What dish is your deepest-rooted definition of “comfort food”? For me, it might be Ham Casserole.

Creamy ham casserole with breadcrumbs

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More specifically, my definition is a hybrid of my Grammy’s homemade mac and cheese (you’ll find it in my cookbook!) and my Grandma’s Party Ham Casserole.

Both contain noodles, a crispy topping, and unbridled amounts of heavy cream.

My grandmothers’ recipes are exactly the sort of dishes you want to curl up with on a chilly evening when the sun sets too early, the wind blows too strong, and you realize that a comforting pasta bake and a pair of sweatpants might be the secret to a lifetime of happiness.

Cheesy ham casserole made with Greek yogurt in a baking dish

5 Star Review

“I make this casserole all the time. I just love it. That combo of sage, nutmeg, and ham is divine.”

— Michele —

How to Make Ham Casserole

While I still indulge in my grandmothers’ original recipes every now and then, today’s comforting ham casserole is a lighter, more modern version that any family can feel good about enjoying on a regular basis.

It’s reasonably healthy and makes fantastic leftovers.

  • To complement and elevate the ham and cheddar, I added sautéed onion and earthy sage.
  • I kept the irresistible crunchy breadcrumb topping (mandatory) but ditched the cream of mushroom soup.

I’m giddy about the magic that happens between the sage, ham, and cheddar, but my favorite part about this dish is the white sauce.

A touch of butter and half-and-half are needed, but the rest of the thickness comes from Greek yogurt and a handful of sharp white cheddar cheese.

Leftover ham casserole on a plate with greens

The Ingredients

  • Ham. Always a crowd-pleaser, ham is richly flavored and deliciously savory. It pairs well with cheesy, creamy sauces. It’s also a lean protein that’s rich in vitamins and selenium.

Ingredient Note

My family usually makes this recipe as a leftover ham casserole after a holiday feast (when we aren’t making Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup), but you don’t need to wait until you have leftover ham to make it. You can purchase cooked, diced ham directly from the grocery store, or buy one larger piece of ham and cube it yourself.

  • Pasta. To make this casserole extra appealing and hearty. I used whole wheat penne for its nutritional benefits (more minerals like iron) and ideal shape and size. Whole wheat pasta contains more fiber than regular pasta.

Substitution Tip

Looking for easy ham casserole with potatoes? Simply add cubed ham to my Hash Brown Casserole; you also can stir some leftover diced Oven Roasted Potatoes into this recipe.

For ham casserole with rice, use ham in place of the cooked, shredded chicken in this Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole or add ham to this classic Broccoli Casserole.

  • Sage. An earthy herb that is the essence of fall and winter. It’s a fantastic complement to the ham and cheesy sauce.
  • Flour. To help thicken the sauce.
  • Milk. I used nonfat milk to keep things light.
  • Half-and-Half. Adds much-needed richness to the sauce without making it too heavy.
  • Nutmeg. Adds a touch of warmth and subtle complexity.
  • Greek Yogurt. For ultra creamy sauce with a hint of tanginess. Greek yogurt also adds protein and calcium to this casserole.
  • Sharp White Cheddar Cheese. Adds a bold, cheesy flavor to the sauce.
  • Breadcrumb Topping. The ultra important finishing touch. The crisp, toasty breadcrumb topping makes this casserole feel special.

The Directions

Whole wheat pasta being drained
  1. Cook and drain the pasta.
  2. Sauté the onion in melted butter.
Onion and butter ingredients being stirred in a pot
  1. Whisk in the flour. Add the garlic, milk, and half and half. Simmer to thicken the sauce.
Creamy sauce with cheese for ham casserole
  1. Remove the pot from the heat, then stir in the salt, nutmeg, yogurt, cheese, and part of the sage.
Noodles and diced ham meat in a pot
  1. Stir in the pasta and ham.
Noodles and meat in a creamy cheese sauce in a baking dish
  1. Transfer everything to a baking dish.
Breadcrumbs on top of creamy casserole ingredients in a baking dish
  1. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the casserole. Cover and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F. Uncover it and bake for 10 more minutes. Top with the remaining sage. DIG IN!
Healthy ham casserole in a baking dish

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate leftover casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave. 
  • To Freeze. Freeze casserole in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, prepare the casserole as directed up until adding the breadcrumb topping. Cover and refrigerate it until you’re ready to add the breadcrumb topping and bake.

Leftover Ideas

Spruce up leftover ham casserole by stirring in Roasted Broccoli or Roasted Carrots.

A baking dish with ham casserole

What to Serve with Ham Casserole

Healthy ham casserole with breadcrumb topping

Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe

  • Baking Dish. Perfect for making ham casserole.
  • Dutch Oven. A kitchen tool you’ll use on repeat.
  • Small Whisk. A smaller-sized whisk like this one is so much easier to use.

The Best Baking Dish

This high-quality, beautiful baking dish will become your casserole BFF for life. It’s one of my most-used kitchen tools!

Creamy ham casserole

Did you make this recipe?

Let me know what you thought!

Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.

Ham casserole: Doing my grandmothers proud one pan of comfort food at a time!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make Ham Casserole Gluten Free?

While I haven’t experimented with gluten-free swaps myself, I think it would work. Use gluten-free pasta and a 1:1 gluten free flour like this one.

Can I Make Ham Casserole with Another Meat?

Yes, you can definitely add another meat to this casserole if you’d like. I think adding cooked, diced, or shredded turkey or chicken would be tasty.

Can I Add Vegetables to Ham Casserole?

If you want to bulk up the veggie content in this casserole, try stirring in some baby spinach or frozen peas with the pasta and ham.

Creamy ham casserole

Ham Casserole

4.72 from 7 votes
A healthy version of a baked ham and cheese pasta casserole with sage that is just as comforting as the original. Your entire family will love this dish, and it makes great leftovers too!

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins

Servings: 8 servings

Ingredients
  

FOR THE CASSEROLE FILLING:

  • 1 pound whole wheat penne
  • 16 ounces diced ham
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh sage leaves thinly sliced, dived
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups nonfat milk
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt do not use fat free or it may curdle
  • 1 cup freshly grated sharp white cheddar cheese

FOR THE BREADCRUMB TOPPING:


Instructions
 

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the pasta to the water and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and lightly grease a 9×13 or similar baking dish.
  • Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or similar large, deep pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 6 minutes.
  • Sprinkle in the flour, then cook whisking often, until the flour is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds.
  • Gradually pour in milk, whisking constantly, then the half and half. Continue to cook until the sauce simmers and thickens, about 7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, then stir in the salt and nutmeg, then the Greek yogurt, cheddar, and half of the sage.
  • Add the drained pasta and ham, toss gently to coat.
  • Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish.
  • Combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil in a small bowl and sprinkle over the top of the pasta. Cover the dish with foil, then bake for 10 minutes covered. Uncover and bake 10 additional minutes, until the crumbs are golden and the pasta is hot and bubbly. If desired, turn your broiler to high to finish browning the crumbs, watching them carefully so that they do not burn. Remove baked pasta from the oven, sprinkle with remaining sage, and serve.

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate casserole in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze casserole in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 8)Calories: 479kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 26gFat: 19gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 61mgPotassium: 206mgFiber: 5gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 457IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 240mgIron: 1mg

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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53 Comments

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  1. LOVE the idea of yogurt in the sauce!! I can’t wait to try this one Erin – I have tons of cubed leftover ham in my freezer that I was wondering what to do with, so this will definitely be on the menu next week and I’m already looking forward to it!

  2. I’m sorry did you just use healthy and casserole in the same sentence?! We are trying to do a healthier Thanksgiving this year and thought I was going to have to nix any casseroles (tear) but I’m thinking we don’t have to do that anymore! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Mmmmmm, ham and cheese anything is comfort food for me. My dad used to make grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for us whenever mom was busy at dinner time. Love the yogurt trick to make the sauce a little bit healthier!

  4. This looks like the ultimate comfort dish!!! I actually keep thinking about it after I saw it last week – soo delish!!! Gorgeous photos too :)

  5. This cheesy goodness needs to make its way to my plate. I’m loving all the fall flavors happening in this recipe. Pinned.

  6. How many servings does this make and do you have any idea what the calorie count per serving is? Sorry if I overlooked it

    1. Hi Fiona! Regarding nutritional info, this is something that I’ve actually started adding to all of my new recipes, effective January 2016 (you’ll see it in the recipe box at the bottom). Unfortunately, it’s pretty time consuming, so I’m unable to go back and add it to past recipes. If you’d like the nutritional info for any of my older recipes (or really any other recipe or food), you can actually calculate it yourself for free at myfitnesspal.com (this is how I calculate the new recipes on my blog). I’m sorry I can’t give you the information for this exact recipe, but I hope that My Fitness Pal will be a helpful resource for you. In terms of how many this serves, I would say 6, depending upon how hungry everyone is :)

  7. I make this casserole all the time. I just love it. That combo of sage, nutmeg, and ham is divine.5 stars

    1. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the recipe, Rebecca! Thank you for sharing this kind review! You can reheat this in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F.

  8. Love this recipe, have made it a few times. Coming back to it now though, I’m left wondering about “3 teaspoons garlic”. Is that Garlic powder? Minced garlic? Typically garlic is given in units of cloves and the reader does the conversion.4 stars

    1. Hi Aaron! Thank you so much for letting me know, I’ve corrected it in the recipe card. This is minced garlic. So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  9. Wondering if this still works well without the sage or if there is another herb/seasoning I could use in place of the sage as I don’t like the taste of it.

  10. Needed to get some leftover Christmas ham out of the freezer so gave this a try. Realized too late that nonfat yogurt was a no-go so used some Neufchâtel plus pasta water and a little more cheddar. Also threw in some ripped up fresh spinach, which I highly recommend. Added visual appeal. I don’t tend to make casseroles often — my husband and son were thrilled.4 stars

  11. I have this recipe tagged as containing apples, but they’ve clearly been removed from this recipe. Anyone remember the amount of apples, and can you comment on why the recipe was updated without notes?

    1. Hi AA! We’ve recently updated the post and the recipe. For the apple: 1 medium diced sweet-crisp apple like honeycrisp or fuji, or a tart apple like granny smith will be perfect. Hope this helps!

  12. Very tasty! You’d never know this is a healthier take on a classic style recipe. I highly recommend!5 stars

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