Ham balls are a Midwestern favorite: Hearty ham and pork meatballs baked with a sweet and tangy tomato-based sauce + extra sauce for serving. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

Ham balls: A nontraditional meatball smothered with a sweet-tangy tomato sauce.

I always giggle when I hear the name of this dish: Ham balls.

Frankly, they don’t sound good. But this is one of those you’ll-have-to-trust-me recipes that has been in my family for generations – and I often forget how good it is! 

But if you like meatballs – and if you like typical Midwestern comfort food that are hearty and made with simple ingredients – I think you’ll like these.

Meatballs can be made out of a variety of meats – not just ground beef! Give these nontraditional meatballs a try.

Ham balls: Meatballs made out of ham and ground beef, covered with a sweet-tangy sauce.

What Are Ham Balls?

Ham balls are meatballs that are made with ground ham and typically another type of ground meat (like ground pork and/or ground beef).

My mom has always made ham balls with strictly ground ham, but this recipe calls for a 1/2 and 1/2 mix of ground ham and ground pork.

You’ll find recipes online for Iowa ham balls (usually made with graham cracker crumbs as a binder), but ham balls aren’t strictly an Iowa thing – my Minnesota family has been making these for generations!

What You’ll Need

The ingredient list for these ham meatballs is pretty basic. You’ll need:

Ground ham: This is a great recipe to use up leftover ham from Easter. You can use a meat grinder or food processor to grind up the cooked ham.

Ground ham, made out of leftover ham: There are many delicious ways to use it!

Ground pork: Available at most grocery stores.

Bread crumbs: Regular breadcrumbs or panko bread crumbs will work. I used gluten free panko for this recipe.

Eggs: You’ll need two large eggs for this recipe.

Milk: A small amount of milk makes these meatballs juicy and helps hold them together.

Seasonings: The seasoning and spice list is pretty short. Keep in mind that the salty ham provides quite a bit of the flavor so I’m only recommending adding a pinch of salt and pepper, as well as Italian seasoning to these meatballs. I also threw in some fresh parsley, which is optional.

Ingredients to make homemade ham balls: Ground pork, ground ham, and a few other simple ingredients.

The ground meat mixture is shaped into balls, using about 1/3 of the mixture per meatball.

Note: This recipe makes between 20 and 22 meatballs.

To make gluten-free meatballs: Use gluten-free panko or breadcrumbs, and make sure the tomato soup is gluten free.

How to make ham balls: Click through for detailed recipe.

About The Sauce

While you’ll find a lot of recipes for ham balls on the Internet, this one is a little different.


I’ve doubled the amount of sauce from the original recipe.

The sauce makes the ham balls, in my opinion. The ham balls are meaty, hearty, and salty. But the tomato soup-based sauce adds some sweetness and tang to the whole dish. It’s the perfect match.

The ham balls are baked in the sauce, and extra is poured on upon serving.

Ham balls: Cover with sauce, bake, and serve with more sauce on top.

To make the sauce, you’ll need:

  • Boxed tomato soup: Look for non-concentrated tomato soup in a box (a 32-ounce container). This will likely be cheaper than buying individual cans of condensed tomato soup.
  • Brown sugar: It seems like a lot, but the brown sugar adds the perfect sweetness to the dish that compliments the salty meatballs.
  • Onion: The onion is chopped and cooked in butter.
  • Additional seasonings: You’ll need Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. 

So instead of just baking the ham balls in the sauce, this recipe makes a double batch so you can pour more of the sauce/gravy over the ham balls and whatever you’re serving them with (rice, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, etc.)

Delicious homemade ham balls: A non-traditional meatball you'll have to taste to believe!

Looking For More Meatball Recipes?

I love meatballs because they’re affordable, easy to make, and feed a crowd without much fuss or effort.

Here are some other meatball recipes to try:

Swedish meatballs

Paleo confetti chicken meatballs

My Norwegian grandmother’s meatball recipe

Paleo zucchini meatballs with a creamy tomato sauce

Chicken banh mi meatballs

Pesto-Parmesan meatballs

Spinach-ricotta “meatballs” (vegetarian)

Ham balls: A nontraditional meatball smothered with a sweet-tangy tomato sauce.

Ham Balls

Yield: 21 meatballs
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Plan for about 3 meatballs per person + a side dish. This recipe will feed 6 to 7.


  • 1 lb. ground ham
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 2/3 cup breadcrumbs (or panko)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For tomato sauce

  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 32 oz. carton of tomato soup (not from concentrate)
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all meatball ingredients together until uniform. They should stick together easily but if the mixture is too dry, add a splash more of milk. Or if the mixture is too moist, add a few more breadcrumbs.
  2. Take a 1/3 cup portion of the meat mixture and form into a ball. Place into a casserole dish and repeat with remaining meat mixture. You should get about 20 or 21 meatballs in all.
  3. Make sauce: Place butter and chopped onion in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until onions begin to soften. Add tomato soup, brown sugar, and seasonings. Turn heat down to medium and allow to cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Pour half of the sauce over the meatballs and turn once to evenly coat. Cover with tin foil. Bake at 350 for 50 to 55 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160F.
  5. Serve with extra sauce on top.

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