Home » Main » Cheesy Pasta Bake with Ham is Perfect for Leftovers

Cheesy Pasta Bake with Ham is Perfect for Leftovers

This cheesy pasta bake with ham is an easy pasta bake recipe that brings new flavors to a mac and cheese style casserole.

cheesy pasta bake serving in a gray bowl with full casserole in a blue dish in the background

It’s a weekday, and you’ve been running around like crazy. The kids are hungry, and you’ve got leftovers to bust through. What could be better than a cheesy pasta bake with ham to close out a stressful day?

Grab your favorite pasta and cheese, then bring them together in this decadent, comfort-food, classic casserole.

Cheesy Pasta Bake for Leftover Ham

Ham is a major staple for easy dinners and holiday favorites; unfortunately, you’re often left with a lot of meat and no idea what to do with it.  The next time Easter or Christmas roll around, you’ll know exactly what to make with all that deliciously juicy leftover ham

This recipe can even be made with a ham steak, canadian bacon, chicken, or turkey!  

Blue and white casserole dish with golden cheesy pasta ham bake

As a busy working mom, I love meals that are this versatile. Want to include a vegetable? This ham pasta bake is the perfect opportunity to use up cooked veggies like asparagus, broccoli, or Brussels sprouts from last night’s dinner.

Or you can also simply toss in some lightly steamed broccoli or frozen peas.

How to Make Cheesy Pasta Bake With Ham

white bowl of farfalle bowtie pasta

ngredients:

  • 16 ounces cooked pasta
  • 3 cups cubed cooked ham
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (or ½ tsp table salt) (here’s the homemade seasoning salt I use)
  • 1 small, chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • ⅔ cup grated parmesan
  • 4 ½ cups grated cheddar

Instructions

1. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 13” by 9” baking dish or deep round 8” casserole dish. 

TIME SAVER: If you don’t have precooked pasta, you’ll need to cook your pasta of choice at this point. (We really like bowtie pasta) I like to get my pasta cooking while I shred my cheese, chop the onion, and gather all my ingredients.
hands shredding orange cheese on a silver grater

2. Combine your cooked pasta and cubed ham into a bowl to set aside while you make a roux and mix up the cheesy sauce;

PRO TIP: Don’t skip the roux!  This step ensures that the cheese will melt perfectly into the sauce without making it clumpy.  

3. Melt your butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add your spices: onion, black pepper, cayenne pepper, seasoning salt, and mustard powder.  Cook this mixture for about 4 minutes, then add in your garlic. 

4. Cook for 2 more minutes, until the garlic and onions are aromatic.  Add the flour and mix, without stopping, for another 2 minutes – your mixture should be thick and paste-looking at this point.

5. Slowly add your half-and-half and ⅓ of a cup of parmesan cheese.  Stir over medium heat until the mixture is bubbly, then remove your pot from the heat. 

wooden spoon coated in cream sauce above a silver pot

6. Stir in the cheddar a handful at a time, mixing well until the cheese has all melted into the sauce.

PRO TIP: By mixing in the cheese a handful at a time, and making sure each addition melts before you add more, you can get a really smooth sauce

7. Pour your cheesy sauce over the pasta and ham, mix to combine, and transfer to your greased baking dish or casserole pan. 

8. Sprinkle the top of your casserole with the remaining parmesan cheese, cover your dish with foil, and cook for about 45 minutes, until the casserole is hot and bubbling.

Dinner of ham pasta bake in a bowl with a glass of white wine

Tips for a Better Cheesy Pasta Bake

If you’re like most home chefs, cooking for little ones can be a struggle; they can be the pickiest crowd!  When you want your pasta bake to be absolutely perfect, follow these simple tips that I’ve tried and tested for you.

  • Prepare all of your ingredients while your water comes to a boil and your pasta cooks.
  • Undercook your pasta by two to three minutes; it will continue to cook in the oven!
  • Use sharper, more decadent cheeses (like fontina or aged cheddar) for more flavor. I sometimes use 3 different cheeses at a time!
  • Skip the regular table salt and opt for a seasoning salt instead (I love this homemade herb salt).
  • Add vegetables to your cheesy pasta bake; you can toss them in whole or blend them and mix into the cheese sauce!
  • Skip the peppercorn and cayenne pepper if you don’t do spicy or have kids with sensitive taste.
  • Want extra crispy and gooey cheese on top? Uncover your ham pasta bake for the final 15 minutes of cooking and top with additional cheddar for ultimate cheesiness.
bowl of cheesy bowtie pasta and ham with the casserole in the background

Do You Bake Pasta Covered or Uncovered?

When it comes to pasta bakes, whether or not to cover the dish really depends on how much liquid your casserole has, how much pasta is uncovered by sauce, and how you like it cooked.

Generally speaking, you’ll want to do the majority of the cooking with your casserole covered. This will prevent any protruding pasta from getting hard and dry in the oven.

During the last 10-15 minutes of cooking, you can remove the foil (or casserole lid) to brown the top of your casserole.

Bowtie pasta and ham in a creamy cheese sauce in a grey bowl with a blue and white striped napkin and glass of white wine

What to Serve With a Cheesy Pasta Bake

Since this decadent, cheesy pasta bake is deliciously high in gooey carbs, the best pairings will be recipes that are acidic (which helps cut the fattiness of the cheese) or carb-light in nature. 

Pickled vegetables like pickled asparagus, quick pickled radishes, or pickled green beans can be a fun side. Or try an endive salad with a cranberry apple vinaigrette.

For hot vegetable sides to compliment this dish, I recommend recipes like lemon garlic roasted asparagus, balsamic strawberry asparagus, roasted delicata squash, or maple orange carrots.

With such an easy recipe for the main dish, you can get as fancy as you like with side dishes. 

What’s your favorite side to pair with a cheesy pasta bake?  Let me know in the comments!

More cheesy casserole recipes

Pin to save for later

Don’t lose this recipe! Pin the image below to save this post. Then you can leave a photo in the comments of the pin once you’ve made it. We love seeing your creations!

two images of a cheesy pasta and ham casserole

Printable Cheesy Pasta Bake Recipe with Ham

Yield: 10 servings

Cheesy Pasta bake with Ham

Bowtie pasta and ham in a creamy cheese sauce in a grey bowl with a blue and white striped napkin and glass of white wine

This cheesy pasta bake with ham is an easy pasta bake recipe that brings new flavors to a mac and cheese style casserole. While perfect for using up leftover ham from the holidays, you can also use ham steaks, Canadian bacon, chicken, or turkey. I've made this casserole with both penne pasta and tri-color bowtie pasta and have also tossed in frozen peas or steamed broccoli for a one dish meal.

Cook time does not include cooking the pasta. I suggest getting that cooking while you gather and prep your other ingredients. I use my homemade herb salts, but you can swap that for any store bought seasoning salt you like.

(Adapted with permission from Food.com)

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces cooked pasta
  • 3 cups cubed cooked ham
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon seasoning salt (or ½ tsp table salt)
  • 1 small, chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 3 cups half-and-half
  • ⅔ cup grated parmesan
  • 4 ½ cups grated cheddar

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a 13”x9” baking dish.
  3. Combine cooked pasta and ham then set aside.
  4. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  5. Add onion, black pepper, cayenne pepper, seasoning salt, and mustard powder. 
  6. Cook for 4 minutes, then add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
  7. Add flour and mix continuously for 2 minutes.
  8. Slowly add half-and-half and ⅓ cup parmesan.  Bring to a bubble, then remove from heat.
  9. Add in the cheddar a handful at a time mixing each time until all of it has melted.
  10. Pour cheese sauce over pasta and ham, toss to combine, then transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  11. Sprinkle remaining ⅓ cup parmesan on top of the pasta bake.  Cover with tin foil.
  12. Bake for 45 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
  13. Serve and enjoy.

Notes

  • Prepare all of your ingredients while your water comes to a boil and your pasta cooks.
  • Undercook your pasta by two to three minutes; it will continue to cook in the oven!
  • Use sharper, more decadent cheeses (like fontina or aged cheddar) for more flavor. I sometimes use 3 different cheeses at a time!
  • Skip the regular table salt and opt for a seasoning salt instead. I love this homemade herb salt
  • Add vegetables to your cheesy pasta bake; you can toss them in whole or blend them and mix into the cheese sauce!
  • Skip the peppercorn and cayenne pepper if you don't do spicy or have kids with sensitive taste.
  • Want extra crispy and gooey cheese on top? Uncover your ham pasta bake for the final 15 minutes of cooking and top with additional cheddar for ultimate cheesiness.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 518Total Fat: 35gSaturated Fat: 20gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 123mgSodium: 1088mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 1gSugar: 4gProtein: 28g

Nutrition information is an estimate only.


We'd love to keep in touch. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and get your free download of our favorite healthy cute kid snacks.

Posts may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product through an affiliate link, your costs will be the same but Eating Richly Even When You're Broke will receive a small commission.

This helps us to cover some of the costs for this site. Thank you so much for your support!

Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to content