EASY Leftover Ham Casserole with Rice & Cheese

Make your leftovers feel new again with this Leftover Ham Casserole! Ham, rice, and veggies are rejuvenated in a creamy, savory sauce, topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs, then baked until bubbly.

Who can ever say no to a casserole? Mixing a heap of flavor-packed ingredients into a baking dish, then leaving it to do its thing in the oven is my idea of a perfect family dinner. It’s why I’m always making my Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Casserole and Easy Tuna Casserole Recipe when I need a low-maintenance meal.

But making a casserole with the leftovers already in your fridge? Now that’s what I call easy! This Leftover Ham Casserole is one of my favorite go-to recipes and is so easy to make, too.

Ham and rice casserole puts leftover ham, whether it’s from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or a big family dinner, on display. It’s spruced up with a creamy and aromatic sauce, combined with simple veggies and pre-cooked rice, then topped with toasted breadcrumbs and parmesan. Bake until it’s golden and bubbly, and learn to love your leftovers again!

Ingredients for ham casserole labeled on counter.

Ingredients and substitutions 

Making a casserole with leftovers means you can use whatever you already have in your fridge or spruce it up with a few new flavor boosters. This is what I used:

  • White rice – Use the cooked white rice already in your fridge or make a fresh batch. It doesn’t have to be white rice, either; this recipe works just as well with day-old brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, or the grain of your choice.
  • Butter – Melted butter adds a ton of flavor to the creamy and aromatic sauce.
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Flour – All purpose flour works well or you can use an all purpose gluten free flour instead.
  • White wine – Dry vermouth works well as a substitute, too. Both intensify the flavor of every ingredient, so try not to skip them.
  • Milk – Whole milk works best. For an extra-rich sauce, use heavy cream instead.
  • Chicken stock – Or use vegetable broth or homemade bone broth.
  • Broccoli – Use leftover broccoli or steam fresh florets quickly in the microwave before adding them to the creamy sauce. See the Variations below for more vegetables you can add to the casserole.
  • Ham – Make sure to chop the leftover ham into small, bite-sized pieces before stirring it into the sauce.
  • Cheddar cheese – Shred the cheese from the block yourself so it melts easily.
  • Panko breadcrumbs – The breadcrumbs are toasted in butter, then mixed with the parmesan and parsley for the crunchiest, most decadent topping on the casserole. If you can’t find panko, use regular breadcrumbs or gluten free breadcrumbs instead.
  • Parmesan
  • Fresh parsley

How to make a leftover ham casserole

Melt some of the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once melted, add the onion and cook until softened. Then add the garlic.

Sauteed onions and garlic in skillet.

Stir the flour in next and cook it for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the white wine, stock, and milk, and give everything a good stir. Bring it up to a gentle simmer and continue stirring until the sauce has thickened.

Cream sauce in skillet.

While you wait, steam the broccoli florets (if they aren’t already cooked) in the microwave. 

Steamed broccoli in bowl.

Now add the cooked rice, broccoli, ham, and shredded cheddar cheese to the sauce. Toss to coat, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the mixture to your casserole dish.

Melt the remaining butter in a small skillet and add the panko. Toast the breadcrumbs in the butter until they’re golden. Take the pan off of the heat and stir the parsley and parmesan in with the panko.

Sprinkle the panko mixture over the ham casserole. Bake until the sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are a deep golden brown color, then scoop, serve, and enjoy!

Variations

  • Instead of ham – Make this recipe with the leftover turkey, bacon, shredded chicken, or roasted chicken already in your fridge.
  • Add more vegetables – Make this casserole with as many leftover vegetables as you want. Leftover cauliflower, carrots, green beans, squash, and corn will all pair well.
  • Use the grain of your choice – Leftover rice, quinoa, farro, couscous, and wild rice all work well here.
  • Use pasta noodles – Or, if you don’t have leftover rice ready to go, use pre-cooked short-cut pasta noodles, orzo, or egg noodles instead.
  • Want to omit the alcohol? Skip the wine/vermouth and use extra chicken stock instead.

Serving suggestions

This comforting casserole makes for a delicious and filling main dish you can serve next to simple side dishes, like:

Spatula in pan of ham casserole.

Make ahead and storing

To make ahead: Save lots of time by making the sauce (without the ham, rice, or vegetables added) up to 1 day ahead of time. Keep it in an airtight container, then reheat it in a saucepan before assembling and baking the casserole as normal.

You can also assemble the casserole the day before baking. Keep covered in the fridge, then bake the next day.

To store: The baked casserole is best served immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 or 2 days, but just know that the vegetables and rice will become soggy the longer they sit.

To freeze: Assemble the casserole without the breadcrumb topping, then cover and freeze. It freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before adding the breadcrumbs and baking.

Wine pairings

More easy dinner recipes

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Spoon taking scoop out of leftover ham casserole.

EASY Leftover Ham Casserole Recipe

Make your leftovers feel new again with this Leftover Ham Casserole! Ham, rice, and veggies are rejuvenated in a creamy, savory sauce, topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs, then baked until bubbly.
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients

  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • 5 Tablespoons butter (divided)
  • 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or dry vermouth, or omit)
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or bone broth)
  • 3 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cooked ham (diced)
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped )

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in flour and cook 1-2 minutes; add white wine (or dry vermouth) and stir. Add stock and milk, and bring to a bubble. Cook the sauce over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 6-8 minutes.
  • Cook broccoli by placing it in a microwave safe bowl and covering it. Microwave for 3-4 minutes until broccoli is bright green and tender. Or, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add broccoli and cook for 4 minutes until broccoli is bright green and tender.
  • To the sauce, add the cooked rice, cooked broccoli, ham, and cheese, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the mixture to a large baking dish.
  • In a small skillet, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the panko and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and parmesan. Sprinkle the panko mixture over the casserole and bake for 30 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Notes

To make ahead: Save time by making the sauce (without the ham, rice, or vegetables added) up to 1 day ahead of time. Keep it in an airtight container, then reheat it in a saucepan before assembling and baking the casserole as normal.
You can also assemble the casserole the day before baking. Keep covered in the fridge, then bake the next day.
To store: The baked casserole is best served immediately. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 or 2 days, but just know that the vegetables and rice will become soggy the longer they sit.
To freeze: Assemble the casserole without the breadcrumb topping, then cover and freeze. It freezes well for up to 3 months. Let it thaw in the fridge before adding the breadcrumbs and baking.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!

Equipment

Large Saucepan
Baking Dish
Medium Bowl
Knife

Nutrition

Calories: 624kcal | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.4g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 1103mg | Potassium: 609mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1272IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 500mg | Iron: 2mg

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