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. So if you love ham salad, you will love this recipe.

Homemade ham salad and lettuce on a croissant

Old Fashioned Ham Salad

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 that 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 a lot of 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.

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

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 then 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, pickle juice, and mayonnaise 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.

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 both a smoked ham, and honestly some of the cheapest ham you can buy, and both of them worked great.

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

She claimed her real secret was by grating red onion in the salad as well. By grating the onion into the salad you get subtle onion flavor 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 ham salad. After having sampled a fair amount of her ham salad, I agree that it does indeed add to the flavor of it.

Recipe Variations

Of course, you can mix other ingredients into this recipe to make it your own. Customizing your recipes is one way you can 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
Homemade ham salad and lettuce on a croissant

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.

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.

Homemade ham salad and lettuce on a croissant

Glorious Ham Salad

Enjoy this classic ham salad made with everyday ingredients. Simple classic ingredients will help you make the best ham salad ever.
5 from 13 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 ham
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons red onion grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons gherkin pickles chopped
  • 2 teaspoons pickle juice
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise Not Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • Place ham slices into a pot add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Add enough water to just cover the ham. Simmer for about 20 minutes. 
  • Remove ham from water, and allow to cool.
  • In a food processor process the ham mixture by adding ham slices, red onion, gherkin pickles, pickle juice, mayonnaise to the food processor. Pulse several times. Taste, and season with salt and pepper. Place in a large bowl.  
  • Be sure to refrigerate until you are 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. Pozdravlenija

    5 stars
    Honestly, I think that a little more or less of any of the ingredients wouldn’t matter–this recipe is very forgiving. It’s great on crackers or crisp baguette thins.

  2. James Wilson

    I have lately been making ham salad to take for lunch at work. Using Smithfield diced ham, varying the recipe so as it doesn’t get boring. I just now was thinking of trying brown sugar. Quick search produced this recipe. Glad to learn it is not a dumb idea! Wil be working on it next time I have ham salad for my lunch.

  3. Brad

    5 stars
    Easy to make! I always have ham slices in the fridge. It was really good! We tried ours on a whole wheat toast sandwich and loved it.

  4. Barbara Dahl

    I tried this yesterday and I must be the only one that does not care for it. I used sliced honey ham from Aldi’s. I followed the instructions carefully, but did not care for the texture of the ham – it was not soft, it was firm, even though it was finely ground in my “Little Oscar” food processor, which is not the texture I like i ham salad. The flavor was a bit bland so I added a sprinkle of dry mustard and a bit more grated red onion. I like the idea of the grater, but used a zester to get the job done. I had a sandwich on a croissant last night, and will try it again today and perhaps the flavors will meld a bit more and I will like it beter.

    • Stephanie

      Barbara, thank you for your comment. It’s totally understandable that not everyone is going to love every recipe. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy this one.

  5. NJSue

    My mother made the best ham salad.My sister and I have tried often to replicate it, but nothing taste like her’s. We remember that she used the hand grinder. I think she used a Dak ham, but I don’t think that is sold anymore. For all of you that still have your mothers, please have her write down her recipes before she is gone.

    • Baltisraul

      Dax Hams are still around. I buy one a few times a year at CVS & Wallgreen’s. 12 oz usually but sometimes they have 16 oz cans. Cost is about $3.00. It is about the only places left you see them.

    • Baltisraul

      Sorry to say nobody would have ever ask my mother for a recipe. We had many, many family gatherings and her sisters always told her,’ Thelma, why don’t you bring the paper plates etc’. She always was so happy to help and she never caught on that her services in the kitchen we not required. Your suggestion is a great one. Hope people will listen to you.

      • Stephanie Manley

        OMG that is a riot. One of my Grandmother’s could make the best salads and desserts. It was the inbetween you had to suffer through. Grandma McDowell could only bring salads or desserts. Funny, as now I am going through her recipe collections and she has all sorts of meats and vegetable recipes in her collection.

  6. ChristinaT

    Agree completely Angelina. My Mom has been gone many years, but I still make her ham salad for my hubby of nearly 42 years. Ham (of course), mayo, chopped hard boiled eggs, and my little shortcut – I use prepared sweet pickle relish, the same kind I use on hot dogs. No measurements, depends on how much ham is left over. Spreadable consistency for that “Wonder bread”, and ham salad is also great on a buttery cracker. You can make a lunch or a midnight snack just out of that!

  7. nancy j.

    “Lunch meat slices” makes me think of the paper thin lunchmeat in a container with a red plastic lid (4 example!)
    Please tell me how to find sliced ham for this recipe?
    Thank you
    Love copykat!!!

    • Rose

      Yes, please explain a little more about what type of ham slices. I also can only imagine the paper thin ones. Thanks so much!

    • Stephanie

      Ok, well go to the deli, or the packaged lunch meat section of the grocery store, and buy a cheap package of sliced ham. I don’t think ham comes in paper-thin slices. Brands that include good options would be something like Oscar Meyer, Bar S, the store brand. Let me know if this explanation works for you.

    • Rochelle

      Just go to the deli counter and have them slice a chunk for you. They will cut as much as you need and most will let you taste it before you buy it. I ;ike a low sodium type and it works great in the salad.

  8. Angelina

    Everyone’s mom and grandma made Ham Salad when I was growing up. It was usually made to spread on a sandwich, which consisted of 2 slices of “Wonder Bread” and a lettuce leaf. Some ladies were daring, and added some chopped hard boiled eggs into theirs. (This was probably to stretch the ham, but nevertheless, it was delicious.) I still make it the way my mom did (w/o eggs), but she always added finely diced celery, and always used Hellman’s Real Mayo. Since ham is already cooked, I don’t understand why you’d cook it again. Many of us would like to know.

    • Stephanie Manley

      Of course, inquisitive minds want to know. Gloria mentioned that while she knew the ham was already cooked, cooking it with brown sugar added flavor to the ham. I hope this explanation works for you.

  9. Sue

    Is the ham listed cooked or not cooked before you boil it. I always have left over ham from cooking a large pork roast with the bone still in it.
    Thank you this recipe looks amazing!

  10. Pam

    Ham steaks, slices, or chunks. My mother made ham sold similar to this throughout our childhood. I love it. She added chopped celery to hers also. In the days before food processors, she had a Dormeyer mixer with a meat grinding attachmen. She used all sorts of left over ham to make her salad, the big baked ham for Easter, leftovers ends from the butcher, but never canned ham….ew gross.

    • ChristinaT

      Pam, My Mom had a meat grinder that clamped onto the kitchen table where she would, with muscle power only, grind the ham into a bowl, then mix the other ingredients in. A packaged ham steak is always an option, although my local Walmart carries quarter sections of a whole ham, sometimes already sliced, but since you’re going to grind it up anyway, I don’t think pre-sliced is a requirement.

  11. Tracy

    This not only sounds delicious but it LOOKS amazing! I’ve only seen ham “paste” and have not even tried it. Not this time! I’m so desperate to make it, I’m wondering if my ham steak slab I have in the fridge would work… I better go to the store and get the slices. Thanks so much, Stephanie! Your recipes never disappoint!

    • Stephanie

      Ham paste is never good! Your ham steak may work, but I would be careful how you pulse it. I really think that the lunch meat slices make a difference in this recipe.

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