28 Side Dishes That Get Along Great With Ham

December 18, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

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:

Mac & Cheese

1. Stovetop Mac & Cheese

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.

2. Truffled, Mustardy Mac & Cheese

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.

3. Sheet-Pan Pumpkin Mac & Cheese With Brown Butter

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.

4. Martha Stewart’s Macaroni & Cheese

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?

Green Beans

5. Green Beans With Crème Fraîche & Hazelnuts

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.

6. Stovetop Green Bean Casserole

A Big Little take on the classic. All you need are green beans, mushrooms, cream, and shallots. Oh, and no oven required.

7. Green Beans Vinaigrette

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.

8. Garlic Green Beans

This recipe trusts in a single clove of garlic. If you’re me, you’ll double or triple (or quadruple?!) this, because you can.

Mashed Potatoes

9. Instant Pot Buttermilk Leek Mashed Potatoes

If you think mashed potatoes are too heavy (same), here’s your answer: Instead of just using whole milk or cream, introduce some tangy players, like buttermilk and white wine.

10. Mashed Maple Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are, ahem, sweet, which is where these chipotles come in handy. They add a slow-burn smokiness that ham echoes.

11. Salt & Vinegar Mashed Potatoes

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.

12. Mashed Sweet Potatoes With Crème Fraîche & Herbs

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.

Creamed Greens

13. Miso-Creamed Kale

A spoonful of white miso wakes up stodgy creamed greens. Start with kale, then try it on spinach, mustard greens, escarole, you name it.

14. Better Than Creamed Spinach Spinach

Which is to say, there is no cream (shhh). Instead, there’s zingy Greek yogurt. Labneh would be A++, too.

15. Lacinato Kale Gratin

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.

16. Creamed Spinach & Parsnips

If parsnips aren’t your thing, don’t let that deter you. Carrots—or turnips or rutabaga—would be happy to hop in here.

Corn Anything

17. 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.

18. New-Fashioned Corn Pudding

A corn pudding that doesn’t want you to call it “sweetie.” Garlic, ground mustard, hot sauce, and sharp cheddar make this uber-savory.

19. 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.)

20. Our Best Cornbread

Our test kitchen’s best cornbread has a brown-buttery crust, plush interior, and unabashedly corny flavor.

Mustardy Salads

21. Warm Farro & Mustard Green Salad With Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash

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.

22. Potato Salad With Arugula & Dijon Vinaigrette

Potato salad, emphasis on the salad—no mayo involved. Baby arugula adds some peppery-greenery, something most holiday tables could use more of.

23. Kale Salad With Apples & Hazelnuts

“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.

24. Maple Syrup & Dijon Vinaigrette

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?

Dinner Rolls

25. Heavenly Oatmeal Molasses Rolls

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.

26. Freeze-Ahead Dinner Rolls

Maybe making bread so close to a ham-worthy get-together unsettles you. And sure! These freeze-ahead rolls totally get that.

27. Aunt Mariah’s Rolls

Instead of a classic round shape, these rolls are folded over, like envelopes. Read all about the family story behind them here.

28. Astor House Rolls

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.

What dishes do you love to serve with ham? Share ideas in the comments!
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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

1 Comment

Shirley L. December 22, 2019
Lots of recipes for sweet toppings for ham which is fine. But I'm looking for a savory blend. Will be making a side dish that contains tomatoes, red onions, jalopeno peppers and a few other savory items. This goes great with ham, but looking for something more savory than sweet.