Deviled ham salad DSC6007

Deviled ham salad

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.

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


  • 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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Anonymous says:

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

  2. Lisa Fain says:

    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!

  3. SassyCondiment says:

    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.

  4. Robyn of Coffee and Cotton says:

    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" 😀

  5. booksmart says:

    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!