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Mustard & Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls

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Ham balls are an Iowa tradition and for good reason, they are delicious! They are a great way to use leftover ham or a great excuse to put a ham on your shopping list. 

pile of glazed ham balls on plate

Ham balls are the perfect mix of sweet and salty.  They are also a great way to turn some leftover ham into something new entirely.

Serve them as a hearty appetizer or make them an entrée, either way they are fabulous. The state of Iowa already knows how delicious ham balls with glaze are, the rest of the country needs to catch on!

Have you ever heard of ham balls? They are a popular dish in Iowa, which I suppose isn’t surprising given all of the pork that is produced here in the midwest. 

 I actually hadn’t heard of them until recently. I blame that on the fact that my mom grew up in Chicagoland and not close enough to farmland. 

Once I discovered that they are a delicacy, I had to give them a try. I am certainly glad I did. 

The meatballs themselves are pretty savory. Though I have heard of folks using graham cracker crumbs, so they could have a sweet and savory twist as well.

ingredients for ham balls in mixing bowl.

The glaze is definitely on the sweeter side. It’s a mix of mustard and brown sugar with a bit of sharp vinegar acidity.

The result kind of reminds me of a BBQ meatball, but with a fun twist. The would be great served as a heavy snack at a party but are also wonderful for dinner. 

They would make a wonderful filling main dish served with macaroni and cheese and roasted green beans. Or serve them with cheesy potatoes and a nice green salad. 

 I originally shared this recipe back around Easter of 2016. But I figured some of you still hadn’t heard of ham balls, so it was time to update this post and show you what you are missing! 

Let me know what you think in the comments below! 

pan filled with pink raw ham balls ready to go in the oven.

Original post from 2016

A couple of month’s back Val from Corn, Beans, Pigs and Kids shared a recipe for Iowa Ham Balls.  I had never heard of such a thing, so I couldn’t help but to share it on my Facebook page to see if I was the only one.

After all, Iowa is just 45 minutes away from me, how had these passed me by?!  Our friend Lindsey’s mom, Betty, chimed in saying ham balls were a family favorite of theirs.  Of course now I was even more intrigued.

piece of shiny glazed ham ball on fork, ready to eat.

Betty was kind enough to send over her recipe.  It was definitely different than Val’s recipe, but had a similar idea.

In fact, they had mostly similar ingredients just put together in a different way. Now I had to give them a try!

I have been making a lot of ham recipes lately getting ready for our Easter open house. I want to make sure I have something delicious to serve everyone, but that means we have extra ham in the fridge already.

So I pulled some out and went to work making ham balls.  It seemed a bit of a shame to grind up such good ham, but I couldn’t wait any longer.  Besides, this time of year you can get real ham for about the same price as the pressed ham anyway.

picture of bbq ham balls and scalloped potatoes
Ham ball made by Betty herself.

So, with the help of a food processor, the ham balls really came together quite easily.  The batch filled a 9×13 pan.  If you like meatballs in a sweet sauce, or glazed ham you are going to love these!  

You could make these smaller and serve them as an appetizer or make bigger balls and serve them as an entrée.  Either way, they will be delicious!

fork full of ham ball, ready to eat.

More great recipes that use ham

One of our favorite simple ways to use the leftovers is a simple pasta dish with Parmesan, peas and ham. It is light, tasty and a quick and easy complete meal.

Homemade pot pies are always popular at the dinner table as well. A ham, cheese and broccoli pot pie is even more popular! It’s all of our favorites together in a pastry crust.

Or try my friend Jennifer’s ham loaf. It uses ground ham to make a super tasty meatloaf style meal.

There is a whole collection of recipes using leftover ham, so be sure to check that out if you need more ideas.

stack of glazed ham balls on plate.

More meatball recipes 

If you love meatballs, you’ll have to check out my aunt Marlene’s meatball recipe. They us oatmeal as a binder, so you can qualify them as health food. 😏

Or check out the recipe for porcupine meatballs. They are cooked in a sauce that has a secret ingredient. My husband either still doesn’t know what it is or at least he won’t admit it to himself!

For something different, try swiss steak style meatballs in the instant pot. They are quick and easy and perfect served over egg noodles, rice or mashed potatoes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you grind the ham?

I use a food processor to grind it. Just put chunks of ham in there and pulse it until you have a relatively fine grind. If you have a meat grinder, that would work too. There are grocery stores in Iowa that sell ground ham just for ham balls. Or your can ask your butcher to grind some ham for you.

How do you store leftover ham balls?

Store any leftover ham balls in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, put cooked ham balls and glaze in a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow the meatballs to thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then gently heat them in a skillet on the stove until they are heated through.

Love this recipe? Give it a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review in the recipe card below!

pile of glazed ham balls on plate.

Mustard & Brown Sugar Glazed Ham Balls

Ham balls are the perfect mix of sweet and salty. They are also a great way to turn some leftover ham into something new entirely. Serve them as a hearty appetizer or make them an entree, either way they are fabulous. The state of Iowa already knows how delicious they are, the rest of the country needs to catch on!
4.79 from 28 ratings
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Course Dinners
Cuisine American
Servings 36 Ham Balls
Calories 104 kcal


Ham Balls

  • 2 pounds ham ground in food processor
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • cup milk
  • 1 cup cracker crumbs*


  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • cup vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard powder


  • Preheat oven to 350° F and grease a 9×13 pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine ham ball ingredients until uniform.
    2 pounds ham, 1 pound ground beef, ⅛ teaspoon black pepper, 2 large eggs, ½ cup tomato sauce, ⅔ cup milk, 1 cup cracker crumbs*
  • Form into balls about the size of a large egg.
  • Place close together in prepared pan.
  • Mix together glaze ingredients and pour over ham balls.
    1 cup light brown sugar, ⅓ cup vinegar, 2 teaspoons dried mustard powder
  • Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you are able, baste the meatballs a couple of times during the baking time.
  • Let stand for a few minutes before serving.


Betty said she normally uses Saltine crackers, I have seen several Iowa folks that use Graham crackers. You could even use bread crumbs if you want.



Serving: 1ServingCalories: 104kcalCarbohydrates: 7gProtein: 10gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 38mgSodium: 292mgSugar: 5g
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Recipe Rating


Sunday 17th of March 2024

Love meatballs and these brown sugar-glazed balls seems a perfect addition to our menu.


Friday 12th of January 2024

Thanks for sharing Carlee!! Just like my Nana’s!!! I really appreciate you sharing this recipe!


Saturday 13th of January 2024

Yay! That makes me so happy!


Saturday 25th of November 2023

A non Iowan owning ham balls? Sounds like cultural appropriation to me.


Sunday 26th of November 2023

@Carlee, these are exactly as I remember - perfection! Going to make this for supper this week.


Sunday 26th of November 2023

I'm Iowa adjacent and know plenty of Iowans, so I am pretty sure they are ok with me honoring their culture. However, I will be there next week so I will ask them to confirm.


Saturday 25th of November 2023

What a great idea to use up that left over ham!


Sunday 26th of November 2023

They are so good!


Friday 9th of October 2020

I've definitely got to try these. My husband loves ham and this sounds like such a tasty twist.


Sunday 11th of October 2020

I hope you both enjoy them!