The Vintage Kitchen

The Best Vintage Leftover Ham Recipe

White plate, holding a small baked potato covered with a creamy ham sauce.
Ham in a cream sauce over a baked potato. Delectable.

Everybody has leftover ham sometime, if they eat ham at all. It might be from last night’s celebratory dinner, or perhaps some deli ham is about to go south in the refrigerator. When that happens, this delicious recipe comes to your rescue. It is the BEST vintage ham with cream sauce recipe I’ve used so far. It’s tasty, the family loves it, and it uses up the ham that would otherwise molder in its refrigerator box.

The cookbook actually called this Ham with Cream Gravy. You may call it Delicious. The original recipe, of course, was written in one dense paragraph. I’ll break that down for you into steps in the recipe.

Making the ham and cream sauce

The technique is very simple. First you chop or dice the leftover cooked ham, and brown it in a pan on the stove. If you start with ham slices, learn about the benefits of snipping instead of chopping in this post I wrote about Ten Uses for Your Kitchen Scissors.

Ham cubes in a pan on a stovetop.
The beginning to a quick and easy dinner

Once the ham is toasty warm and a browned as much as you like, remove it to a bowl. The browning on the ham pieces give it flavor. While you don’t want to burn it, a bit of the brown brings out that savory-sweet ham taste.

Next, you will make a white sauce.

Pan on stove cooking a white sauce. A whisk stirs the mixture.
White sauce in process, ready for the diced ham.

Then, once your white sauce is thick and bubbly, re-introduce the ham to your pan. Let it simmer for ten minutes or so over low heat to combine the flavors, and then stir in salt and pepper to taste. It’s that easy, and that delicious.

A pan of small ham cubes floating in a thick sauce.
Ham in Cream Sauce thickening for dinner

Serving it up

Although the recipe included no serving tips, I’ve found that one of the best ways to serve this is with potatoes. Any potatoes. I’ve used cubed fried potatoes, frozen potato tots and crowns, baked potato, and mashed potatoes. The beauty of Twenties recipes is that simple foods combined with imagination make some great meals. Use what you have. It will be awesome.

It will, however, appear very beige. A side salad or a green vegetable goes a long way towards making this a full meal. Steam broccoli on the back burner while you make the gravy or throw a simple salad together while the the finished sauce cooks on low to meld the flavors.

Actually, my absolute favorite way to serve this is in a tortilla wrap like a burrito. Place a light layer of cubed fried potatoes, top with a layer of the ham mixture, and roll up. Unfortunately, most gluten free tortillas don’t have the strength of those made with wheat flour. So unless you have a really strong gluten free tortilla in hand, this assembly becomes a frightful mess quite quickly. Because of that I abandoned the bread wrap and started serving it plated. And no one complained. They snarfed it down just like the wrap version.

Plus, tortillas don’t appear in many 1920s – 1950s cookbooks in the U.S., so if you add one to this dish you strike out into uncharted vintage cooking territory. It’s tasty, though. You may decide this is the best vintage ham with cream sauce recipe, too.

Since we don’t use much whole ham here, I buy one and dice it for this recipe, storing the rest in the freezer in 2-cup allotments. That way I always have “leftover” ham on hand!

The Best Vintage Leftover Ham Recipe: Ham with Cream Sauce

Use that leftover ham in this cream sauce that goes over vegetables, biscuits, or even wrapped in a tortilla.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 5 1/2 cup servings


  • large saucepan or frying pan
  • small whisk
  • small bowl


  • 2 cups cooked ham, diced
  • 4 tbsp butter, margarine, or oil
  • 2 cups milk


  • Cook the diced ham in a hot pan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Remove the ham to a bowl, leaving any grease in the pan.
  • Check the amount of grease in the pan. If cooking the ham left a substantial amount, add butter or oil until you have about 4 tablespoons. If cooking the ham left no grease at all, add all 4 tablespoons of the butter or oil.
  • Add the flour to the melted butter, oil, or grease, and whisk together until completely mixed and smooth.
  • Pour in the milk slowly, stirring all the while. Continue to stir until thickened, and then return the ham to the pan.
  • Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for ten minutes. Taste, and then add up to 1/2 teaspoon and up to 1/2 teaspoon pepper if you like.
  • Serve over potatoes, biscuits, vegetables, or wrapped up in a tortilla.