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This Ham and Potato Casserole checks all the critical comfort food boxes. Carbs? Yes! Cheese? Of course! Savory, salty ham? You bet! This cheesy ham and potato bake will be in frequent rotation in your home.

a white baking dish with a ham and potato casserole topped with sliced green onions.
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What’s your favorite meat and why is it ham? I kid, but it’s hard to deny that ham is something special.

This cheesy ham and potato casserole has a smooth, creamy homemade sauce that doesn’t rely on canned condensed soup. 

The sauce brings together tender cubes of potatoes, savory diced ham, and plenty of sharp cheddar cheese—with some smoked paprika and thyme for depth. 

This is a great recipe to use up leftover ham, such as from an Instant Pot Ham. And if you’re looking for more great ham recipes, check out our Ham and Cheese Pinwheels, Ham Fried Rice, Ham and Beans, Ham Pasta, and Ham and Swiss Quiche.

Ingredients

thyme, chopped ham, shredded cheese, potatoes, and other ingredients on a marbled board.

This recipe has:

  • Unsalted butter – Most ham is brined, which is why it has that signature salty flavor. For this reason, I recommend using unsalted butter—or if you use salted, dial back the added kosher salt.
  • Cornstarch
  • Garlic
  • Evaporated milk* – Not to be confused with condensed milk, which is sweetened!
  • Yukon gold potatoes
  • Ham – I like the spiral ham from Butcher Box.
  • White onion
  • Extra sharp cheddar
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Fresh thyme – Swap in dried if you need to.

*Looking for additional recipes that use evaporated milk? Check out fantasy fudgeInstant Pot mac and cheesesmoked gouda mac and cheeseold-fashioned fudgecrock pot hot chocolate, and gluten-free scalloped potatoes.

Step By Step Instructions

*I’ll walk you through it here with some photos and tips, and you’ll also find a printable recipe card at the bottom of the post with exact measurements, etc. You can also click “jump to recipe” to skip down.

Preheat your oven to 350˚F and grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat. Stir in the garlic and whisk until softened; don’t let the garlic brown or burn!

Sprinkle the cornstarch over the butter and whisk to form a paste. Continue to cook, whisking often, until the paste thickens.

Slowly pour in the evaporated milk, whisking constantly as you do so. This is important—it keeps your sauce from being lumpy.

two photos showing the process of making a cream sauce in a pan.

Increase the temperature to medium. Let the milk mixture come to a near boil; cook for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the potatoes, ham, onions, cheddar, kosher salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and thyme. Pro tip: If your casserole dish is deep enough, you can mix all of the ingredients right in the dish instead of dirtying a bowl.

a bowl of ham, cheese, potatoes, and other ingredients.

Add the potato mixture to the baking dish, then pour the sauce evenly over the top. 

Cover the casserole dish with foil and bake the potato and ham casserole at 350˚F for 45 minutes. 

Uncover and continue baking until the potatoes are tender, the top is browned, and the sauce is thickened.

2 photos showing the process of making a casserole in a white baking dish.

RECIPE VARIATIONS & OPTIONAL ADDINS

Even though ham is the best meat, you can use diced chicken or bacon for a different spin on this recipe. It won’t be ham and cheese potato casserole, but it will still be delicious.

If you like a crispy topping on your casserole, you can add panko or coarse breadcrumbs; stir them with melted butter and season with salt and pepper. You can also kick it old-school by using crispy rice cereal, cornflakes, or buttery crushed crackers.

I like using sharp cheddar because it’s assertive enough to stand up to the flavor of ham. A smoked cheddar or even smoked gouda would also be fabulous, but I’d avoid a mild cheese if you’re switching things up—you want something bold and flavorful.

HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT

Storing Leftovers: Allow the ham and potato casserole to fully cool before storing it in an air-tight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.

Reheating Leftovers: You can reheat leftover casserole in the microwave or cover it and bake it in a 350ºF oven until it’s warmed through.

Freezing Leftovers: I do not recommend freezing this dish; potatoes get mealy when frozen and thawed.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH THIS RECIPE

With hearty potatoes, ham, and a rich, cheesy sauce, you really don’t need much else to make this ham and cheese potato casserole a meal. 

Pair it with a simple vegetable side dish like Instant Pot Broccoli, Air Fryer Cauliflower, or Instant Pot Asparagus.

Or, keep it fresh and light with a salad like this Easy Cabbage Salad or Green Pea Salad.

PRO TIPS/RECIPE NOTES

  • It’s not always feasible for a weeknight, but if you can swing it, shred your own cheese for this recipe. The bagged shredded cheese at the grocery store has ingredients added to keep it from clumping in the bag—which also makes it melt less smoothly. 
  • Cut the potatoes into evenly-sized pieces. Otherwise, you’ll end up with some that are hard and raw-tasting and others that are falling apart.
  • The liquid will not fully cover the potatoes and ham when you pour it in, but this is okay!
  • Spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray to prevent any potatoes from sticking to it.
cheesy potato bake with a spoon.
5 from 1 rating

Ham and Potato Casserole

Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total: 1 hour 30 minutes
a white baking dish with a ham and potato casserole topped with sliced green onions.
This ham and potato casserole checks all the critical comfort food boxes. Carbs? Yes! Cheese? Of course! Savory, salty ham? You bet! This cheesy ham and potato bake will be in frequent rotation in your home.

Ingredients 

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter (for sauce){plus more for the pan}
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 cloves garlic {finely minced}
  • 1.5 cups evaporated milk {1, 12oz can}
  • 5 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed {~2.5 lbs}{~5 medium potatoes}
  • 2 cups ham {diced}
  • 1/2 cup white onion {diced}
  • 1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1.5 tsp fresh thyme {roughly chopped} {or 1/2 tsp dried}

Instructions 

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  • Butter a 9×13 baking dish.
  • In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in garlic and whisk for ~2 minutes.
    2 tbsp unsalted butter, 3 cloves garlic
  • Sprinkle the cornstarch over the butter, and whisk to form a paste. Cook down for 3 minutes, whisking often.
    1 tbsp cornstarch
  • Slowly and gradually pour in the evaporated milk, whisking constantly to incorporate.
    1.5 cups evaporated milk
  • Increase the temperature to medium and bring the milk mixture to a near boil for 2 minutes, whisking constantly.
  • In a large mixing bowl combine the potatoes, ham, onions, cheddar, kosher salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and thyme. Pro tip: if your casserole dish is deep enough, you can do this directly in the dish.
    5 cups Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed, 2 cups ham, 1/2 cup white onion, 1.5 tsp kosher salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp smoked paprika, 1.5 tsp fresh thyme, 1 1/2 cups extra sharp cheddar, shredded
  • Add the potato mixture to the buttered baking dish and pour the milk mixture evenly over the ingredients. Pro tip: the liquid will not fully cover the potatoes and ham.
  • Cover tightly with foil and bake covered at 350˚F for 45 minutes. Pro tip: spray the underside of the foil with cooking spray to prevent any potatoes from sticking to it)
  • Uncover and bake until the potatoes are soft, the top is browned, and the liquid is solid in the middle (~15-30 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes).

Notes

  • Potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled.
  • If you can’t tolerate corn, you can sub in the cornstarch for arrowroot powder or all-purpose flour. If using flour, you’ll want to cook it down with the butter for a few extra minutes.
  • You can use whole milk or half-and-half in place of evaporated milk, but warm it before adding it to the butter/cornstarch mixture to prevent it from curdling.
  • If you need to make this plant-based, use your favorite dairy-free butter and dairy-free milk. I prefer cashew milk for this kind of dish.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 308kcalCarbohydrates: 27gProtein: 15gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 8gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0.1gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 840mgPotassium: 726mgFiber: 3gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 372IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 241mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @sustainablecooks or tag #sustainablecooks!

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About Sarah

Helping you serve up budget-friendly sustainable recipes with a side of balanced living.
Come for the food. Stay for the snark.

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4 Comments

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, Pat! And thank you so much for being one of the recipe testers before this post was published.