This tasty midwestern dish is ready to win the hearts of your family! With a thick, zesty brown sugar glaze, these delicious ham balls are the best addition to your dinner rotation!
Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls Recipe
The holidays are so busy, so here’s a super easy dinner that your family will go crazy over! Ham balls have been a new favorite with my family. They’re so delicious! This is a beloved traditional dish from the midwest. It’s extremely popular – and for good reason! What sets these meatballs apart is the unique ingredients needed to make them! In this recipe, I use a mix of pork, ham, (it’s a great way to use up leftovers) parsley, and… *drumroll* graham cracker crumbs! It seems unlikely but adding graham crackers gives your ham balls a delicious, complex flavor with a hint of nuttiness. You’ll love them! They’re perfect for eating as-is, in a slider or sandwich, or over rice.
What really brings the ham balls together, however, is its thick and tasty sauce! It’s a simple blend of ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and apple cider vinegar. The end result is hearty, tangy, and the perfect balance of savory and sweet. Even the picky eaters in my family love it! It’s so flavorful and delicious. Combined with the juicy, savory meatballs, this dish gets an A+ in my book. Impressive enough for a holiday dinner, easy enough for a busy weeknight meal! I know your family will love them just as much as mine does!
What You’ll Need for Ham Balls
The simple ingredients are the best part of this recipe, truly! I already had them on hand which makes this the easiest dinner ever to throw together. Perfect for those busy nights when my kids keep hounding me to make dinner. Measurements for each ingredient can be found in the recipe card at the end of the post.
- Ground Ham and Ground Pork: A mix of both is used for the best flavor possible! I use a 1:1 ratio in this recipe but you can adjust it to preference.
- Egg: A beaten egg is added to the meatball mix to help bind ingredients together.
- Graham Cracker Crumbs: I love the nutty flavor and texture that graham cracker crumbs add to the ham balls. It’s great!
- Milk: A little milk helps your meatballs come together smoothly.
- Salt and Pepper: Add to taste!
- Chopped Parsley: Parsley has an aromatic, peppery flavor that tastes amazing in ham balls.
Brown Sugar Tomato Glaze
- Ketchup: This is the base of the sauce. It gives it a thick texture and sweet flavor.
- Brown Sugar: Brown sugar gives the sauce a deep, smoky sweetness.
- Mustard: Perfect for making the sauce nice and tangy!
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Adds a hint of zip and fresh flavor.
Making Ham Balls
Ham balls only have a few minutes of prep time and then it’s off to the oven! I love how hands-off this recipe is. It gives me time to run errands, do chores, or even prepare some tasty sides. Green bean casserole and mashed potatoes are some of my favorites to make with this recipe!
- Preheat Oven: To begin, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Ham Ball Mixture: Next, grind your ham and pork up in the food processor. In a large bowl, add the ham, pork, beaten egg, graham cracker crumbs, milk, salt, pepper, and parsley. Combine all the ingredients together.
- Shape: Then, take about two tablespoons out and roll into a ball with your hands. Place onto a greased 9×13 baking sheet.
- Bake: Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
- Prepare Sauce: While the ham balls are baking, in a medium-sized pot over medium heat, whisk together the ketchup, sugar, mustard, and vinegar. After 2 minutes reduce to a simmer.
- Cover: The last 5 minutes of the balls baking, pour the sauce over ham balls. Serve warm and enjoy!
Tips for Making Ham Balls
This easy dish is great for holiday parties, game days, and weeknight dinners alike! They are so tangy, saucy, and delicious! You’re going to absolutely love them! Here are a few variations and tips for making the tastiest ham balls possible.
- Switch Crumbs: I love the sweetness that graham cracker crumbs give the meatballs, but if you’re feeling something more savory, try using crushed Ritz crackers instead!
- Forming Ham Balls: Be gentle when shaping your meatballs. You don’t need to roll them too tightly. To keep the mixture from sticking, you can add a little oil to your hands before you start shaping.
- Adding Pineapple: For a fruitier variation of this dish, you can add a cup of pineapple juice to your glaze. The tangy pineapple flavor tastes amazing with the savory-sweet flavor of the brown sugar tomato sauce.
Ham balls are great as an appetizer or the main course! To complete your meal, here are a few of my favorite sides that taste amazing with these flavorful meatballs. They’re absolutely tasty and so easy to throw together. You’ll have a hearty dinner ready in no time!
These ham balls are great as leftovers! They make a delicious after-school snack and are great for popping in the microwave.
- In the Refrigerator: Your ham balls will keep for up to 5 days. Cover casserole dish with plastic wrap or lid.
- In the Freezer: Your meatballs will keep for 1 month in a freezer bag. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.
- Reheating: Transfer your ham balls to a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 second intervals until warmed through.
- 1 pound ground ham
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup milk
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- 1 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Take about two tablespoons out and roll into a ball with your hands. Place into a greased 9×13 baking sheet. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
While the ham balls are baking, in a medium-sized pot over medium heat whisk together the ketchup, sugar, mustard, and vinegar. After 2 minutes reduce to a simmer. The last 5 mins of the balls baking, for the sauce over the entire thing. Serve warm.
The Recipe Critic