Ham Pasta Salad is an easy and tasty summer salad filled with ham, cheese, peas, pasta and a delicious dressing. This will be the perfect summer salad at your next potluck, BBQ, or picnic!
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This post was originally posted on 6/11/2020 and updated on 7/10/2023.
Why We Love This Ham Pasta Salad
- Simple! This salad is so simple to whip with basic ingredients and most of them you probably already have.
- Crowd Pleaser. It feeds a crowd making it a perfect pasta salad for pot lucks, family get togethers or any other celebration
- Great Recipe for Leftover Ham. A great way to use up any leftover ham you have to make this yummy salad.
- Lunches. Have this salad on hand for quick lunches at home, to bring to work, or enjoy on a picnic.
- Side or Main Dish. This ham pasta salad makes a great side dish or a main entrée.
Ingredients for Ham Pasta Salad
- Small Pasta: I prefer to use the ring pasta because they're fun and the kids love them. Small shell pasta, elbow macaroni, farfalle (bowtie pasta) or rotini pasta would work well too..
- Diced Ham: Any type of ham will work. Leftover ham, store bought diced ham, ham steak or even thick deli ham are all great options.
- Cheddar Cheese: Use your favorite type of cheese. Any type of cheddar cheese will be delicious, as well as Co-Jack, Pepper-Jack, or Colby.
- Miracle Whip: I personally prefer Miracle Whip over Mayo, however you can use what you like best. Mayonnaise is a delicious choice or you can even sub some of it for plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.
- Lemon Juice: If you don't have a lemon on hand, no problem. You can use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or plain distilled vinegar. You could also use orange juice or lime juice.
- Salt and Black Pepper: I keep this classic salad simple with just salt and pepper. If you want a little bit more flavor you could add some garlic and onion powder, or a touch of paprika is good too. Also, herbs like fresh dill or parsley would be tasty too!
This creamy ham pasta salad will make a great addition to any backyard BBQ, summer picnic or pot luck get together. Sure to be one of your new favorite recipes this season.
How To Make Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
- First, you will need to prepare the noodles according to the package directions. I always cook my pasta to al dente. You can cook it to your own preference. After you drain the pasta, give it a good rinse with cold water. Set it aside or in the fridge so it can cool.
- Now, in a large bowl, whisk together the following ingredients for the homemade dressing: miracle whip, sugar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. Give the dressing a taste, add more pepper if you like. Be careful with the salt, as the ham and cheese will be adding more salt when the salad is all combined
- Next, to the creamy dressing add the diced ham, peas and cubed cheese.
- Finally, combine it all together. Add the pasta to the dressing, ham, peas and cheese and gently fold it all together. Tightly cover the salad and chill until ready to serve.
That's it! An easy pasta salad that is so delicious!
Why you Need to Rinse Pasta for Cold Salads
Normally, I would never ever suggest rinsing pasta because the starch helps the sauce adhere to the pasta. However, that rule applies for warm pasta dishes. Rinsing pasta for cold dishes helps stop the cooking process and will also help reduce the temperature of the pasta so it can be combined with the rest of the ingredients sooner rather than later.
What to Serve with Cold Ham Pasta Salad
This cold pasta salad is delicious served as a side dish or a main dish salad. Here are some of our favorite things to enjoy with it:
- Oven Fried Chicken Legs
- Iowa Maid Rites
- Grilled Spiced Pork Chops
- Instant Pot Pulled Pork
- Garlic Parmesan Focaccia Bread
Storing Pasta Salad
Storing: Store the pea and ham pasta salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Make it ahead: This salad can be made ahead of time. Make it the day before you need to serve it. Letting it sit a day in the fridge helps all the flavors meld, and I think its even tastier the next day.
Serving: Pasta salads are perfect for picnics and potlucks. However, they need to stay cool. To prevent any bacteria from growing, the salad can only sit at room temperature for 2 hours. To help keep it cool while you serve it, place the bowl of ham pasta salad inside a larger bowl with some ice in it. The ice will keep the salad cool allowing you to leave it out longer if needed.
Tips for Easy Ham Pasta Salad
- Don't forget to salt the pasta water. It is the only opportunity you have to season the pasta.
- Rinse the pasta right away with cold water after you drain it. This allows the pasta to cool down faster, and removes some of the starch so the pasta won't stick together as it cools.
- Don't add dressing to warm pasta. The dressing can separate and can prevent it from adhering to the pasta. You can chill the pasta while you prepare the dressing and other ingredients.
- No need to defrost the peas, they'll thaw in the salad while it chills in the fridge.
Other Delicious Cold Salads:
- Chicken Tortellini Salad
- Creamy Tomato Cucumber Salad
- Classic Potato Salad
- Dill Pickle Pasta Salad
- Broccoli Cauliflower Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
- Creamy Fruit Salad
- Tomato Cucumber and Basil Salad
Ham Pasta Salad
- Cook pasta according to package directions, drain, rinse with cold water and set aside or in fridge to chill.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the miracle whip, sugar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper.
- Add the ham, peas and cheese.
- Add the rinsed and cooled pasta to the dressing, ham, peas, and cheese. Gently fold together until it is mixed thoroughly.
- Cover tightly and chill until ready to serve.