Old Fashioned Ham Balls

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Old Fashioned Ham Balls Recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Savory ham meatballs are coated in a thick, sticky, sweet and sour glaze and then baked in the oven until piping hot and irresistible. You know those foods that stick in your memory? These ham balls are one of those recipes.

I tried one when they were still piping hot from the oven. I burned my mouth and then, despite the burn, I ate another one while they were still way too hot. They are that good. My family loved them and they managed to eat this entire batch of meatballs in less than 24 hours.

My friend Rebecca warned me about these crazy ham balls. We were talking months ago and she mentioned that she makes these in lieu of a traditional ham for the holidays. My family LOVES this Balsamic and Dijon Glazed Ham, so I couldn’t even imagine not making our favorite ham. However, I get it now. I still make a ham every year, but these ham balls now have first place in the lineup of favorite “leftover ham recipes.”

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And here’s the BEST part, you’re going to use some of these meatballs to make this insanely delicious Sweet and Sour Ham Ball Stir Fry. My family goes crazy over that recipe, we love it that much.

I’ve been making these ham balls for a few years now and they still disappear almost as fast as they cool from the oven. My whole family cheers when they know I’m making a batch. They freeze beautifully too, so don’t hesitate to make the full batch.

If you’ve never ground your own meat before, do not be intimidated. The first time I made these meatballs it was a first for me as well. I bought an inexpensive meat grinder just for this recipe. It is super easy to use and well worth having.

You know how there are recipes that are on your radar for a while and then when you finally make them you wonder what took you so long? These Ham Balls were one of those recipes. I have my friend Sue’s Bourbon Meatballs on my meal plan for next week and I strongly suspect that they are going to be a similar story. Don’t they look incredible?

Old Fashioned Ham Balls Recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen
Kitchen Tip: I use this scoop, this meat grinder, and these baking dishes to make this recipe.

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Old Fashioned Ham Balls

5 from 6 votes
Recipe lightly adapted from and with thanks to Foodie with Family
Servings: 12 -16 servings, approximately 70 meatballs


  • Meatball Ingredients:
  • 2 pounds leftover ham
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs gluten free panko will work fine as well
  • Glaze Ingredients:
  • 3 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard powder


  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease (2) 9x13 baking dishes with oil and set aside. Use the coarse setting on your meat grinder to grind the leftover ham. If you don't have a meat grinder, you can use a food processor to pulse until it is chopped like hamburger meat.
  • Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and mix with your hands until combined. Roll into 1 1/2" - 2" meatballs. I use a medium size cookie scoop to scoop them all the same size before smoothing them with my hands. Arrange the meatballs in the baking pans and set aside.
  • Whisk together all the glaze ingredients in a medium size saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
  • Pour the glaze over the ham balls, dividing it between the two pans. Bake the ham balls, uncovered, for 75-85 minutes, until the ham balls have browned and the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Enjoy!
  • FREEZER MEAL: Let the meatballs cool and then transfer to a freezer safe Ziploc or an airtight container. Pour all remaining glaze over them and press out any air. Let thaw in the refrigerator before reheating covered in the oven, on the stove-top or in the microwave.


If you've never ground your own meat before, do not be intimidated. The first time I made these meatballs it was a first for me as well. I bought an inexpensive meat grinder just for this recipe. It is super easy to use and well worth having.
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally posted 4/10/2014 – recipe notes and photos updated 1/31/2017}

Old Fashioned Ham Balls are sticky, sweet, and completely irresistible! get the recipe at barefeetinthekitchen.com

Here are some more meatball recipes you might like:

French Onion Au Gratin Meatballs by Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Chicken Parmesan Meatballs by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Crock-Pot Honey Garlic Meatballs by Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts

Easy Italian Meatball Bake by Lemons for Lulu

The Best Swedish Meatballs by Barefeet In The Kitchen

Turkey Meatballs with Bruschetta Sauce by Shugary Sweets

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. mmlssoucy says

    I have been looking for a good ham ball recipe and because you always have MARVELOUS recipes, I will give this first go. It does sound delicious. Thank you for passing this on. 🙂

    • Mary says

      Sue, you MUST try these! They are truly that good. (And oh yes, I thought of you first for meatball recipes. Those Bourbon Meatballs call my name!)

  2. Pat says

    Made these…brought back memories of 25-30 years ago. A Mennonite woman made this mixture and sold it at her family’s County store. She passed away and I’ve tried so many Recipes and never got “that flavor” ! Well, this is it!! Thank you!!

  3. Cindi says

    I’m making a pineapple stuffing to go on the side with these hamballs…will go great together. You can also do a pineapple glaze/sauce on the meatballs.5 stars

  4. Erin says

    This looks like exactly what I’m looking for! Do you think this recipe would work in a crockpot?

    • Mary Younkin says

      You’ll need to sear the meatballs before putting them in the crockpot, but it should work fine that way, Erin. I can’t speak to the cooking time though, as I’ve never done that myself.

    • Mary Younkin says

      I imagine that would work fine, Jodi. You can also buy 2 lbs of unsliced ham in the deli of most grocery stores and then just chop it into chunks to grind it.

  5. Denise says

    Hi, I’m Denise this is the first time I’ve made these ham balls according to your directions. Wow do they smell just like my Mother’s . Now I’m making the sauce for them which smells delectable. I will have to let you all know how these turn out.

  6. Minnie says

    Hello Mary,
    Would Italian style bread crumbs work in the ham balls?
    What could I use instead. I’m nervous about makin these as my mother-in-law makes them for Christmas every year. And are they ever GOOD. Thank you for any help

    • Mary Younkin says

      I actually use Italian-style last time I made them because that was what I had on hand, Minnie. The hamballs turned out fine. Given my choice? I’d buy plain bread crumbs, but the other will work.

    • Mary Younkin says

      The calories are listed on the recipe card, Angela. However, if you’re needing more information that you can cut and paste the ingredient list into an online recipe calculator.