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Ham and Cheese Casserole

This Ham and Cheese Casserole is made with diced ham, cheesy sauce and rotini pasta then topped with buttery bread crumbs for an easy meal that will quickly become a family favorite!

What could be more delicious than ham, cheese, and pasta? This hearty one-pan meal is the best comfort food that combines all the simple ingredients in one baking dish that is then baked in the oven for a quick and easy dinner the whole family will love. 

Serving of Ham and Cheese Casserole on white plate with baked casserole dish behind it.
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Some days it's hard to come up with dinner ideas that everyone will eat. This is one of those casseroles that even picky eaters will usually eat.

Pasta and homemade cheese sauce is always a winning combination and it's easy to pick out the ham if they don't like it. Ask me how I know!

Need side dish ideas to go along with this casserole? I like to serve this with a side of Southern Green Beans and these Homemade Dinner Rolls. A simple side salad is another great option.

Ingredients Needed

See printable recipe card below for all ingredients, specific measurements, and complete instructions.

Ingredients to make ham and cheese casserole set out on counter.

This easy baked dinner can be made with just a few minutes of prep work and simple ingredients for a quick flavorful casserole.

  • Rotini - I used Rotini but you can use any pasta with ridges or curls that allows the creamy sauce to cling to it.
  • Butter - Make sure to use butter and not margarine for best flavor.
  • Flour - All purpose flour to help thicken the sauce.
  • Seasoning - Garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
  • Milk - I recommend using whole milk for creamy sauce.
  • Dijon Mustard - Used to flavor the sauce.
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese - Sharp cheddar gives the sauce lots of flavor.
  • Ham - You can use leftover ham or store-bought diced ham.
  • Breadcrumbs - Use homemade breadcrumbs or your favorite store bought brand.

Recommended Kitchen Tools (Affiliate links).

  • Casserole Dish - If you need a good basic casserole dish with a lid I like this OXO 3 Qt Baking Dish. Perfect for taking a casserole to a friend or potluck.
  • Liquid Measuring Cups - I use this 3-piece Glass Pyrex set that includes 1, 2 and 4-Cup glass measuring cups.
  • Saucepan - This Cuisinart Stainless saucepan with lid is one I use a lot in my kitchen.
  • Dish Towels - These are my favorite and I have them in yellow.

How To Make Ham and Cheese Casserole

This dish is made with such simple ingredients, and it’s also super easy to prepare! In fact, you can have this dinner prepped and in the oven in just 15 minutes.

Butter, flour and milk mixture in sauce pan.
Shredded cheese added to milk mixture in sauce pan.

Start by preheating the oven and greasing the baking dish. Then prepare the rotini pasta according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking make the cheese sauce on the stovetop by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.

When the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk to combine. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to bubble and brown.

Next pour the milk into the pan and continue cooking over medium low heat. Keep stirring the mixture constantly to prevent lumps from forming and cook until the milk begins to simmer.

Once bubbles start to form in the milk, remove the pan from heat and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, Dijon mustard, and half the shredded cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.

Pasta and ham in casserole dish.
Cheese sauce added over pasta and ham in casserole dish.
Layer of shredded cheese added over ham and pasta in casserole dish.

Pour the cooked pasta in an even layer in a 9x13 baking dish. Top the pasta with the cubed ham.

Spread the cheese sauce over the top of the ham and rotini, stirring lightly to mix the sauce with the pasta. Top with layer of shredded cheese.

Breadcrumb topping in bowl.
Breadcrumb topping over ham and cheese casserole.

To prepare the breadcrumb topping, stir together melted butter and the breadcrumbs until the mixture begins to stick together. After that sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the casserole.

Place the dish in the oven to bake for around 30 minutes, until the sauce begins to bubble and the breadcrumbs on top are golden brown. Allow the casserole to rest for around 10 minutes before serving.

Baked ham and cheese casserole cooling in casserole dish.

How To Store Casserole and Reheat

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the stove or microwave. Pasta tends to soak up the sauce so you can a little milk if the pasta seems dry.

Casserole Variations and Substitutions

This casserole is easy to make and easy to customize. Here are a few simple variations and substitution ideas to try.

  • Use different pasta. Rotini is a fun addition to this casserole. Any type of pasta will pair perfectly with the ham and cheese sauce. In addition to rotini, you can also use penne, shells, elbow macaroni, or even fettuccini.
  • Add some vegetables. This easy dinner is perfect family dinner thanks to the cheesy sauce on top. But if you want to make it a more well rounded dinner you can always mix in a few vegetables before baking. Try adding some corn, green beans, peas, carrots or mushrooms.
  • Try other cheeses. Sharp cheddar cheese is a great way to add tons of flavor to your casserole. If you don’t have any on hand, you could replace with other varieties, like mild cheddar, Monterrey jack, gruyere, or mozzarella.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I avoid clumpy cheese sauce?

I recommend freshly grating your own cheese. It melts more smoothly than pre-shredded cheese because it does not contain added preservatives and anti-caking agents. 

Also when mixing the flour, milk and cheese in saucepan make sure you stir it constantly to prevent lumps.

What can I use for topping if I don't have breadcrumbs?

If you don't have breadcrumbs you can use crushed Ritz crackers and melted butter. To crush the Ritz crackers put the crackers in a ziplock bag and roll with a rolling pin.

Serving of ham and cheese casserole on white plate.

I hope you enjoy this easy Ham and Cheese Casserole recipe! If you try it, please come back and rate it and leave me a comment below. I love to hear from you!

A serving of Ham and Cheese Casserole on white plate with baked casserole dish in behind it.

Ham and Cheese Casserole Recipe

Author: Judy Wilson
This Ham and Cheese Casserole is made with diced ham, cheesy sauce and rotini pasta then topped with buttery bread crumbs for a easy family meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6
Calories 534 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces rotini, cooked and drained
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Topping Ingredients

  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter, melted

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Prepare the rotini pasta by following the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
  • Melt the butter in a small sauce pan over medium low heat.
  • When the butter is melted, add the flour and stir until the mixture begins to brown and bubble.
  • Add the milk and stir to mix. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the milk begins to simmer.
  • When the milk mixture has thickened, remove the pan from heat and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, Dijon mustard, and one cup of shredded cheese. Stir until the ingredients are well mixed and the cheese is melted.
  • Spread the cooked pasta in the bottom of the prepared baking dish and top with the cubed ham.
  • Spoon the cheese mixture over the top of the pasta and ham and lightly stir to mix. Top with remaining shredded cheese.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs and melted butter. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the casserole.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the topping is golden brown

Notes

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the stove or microwave. Pasta tends to soak up the sauce so you can a little milk if the pasta seems dry.

Nutrition

Calories: 534kcalCarbohydrates: 41gProtein: 25gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 17gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.5gCholesterol: 101mgSodium: 966mgPotassium: 253mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 897IUVitamin C: 0.1mgCalcium: 420mgIron: 2mg
The nutritional information provided is approximate and should only be used as a general guideline. It is an estimate that will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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