Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats: Iowa Ham Balls

Friday, June 3, 2016

Iowa Ham Balls

 This classic Iowa dish is a Midwest favorite.
Make these once and you'll be hooked forever.

iowa ham balls (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

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Florida has key lime pie, Maine has lobster rolls, Texas has chili, heck even Ohio has something they call a Buckeye. Each and every state has “something” they are known for, and while everyone in that state knows what it is....those in the rest of the country may not.

My home state, the state of Iowa {heard of us?} is known for a lot of foodie finds. Giant fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, giant turkey legs at the State Fair, loose meat sandwiches, a dessert we like to call Puppy Chow and these ham balls.

Yes, ham balls.

The most delicious dinner around with the most boring, weird and made-fun-of name.

Unfortunately we cannot change the name, as then everyone here would be confused and it would be a giant waste of time.

iowa ham balls (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

This glorious “meatball” is a staple at potlucks, at Easter dinner and a must for many Sunday dinners. The meat is a combination of ground pork and ham {sometimes beef is added, but not traditional} stuffed with ground graham crackers and brown sugar, then glazed with a tomato soup, sugar and vinegar combination.

I know! Sounds all a bid ridiculous, but when it comes together it is awesome. A 9x13 pan feeds a hearty crowd or can easily be split up into two dinners. I made these over the weekend for Sunday night dinner and we enjoyed them again as leftovers for lunch the next day.

Now I purchase my “ham loaf” at the local Fareway grocery stores {it's a staple there} and some other Midwestern grocers will carry it as well. If not, you can ask your butcher to do it – simply 1.5 lbs of ground ham and 1.5 lbs of ground pork combined. If you still cannot find it or your butcher gives you the crazy evil eye, you can do it yourself with a large food processor. A bit more work, but so, so, so worth it.


Traditionally these are also served with a side of cheesy goodness, usually in the form of potatoes or pasta. I threw in roasted broccoli for good measure, because, you know we all need some greenery not doused in cheese or carbs!

iowa ham balls (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

Make these once and I will firmly say you'll be hooked. Your family will love them. Once your family is hooked they are a great meal to take to a new mom or someone who has been sick. And they freeze well! A great freezer meal to tuck away for a busy weeknight.


Iowa Ham Balls

Print this Recipe!

3 lbs. Ham loaf {1.5 lbs ground pork, 1.5 lbs ground ham}
1.5 c. ground graham cracker crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. milk
1 can tomato soup
¾ c. brown sugar
¼ c. vinegar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
2. In a bowl combine the ham loaf, graham crackers, eggs and milk. Using your hands, mix to combine. Form into fist sized balls. Mixture makes 15 balls. Place in the greased dish.
3. In another bowl combine the tomato soup, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard. Pour this over the ham balls.
4. Bake for 1 hour. Turn the ham balls over halfway through to coat both sides with the glaze. Serve warm.

iowa ham balls (sweetandsavoryfood.com)

I have a few other recipes that are near and dear to us Iowans. I wonder if you have tried any of them? 

Here are a few of our favorites!


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