This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This delicious incredibly creamy and cheesy Leftover Ham and Cheese Penne comes together in just 30 minutes! Made with perfectly cooked pasta, chunks of savory ham, and tender peas tossed together in a yummy cheese sauce and then topped with more parmesan cheese to serve, it’s an unbelievably tasty meal that your whole family will love!
If you made a huge Baked Ham for a Sunday dinner or a holiday gathering and now you’ve got loads of leftovers, you don’t have to worry! I’ve got recipes! And this leftover ham and cheese penne just like my Leftover Ham and Bean Soup is the perfect solution! Because not only is it a quick and easy meal, but it’s incredibly yummy and in no way tastes like leftovers!
In fact, this ham and cheese penne recipe benefits from all the savory leftover ham flavor. Yet, it’s so easy! While some penne pasta is boiling, all you have to do is saute a few onions and sear the leftover ham a bit before making a simple cheese sauce and tossing it all together with some frozen peas. The entire recipe takes just 30 minutes!
Not to mention, it’s a complete meal and one that kids love! And with the addition of the peas, you’ve already got your veggie covered. Now, all you have to do is figure out a quick dessert like my Homemade Chocolate Pudding!
Why You’ll Love This Leftover Ham And Cheese Penne
- Quick and Easy! Don’t let the list of ingredients fool you! This is a simple 30-minute meal made with very basic ingredients and requires very little effort or cleanup.
- Creamy Ham and Cheese! Made with three different kinds of cheese and savory chunks of ham this super creamy cheesy pasta is so darn good.
- Family Favorite! Who doesn’t love pasta, ham, and cheese!?! Your entire family including the little ones will enjoy this simple and affordable dish.
- Penne – You can use any pasta you happen to have in your cupboard for this recipe, preferably small types like farfalle, rotini, shells, etc.
- Butter and olive oil – Olive oil has a higher smoke point than butter so melting that butter down with a bit of olive oil in the pot will give you all that brown butter flavour with none of the burnt butter bitterness.
- Onion – A small one will do, look for something that mellows out as it cooks like a yellow or white onion.
- Ham – Fully cooked and chopped.
- Chicken broth – For flavour and to help create a saucier dish.
- Heavy Cream – A cup of this will create a thicker sauce that gives the ridges in the penne something to hold onto.
- Salt and pepper – Season to taste, be sure to adjust according to the sodium content of your broth.
- Mozzarella and cheddar cheese – We want to use some nice melty cheeses here, the addition of cheddar adds a nice sharpness.
- Peas – I recommend using frozen as the pea will stay crisp and bright when it meets the hot pasta.
- Parsley – Did you know that herbs are superfoods? Packed full of vitamins and folic acid, parsley is so much more than just a garnish.
- Parmesan cheese – This last cheesy addition should be sprinkled on top just before serving.
This pasta recipe using leftover ham is a cinch to throw together! Just follow my easy instructions and you’ll have a delicious dinner on the table in 30 minutes!
To begin, you need to get the penne cooking! Bring a well salted large pot of water to a boil and then cook the pasta according to the package instructions or until it reaches al dente. Then drain the penne in a colander and set it aside for a later step.
Now, melt the butter together with the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Next, add the chopped onion and sauté it for about 5 minutes or until it’s soft and translucent. Then add the ham to the pot and sauté it together with the onions for about 8 minutes or until it starts to get slightly brown.
Once the ham has browned a bit, start making the sauce. First, stir the chicken broth and heavy cream into the ham mixture and then season it with the salt and pepper. Then add the mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese to the pot and cook everything together for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted.
To complete the recipe, add the cooked penne and frozen peas to the pot. Then toss everything together and let the dish cook for about 2 more minutes. Now, remove the pot from the heat and serve the ham and cheese penne garnished with some fresh parsley and parmesan cheese if you like.
What Kind Of Ham Can I Use?
You can make this recipe with whatever kind of ham you have on hand! Leftovers from my Crockpot Honey Mustard Glazed Ham or Bourbon Glazed Baked Ham are amazing with this recipe! But you could even just use a ham steak if you like. Even turkey ham would work.
What Else Can I Add To This Penne
This recipe is really flexible so you can add anything you like! Some fresh baby spinach is a great addition along with some sauteed mushrooms. And bacon always makes things better. Another idea is to mix in some jalapenos to make the dish spicy. You can also use any type of cheese you like. Just remember that you won’t have enough sauce if you add too much.
This dish can also easily be tuned into a casserole. Just pop it in a baking dish, sprinkle it with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, and then put in the oven to bake for 30 mins at 350℉/177℃ degrees. However, if you want something nice and saucy, just stick with the original as the pasta will absorb more of that sauce in the oven, making it dry up a bit. But it’s totally delish either way.
What Type Of Cheese Works Best In This Recipe?
You can use a variety of cheeses, but some popular options include cheddar, mozzarella, Gruyere, or a combination of these. Feel free to experiment with your favorite cheeses.
- Don’t overcook the pasta. Set a timer while the penne is cooking so you don’t accidentally forget about it. You want the pasta to be al dente, which is still firm to the bite.
- Brown the ham. You really want to cook the ham together with the onions until it turns slightly brown before making the sauce. This helps to bring out the flavor of the ham.
- Deglaze the pot. After the chicken broth and heavy cream are added make sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any brown bits. This will make the sauce more flavorful.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If freezing, allow the dish to cool fully in a shallow container before placing in the freezer.
Other Great Leftover Dishes To Try
- Leftover Ham and Cheese Breakfast Muffins
- Leftover Ham And Bean Soup
- Olive Ham and Cheese Loaf
- Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup
- Ham and Cheese Pockets
- Leftover Pistachio Pesto Turkey Sandwich
- Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
- Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Stromboli
- 1 pound penne (uncooked)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 2 cups ham (cooked, chopped)
- 1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese (grated (optional))
- Cook the penne al-dente according to package instructions.
- In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onion softens. Add the ham to the pot and cook for about 8 minutes until the ham starts to brown slightly.
- Stir in the chicken broth and heavy cream, then season with salt and pepper. Add the cheeses and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until the cheese melts.
- Finally, add the pasta, peas, stir and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Garnish with parsley, Parmesan cheese and serve.
- You can use any type of pasta that you have in your cupboard. Preferably small types like farfalle, shells, rotini, etc.
- Use milk or 10% cream instead of heavy cream if you’d like to cut down on calories.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If freezing allow the dish to cool fully in a shallow container before placing in the freezer.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.