Ham Pasta Salad (20-Minute Recipe)

This quick and easy Ham Pasta Salad features cherry tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese, and other Mediterranean-style ingredients that a whole family will love. All combined in a delicious homemade dressing.  The salad is packed with savory flavors and can be easily prepared ahead. Perfect to make for the holidays or to bring to potlucks, barbecues, picnics, cookouts, and parties.

Ham Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Green Onions, Olives, Mozzarella Cheese in a white bowl.

20-Minute Ham Pasta Salad

I am totally obsessed with this ham pasta salad. It takes only 20 minutes, uses basic ingredients, and is easy on a budget. Despite its simplicity, it’s so tasty and makes such a nice presentation, that you can serve it not only as a side dish for a simple weeknight dinner but when entertaining guests. The salad is made with fusilli pasta (you can also use rotini or bow-tie), black olives, green olives, cucumber, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and fresh Mozzarella balls (pearls). The homemade dressing is made of honey, freshly squeezed lime juice, Dijon mustard, and olive oil. You can serve it as a salad, side dish, or lunch, or eat it as a meal. The other quick and easy salads that I recommend are a festive Chicken Pasta Salad with Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing and this comforting Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad.

Ham Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Green Onions, Olives, Mozzarella Cheese - close-up photo.

Why make it

  • Amazing flavors. This ham pasta salad has a Mediterranean and Italian feel to it, using ingredients that you usually see in Italian pasta salads. There is no creamy salad dressing. The homemade dressing here is really refreshing. These savory flavors blend really well with ham. It’s pretty much an Italian pasta salad made with ham.
  • 20-Minute recipe. Prep all the ingredients while you wait for the water to boil and while the pasta cooks! Perfect for busy weeknights.
  • Beautiful presentation. Impress your family and friends with this colorful and vibrant ham pasta salad.
  • Easy to make ahead and store. This recipe tastes even better the next day and keeps well refrigerated for about 3 days. It’s perfect to make ahead and to share during the holidays or to bring to picnics, potlucks, cookouts, barbecues, and parties.

Salad ingredients

This recipe features lots of different flavors combined together in a delicious homemade dressing. Here is the overview of the ingredients – scroll down to the recipe card for the complete recipe.

  • Ham. I used regular pre-cooked ham which I diced into small cubes.
  • Pasta. Short pasta works best in pasta salads as it easily absorbs the dressing and is bite-sized just like other ingredients in this salad. Here I used fusilli (spiral pasta). Rotini or bow-tie pasta (farfalle) will be your next best choice. Or, you can use penne and rigatoni.
  • Cherry tomatoes (or grape tomatoes) are sliced in half and are a perfect bite-size for the ham pasta salad. You can also use diced regular tomatoes.
  • Cucumbers. I used 1 small cucumber which I sliced into bite-size pieces.
  • Olives. I used black and green olives, that I sliced thinly. They add saltiness and an Italian feel to this ham pasta salad.
  • Red onion provides a zesty bite. You don’t need much – only about ¼ cup of chopped onions.
  • Green onions have a milder flavor than regular onions and I love using them in pasta salads.
  • Mozzarella Cheese. This ham pasta salad is made with fresh Mozzarella cheese. It has a soft texture and mild, not salty flavor.  I’ve used small Mozzarella balls labeled as “pearls”. Their size fits perfectly with cherry or grape tomatoes!
  • Salad dressing ingredients include olive oil, freshly squeezed lime juice, Dijon mustard, honey, and Italian seasoning.

ham pasta salad ingredients on a white plate.

Homemade honey-mustard dressing

This salad pairs beautifully with a simple Italian-style homemade dressing. The ingredients include olive oil, freshly squeezed lime juice, honey, and Dijon mustard. You can also add Italian seasoning. Combine all salad dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl or in a mason jar and whisk well until emulsified. You can use this homemade dressing not only with this ham pasta salad but with any other salad of your choice!

Cooking tips and recommendations

  • Cook pasta al dente for the best texture. That means the pasta should feel firm to the bite while being soft yet not mushy. This kind of texture works best with pasta salad especially if you want to make it ahead. To cook pasta al dente, you normally have to boil pasta 2 minutes shorter than normal. For example, if the package instructions tell you to boil pasta for 10 minutes – cook the pasta in boiling water for 8 minutes instead.
  • Rinse pasta under cold water after you cooked it. I always do it for pasta salads as that prevents the pasta from getting softer and mushy. It also prevents the short-cut pasta from sticking to each other.
  • Make it gluten-free.  Use the gluten-free pasta of your choice.  Lentil or chickpea gluten-free pasta will taste great here.
  • Serve it warm or at room temperature. This ham pasta salad tastes the best when it’s a bit warmed up or brought to room temperature. Not refrigerator cold.

Ham Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Green Onions, Olives, Mozzarella Cheese in a white bowl.

Add-ins and substitutions

  • Cheese. I used small fresh Mozzarella balls (“pearls”) that not only taste delicious but look really cute in a salad like this. You can also use shredded Parmesan cheese, Asiago, or Pecorino Romano. White cheddar cheese or Gruyere would work well too. You can either shred the cheese or dice it into cubes.
  • Use store-bought salad dressing if you like. While it’s very easy to whip up homemade salad dressing, you can always use your favorite bottled salad dressing. Any kind of Italian dressing would pair well with this ham pasta salad, as well as vinaigrette-based dressings.
  • Add-ins. Add more protein if you like. This includes grilled or leftover cooked chicken. Rotisserie chicken will work nicely, too. Or, add chopped cooked bacon or lightly toasted prosciutto. You can also add pepperoni (slice it if it’s too large) if you like.

Storage Tips

  • Store your leftover ham pasta salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator where it will stay fresh for about 4 days.
  • It’s a great recipe to make ahead! In fact, you might find that it tastes even better the next day as the flavors blend together. Serve it warm or at room temperature (not refrigerator cold).

What to serve with it

While the ham pasta salad is delicious all by itself, if you would like to add a simple main course here are some ideas:

Other pasta salads you might like

Ham Pasta Salad with Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Onions, Green Onions, Olives, Mozzarella Cheese in a white bowl.

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Ham Pasta Salad (20-Minute Recipe)

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This quick and easy Ham Pasta Salad features cherry tomatoes, Mozzarella cheese, and other Mediterranean-style ingredients that a whole family will love. All combined in a delicious homemade dressing.  The salad is packed with savory flavors and can be easily prepared ahead. Perfect to make for the holidays or to bring to potlucks, barbecues, picnics, cookouts, and parties.
Course Salad
Cuisine American, Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword ham pasta salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 people
Calories 603kcal
Author Julia

Ingredients

Salad Ingredients

  • 8 oz pasta fusilli, or rotini, or bow-tie pasta
  • 1 pound ham cooked, diced into ½ to 1 inch cubes
  • 6 oz cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1 cucumber small, sliced
  • ¼ cup red onion chopped
  • ¼ cup green olives sliced
  • ¼ cup black olives sliced
  • 8 oz fresh Mozzarella cheese small balls (“pearls”)
  • 2 green onions chopped

Salad Dressing

  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 lime juice freshly squeezed
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Cook pasta

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook pasta al dente according to the package instructions. While the pasta is cooking, proceed with the rest of the recipe.
  • When the pasta is done, rinse it well with cold water and drain.

Make salad dressing

  • Combine all of the ingredients for the salad dressing in a small bowl or a mason jar. Whisk together with a fork until well combined.

Assembly

  • In a large bowl, combine cubed cooked ham, cherry tomatoes (each sliced in half), sliced cucumber, chopped red onion, sliced green and black olives, Mozzarella “pearls” (small balls of fresh Mozzarella).
  • Add cooked and drained pasta.
  • Add salad dressing. Toss everything to combine.
  • Season with salt and pepper, if needed. (In my opinion, it’s unnecessary – there is enough saltiness from the ham, olives, and salad dressing).
  • Top with chopped green onions (you can also just mix them together in a salad).

Nutrition

Calories: 603kcal | Carbohydrates: 40g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 36g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 1373mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 526IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 235mg | Iron: 2mg

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