These tender and juicy ham balls are coated in a delicious sweet and tangy sauce. They're perfect for potlucks, family gatherings and special occasions!Jump to Recipe
When I think of foods special to the state of Iowa, I think of scotcheroos, breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches, sweet corn, loose meat sandwiches and last (but not least!), old fashioned HAM BALLS! Ever had them??
If you've never tried them, don't walk, RUN! to the nearest grocery store to get the ingredients.
Ham balls are like traditional meatballs you may be more familiar with, but have a sweeter, more"hammy" flavor and a delicious sauce on top. This recipe makes a pretty good sized pan of ham balls, so feel free to half the recipe for a smaller crowd! (Although you might regret that!) 😉
Ingredients Needed (Amounts in recipe card below)
- Ham Loaf - Here in Iowa, our local grocery store sells ham loaf (which is technically half ground ham and half ground pork). If you don't have ham loaf, simply use 1 ½ pounds ground pork and ½ pound ground ham. Don't see it in the store? Just ask the meat counter!
- Ground Pork - You can also use ground beef or some of each.
- Egg - I use size "large" eggs.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs - You can buy a box of graham cracker crumbs or pulverize some graham crackers in a food processor.
- Milk - Any kind of milk will work for this (skim milk, whole milk, almond milk, etc).
- Tomato Sauce - You could also swap this out for condensed tomato soup.
- Vinegar - White vinegar or apple cider vinegar are best!
- Brown Sugar - Light or dark brown sugar will work great.
- Yellow Mustard - You can also use ½ teaspoon dry mustard instead.
HOW DO YOU MAKE HAM BALLS?
Ham Balls are a cinch to put together. To put it really simply, you'll mix a few ingredients, scoop it into balls, top it with a simple sauce and bake.
MAKING THE HAM BALLS...
First, I like to measure out my ingredients. You'll need ham loaf, ground pork, graham cracker crumbs, an egg and milk.
Put it all in a large bowl and stir. You can use a wooden spoon to stir until fully combined, but I find it easiest to use both hands.
Once you've got it mixed up, you'll scoop it into balls and place them in a greased pan. I like to use a large cookie scoop. This gives them a nice round shape and keeps them all the same size.
MAKING THE HAM BALL GLAZE...
Pour the ketchup, tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and vinegar into a small mixing bowl. (Tip: if your brown sugar is super clumpy, put the brown sugar and vinegar in the bowl first, let the brown sugar dissolve, then add the remaining ingredients.) Stir to combine.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER...
Pour the glaze over the ham balls, making sure to cover each one with the glaze. Then, you'll bake for about an hour or until the center of the ham balls reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. (Be sure to temp a few to be sure!) Then dive in!!
What goes well with ham balls?
I've seen Ham Balls served many different ways....served over rice, over noodles, etc. However, my favorite way to enjoy them is to eat them as is with a side of mashed potatoes and green bean casserole!
It's a great main dish option for Easter dinner (and a change of pace from ham) that the whole family will enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
You'll notice that this recipe calls for ham loaf. Depending on which grocery store you shop at, they may or may not have ham loaf. Our local grocery store's ham loaf is combination of ground pork and ground ham.
If you can't find ham loaf, you can make it by combining ½ pound of ground ham with ½ pound ground pork. If you don't see any ground ham at the store, ask the meat counter. They can grind some ham up for you OR you can use a meat grinder at home if you have one (perfect for using up leftover ham!).
I LOVE making my ham ball recipe with graham crackers. They add just the right amount of sweetness to counter the salty ham! However, if you'd prefer to make them without, you can use crushed saltines or butter crackers instead. (But really, try it with graham crackers first!! :))
Store the leftover ham balls in an airtight container in the fridge. I love heating up the leftover ham balls and serving them on a bun kind of like a meatloaf sandwich! Easy & delicious!!