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My Simple Broccoli Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad take just minutes to prepare and has been a family favorite for decades. It’s a great way to use up leftover ham and is make ahead too!
Why We Love This Recipe
I’ve been enjoying this Broccoli Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad recipe for as long as I can remember. It’s one that my mom used to make and I love making it for my family and friends now, too. What’s especially great is that it is one of my favorite style recipes: make ahead and no heat required! (well, minus the heat to boil the water for the pasta).
I especially love that I can make it up ahead of time so that I have a quick and easy dinner (or lunch!) ready to go on a busy night. It takes just minutes to assemble then I keep it in the refrigerator until it’s ready to serve.
I love that it is full of wholesome, real food ingredients that get a little bit of extra fiber (from the whole wheat pasta!) and veggies all wrapped up into one meal.
It’s a perfect item to bring to potlucks for just about any occasion, too. We typically enjoy it in the summer time but this pasta salad with ham and broccoli would also be a great dish to make any time you have leftover ham for a nice change of pace.
What Ingredients Are Needed To Make This Recipe?
The ingredients are all easy to find at your grocery store. Lately, since my family has become big fans of broccoli, I’ve been buying the large packages of cut up broccoli heads which makes this pasta salad recipe even easier to make. I typically buy it at Costco but one of our local grocery stores carries the “club pack” for a pretty good price too.
Make sure you use purple (sometimes called red) onion in this recipe. It is a milder onion and can be eaten raw without the bite than other onions that are typically cooked.
If I don’t have leftover ham, I will buy the ham in a whole piece that is typically found near the prepackaged deli meats in the grocery store. Or sometimes I will just have the deli department cut off a super thick slice of deli ham and that’s all I need.
My broccoli ham pasta salad recipe calls for fusilli pasta. This is the type that looks like a corkscrew. I find that it is just the right size for the cut-up broccoli and other ingredients so you can get a few of the ingredients on your fork and in each bite.
The sugar may seem like a strange addition, but it is really just a small amount and helps give the mayonnaise dressing a delicious sweet and tangy taste.
How To Make This Pasta Salad
For my broccoli ham pasta salad, it does take a little bit of time to chop up all the delicious vegetables and ham but it really isn’t too difficult. I sometimes like to use my mini-food chopper (affiliate link) to make things go more quickly.
First, I start by chopping the ham (1). Then I begin layering the ingredients in the bowl (2). I like these clear bowls that come with lids (affiliate link) because they are pretty enough to serve in and have a matching lid which makes it easy to store in the refrigerator.
Next, spread on the mayonnaise (3). It will seem like there’s not enough to spread but that’s ok! You just want a thin layer and once you mix it all up, it will be just the right amount.
Sprinkle on the sugar (4) then finish layering with the shredded cheese and chopped ham (5). That’s it! Just store it in the refrigerator for at least one hour but you can even make this the day before you plan to serve it. Then just mix it all up and it’s ready to enjoy!
Make Ahead Preparation Tips
As this Broccoli Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad is naturally make ahead (because it needs time to chill before serving), there’s not much more to add than what I’ve already described above.
But if you want to get just a little bit more ahead, all of the ingredients can be chopped up to a day in advance of assembly. Just store in separate containers in your refrigerator.
Is This Pasta Salad Recipe Freezer Friendly?
Because this is made with all fresh ingredients, it doesn’t really freeze very well once assembled. But the ham and shredded cheese can be used from frozen so if you’ve got any stashed in your freezer, you’re good to go!
More Salad Recipes….
We love a good salad! I also like salads that can be made ahead. Be sure to check out a couple of my favorites like:
Broccoli Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad
- 2 cups fusilli pasta I use whole wheat pasta, cooked and rinsed under cool water
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1 cup green bell pepper chopped
- ½ cup purple onion chopped
- 2 cups fresh broccoli chopped
- ⅔ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 4 cups cooked ham cubed
- In large salad bowl, layer first five ingredients in order listed. Spread mayonnaise over top. Sprinkle sugar on mayonnaise. Layer remaining ingredients in bowl. Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to 8 hours. Mix all ingredients together before serving.
This post was originally shared in August 2015 and updated in May 2020 with new photos and text.