5 clever ways to ensure your Christmas ham doesn’t go to waste

Leftover ham can be included in many meals after Christmas Day. Source: Getty Images.

A tasty leg of ham is a Christmas lunch staple for most Australian families, perfect alongside some fresh salad and a sneaky drink.

But more often than not we overbuy and our bellies are too full from all of the other delicious foods to consume any more on the day. The last thing you’d want though is to throw it in the bin, so the best solution is to include it in some tasty and easy meals once December 25 is behind you.

And while making a ham sandwich is the obvious choice, there are plenty of recipes to try out.

Storing leftover ham

Before you get into any cooking you must make sure your ham is stored correctly. Cold foods need to be stored at 5ºC or cooler, so it’s important to get the ham into the fridge as soon as possible to avoid it going off.

Unfortunately, if it’s left out of the fridge for more than two hours, the New South Wales Food Authority recommends discarding it.

If the ham is sliced it will keep for up to three days in the fridge if wrapped in plastic or foil. Sliced ham can also be placed under the skin of a ham leg on the bone and stored in a ham bag or cotton pillowcase. To keep the leg of ham moist wrap it in a damp tea towel which has been moistened with water, a tablespoon of vinegar and lemon juice, before placing in the ham bag or pillowcase.

Alternatively, you can freeze leftover slices of ham in plastic freezer bags.


An omelette is a super simple dish to whip up for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and is always a great way to use up leftover ham. For a basic recipe all you need is your leftover Christmas ham, two eggs, one tablespoon of water, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of cheese.

But if you’re looking to get a few more vegetables into your diet you can include spinach, tomato, mushrooms and capsicum as well. To really take it to the next level top with coriander or parsley.

Pasta bake

Pasta bake is a classic for a reason; it’s budget-friendly, super tasty and versatile enough to mix and match ingredients every time you make it – and it’s another fantastic way to use up tasty Christmas leftovers.

Try adding different veggies as well, such as chopped broccoli, frozen peas, tinned corn and baby spinach. And if you’re after a lighter option after eating all of the Christmas treats, use reduced-fat milk and cheese.

For a crunchy topping, sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese on top before you put it in the oven. Serve with a side of tossed salad for a complete and satisfying meal.


The great thing about pies is that you can add whatever you like. Try making a creamy sauce and stir in leftover ham, peas and potatoes. And if you’re feeling especially hungry, why not add chicken, carrot and leek.

Serve it up on its own or with a side of steamed veggies and mashed potato and you’ve got a great meal for the whole family to enjoy.


Simple and inexpensive, a quiche is a great way to use up any leftover ham. All you really need is eggs, milk, butter and flour.

If you’ve got any leftover veggies in the fridge too, feel free to throw them in as well. Quiche’s taste great with mushroom, capsicum and herbs.

Serve up a big slice of quiche with a simple garden salad topped with a lemon and olive oil dressing to cut through the rich flavours of the quiche.

Fried rice

After a busy festive season, fried rice is a great meal to whip up when you can’t really be bothered going to much effort in the kitchen – and, as an added bonus, leftover ham tastes delicious when included. Just make sure to dice up your ham finely.

Alternatively you can add chicken or any extra leftover veggies in the fridge. Brown and white rice both work perfectly for this dish so you can use up whatever half opened packets you have in the pantry.

For a fresh finish, squeeze over some lime and top with freshly chopped coriander.

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