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The Best Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

by | Dec 5, 2021 | Recipes

A casserole that’s super duper easy to make and filled with savory goodness, this Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole is the perfect side dish to serve with any special holiday meal or eat on its own as a comfort food on those ever-needed Treat Yo Self days. Firm baked potato chunks are enveloped in a creamy cheese sauce that’s generously dotted with crispy, pan-fried diced ham.

overhead shot of cheesy ham and potato casserole in individual gratins and a larger baking dish

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Many years back, my father flew out to Northern Virginia for a holiday visit with me. It was going to be just the two of us. Being the avid home cook that I am, I wouldn’t accept us going out to dinner or having food delivered. So, I set off on figuring out a holiday menu for two. Have you ever tried to cook a traditional holiday dinner for just two people?? Let me tell you, it’s next to impossible.

Why? Because traditional dishes and their recipes are literally meant to serve a small Army of guests. I was frustrated that it wasn’t practical to roast the smallest turkey I could find. And, even moreso, that it would be equally impractical to serve all the normal fixings. So, I lowered the bar on my expectations.

I began looking for alternatives that were still homey and comforting, like the traditional dishes I grew up eating. I came across a casserole of ham and potatoes with melted cheese on top–instantly, I knew my father would love it!

JUMP TO:

INGREDIENTS    SWAPS    TIPS & TRICKS    HOW-TO    RECIPE

Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

Now, I’m not big on ham. Give me bacon, pork chops, ground pork, pork loin and I will certainly eat it. Basically, give me all of the pig parts except ham. Especially not deli-sliced ham! But my father on the other hand….Well, the man could keep all of the pig farmers in the U.S. afloat on his purchases of ham alone. So, I knew that I had to make that ham and potato casserole. After all, he was my guest and a good hostess caters to her guests, no?

But honestly you guys, that ham and potato casserole was a total hit for both of us! There were a ton of leftovers of it. Like I said, most holiday recipes are meant to feed many more people than just two. But we weren’t mad at it. And even though it was a really good dish, I never made it again. Sadly, the link to the recipe was lost to the annals of my laptop’s browsing history.

Still to this day, I have no idea which food blogger or food media entity out there gave us that delicious dish that holiday. But, I remember the main ingredients and I’ve often though about that ham and potato casserole over the years. Yes, it was that good. So this year, I set out to not only create my own ham and potato casserole inspired by that one from years ago–but also to improve upon it. Or what I remember of it, haha.

close up of a bite of cheesy potato casserole recipe

Time to Level Up This Ham and Potato Casserole

My version is a very cheesy potato casserole recipe, where ham plays an integral part in the final result. I wanted to create a cheese sauce that isn’t just about the cheese. Instead I wanted to build layers of flavor into that cheesy goodness. So I took the chicken broth I remembered from that long-lost recipe and doubled-down on the flavor. I added in sour cream, cream cheese, half and half, and shredded cheese.

And instead of just tossing diced ham into a baking dish all willy-nilly atop giant chunks of russet potatoes, I take the flavor train one stop further. How you ask? It’s just ham, right? No! Remember that part above about how you can give me bacon and I’ll eat it gladly, but lay a bit of ham in front of me and it’s likely a no-go?? Yeah, well here’s how you solve that ham conundrum–pan fry that diced ham into crispy cubes of salty deliciousness! In my eyes, they’re now basically bacon bits on steroids, haha.

But we’re not done yet. Now, make that crispy diced ham a foundational element of the roux for your cheese sauce and you get a deeply flavored, savory and slightly more complex cheese sauce to pour over all of those potatoes. Y’all this dish is such a dreamy creamy cheesy potato casserole that even my picky eater boyfriend (who loathes ham) thinks it’s downright delicious!

Gonna try out this recipe?

Leave a star rating or review in the comments to let me know what you think!

Ingredients For Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

overhead shot of ingredients needed to make cheesy potato casserole
  • Potatoes – I like to use russet potatoes because they keep their shape well during baking. The potatoes in this casserole stay firm like the inside of a baked potato.
  • Ham – I’m all for convenience, so I typically use the pre-diced ham to save me some time.
  • Onion – Any kind of onion will do here, but I tend to use a yellow onion or a sweet onion.
  • Cheese – The most important thing with the cheese is that you use a kind that melts well. I like to use Monterey Jack or Cheddar, or a combination of the two.
  • Cream Cheese – Just a little bit is needed to help thicken the sauce and add a cheesy tang.
  • Sour Cream – I like to add in a bit of sour cream; it gives the dish a little more tang and adds to the “loaded baked potato” vibe.
  • Chicken Broth – If you can find the low-sodium or no salt added kind, use it to help control the salt in this dish a bit more.
  • Half and Half – The half and half is backbone of the dreamy, creaminess of this cheese sauce.
  • Garlic Powder and Onion Powder – A small amount of both savory seasonings help bump up the flavors in this recipe.
  • Salt and Black Pepper – I provide amounts in the recipe, but the amounts of these are both really dependent upon your taste. Adjust as you see fit.
  • Olive Oil – I like to use olive oil to pan fry the ham and sauté the onions, but you could use a vegetable oil if you prefer.
  • All-Purpose Flour (not pictured above) – This is the key ingredient for creating the roux that will make the cheese sauce velvety smooth.

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graphic for pinterest recipe pin of cheesy ham and potato casserole

Ingredient Swaps & Variations

  • Give it a Kick – Add in crushed red pepper, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, diced jalapeños, or top with your favorite hot sauce.
  • Swap the Meat – If you’re not a fan of ham, you could swap it out for some ground beef or shredded chicken or pork and still come out with a meaty, flavorful cheesy potato casserole.
  • Make it Meatless – Just skip the ham, but keep the chicken broth. Or you could experiment with plant-based “meat” crumbles, pan-frying them until crispy like this recipe does with the ham.
  • Pump Up the Veggie Volume – Whether you want to bump up how many servings this makes or make it a little less decadent and a bit more healthy, adding in more veggies is never a bad thing. Some that I’d suggest include broccoli, bell peppers, carrots, corn, green beans, spinach, or kale. If you opt for kale, sauté it with the diced ham so it has a chance to break down and soften.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

What to Remember – Cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil before putting the casserole into the oven to bake. The foil will trap the moisture; thereby keeping it from evaporating while the potatoes cook. This is key since it takes a while for the potatoes to fully cook.

What to Avoid – Make sure to keep a watchful eye on the cheese topping. You want the cheese melted and bubbly, but things can quickly go from perfect to burned.

Ways to Use Leftovers of this Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole – Get adventurous! I haven’t tried this idea, but I think it could totally work and result in something amazingly delicious–potato croquettes. Hear me out! First, I’d puree the leftovers in a blender. Then, I’d add enough flour to be able to shape the mixture into balls or little logs. After that, I’d just make them as you typically would a deep fried potato croquette.

Recipes That Go Well with Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole – If you’re serving this casserole as a main entree, I’d suggest pairing it with my Super Garlicky Green Beans, Kickin’ Crispy Roasted Broccoli, or Tomato and Cucumber Salad; all of them have an element that’ll help balance out the richness of this potato casserole. As a side dish, I’d pair it with my remake of my Grandma’s Simple Pork and Sauerkraut or my Comforting Smothered Steak with Onions.

close up of easy cheesy potato casserole with ham in a baking dish

Recipe Notes

Storage – Leftovers of this potato casserole should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge; leftovers will be good for up to 7 days.

Reheating – This casserole is best reheated in the oven. Remove your leftovers from the fridge and let sit on the kitchen counter for about 30 minutes to come up in temperature. Then transfer the leftovers into an oven safe baking dish and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; when the oven’s ready, pop that baby in there for about 20 minutes. If additional time is needed, check every 10 minutes.

Servings & Nutrition – One serving of this Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole is 3/4 cup. This recipe makes 6 servings. Each serving has approximately 409 calories, 40 g of carbohydrates, 18 g of protein, 20 g of fat, and 6 g of sugar. For the full recipe and additional nutritional information, please see the recipe card below.

macro close up of creamy potato casserole with ham and cheese

How to Make Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

Step 1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Get a medium mixing bowl and add in the sour cream and softened cream cheese. Combine and then set aside.

Step 2. Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat and let the oil heat up for a minute. Then add in the diced ham and cook for 2 minutes before stirring. Cook another 2 minutes, then stir and add in the diced onions. Cook until the onions begin to turn clear and stir occasionally.

overhead shots of the first four steps in making cheesy ham and potato recipe

Step 3. Once you see the onions starting to turn clear, sprinkle the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and the flour over the ham and onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring well to thoroughly coat the ham and onions.

Step 4. Slowly start adding in 1 cup of the chicken broth to the pan, using a whisk to blend the broth into the mixture and break up any lumps that form. Let the mixture come up to a simmer, while stirring occasionally. Once it’s simmering, continue cooking for about 5 minutes to let the sauce thicken a little and stir occasionally using your whisk to make sure that it doesn’t get too thick too fast.

Step 5. Add in the rest of the chicken broth, the half and half, and the sour cream mixture. Use your whisk to blend these into the sauce.

Step 6. Add the diced potatoes to the bottom of your baking dish. This recipe can be made as a whole in an 8×8, a 9×9, or in individual gratin dishes or ramekins; all will use the same baking instructions that follow.

overhead shots of steps 5 through 8 in making cheesy potato casserole with ham recipe

Step 7. Turn the heat off of the stove and then add 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese into the skillet. Stir in the cheese and mix well; the residual heat of the pan and sauce will melt the cheese into the sauce.

Step 8. Pour the cheese sauce over your potatoes in your chosen baking dish. Then cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil. Transfer the dish to the oven and bake for 50 minutes.

Step 9. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the aluminum foil; discard the foil. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the casserole and then return the casserole to the oven to bake another 10 minutes. Let the casserole sit at least 5 minutes before serving to help the sauce “set”.

baked potato casserole with creamy cheesy sauce and diced ham topped with melted cheese

If you make this recipe, tag me in your photos on Instagram—I love seeing what you guys decided to make!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I sub in heavy cream for the half and half in this Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole recipe?

Absolutely! One thing I would suggest though is that you use half the amount called for since heavy cream is thicker and richer than half and half. To achieve the same consistency as in my recipe, thin the heavy cream out with either 1/2 cup of chicken broth or 1/2 cup of water.

I don’t like the tang of cream cheese or sour cream. Is there a way that I could make this potato casserole without them?

Oh yes, no worries. Skip the cream cheese and sour cream altogether if you prefer; both only add minor volume to the overall sauce and are mostly there just to impart their flavors. If you feel your sauce is a little thin without them, I’d suggest adding in 1/2 cup more half and half and about 1/3 cup more shredded cheese and then letting the sauce cook down a little to thicken.

I don’t have russet potatoes on hand. Can I make this ham and potato casserole with a different type of potato?

You’re in luck my friend because even though I think russets are best for this recipe (they hold their shape better), you can certainly sub in a different kind of potato. Yukon Gold potatoes would especially be lovely because they have a thin skin that you wouldn’t need to peel and you’d get all that added fiber and nutrients. My second alternate choice would be a red potato, and you could leave the skins on these as well if you like.

Other Recipes You May Enjoy

overhead shot of cheesy ham and potato casserole in individual gratins and a larger baking dish

Creamy Cheesy Ham and Potato Casserole

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

An easy, cheesy dream of a ham and potato casserole, this savory baked side dish goes well with any main entree. It gives all of the comfort food vibes.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 medium potatoes, diced into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/4 cups diced ham
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese and sour cream; set aside.

2. Add olive oil to a medium skillet and let heat through, then add diced ham. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir. Cook another 2 minutes, then stir and add in the diced onion. Cook until onions begin to turn clear (approximately 5 minutes), while stirring occasionally.

3. When onions begin to turn clear, add in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and flour. Then stir well to coat the onions and ham. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

4. Slowly add in 1 cup of chicken broth while whisking to break up any lumps and ensure the mixture is smooth. Let come to a simmer, whisking occasionally.

5. Once the sauce is simmering, cook for about 5 minutes to thicken. Then slowly add in the remaining chicken broth, the half and half, and the sour cream mixture. Stir well to thoroughly combine.

6. Add the diced potatoes to the bottom of an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish.

7. Once the broth, half and half, and sour cream mixture are incorporated into the sauce, turn off the heat of the burner and add in 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese. Stir to mix well into the sauce.

8. Pour the cheese sauce over the potatoes, then tightly cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 50 minutes.

9. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the aluminum foil. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the potatoes.

10. Return the casserole to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes, until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown a little.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 3/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 409Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 72mgSodium: 730mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 18g

This nutrition data is provided and calculated by Nutritionix. Please keep in mind that your specific nutritional values may vary based on the brand of ingredients you use to make this recipe.

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Hey there! I’m Krystal, the sassy-mouthed, self-taught, home cook behind the content here at Sweet, Savory & Sassy. I have a deep love for sharing food with people and showing folks just how easy it really is to make dishes that will bring a little extra joy to those you love. There’s nothing like making something special for friends and family and seeing their face light up in delight during that first bite!
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