Ham Balls

March 30, 2017
3 Ratings
  • Makes 24 meatballs
Author Notes

Ham balls are meatballs…..made of ham. I’ve made balls of beef, turkey, lamb, seitan, lentils—how had I never thought of ham? It’s so simple and so genius. The recipe is something that seems to be straight out of a World War II rationing cookbook, and was probably overlooked for decades because of hideous vintage food photography. But as I held this recipe—from Uncle Jim on my husband's side of the family over in Iowa—in my hands, I realized that I had found treasure, a priceless heirloom that had been tucked away in a dusty corner of the attic. If I brought these balls onto Antiques Roadshow, I’d make a bazillion dollars.

They are not just a dish—oh, no no no, ham balls are an event. You get all the people in your church together, everyone makes ham balls, and then you walk around the church basement sampling all of them. This isn’t just a quirky little recipe Matt “forgot” to mention. This is an integral pillar of Iowan society! —Allison Robicelli

What You'll Need
  • For the meat
  • 1 pound ground ham
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 sleeve crushed graham crackers
  • 1 egg
  • For the sauce
  • 1 can tomato soup
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and have a 9x13 baking pan ready.
  2. Mix all ingredients for the meatballs well, using your hands, Form into balls using a 1/3 cup measure, and place on the pan.
  3. Stir sauce ingredients together well. Add or subtract from these ingredients to taste (I like it tangy). Pour sauce evenly over the ham balls and bake for 1 hour.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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Allison Robicelli is a James Beard-nominated food writer, a Publisher's Weekly-starred author, and lots of other fun things. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, she currently lives with her two sons and four cats in Baltimore, Maryland.

4 Reviews

Tammy R. August 17, 2018
What type of ham should I use?
Heather July 24, 2018
I’m intrigued! What is ground ham? Is that a thing?
Diane B. November 25, 2018
Get a ham that you would roast in the oven, or ask the deli people to slice you a chunk off of the ham roast. Best is to use a meat grinder. if you don't have one a food processor will do. Good luck!
Melissa H. July 23, 2018
Oh boy, this reminds me of something my college roommate used to bring back after visits home. She called it “ham loaf”. It was like meat loaf, but made with ham. She would eat it cold out of a Ziplock bag. I was perplexed. I finally broke down and tried a bite. Unbelievable! 30 years later I still have flashbacks of the salty sweet deliciousness. I begged for a recipe, which I finally got but was so vague I never had the courage to attempt it. I may try this soon!