Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad is a simple but delicious creamy dish made with peas, ham, onion and cheddar cheese in a lemon and mayo dressing.
This easy Side Dish is perfect to serve up with your favorite summer recipes. Fire up the grill, make some Chicken, whip together some BBQ sauce, and this salad, and presto! You’ve got an amazing BBQ ready to go!
HAM AND CHEESE PASTA SALAD
We’ve got a lot of Pasta Salads on this site. There’s the Classic, Easy Pasta Salad, Pimento Cheesy Pasta Salad, BBQ Pasta Salad and more. But hands down this Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad has been the favorite with kids. It’s no wonder. They always love simple ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch. This salad is essentially the same thing, but with pasta instead of bread and some extra delicious veggies mixed in.
Don’t worry though, as much as most kids love this Pasta Salad it’s been a favorite with the adults who’ve tried it as well. The tangy lemon dressing and onion give it that extra bit of flavor it needs to be loved by everyone. Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad is the perfect dish to bring to a potluck, family reunion, or cookout because it’s always a huge hit. Depending on how many people you’re feeding, you may want to double up this recipe. Trust me, it goes fast!
The bonus is, even if you make too much and end up with leftovers this dish keeps well in the fridge. The leftovers make a great lunch or even dinner for days when you don’t want to cook. Just cover it tightly and continue to enjoy the pasta salad for the next few days.
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TIPS FOR MAKING EASY HAM AND CHEESE PASTA SALAD
- Prep: Make sure to take the peas from the freezer several hours before starting the recipe. That way they have time to thaw before you mix them in the pasta salad. You’ll also need to cook and drain the pasta before starting the recipe.
- Dressing: In a large serving bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Continue mixing until the dressing is well combined.
- Salad: Add the cooked pasta, thawed peas, ham, cheddar cheese, and onion to the same bowl. Toss the salad together until the ingredients are all coated in dressing.
- Set: Don’t serve right away. Cover and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours so everything has time to set. Then serve the Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad.
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VARIATIONS ON HAM AND CHEESE PASTA SALAD
- Pasta: Don’t have shell pasta? No worries! you can easily exchange the shell noodles for penne, rigatoni, elbow macaroni, or any other short pasta. This salad recipe is easy to adjust for whatever ingredients you have in your pantry.
- Protein: If you want to add in some extra filling ingredients and turn Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad into a main course, you can always add some extra meat. Try putting in chicken, turkey, or tuna. You can either replace the ham with the new meat or combine the two. Sprinkling some bacon bits over the top would also be delicious.
- Cheese: You can replace the cheddar cheese with swiss, provolone, pepper jack, or gouda.
- Yogurt: If you want to lighten up this creamy salad, use Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise. It keeps a similar texture and only slightly alters the taste of the overall salad.
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HOW TO STORE HAM AND CHEESE PASTA SALAD
- Serve: Don’t leave Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad at room temperature for more than 2 hours. If you’re at a BBQ or some event that will last longer, put the bowl in a cooler or a dish with ice to keep it cold.
- Store: Kept tightly covered or in an airtight container, you can store pasta salad in the fridge for 3-5 days.
- Freeze: Unfortunately, the mayonnaise in the dressing means this Pasta Salad won’t freeze well. Better to make a fresh batch.
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 8 ounces medium pasta shells , cooked and drained
- 12 ounces frozen peas , thawed
- 1/2 pound diced ham , about 2 cups
- 8 ounces cheddar cheese , diced
- 1/4 red onion , minced
- In a large bowl whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Add in pasta, peas, ham, cheese, and onion and toss well.
- Refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours before serving.