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, maid-rites and last (but not least!), HAM BALLS! Ever had them??
If you’ve never tried them, don’t walk, RUN! to the nearest grocery store to get the ingredients. Actually….drive. That’ll probably be quickest! Ok, no matter how you get there, you’ll be glad you did!
Ham balls are like 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!) 😉
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 find that the easiest way to form the balls is 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 is “ham loaf?”
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 combo of half ground ham and half ground pork. If you can’t find ham loaf, you can make it by combining 1/2 pound of ground ham (cue the leftover ham!!) with 1/2 pound ground pork.
Can I make Ham Balls without graham crackers?
I LOVE making ham balls with graham crackers. They add just the right amount of sweetness and some added flavor. However, if you’d prefer to make them without, you can use crushed saltines or buttery crackers instead. (But really, try it with graham crackers first!! :))
What should I serve with Ham Balls?
I’ve seen Ham Balls served many different ways….served over rice, served on a bun, etc. However, my favorite way to enjoy them is to eat them as is with a side of mashed potatoes or cheesy ‘taters! Talk about the perfect “meat & potatoes” kinda meal!!! (I’m showing my mid-western roots, huh?) 🙂
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- 1 lb ham loaf
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 egg
- 1 c graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 c milk
- 1/2 c ketchup
- 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
- 1/4 c vinegar
- 2/3 c brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
- Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 baking dish.
- In a large bowl, combine the ham loaf, ground pork, egg, graham cracker crumbs and milk.
- Use a 1/3 cup measuring cup (or a large cookie scoop) to make balls out of the meat mixture and place into prepared pan; set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the ketchup, tomato sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and yellow mustard.
- Pour the sauce over the ham balls and bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the ham balls reach an internal temperature of 160°F.
Recipe added to the Weekend Potluck.