Ham And Noodle Casserole

Ham And Noodle Casserole Recipe: History, Ingredients, and Perfect Pairings

Casseroles trace their origins to the early 20th century. They gained popularity due to their convenient one-dish format. Combining proteins, vegetables, and sauces, casseroles evolved into diverse recipes. The term “casserole” derives from a French word for “saucepan,” reflecting the dish’s baked nature. By the mid-1900s, casseroles became a staple in American households, especially during post-World War II years when busy lifestyles demanded quick yet fulfilling meals.

Why Ham and Noodle Casserole Stands Out

Ham and noodle casserole stands out for its savory flavors and simplicity. The combination of tender noodles and savory ham creates a filling and delicious dish. Factors like the creamy, cheesy sauce and adaptability for various ingredients add to its appeal. Versatility is another strength; you can substitute different cheeses, vegetables, or spices to suit your taste. This casserole efficiently uses leftover ham, reducing waste. Its nostalgic value and ability to feed a crowd make it a favorite for family gatherings and cozy dinners.

Key Ingredients in Ham and Noodle Casserole

Choosing the Right Type of Ham

Selecting the right ham impacts the overall flavor of your casserole. Opt for fully cooked, smoked ham. Smoked ham enhances the dish with its rich, savory taste. Pre-cooked ham simplifies the preparation process, allowing you to focus on assembling other ingredients. Avoid overly sweet hams, as they can clash with other savory elements. If using leftover ham, ensure it’s not overly seasoned with competing spices.

Best Noodles for the Perfect Casserole

Noodles form the base of your casserole. Choose wide egg noodles for their ability to hold sauce well. Egg noodles provide a tender yet firm texture, maintaining their shape during baking. Cook noodles al dente before mixing them with other ingredients. Overcooking noodles leads to a mushy texture. Other suitable types include fusilli and penne, offering variation in texture and shape.

Step-by-Step Recipe for Ham and Noodle Casserole

Preparing Your Ingredients

Gather all necessary ingredients to streamline your cooking process:

  • Ham: Use 2-3 cups of diced, fully cooked smoked ham. Verify the ham isn’t sweetened to maintain balance.
  • Noodles: Cook 12 ounces of wide egg noodles until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • Vegetables: Dice 1 medium onion and 1 cup of celery. Clean and chop 1 cup of mushrooms.
  • Sauce: Mix 2 cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 cup of milk, and 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Blend until smooth.
  • Seasoning: Use 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder and black pepper. Add salt to taste.
  • Optional Topping: Crush 1 cup of cornflakes or breadcrumbs for a crispy finish.

Cooking and Assembly Tips

Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) before starting.

  1. Sauté Vegetables: Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet. Add onions, celery, and mushrooms. Cook for 5-7 minutes until tender.
  2. Mix Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked noodles, ham, sautéed vegetables, and sauce mixture. Stir until evenly coated.
  3. Layer Casserole: Transfer the mixture into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Spread evenly to ensure consistent cooking.
  4. Add Topping: Sprinkle the crushed cornflakes or breadcrumbs on top if desired. This adds a pleasing crunch.
  5. Bake: Place the baking dish in the preheated oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Let the casserole rest for 5 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld. This dish pairs well with a fresh green salad or steamed vegetables.

Variations and Creative Twists on the Classic Recipe

Adding Vegetables for a Nutritional Boost

Enhance the ham and noodle casserole with extra nutrition by adding vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, or spinach. Dice bell peppers and broccoli into small pieces to ensure they cook evenly. Fold fresh spinach into the mixture before baking for extra fiber.

Adding mushrooms and zucchini also brings rich textures and flavors. Sauté mushrooms and zucchini prior to mixing them with the casserole to avoid excess moisture. Include a blend of colorful vegetables to make the dish more visually appealing.

Experimenting with Different Cheeses

Transform the flavor profile of your casserole by experimenting with various cheeses. Swap the traditional cheddar with gruyere or gouda for a richer taste. Shred gruyere or slice gouda thinly to ensure even melting.

For a creamier consistency, mix in cream cheese or ricotta. Blend softened cream cheese or ricotta into the sauce before combining it with noodles and ham. To add a tangy twist, sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top before baking.

Create a blend of cheeses like mozzarella, parmesan, and feta to layer complex flavors. Grate mozzarella and parmesan, then crumble feta for a balanced mix that complements the ham.

Pairing Suggestions for Ham and Noodle Casserole

Best Side Dishes

Choosing the right side dishes can elevate the ham and noodle casserole experience. Consider these options:

  • Green Salads: Fresh ingredients like mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light vinaigrette complement the rich flavors of the casserole.
  • Roasted Vegetables: Vegetables such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus add texture and nutritional value.
  • Bread Rolls: Warm, crusty bread rolls provide a comforting and easy-to-pair option.
  • Fruit Salad: A mix of seasonal fruits like berries, melons, and grapes adds a sweet contrast.
  • Steamed Broccoli: Simple broccoli retains a crisp texture and pairs well with the creamy components of the casserole.

Wine Pairings

Wine selections can enhance the flavors of your ham and noodle casserole. Here are some recommendations:

  • Riesling: Its acidity and slight sweetness complement the savory ham.
  • Chardonnay: A lightly oaked Chardonnay balances the creamy texture of the casserole.
  • Pinot Noir: This light red wine’s fruitiness provides a nice contrast to the savory elements.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: With its crisp acidity, it cleanses the palate between bites.
  • Beaujolais: This light, fruity red wine pairs well without overpowering the dish’s flavors.

By incorporating these pairings, you can enhance your dining experience and fully enjoy each element of ham and noodle casserole.


Ham and noodle casserole isn’t just a meal; it’s a nostalgic journey that brings warmth and satisfaction to your table. By focusing on quality ingredients and thoughtful pairings, you can elevate this classic dish to new heights. Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or simply craving comfort food, this casserole is sure to impress. Enjoy experimenting with variations and pairings to make it uniquely yours.

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