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Bunsteads: Traditional Hot Ham Salad Sandwiches

If you’ve never had hot ham salad sandwiches, you’re missing out. It’s the perfect flavor combination. Some links in this article are affiliate links that earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

Wrapped up bunstead

Bunsteads have been around in my family for a couple generations now. It’s something that my paternal grandmother made every New Year’s Day, and all her children make it every New Years, and now I make it every New Years.

What are bunsteads? Basically, it’s a hot ham salad sandwich, which you might not immediately think of as a meal. Trust me.

These hot ham salad sandwiches are a perfect way to use up leftover ham. While we traditionally make them for New Years after Christmas, it’s perfect for after Easter or any other time you have extra ham.

I’m pretty sure this recipe came about as a way to get rid of leftovers in a very Depression Era household. It has all the things that you have in the fridge after Christmas (or at least all the things we have in the fridge), with a few extra staples tossed in.

Plated hot ham salad sandwich

What kind of ham should I use?

For this recipe, you want to use a smoked or honey ham, as they are soaked in brine and have the right moisture content. Thankfully, this is traditionally the type of ham you buy for the holidays anyway.

I prefer to use a bone in ham because the meat is moister and tends to have more flavor. If your family picked up a boneless ham, this still works for the hot ham salad sandwiches.

Can I use a spiral cut ham?

While I generally cube a “whole” ham portion, you can use spiral ham if that’s what you have on hand. It’s a slightly different texture with the thin slices v a cube, but you’ll enjoy it either way.

Many spiral hams also stop the spiral four or five inches from the butt end of the ham. If you have a spiral ham like this, use the unspiraled portion and save your slices for another purpose.

Can I make it ahead of time?

One of my favorite features of bunsteads is that I can mix everything up in advance, including wrapping up the uncooked sandwiches, and toss them in the fridge until I’m ready to bake them.

You can prep them and store them in the fridge up to three days in advance, in fact. This helps when you have a bunch of people coming over.

I tend to make up a huge batch and freeze whatever sandwiches I’m not going to eat within the next couple days. It makes a great freezer meal to pop them straight into the oven and twenty-five minutes later – mmmmm!

They last for up to two months in the freezer, which is just my speed. I often make a double batch and then simply freeze the extras.

How to Make Hot Ham Salad Sandwiches (Bunsteads)

While I share the recipe passed down from my grandmother, I don’t believe that I’ve ever followed it exactly. I just put in what I have and however much looks right without ever measuring.

It always gets eaten, and it’s always delish! The only thing I tend to go light on is the mayo, as I’m not a fan of mayo, so I use just enough to get the rest of the ingredients lightly coated.

In fact, sometimes I run out of hamburger buns and use hot dog buns instead. I don’t recommend using “regular” bread, however, as it gets soggy in a way buns don’t.

Turn your oven to 300 degrees. Rip off six sheets of tin foil from your roll, about 8×8, but don’t stress on the exact size.

Peel your hard boiled eggs and chop them.

My handy hack? I slice them in my egg slicer one direction, then rotate 90 degrees and slice again. Done!

Cube your ham and cheese. Add your ingredients to a large mixing bowl as you go.

Chop your pickles and olives, then dice your onion. Toss them in the bowl, too.

Add mayonnaise and gently stir with a large spatula to distribute everything. The eggs will break up somewhat, and that’s a-ok.

Place a bun on a square of tin foil. Spoon in enough of the mixture to make a heaping pile (the more you put in, the more falls out later, but it’s all good!).

Cover with the top of the bun, and fold the tin foil all around the sandwich. Repeat for each bun.

Bake at 300 degrees for 25 minutes, then serve immediately.

Have you ever had hot ham salad sandwiches?

Looking for more great comfort food to enjoy?

Easy leftover ham salad recipe

Bunsteads: Hot Ham Salad Sandwiches

Bunsteads are a tradition in my family, and they will be in yours, too. They're the perfect way to use leftover ham and are an amazing comfort food.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: main dish
Cuisine: American
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6 bunsteads
Calories: 364kcal
Author: Michelle


  • 2 tablespoons onion diced
  • 1/4 pound cheddar cheese cubed
  • 1 cup ham cubed
  • 2 tablespoons green pimento stuffed olives chopped
  • 3 hardboiled eggs chopped
  • 2 tablespoons sweet pickle chopped
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 6 hamburger buns


  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  • Dice onion. Cube cheese and ham into approximately half inch pieces. Chop olives, eggs, and pickles.
  • Add all cut up ingredients to a bowl with the mayonnaise. Stir gently to combine.
    2 tablespoons onion, 1/4 pound cheddar cheese, 1 cup ham, 2 tablespoons green pimento stuffed olives, 3 hardboiled eggs, 2 tablespoons sweet pickle, 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • Place buns on a square of tin foil. Spoon in enough of the mixture to make a heaping pile. Cover with the top of the bun, and fold the tin foil all around the sandwich.
    6 hamburger buns
  • Cook in a 300 degree oven for 25 minutes. Serve immediately.


  • You can make these in advance and store them in the fridge. You don't need to adjust the bake time.
  • If you freeze these (they freeze well up to two months), bring the oven to 325 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. You can bake them straight from the freezer.
  • Traditionally, my grandmother made these with a bit of green pepper in them, but I do not like it so don't use it. If you're a fan, go ahead and add a quarter cup or so of green pepper to the mix.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 131mg | Sodium: 697mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Bunsteads perfect leftover ham recipe

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  1. MaBunny says:

    Interesting… might have to try those…I have some of my grandmas recipes from Europe, lol , and they too look gross or sound funny but taste yummy…

  2. Melisa says:

    Oh my gosh, a girl at work brings these in now and then when her mother-in-law makes them: they are in her top/favorite foods. I can’t ever taste them because of the ham. Any ideas for a substitution that wouldn’t be totally disgusting?

  3. Melissa B. says:

    Hi there! Visiting from BPOTW. Love your blog; you’re quite the Scribbler! Listen, I’m up for a Pretty Neat blogging award, and I made the final cut. Yup, I’m campaigning for votes…please come by and check it out if you have a chance!

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