Last Updated on September 16, 2023 by Liza Hawkins
I first made this baked hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole in 2008, years after a coworker described a version she grew up with. She seemed astonished I’d never tried a bite, let alone heard of it. After trying my hand at baking a tray, and eating many of them, I can see why!
I’m not sure what took me so long to make the casserole, except that it’s hard to fathom how something just made with rolls, cheese, and ham could be that good.
But, ooohhhh … this hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole is that good!
Like, supremely that good.
Beyond the savory, ooey-gooey cheesy goodness, my love for this recipe is further compounded by the fact that it can be made ahead.
I love a good make-ahead meal, particularly when I’m hosting a crowd.
Let’s face it … there are only so many hours in the day, and I use up all twenty-four as it is.
So, make-ahead meals also allow time to interact with guests rather than having to prep and cook in the kitchen the whole time.
(Though, as an introvert, I don’t always mind a little time alone over the stove…)
One of the things I appreciate most about this hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole is that it can be quickly thrown together, left to sit overnight so the flavors can all dance around together, and then all that’s left do is pop it in the oven day-of.
AND, if that wasn’t easy enough, this dish is great served hot, but it’s also terrific at room temp, which means you don’t need to worry about keeping it warm if it’s meant to be a to-go potluck dish!
Weighing Your Ham Options
When it comes to making this yummy baked hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole, your choice of ham can make all the difference. Whether you’re perusing the grocery store deli counter, picking up prepackaged ham, or seeking out the expertise of a butcher, there’s a world of options to explore. From the thickness of the slices to various seasoned and flavored varieties, let’s dive into the ham choices that can elevate your casserole game.
The Deli Counter Delight
At the grocery store deli counter, you’ll find a smorgasbord of ham options. Deli ham is typically sliced thin, making it ideal for layering in your hot sandwich casserole. Thin slices of ham allow the flavors to meld together seamlessly, creating a harmonious bite in every forkful.
But wait — you might wonder, what types of ham can I find at the deli counter?
Well, your options can range from classic smoked ham to honey-glazed ham, and even spiced ham with a hint of pepper. These hams offer a variety of flavor profiles, from sweet to savory, allowing you to tailor your casserole to your taste preferences. And if you’re a fan of that smoky, slightly salty goodness, smoked ham is a timeless favorite that never disappoints.
If convenience is your game, prepackaged ham is there for you. Prepackaged ham comes in airtight containers, ensuring freshness and easy storage. These hams are pre-sliced and ready to go, making the assembly of your casserole a breeze. These days you even have options ranging from “shaved” to “carving station” thicknesses and everything in-between!
While prepackaged ham may not offer the same artisanal experience as a butcher or deli counter, it can be a reliable choice when you’re short on time. Look for options labeled “oven-roasted” or “smoked” for a boost of flavor that complements your casserole’s cheesy goodness.
For those who crave the utmost quality and a personalized touch, a visit to the local butcher can be a game-changer. Butchers are known for their expertise in meat selection, and they can provide you with slices of ham that will take your casserole to the next level.
Like the deli counter, when you choose ham from a butcher, you have the advantage of requesting specific thicknesses that cater to your preferences. Thick-cut ham not only adds a hearty texture to your casserole but also allows the ham’s rich flavor to shine through, balancing the cheesiness of the dish.
Butchers may also offer house-made seasoned ham varieties, such as garlic-infused or herb-crusted ham. These specialty hams can add a unique twist to your casserole, elevating it from a simple dish to a gourmet delight.
Exploring Flavor Combinations
Now that we’ve covered the different sources of ham, let’s talk about flavor combinations. While a classic ham and cheese casserole is undeniably scrumptious, experimenting with diverse ingredients can lead to exciting culinary discoveries.
Imagine layering roast beef and provolone with caramelized onions for a savory, slightly sweet twist on your casserole. The caramelized onions add a touch of richness, balancing the flavors beautifully. This combination is sure to be a hit at any gathering.
On the other hand, picture turkey and brie with a drizzle of raspberry jam. This sweet and savory fusion creates a delightful contrast in your casserole. The creaminess of the brie melds perfectly with the fruity sweetness of the jam, making each bite an explosion of flavors.
Hot Ham and Cheese Sandwich Casserole
When it comes to crafting the perfect hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole, your ham selection plays a pivotal role. Whether you opt for deli counter finesse, the convenience of prepackaged ham, or the expertise of a butcher, there’s a ham for every occasion.
Thin slices of deli ham provide a seamless layering experience, while prepackaged ham offers convenience without compromising flavor. But if you seek the pinnacle of quality and customization, a butcher’s thick-cut ham can’t be beaten.
Don’t be afraid to explore flavor combinations beyond the classic ham and cheese duo to elevate your casserole game and delight your guests’ taste buds.
The next time you’re whipping up that hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole, remember that the ham you choose can make it not just good, but uniquely good. Enjoy the culinary journey, and happy cooking!
This hot ham and cheese sandwich casserole is a favorite party food!
- 2 12-packs King’s Hawaiian Rolls (party potato rolls are good substitute)
- 1 pound shaved Virginia ham
- 24 slices Swiss cheese
- 1-1/2 sticks butter
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons dried minced onions
- 2 teaspoons poppy seeds
- Slice the King’s Hawaiian rolls in half.
- Line the bottom of a 9X13" baking pan with the bottom halves of the rolls (they should just fit).
- Spread half the ham over the rolls, and then layer half the the swiss cheese on top.
- Repeat the ham and cheese layers once more. Place the other halves of the rolls on top, press them down gently. Set the baking pan aside.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and dried onions.
- Over medium heat, stir until the butter has melted to create the sauce.
- Pour the sauce over top of the rolls in the baking pan, and then sprinkle the tops with the poppy seeds.
- Cover the baking pan tightly with aluminum foil, and then refrigerate for at least three hours or overnight (better).
When you’re ready to bake:
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the covered baking dish in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Uncover and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese has finished melting.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 24 mini sandwiches.
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- J.A. Henckels International 31161-201 CLASSIC Chef's Knife, 8 Inch, Black
- Pyrex Deep Baking Dish Set (6-Piece, BPA-Free Lids)
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- Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, Pour and Strain Sauce Pan, 3 1/2-quart, Black
- eHomeA2Z Aluminum Pans Half Size Disposable 9" x 13" 10 Pack (10, Half Size)
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 437Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 115mgSodium: 754mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 23g