeze ham salad

No one wants to miss out on a good ham salad. You can store this in either your fridge or your freezer. 

  • Refrigerate – place the ham mixture into an airtight container, and place this in your refrigerator for up to 3 to 5 days. 
  • Freeze – freezing ham salad isn’t ideal because mayonnaise-based dressings can separate and become watery when thawed however, if you want to preserve it for an extended period.
    • Divide your ham salad into smaller portions, as you may not want to thaw the entire batch each time.
    • Place each portion in an airtight freezer bag. Try to remove as much air as possible from the bag to prevent freezer burn.
    • Put the bags in the freezer as soon as possible. The quicker you freeze it, the better the quality when you thaw it.
    • When you’re ready to use a portion, thaw it in the refrigerator. Please don’t use the microwave or hot water for thawing, as it can cause the salad to become mushy.
    • Frozen ham salad will last for up to 3 months for best quality.

Love ham? Be sure to check out these recipes with ham

More Tasty Salads

Be sure to take a look at my copycat salad and pork recipes.

Ham salad sandwich and a scoop of ham salad on lettuce in a bowl.

Ham Salad

Enjoy this old-fashioned ham salad made with everyday ingredients. Simple classic ingredients will help you make the best ham salad ever.
5 from 15 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Ham Salad
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 342kcal


  • 16 ounces sliced ham
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped gherkin pickles
  • 2 teaspoons pickle juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise do not use Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper or to taste


  • Place the ham slices and brown sugar in a pot and add enough water to just cover the ham. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove the ham from the water and let cool.
  • Place the ham slices, red onion, gherkin pickles, pickle juice, and mayonnaise in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  • Transfer the ham salad to a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.


This recipe was adapted from Gloria, thanks to her for this delicious recipe! 


Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 1744mg | Potassium: 324mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 40IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. baltisraul

    You can also make this into a ham dip to serve with Ritz crackers. Just place in the food processor and run until it becomes a paste like consistency. I always add more sweet pickle relish to this dip recipe.

  2. Honey Van

    5 stars
    Nailed it !!!! Glorious Ham Salad…Perfect name for this addictive salad.
    Sweet, salty, and savory …Yum!!!
    I love sweet Gherkin pickles and that is a perfect addition. We also added a couple stalks of celery for more crunch. I am not a huge sandwich eater, so I enjoy this scooping it with potato chips (Grandma Utz).
    I have thrown out all other ham salad recipes… This is now my absolute favorite.

  3. Nancy in Montana

    5 stars
    When I was a child growing up on Long Island in the late 50’s early 60’s I shared a ham salad sandwich with my mom at a drug store lunch counter. Never had it before or since but always remembered how much I enjoyed it.
    This recipe is that ham salad I remember. Easy, delicious, and a wonderful use for leftover ham when you don’t want to make split pea soup!
    Thanks Stephanie. I have your Copykat channel on my ROKU and I’ll be making several sides from it for Thanksgiving next week.

  4. Kim Stewart

    5 stars
    Why is it with online recipes that there is always a book length story before the recipe? At least add a tab to jump straight to the recipe.

  5. Sandy

    I was wondering if I can use leftover hom, or does it need to be slices. If it can be done with leftover hom, would I still need to cook it?

5 from 15 votes (1 rating without comment)

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