Ham is a friendly protein that gets along with just about everyone. That said, there are certain dishes that really compliment this ingredient’s salty, smoky, sorta-sweet personality. Below are our go-to dishes, with a few recipe options for each. But first, a couple of our favorite ham recipes in case you’re on the hunt:
This mac and cheese has two secret ingredients: garlic powder and white pepper. They add a can’t-put-your-finger-on-it savoriness that’ll have people asking for thirds.
Practically nothing goes better with ham than asparagus, which is at its peak in spring, but in grocery stores all year long. Walnuts, panko breadcrumbs, and grated Gruyère cheese mix and mingle for a crunchy topping that everyone will love (kids included!).
Recipe developer Rebecca Firkser insists that roasted cauliflower doesn’t have to be boring. In just 30 minutes, she pulls off an irresistible vegan side dish complete with raisins, garlic, olive oil, and red pepper flakes that pairs perfectly with a ham dinner.
A special-edition mac and cheese that would love to join your holiday feast. If you can’t find truffled mustard, you can add truffle oil instead, to taste.
Mac and cheese, but make it cozy. Canned pumpkin and brown butter are up to the task. Baking it in a sheet pan means lots of crispy bits.
A holiday feast isn’t complete without cranberry sauce in one form or another. Here, it’s heated in a pot on the stove with butter and balsamic vinegar for a rich, syrupy glaze that is drizzled over the roasted sprouts.
Since this recipe was deemed Genius in 2011, it’s racked up over 100 glowing reviews, like “Perfect” and “This recipe is the bomb!” and “a staple at every holiday dinner.” Hey, can I come?
This green bean salad has plenty of tang, thanks to crème fraîche, sherry vinegar, and whole-grain mustard. If hazelnuts aren’t your thing, walnuts would also be very good here.
A Big Little take on the classic. All you need are green beans, mushrooms, cream, and shallots. Oh, and no oven required.
The beauty of these sauteed Brussels sprouts is that they can go any number of ways. Give them a drizzle of honey for sweetness, a dash of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick, grated Parmesan cheese for a salty edge, and even a handful of nuts or pan-fried bacon for some extra crunch.
Here’s a foolproof formula for a side dish: blanched vegetables plus your favorite vinaigrette. In this case, it’s crisp-tender green beans with a honey-mustard-ish dressing.
If you think mashed potatoes are too rich, here’s your answer: Instead of just using whole milk or cream, introduce some tangy players, like buttermilk and white wine.
Sweet potatoes are, ahem, sweet, which is where these chipotles come in handy. They add a slow-burn smokiness that ham echoes.
This recipe trusts in a single clove of garlic. If you’re me, you’ll double or triple (or quadruple?!) this, because you can.
Like the Instant Pot potatoes above, these ones are all about—say it with me—balance. The tiniest splash of vinegar (I like malt best, but white, white wine, or apple cider work, too) makes all the difference.
“If you love smoked paprika, the odds are high that you’ll love these carrots. They’re roasted in a hot oven after they’ve been rolled around in a mix of honey, vinegar, cumin, cayenne and smoked paprika, which I consider a magical ingredient,” writes recipe developer Dorie Greenspan.
A spoonful of white miso wakes up stodgy creamed greens. Start with kale, then try it on spinach, mustard greens, escarole, you name it.
Here’s a pro tip the next time you cook something in milk or cream (like our December Recipe of the Month): Add a garlic clove, bay leaf, and few sprigs of time. These overachievers infuse the dairy to become more than the sum of its parts.
Which is to say, there is no cream (shhh). Instead, there’s zingy Greek yogurt. Labneh would be A++, too.
Maybe making bread so close to a ham-worthy get-together unsettles you. And sure! These freeze-ahead rolls totally get that.
A cheesy-creamy showstopper that comes together in the blink of an eye—especially if you buy kale pre-chopped and washed, which I almost always do.
If parsnips aren’t your thing, don’t let that deter you. Carrots—or turnips or rutabaga—would be happy to hop in here.
25. Angel Corn
Ritz crackers create a crunchy-buttery topping for this corn casserole. For a bit of heat, just add ground cayenne or hot sauce to taste.
A sweeter way to enjoy braised collard greens! The greens are sautéed in coconut milk and then finish cooking in coconut milk, vegetable broth, lime juice, and a couple of tablespoons of tamari.
27. Corn Muffins
Is there anything happier than a basket of warm corn muffins on a holiday table? No. The answer is no! (Just make sure there’s soft, salted butter alongside.)
Chewy farro and winter squash team up with a few of our favorite ingredients: feta, walnuts, and sharp mustard greens. If you’re looking to make less dishes (and honestly, who isn’t?), this could count as a salad and starch in one.
Our test kitchen’s best cornbread has a brown-buttery crust, plush interior, and unabashedly corny flavor.
Cheddar cheese is the usual mix-in for cheesy grits but tangy goat cheese and sharp Parmesan is a duo that we can definitely get behind.
Potato salad, emphasis on the salad—no mayo involved. Baby arugula adds some peppery-greenery, something most holiday tables could use more of.
Tear into one of these cuties and you’ll probably wonder how they become so pillowy and soft. That’s all thanks to milk and egg, which enrich and tenderize the dough.
“Kale is like one of those friends who you don't think about much, but when you do see him, you're always delighted and a little surprised by how much you like him,” Amanda Hesser writes.
This spicy-sweet vinaigrette would love to team up with hearty greens (like kale) or delicate ones (like butterhead). But don’t stop there: Why not dress up just-roasted squash or steamed broccoli?
Alison Roman essentially created two side dishes in one—roasted carrots over a bed of greens—for a snappy recipe that goes so well with ham.
Instead of a classic round shape, these rolls are folded over, like envelopes. Read all about the family story behind them here.
Not many people claim to love turnips, but they’re kind of a must-have for an Easter brunch. When they’re roasted and dressed with a Dijon vinaigrette and fresh tarragon, they’ll suddenly become everyone’s favorite side dish.
The secret to this luxury hotel recipe? Tuck a pat of butter inside each roll before baking. And yes, you should still butter them afterward, too.
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