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An image of a large spoon scooping ham balls out of a serving dish.
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5 from 2 votes

Iowa Ham Balls

Not your average meatballs, these Iowa Ham Balls are a regional favorite made with leftover ham in a sticky sweet sauce!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 -12 Servings
Calories: 562kcal
Author: Amy Nash


Ham Balls

  • 2 pounds leftover ham ground in a meat grinder or food processor
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ¼ cup dehydrated minced onion


  • 1 ½ cups ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Combine the ground ham, ground pork, beaten eggs, graham cracker crumbs, milk, and minced onion in a large bowl. I used my food processor to chop leftover ham until finely ground. Just be careful not to turn it into a pate. You could also use a meat grinder if you have one.
  • Mix the ham ball ingredients together gently with your hands. You don't want to overwork meatballs or they will turn out dense and tough.
  • Shape into large balls using a large cookie scoop or ⅓ cup measuring cup if serving as a main, or smaller balls with a medium or small scoop if you want to serve as appetizers.
  • Arrange in a single layer in a large 9x13-inch baking dish. Bake for 45 minutes.
  • While the ham balls are baking, whisk together the sauce in a medium bowl by combining the ketchup, brown sugar, cider vinegar and dried mustard. Pour over the ham balls after they have baked for 45 minutes and continue to cook for another 15 minutes until the glaze is hot and the ham balls are cooked through (so 60 minutes in total).
  • Serve with rice or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable for dinner or toothpicks for a great party appetizer.


  • Substitutions: While researching this recipe, I saw ham balls made with graham crackers, butter crackers, Panko bread crumbs, and even shredded wheat. I think any of these would work well, but I went with graham crackers because it sounded interesting and I had them on hand.
  • Brown Sugar Glaze: If you want to try a different sweet and sour glaze that also looks popular with Iowa cooks, I would try using 1 cup brown sugar, ½ cup cider vinegar, ½ cup water, and 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder adapted from Frugal Hausfrau and Plowing Through Life. Whisk together in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil for 4-5 minutes to dissolve the sugar before adding to the ham balls.
  • Adapted from Taste of Home and Food & Swine.


Calories: 562kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 28g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 1557mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 34g | Vitamin A: 282IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 86mg | Iron: 2mg