Deviled ham salad

Deviled ham salad DSC6007

After a full day in the kitchen, I like to take a walk to clear my head. On a recent stroll, I spotted a friend holding court in a neighborhood Southern restaurant. He had just moved to New York and as I hadn’t seen him in a while, I popped inside and said howdy. We decided to order some light snacks and saw deviled tasso listed on the menu. What’s that, we wondered? We ordered it and after one bite, I realized it was nothing more than a variation on my old favorite, deviled ham.

Deviled ham also made an appearance at a Derby Day party. A friend had found a can of Underwood’s Deviled Ham and brought it to share with the other guests. She’d never eaten it before but was intrigued by the iconic white can with the grinning devil. (Does anyone know what deviled, when applied to food, actually means?) I hadn’t seen that can in years, but I instantly remembered how much I loved deviled ham and pickle sandwiches when I was young. I decided it was time to make a batch of my own.

I didn’t have to look far for a recipe.

Deviled ham salad | Homesick Texan

At Christmas, my cousin Susan brought her famous ham salad to our family gathering and the big bowl of it was gone in about a minute. We spread it on buttery crackers, a perfect vehicle for the ham salad that was filled with flavors spicy, tangy and sweet.

I asked her for the recipe and she laughed and said she didn’t have one. Of course, she didn’t! That happens so often in my family—we just throw together ingredients and taste until everything is balanced. And I’m not complaining—that’s certainly my favorite way to cook.

She did, however, give me her list of ingredients. There was ham, of course, along with pickles, mustard, and peppers. And like a detective I took these clues and tried to solve the mystery of her famous ham salad. It actually wasn’t difficult—if you have any experience making protein-based salads such as tuna salad, chicken salad or even pimento cheese, you get a feel for how much of each ingredient should belong. This time, however, I kept notes of just how much I was adding so I could pass it on to you.

Deviled ham salad | Homesick Texan

Ham salad is versatile as you can stuff it into celery, spread it on crackers, scoop it onto an iceberg wedge, or layer it on buttered bread. And while it’s perfect for warm days, I find that it’s pretty much appreciated at any time of year.

Deviled ham salad DSC6007
4.67 from 3 votes

Deviled ham salad

Servings 8
Author Lisa Fain


  • 2 cups chopped ham
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 large dill pickle, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, stemmed, and diced
  • 3 tablespoons mayo
  • 3 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon pickle juice
  • Salt
  • Black pepper


  1. In a food processor, mix all the ingredients together until blended but not too smooth as you want a bit of texture. Taste and adjust any seasoning or add more mayonnaise and mustard if you like. Keeps in the refrigerator for a few days.

  1. Wendell

    This sounds good. Speaking of Underwood’s Deviled Ham, I use a can of it when making Deviled Eggs (Down here we sometime call them stuffed eggs). Always get a lot of good comments on the Deviled Eggs.

    Wendell who married a Texas gal, now living down here in LA. That’s Lower Alabama for you who don’t know it………..

  2. I had always thought "deviled" (as in "deviled eggs") meant mustard was added. According to good old Wikipedia, it's broader than that: "The term "deviled", in reference to food, was in use in the 18th century, first known print reference appearing in 1786.[1] In the 19th century, it came to be used most often with spicy or zesty food, including eggs prepared with mustard, pepper, or other ingredients stuffed in the yolk cavity."

  3. Celeste

    I like deviled ham or chicken on saltine crackers for a trip straight back to childhood. I like any kind of chilled spread on crackers for a snack at the beach; it gets me out the door faster when I don't have to make sandwiches ahead of time!

    Minced celery is the very best in this for texture and color, but in times of no celery I've put in some minced water chestnuts and called it good, too.

  4. DessertForTwo

    If I'm not mistaken, Tasso is a smoked ham product from Louisianna. Whatever it is, it's delicious! Your ham salad recipe looks great–I absolutely love ham! Do you still need recipe testers for your cookbook?

  5. My mom made deviled ham salad using the Underwoods Deviled Ham for our lunches and it was a favorite! Very often when I cook a ham and have some left I will put it in my food processor and make my own deviled ham salad…it's yummy!

  6. Fritz Bogott

    I have always taken "deviled" to mean, "garnished with a homeopathic amount of paprika in a winking symbolic reference to capsicum," i.e., about as naughty as white folks ever got in the 1950's, i.e., "This dish makes you grieve for the spicy food your ancestors never ate."

  7. Anonymous

    I am pregnant and just had the most wicked Deviled Ham craving just this past weekend. I was reading "The Glass Castle" by Jeanette Walls and she mentioned it several times. Books do that to me. Anyway, I went straight to the store and bought a can of Underwood's. All I added was some diced celery for crunch but dill pickle sounds fantastic as well. Thank you for your just in time post.

  8. Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady")

    According to the Oxford Companion to Food,

    Devil–a culinary term which . . . first appeared as a noun in the 18th century, and then in the early 19th century as a verb meaning to cook something with fiery hot spices or condiments. . . . The term was presumably adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell. . . . Boswell, Dr Johnson's biographer, frequently refers to partaking of a dish of "devilled bones" for supper, which suggests an earlier use (reference 3).

    Southern church suppers often boasted "stuffed" eggs or ham as they thought the reference to the devil might not "go down a treat" with the brethren. 🙂 But oddly enough, at those church suppers there was always a Devil's Food (Chocolate) Cake which I can only assume is so utterly rich and decadent it HAS to be "of the devil hisself". Frankly, I'll take Devil's Food cake over Angel Food anyday. I'm just sayin'….

  9. Bubbles

    Oh boy, I loved those little cans of deviled ham. I figured they were just another processed sodium bomb, like Vienna Sausage sandwiches, that I was better off giving up. Thanks for this decidedly less guilt-inducing recipe.

    DessertForTwo is right about tasso. I can't believe such a delicious pork product is so close to Texas and still so confined to Louisiana! It's like never hearing about andouille or something. The Laurelhurst Market guys in Portland, OR, of all places, make wonderful tasso.

  10. heather @ chiknpastry

    I've never heard of this lovely lookin' treat! must try – sounds great on Ritz crackers, eh?

    i always assumed the term "deviled" meant hot and spicy or red… but some people call deviled eggs "deviled" without all that, so I dunno. according to a commenter above, i might have been right!

  11. Celeste

    I've heard of putting blue crab meat in deviled eggs and calling them Blue Devils!

    Maybe there needs to be a Devilish chapter in your cookbook. ;o)))

  12. Lisa Fain

    Wendell–I've never thought of using it in deviled eggs, but I bet that's tasty!

    Scribe–Mustard is certainly spicy sometimes!

    Celeste–Never tried it with minced water chestnuts. Hmmmm…

    DessertforTwo–Yes it is! We were more curious what the deviled part of the name referred to

    Leah-It's a great way to use up leftover ham!

    Fritz Bogott–Ha!

    Cheri–That makes sense!

    Anon–Books to that to me, too. And I'm not even pregnant!

    Bubbles–I think it's starting to be more well known–my Whole Foods here in NYC now sells tasso.

    Heather–Wonderful on Ritz Crackers!

    Celeste–I bet Duke fans like that!

  13. Thanks for your rendition of this recipe.

    The best use for all that leftover holiday ham is always ham salad.

    Always a favorite when used in wraps and cut into little disk poppers.

    Must try with Jalapeno soon.

  14. Lisa Fain

    Tommy–I think you'll like it with the jalapenos.

  15. Brenda in Texas

    Lisa, I live in central Texas and deviled ham is something I always have in my pantry. My favorite way to make it is with jalapeno bread and butter pickles, a little mayo and some onions. I am going to wish you a happy birthday for tomorrow. Hope I am remembering right. It is my sweet hubby's bd also tomorrow and I will be making him his favorite cake. Buttermmilk pound cake. Hope it's not so hot tomorrow since it take 70 minutes to bake. But it is good. Thank you for your recipes, i always enjoy them so much. Brenda

  16. I like the idea of scooping it onto a wedge of iceberg. That sounds crisp and cool for summer snacking!

  17. Anonymous

    Another thought from the anonymous pregnant lady. My mother used to make an appetizer with hollowed out brown and serve rolls filled with deviled ham, covered with "nippy" cheese (and I mean nippy in all its 1950's glory), then put under the broiler to melt the cheese.

  18. Anonymous

    this made me grin. When I was a kid, the only way I'd eat deviled ham sandwiches was with sweet pickle slices (lots of them), and mustard. I just love that combination. I'll have to give this recipe a try.

  19. I know, you are going to feel really sorry for me now, but we don't have dill pickles in the UK! What they call gherkins or pickled dill cucumbers here are sweet and sour (sort of like bread and butter pickles). Do you think I should try one of those, or avoid the sweetness and just use some fresh dill instead? I have found that some of the fancy pate available here tastes a lot like that deviled ham in the can to me! 😉

  20. I always thought "deviled" meant chopped/mince to the point you didn't know what the devil was in it any more.
    I always wanted my mom to buy those little cans of Underwood, but it was a luxury we just couldn't afford. When I finally was able to buy my own can, I hated it. It was over salty and mushy as heck! I guess it's a textural thing. My ham salad has diced ham in it. I do dice it small but no food processor for me thank you. And like another poster, I also thought one of the ingredients in "deviled" foods was mustard. Gotta have me some spicy brown mustard, or heck even yellow.

    Loved Twinkies as a kid, had lone last year and nearly heaved. Awful stuff, might have liked the deviled ham when I was a kid, but no thank you now.

  21. Hooray!! You did it! Thanks Lisa for your investigative work. I'm off to find the ingredients now. I hope they have them at the Carrefour, fingers crossed.

  22. Tasty Eats At Home

    My husband loves deviled ham. I imagine he'd love this recipe even more!

  23. Elizabeth

    oh my god, now I am so hungry!

  24. debeguia

    When I was catering, I used to mix the Underwood deviled ham with some of that can of cranberry jelly to make petite little sandwiches. May have added something else, but can't remember. Funny, how those little sandwiches were just on my mind recently.

  25. Lisa Fain

    Brenda–Thanks for the birthday wishes! And a happy birthday to your husband. Hope you it's not too hot to bake that cake!

    Lisa–Iceberg is one of my favorite things to eat in the summer-so crisp and cool.

    Anon–Nippy cheese. I don't know what this is!

    Anon–Yep, it's so good with mustard–sort of balances out the sweetness of the ham.

    Jewlz–I think it would be fine with sweet & sour pickles if you like to eat those. Do you ever make your own pickles?

    Vicki–That's a good theory on the term–never heard that before! And yeah, it's difficult to revisit processed food that you haven't eaten since you were a kid–I usually find it tastes pretty awful.

    Aidan–You're very welcome!

    Steve–Oh, I bet it wonderful stuffed into gougeres! That would be great for a party.

    Tasty Eats at Home–Homemade is always better than store bough, I find!

    Debguia–What a delicious combination! Never would have though of that but it makes sense.

  26. Lisa,
    Indeed this takes me back. Underwood was my father's favorite. Your version is better. I like it stuffed into gougeres. Delicious.

  27. Anonymous

    Nippy Cheese – is usually American Cheese or Sharp Cheddar. If it is mentioned in a retro American recipe it is usually American Cheese. I have found recipes for dip called Nippy Cheese but as a recipe ingredient I usually use American or Cheddar. My mom used American in her appetizer.

  28. Lawyer Loves Lunch

    Stumbled upon your blog by accident and I'm so glad. It's always exciting to see Texans spreading Texan cheer all over the US. Plus, everything you make looks delicious. I'm a fan! 🙂

  29. Lea Ann

    I grew up on deviled ham sandwiches and not from a can. My mom made them all the time and of course no recipe. I love the addition of jalapeno in this recipe. Gotta make it. I've never had the canned version before by the way.

  30. The Runaway Spoon

    My mama's gonna love me! I'll make her this and she'll stop bugging me to get my hair fixed.

    She used to mix that canned deviled ham with mayo for lunch all the time, and my brother and I thought it was disgusting and refused to eat it. The last time I saw one of those cans, my parents were encouraging me to create a survival kit for when the big one comes (earthquake) and I put some cans in my box with the batteries and flashlights and first aid kit. My mother found it insulting that I only considered deviled ham food to eat when nothing else was available and I faced starvation.

    But fresh ham salad sounds yummy – but mostly I want to score some mama points.

  31. Anonymous

    My family always ate deviled ham on Roman Meal bread with salad dressing (or some call Miracle Whip).

  32. Anonymous

    One of my cookbooks–Betty Crocker? BH&G?–says that to devil something means to add ingredients to make it "devilishly good."

  33. looks yummy and very easy to make too. but i never understood why its called deviled?? was it first made by devil to get its name??

  34. Anonymous

    Way before our University contracted out the food service there was a deviled ham salad sandwich on the menu that is talked about by many of the older alumni. The last cafeteria director before the contracting out took if off the menu because it was actually finely chopped bologna instead of ham. When she made them change the name to match what it really was the students would not purchase it any more so it was dropped off the menu. When prepared with a food processor, it tastes just like it came out of that little can.

  35. Ina Pickle

    To us, ham salad and deviled ham were very different things. We ate Underwood deviled ham on saltine crackers, or in sandwiches with pickle and mayo (just as you describe).

    But ham salad had the pickle and mayo already in it. I think ours has just a touch of onion, and it might have a touch of mustard – but I don't think so. It's kind of slightly sweet. You have it for finger sandwiches at parties.

    We've got a couple of cans of underwood down in the basement. They are there for power outages, which still make me want deviled ham on saltines by candlelight. 😉

  36. Jennifer

    My mother-in-law make a family favorite of deviled ham. I've never tried it but very politely thanked her when she made it – and it was always GONE! before I had to try it. Now I regret missing out! 🙂 I think I'll give this a whirl and see if it meets her tastebuds. She is, afterall, one of my best friends. Yes, I have an awesome set of in-laws. *HURRAY!* Below is an article on the history of 'deviling' regarding food. So interesting! Thanks for spurring on my curiousity. You ROCK!

  37. Queen of Cuisine

    WOW. Your blog reminded me that I ate this as a kid!! I haven't thought about it in years, and now I'm craving it smeared on a cracker…. Thanks for a pretty well-buried memory.


  38. I get the connotation of "deviled" meaning also a lot of chopping, blending, stirring and shredding. Bedeviling it. But that's just me.

  39. Lisa Fain

    Anon–Ah, good to know! Thank you for the explanation.

    Lawyer Loves Lunch–Welcome and thank you! We Texans sure do know how to eat!

    Lea Ann–I find that most salads such as this are usually made without a recipe. A little bit of this and a little bit of that. And they always taste great! And homemade is much better.

    The Runaway Spoon–I'm sure the canned deviled ham could survive anything!

    Anon–Roman Meal bread! We used to eat that, too!

    Henna–Ha! Maybe!

    Anon–Bologna? Hmm, I don't know about that! No wonder the students revolted!

    Ina Pickle–I find it's best when it's a little sweet and a little savory. And yes, the canned stuff is great for power outages and the ike.

    Jennifer–Thanks for the link–very interesting!

    Queen of Cuisine–It's wonderful on crackers.

    Jumper–Now that's something I hadn't heard before but it could work.

  40. I'm glad someone else mentioned "ham" salad made with bologna. That's how my mom and grandma both made it when I was a kid. I remember being disappointed when I discovered it wasn't really ham, but I still liked it!

  41. Anonymous

    Deviled to me has always meant 'add horseradish (and maybe mustard)'. That applies to eggs, ham salad and steak strips 🙂

  42. Lisa Fain

    Janna–Bologna has always had textural issues for me, but I reckon when it's made into a salad some of those go away.

    Anon–Horseradish certainly spices up food!

    SassyCondiment–Thanks for the OED's definition of deviled!

  43. SassyCondiment

    This Deviled Ham is sooo yummy! This was our dinner last night. I made fesh bread and baked somewhat like a strata.

    As far as the term "deviled", you piqued my curiosity. Linda's Culinary Dictionary defines as:

    deviled –
    (1) A term describing food that is dark, rich, chocolate, spicily piquant or stimulating it is "deviled." Means a highly seasoned, chopped, ground, or whole mixture that is served hot or cold. Many foods, including eggs and crab, are served "deviled."

    From the Oxford English Dictionary – the 1786 reference is the first use of this word in print:
    "Devil…A name for various highly-seasoned broiled or fried dishes, also for hot ingredients. 1786, Craig "Lounger NO. 86 'Make punch, brew negus, and season a devil.

    (2) The earliest use of this culinary term was typically associated with kidneys and other meats, not stuffed eggs.

    (3) The term "deviled" referring to meat, fish, and cheese spreads, is somewhat different. Spiced potted meats have been popular for centuries. William Underwood introduced his famous deviled ham in 1867.

    James Boswell (1740-1795), Samuel Johnson's biographer, often referred to partaking of deviled bones for supper. In a biography published in 1791, James Boswell referred to partaking of a dish of “devilled bones” for supper. The bones were generally those of cold poultry, game or beef. The pieces of meat were covered with what was then called devil sauces. NOTE: This may be the earliest published use of the word “devil” as a cooking term meaning “to cook something with hot spices or condiments.” Most Food historians believe that the term was adopted because of the connection between the devil and the excessive heat in Hell.

  44. Robyn of Coffee and Cotton

    Oh I must try this. I have only tasted the Underwood's never homemade. I am a new Texan {Austin} transplanted from San Francisco. I love your site! You teach me how to "cook Texan" 😀

  45. booksmart

    How timely – on a recent trip to my southern in-laws, a large bowl of ham salad was placed before me (with the required buttery crackers). I'm from New England and the "salads" I grew up with had green vegetables and croutons. I was a bit wary. It took only one bite for me to ask for more. My father-in-law's recipe is very similar. Thanks for sharing!

  46. Lisa, either Grandpa (Dad) or Grandma used to love Underwood's as I remember it on the pantry shelf. Never cared for the concoction too much myself but sure liked the little paper-wrapped can. My money sez it was Grandpa's treat.

    BTW, Susan would be your first cousin once removed. She explained all that first cousin second cousin business a few Thanksgiving's ago.


    Uncle Richard

  47. I haven't had a deviled ham sandwich in years. Mother used to make them with mayo. One of my favorite guilty pleasure is to mix a can of underwood deviled chicken with cream cheese and eat on triscuits.

  48. I too am an underwood graduate. But now I enjoy making my own ham salad ala the food processer. it lets me combine different levels of heat and spice with soft cheeses and sometime gherkins. But I always liked my deviled ham on soft fresh white bread with the crfust removed. thanks for the memory

  49. scmom (Barbara)

    Just found your blog looking for ham salad recipes, not that I've ever used a recipe (like your family). Deviled means "highly seasoned" although I don't know that canned deviled ham is "highly" seasoned. It certainly has its own unique smell and flavor, however. Good to keep around in the "in case of a tornado or other natural disaster" kit. 😉 I look forward to checking out more of your recipes.

  50. Haha, yet another food I didn't realize was a regional food. Every June I do hurricane prep shopping, which of course includes Deviled Ham.

    Hubby likes his Deviled ham with Miracle Whip, but I can only tolerate it with mustard, then smashed Lays chips if possible.

    PS: Smashing chips on sandwiches should only be done at home apparently, because others look down on it for some reason LOL

  51. Ham salad, whoopee! I live in Maine, where nobody under the age of 60 will admit to enjoying chopped-up ham mixed with mayo, and my life is sadder for it.

  52. Anonymous

    This recipe looks good. I am sorry if someone already mentioned this, but my mother would add a few ground peanuts to the mixture, or less than a tablespoon of peanut butter. This creates or enhances a smoky flavor, without making it taste like peanut butter. Anonymous West Virginian.

  53. Mom would make us deviled ham sandwiches, for school lunches, from the can or minced, then combined with chopped sweet or dill pickles and mayonnaise, sometimes chopped cheddar. I am 82, loved them all those many years ago and STILL love 'em!!

  54. Expat, and glad of it

    I live in Santiago, Chile. Some few days ago, I was browsing the local supermarket’s internet offerings for “jamon” when suddenly a barely-recalled white can appeared! Immediately, I ordered one,, a package of cream cheese, and the local equivalent of saltines. When they arrived, I sat me down in a Swedish leather recliner and GOBBLED it all down! Though I’m a born-and-bred New England elitist, I love Underwood ‘s.
    Oh, incidentally, I will use your recipe for my wife’s and my 50th wedding anniversary. Alas that June is chilly Down Here.

    • Lisa Fain

      Expat–What a great story! Happy 50th anniversary and may y’all enjoy the deviled ham salad!

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