Table of Contents
  1. The ingredients in these ham balls
  2. What should be served with this recipe?
  3. Watch how to make these ham balls
  4. Ham Balls Recipe

Growing up, I never realized that food is utterly regional. Take this ham balls recipe for example. I always thought everyone had ham balls and knew what they were. In Iowa, we were able to buy ham loaf from the local grocery store and quickly make ham balls.

Little did I know that not everyone could easily buy ham loaf to make ham balls as my mom did so easily at the store. When I went to college halfway across the country and tried to buy ham loaf, the butcher looked at me like I was crazy. Thankfully, ham loaf is easy to make at home!

Hand holding white baking dish filled with brown colored ham balls with sauce on top with silver spoon sitting in dish

Ham balls are like meatballs but with a different mixture of ground meats: ground ham, ground beef, and ground pork. The main meat is ground ham. Since ham is a cured cut of pork with a smoky quality, it contains a different flavor than ground pork alone. While these three types of meat together sound like an interesting combination, the mixture results in a flavorful and perfectly-textured meatball.

If you have not had this recipe, you’ve just found your new favorite meatball!

Side profile of ham ball sliced in half with fork holding piece off to side with baking dish in background filled with more ham balls

The ingredients in these ham balls

  • Ground ham is the reason these are called ham balls. The ground ham carries the flavor of cured ham and can be purchased in most meat departments. If you cannot find it pre-packaged, ask a butcher to grind it for you.
  • Ground beef and ground pork are mixed with the ham to create a richer, more complex flavor as well as a better texture. Just like in traditional meatballs, the mixture of meat is essential in creating a good meatball.
  • Graham crackers are crushed and act as bread crumbs. The graham crumbs have a sweetness that works well with ham. This is totally a Midwest thing!
  • Milk adds richness and provides a soft texture when mixed with the cracker crumbs. If possible, use whole milk for the best flavor.
  • Eggs help the ham balls hold together without being too firm.
  • Tomato soup is a surprise base ingredient that creates ham balls’ iconic sweet and tangy sauce. The premade soup can be store-bought or home-canned. Tomato soup has good acidity but also a mellow tomato flavor on which to build the sauce.
  • Apple cider vinegar adds some additional acidity to help create a sweet tangy sauce.
  • Brown sugar is the sweetness that creates a depth of flavor that only molasses can impart.
  • Dijon mustard rounds out the sauce and finishes it without anyone knowing there’s added mustard.
Top down view of brown colored ham balls with sauce all over the top sitting in white baking dish with spoon

This is a recipe you need to make in order to truly understand and appreciate it. Traditionally, Easter is a day when ham is served. Ham balls were always my family’s way of changing up the menu while still sticking to tradition. Maybe it’s time you switch it up this year too!

What should be served with this recipe?

Ham balls should be viewed as the main dish, but there are so many complimentary side dishes. Here are some of my favorites:

More Easter recipes

Watch how to make these ham balls

Top down view of white baking dish with ham balls sitting in dish after being baked with brown colored sauce over top

Ham Balls

4.34 from 9 votes
While not a tradition everywhere, ham balls are a Midwestern staple. And a lot of times, they're served around Easter as an alternative to the more traditional ham. Either way, this combination of three ground meats with a sweet, tangy sauce on top is a new type of meatball that you will love!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Servings 15 ham balls

Ingredients

For the ham balls

  • 1 lb ground ham
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 3 tbsp grated onion
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

For the sauce

  • 1 ¼ cup condensed tomato soup
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 ¾ tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set it aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground ham, beef, pork, graham cracker crumbs, onion, eggs, milk, and salt. Combine until well mixed and homogenous. The important step is to make sure all ingredients are combined.
    1 lb ground ham, 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb ground pork, 1 cup graham cracker crumbs, 3 tbsp grated onion, 2 large eggs, 1 cup whole milk, 1 ½ tsp salt
  • Evenly portion into 15 balls and place in the prepared baking dish.
  • Prepare the sauce in a large measuring cup by combining the tomato soup, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, and salt. Whisk to combine and pour over the ham balls.
    1 ¼ cup condensed tomato soup, ¾ cup brown sugar, 1 ¾ tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ cup apple cider vinegar, ½ tsp salt
  • Bake in the preheated oven, basting with the sauce every 20 minutes. Bake until the ham balls are firm and reach 160°F internally, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ham ball | Calories: 298kcal | Carbohydrates: 19.2g | Protein: 18.9g | Fat: 15.4g | Saturated Fat: 5.7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6.5g | Trans Fat: 0g | Cholesterol: 88.1mg | Sodium: 548.9mg | Potassium: 461.6mg | Fiber: 0.6g | Sugar: 13.9g | Vitamin A: 20.6IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 73.8mg | Iron: 1.8mg
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Baking

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Kaleb

I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I am so happy I found you. I love trying your recipes. I live in Germany now and a lot of them remind me of home. I am from Indiana.

    1. I am from Iowa and the two most popular sides are cheesy potatoes and green beans. These meatballs can be made ahead and then frozen (without the topping), so they can be super simple to serve your house guests or the people who come to your church dinner fundraiser (this is often the go-to menu!)!

  2. 5 stars
    Regarding the ham balls, I can’t wait to make these. They look so delicious. I love your videos. You’re so natural and I love your house and I’d kill for that stove.

  3. We went and made these , yet the ham balls were a little sticky. We used the exact amount in all the ingredients. Not sure why this happened. Yet maybe the American measuring cups may be smaller than the Canadian.
    Thanks for sharing all your great recipes!
    Lori Glier

    1. 5 stars
      We finished cooking them , and our family loved them! We have never had any recipe like this one . Thanks again for sharing!
      Lori Glier

  4. I’m making these meatballs today and I’ve found that 3 pounds of meat makes more than 15 meatballs. It made like 22. I also made them smaller so I have even more. I’m getting ready to put them in the oven now. I’m looking forward to tasting them.

  5. 5 stars
    I made the ham balls for Easter dinner. They were an absolute hit!! I was actually shocked because the picky eaters don’t like to try new things so I cut one up and served it like a sampler!!Thank you for the midwestern recipe. Kansas here!!

  6. 5 stars
    I found this recipe, minus the onion, in our church cookbook some 20 years ago! It’s been a favorite made as ham loaf since then. My daughter-in-law has since developed an egg allergy. I’ve not found a good replacement for the egg. Any suggestions?

    1. Hello! Those church recipes always seem to be winners! For an egg replacement, there is a brand called JUST egg that is egg-free but tastes and acts the same! I have not tried it in this recipe but think it would work well!