Cheesy ham casserole with noodles really masquerades as awesome baked macaroni and cheese complete with plenty of gooey creamy sauce, fresh sage and any ham you enjoy (including holiday) leftovers. Transform basic ingredients into a family favorite weeknight dinner.Jump to Recipe
Don’t you just love using up leftovers in creative ways? I know I love being frugal with food–especially with how much it costs these days.
And whether you have leftover ham in the fridge from the deli, or a platter you sliced for a special meal, this recipe will help you use it up deliciously.
What makes this cheesy ham casserole with noodles special
True to my form, we’re not using any canned soups or Velveeta cheese. Those are not my way.
Instead you’ll make a simple cheese sauce that you can thicken with either gluten free or a wheat based flour and add freshly grated cheeses to. This makes an ultra creamy final result.
Here are some of the ingredients you’ll need:
What cheeses work best in this casserole?
I’m a big fan of using a cheese for flavor and one for melting. In this case we’re going with Swiss and Monterey Jack because we don’t want to overpower the flavor of the ham and fresh herbs.
If you’d like to pick another cheese, check out my list of cheese in the macaroni and cheese guide.
Why is mustard in this recipe? Can I leave it out?
A casserole that tastes as good as it looks mean balancing flavor. Mustard is used here as an acid to brighten up the rich fat from the milk and cheese. Dairy tends to be a little bland.
Note we are using dijon mustard and not classic yellow. We want the flavor to be mellow–not like a hot dog from the ballpark.
Tips & Tricks
- If you need to use a dairy free milk, it will work fine.
- Always use cheese on a block and grate it yourself. Pre-shredded cheese can clump and be gluey.
- Heat the milk and butter slowly together. Stir constantly over low heat to prevent curdling the sauce. If it does separate it will still taste fine though.
- Baking this ham casserole is optional! Feel free to just broil the top to keep the main sauce really creamy underneath.
- Feel free to double or triple this recipe, just bake until hot throughout.
- Remember to taste the sauce before baking. Make sure it has enough salt to suit you.
Can I use dried sage instead of fresh?
The flavor of fresh is really lovely here and I recommend it if possible, but yes you can swap in some dried if you have that on hand.
I’d recommend starting with 1/2 tablespoon and tasting the cream sauce before you bake.
If it’s not strong enough you can add more. Just keep in mind that if your dried sage is old, it will have lost its flavor and you may need to add significantly more.
To make this recipe ahead
Cheesy ham casserole with noodles is a dream make ahead dinner. Get everything mixed together and then let it cool completely. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a skin and refrigerate for up to three days.
To bake, remove the plastic wrap and put the cold dish in a cold oven and heat both together so you don’t break your baking dish.
Bake until the center is hot and the edges bubble. All the ingredients in the recipe are cooked, so you just have to heat it.
Can this casserole with ham be frozen?
Yes. Follow the instructions for making it ahead and then wrap it well in several layers of plastic wrap and foil. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Thaw overnight in the fridge before heating as instructed above.
Great side dishes to serve with ham casserole
You already have pasta in the dish so stay away from heavy carb side dishes like rice or potatoes. Instead try:
Side Dish Recipes
Cheesy Ham Casserole with Noodles
- 2 cups Cavatappi or any short pasta gluten free pasta works
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour gluten free flour works
- 2 cups milk whole or 2% is best
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
- 1 cup sliced ham
- 2 tablespoons sage fresh is best, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups Swiss cheese
- 1 cup Monterey Jack
- Preheat the oven to 400 if you are baking your mac and cheese.
- Bring a large pot (about 3 quarts) of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the pasta and set a timer for two minutes less than the box suggests. If it gives a range, use the shortest time. If it gets done before the sauce, just drain it and set it back in the pot until you need it.
- Once the pasta is in, start the sauce.In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium high heat.
- Add the flour and stir to cook out the raw flour flavor–about 1 minute. Add the milk (warmed if possible) and stir to combine. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and reduce heat to medium low.
- Cook until the sauce simmers, stirring constantly, and the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon–about 5-6 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and add the mustard, ham and sage. Add the cheeses. Stir until the cheese melts. Add the pasta.
- Transfer to a greased 8×8 or slightly larger baking dish, or bake it in the skillet if your pan is safe for the oven. Bake until hot throughout, 20-25 minutes.
- If you want to broil the top, preheat the broiler and broil–about 5 inches from the element or flame–5 minutes or so. Keep an eye on it so you don't burn it!