Traditional recipes

Pineapple Glazed Ham Balls

Pineapple Glazed Ham Balls

Ham balls! Made from ham, bacon and ground pork, glazed with pineapple juice, brown sugar, cider vinegar, ketchup and dry mustard.

Photography Credit:Elise Bauer

Where to begin with these?

Hank and I got an inkling to do a more “retro” recipe, and somehow we ended up with ham balls. Pineapple glazed ham balls.

Let’s just say the jokes were flying today, Hank being the boy’s boy that he is and never ceasing to look for opportunities to make me blush.

What are ham balls?

Meatballs, made with ham, ground pork, and in our version, bacon. Slathered with a sweet and sour glaze of pineapple juice, brown sugar, ketchup, mustard, and vinegar.

(We were thinking about calling them “Hawaiian meatballs”, because they’re sort of like a meatball version of that classic Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham. But what if people in Hawaii don’t make meatballs like this? So, back to where we started.)

Before you go running for them thar hills, let me tell you that these ham meatballs are good. Really good.

Perfect for a holiday gathering, or if it’s football season, a great appetizer for a big group of cheering football fans.

There’s a reason pineapple and ham is a classic combination; it just works.

By the way, we had a little leftover meatball mix and made some patties, sort of like a ham version of a pork burger. Terrific with the glaze. They would make great ham sliders with a little slice of pineapple on a bun.

Pineapple Glazed Ham Balls Recipe



  • 1/4 pound bacon, diced
  • 1 pound ham, diced
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tbsp pineapple juice


  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch mixed with 2 Tbsp cold water


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2 Process bacon and ham: Put the bacon and ham into a food processor and pulse briefly 3-4 times to chop fine. Do not purée.

3 Make ham ball mixture: Place the mixture in a large bowl with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix well to combine.

4 Form ham balls: Using your hands, form meatballs anywhere from 1-inch to 2-inches in diameter. The smaller diameter meatballs will make for easier eating if you are making them for an appetizer for a party. Larger meatballs will work well for a main course.

5 Bake: Arrange the ham balls in a casserole pan and bake in the 350°F oven for about 1 hour for 2-inch diameter meatballs, or 30-40 minutes for 1-inch diameter meatballs.

These meatballs are pretty forgiving, but look for an internal temperature of about 165° or so.

6 Make glaze: Make the glaze when you put the meatballs in the oven. Mix all the ingredients except the corn starch in a small pot and bring to a boil. Whisk in the corn starch and simmer 1-2 minutes.

7 Baste: Baste the ham balls once they have cooked for 20 minutes, then again at 40 minutes for larger meatballs or at 10 minutes and 20 minutes if you are making small meatballs, and then again at 5 minutes before they're done.

Serve by themselves as a party appetizer, or on pineapple rings.

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Ham Balls: A Pennsylvania Dutch Delicacy

My husband is from Lancaster PA, right in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country. One of the delicacies of this generally bland cuisine is ham balls. I tasted my first ham ball about a month ago at my mother-in-laws 60th birthday party and was instantly addicted. I have spent the last few weeks salivating over the sweet, meaty morsels and have done my best to re-create this classic.

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground ham
  • 1 cup very fine bread crumbs (homemade is best)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Diamond kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon catsup (homemade is best)
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and whisk to combine. Let the mixture while you are making the ham balls so that the flavors will meld well.

In a large bowl combine all of the ham ball ingredients.

Shape into 24 meatballs and place them into the casserole dish.

Bake the meatballs for 50 – 60 minutes or until cooked all the way through when tested with a meat thermometer. Baste every 10 minutes with glaze.

Combine all of the glaze ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and whisk to combine. Let the mixture while you are making the ham balls so that the flavors will meld well.

13 thoughts on &ldquo Ham balls with pineapple sauce &rdquo

As I was reading your notes about what the heck is “ham loaf mix” I first thought (without reading the recipe) that it was probably a little seasoning packet, rather like a McCormick’s meat loaf seasoning mix, but if it’s 2 lbs…gotta be meat!

Ham Loaf Mix is 1 pound of ground pork (not sausage) to 2 pounds of ground ham. and all the seasonings mentioned in the recipe. I purchase ground pork at the meat counter of my local grocery store and grind in my meat grinder a 2 pound piece of ham sold prepackaged in the cooler of the deli selection area of the store. One can add a little milk to make the mixture moist and so it holds together. This is a wonderful dish to make into the balls OR place in a loaf pan to bake and slice after cooking.
If making in a loaf pan, be sure and make the pineapple topping and place it in the bottom of the loaf pan and then add the ham loaf mix . Bake and when done, place plate on top of pan and turn out ham loaf on plate, Juices and pineapple with be the glaze.

P.S. If made into small balls they can be served as appitizers and the larger balls are wonderful for a dinner serving.

Thank you so much for your input!

Ham loaf mix is JUST like meatloaf, with ground ham, egg, etc. My itty-bitty grocery store in the town nearest to us has a great meat/deli department, and sells it ready-to-use fresh or frozen. You just pop it into the crockpot or loaf pan and you’re set for a quick meal. This recipe sounds good, easy and uses stuff I have in my panty or freezer all of the time. Thanks!

Deb is right about ham loaf. It is a mix, mostly done by the cook. Years ago (50 years i.e.) a friend of mine where I was working went to her market and asked for ham loaf (mix). The butcher told her that she had to buy the ham, etc. etc. and mix it herself. Needless to say she didn’t have ham loaf. I didn’t know there was anywhere in this day and age, where you could get it already prepared.

you can get ham ball mix at my local grocery store….it is a regular food here in lancaster county. this is exactly how we make it also with the pineapple glaze very good.

Most recipes call for equal parts ground ham and ground pork. Some also add ground beef.

what do you serve with the ham loaf with pineapple glaze? what sides/veggie?

I would probably serve mashed potatoes and a green veg of some kind.

Scalloped or au gratin potatoes are very good with ham loaf/ ham balls along with green beans or corn and a side of cole slaw is always good. Enjoy,

There is a coldcut in the deli called ham loaf….even Spam would work (gotta say that since they make it at Hormel in Fremont, Nebraska…. LOL

I get ham loaf at Kauffman’s deli in Intercourse ,Pa. They make it fresh and will even tell you their recipe.

Ham loaf is an equal amount of ground pork and ground ham.

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The splendorous smoky chipotle chilli, coriander, and limes add a slight Tex-Mex vibe to this pineapple ham glaze. This ham would go beautifully with a side of slaw and barbecued cobs of corn.

Do I have your attention with the fish sauce? Classic Vietnamese flavours are blended together to create a South East Asian style glaze. It is stickily delicious!

  • Garlic
  • Birdseye Chillies
  • Palm Sugar
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Lime Juice
  • Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce

Recipe Summary

  • 1 (6 pound) fully-cooked, bone-in ham
  • 1 fresh pineapple
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans pineapple juice
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Place the ham, cut side down, into a roasting pan.

Cut the skin off the pineapple with a sharp knife and cut out any brown spots of skin left behind. Slice the pineapple into 1/2-inch slices and cut the cores out of the slices. Pin the slices onto the ham with toothpicks.

Bake ham in the preheated oven until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham reads 140 degrees F (60 degrees C), 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

While the ham is baking, mix the pineapple juice and brown sugar in a microwave-safe ceramic or glass bowl and microwave on medium power until the glaze is boiling and slightly thickened. Work carefully because the glaze will be sticky and very hot.

Pour about half the glaze evenly over the ham and pineapple about 1 hour before the end of baking pour the rest over the ham about 30 minutes before the end of baking.

Iowa Ham Balls with Sweet Sour Glaze

This recipe will make 18 good-sized ham balls, allow 2 to 3 per person.

  • Author: mollie
  • Total Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Yield: 5 to 6 servings 1 x
  • Category: Pork Main Dish
  • Cuisine: German


  • 1 pound ground ham
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 3/4 cups fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • scant cup milk
  • pinch ground allspice
  • pinch ground cloves


To make the glaze, mix the brown sugar with the mustard powder. Slowly add the vinegar, whisking well as you pour it in. Set aside & whisk again before using.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray a 9 x 11″ pan.

Combine ham, pork, breadcrumbs, egg, milk, and spices. Mix only until combined. Shape into roughly 1/3 cup sized balls (divide mixture into half, then each half into 8 portions.) See note, below, on mixing.

Place in greased baking pan (the fit will be close) and bake for 30 minutes, covered. Uncover, add glaze, and bake for an additional 45 minutes, basting every now and then with the glaze. (the glaze will smell strongly of vinegar as you baste – don’t breathe in and don’t worry, the strong vinegar smell/flavor will dissipate.) The balls should be looking shiny and somewhat brown when done.

Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, then serve warm. (Glaze with slightly thicken as the temperature lowers.)

Note: the ham, pork & breadcrumbs can all be pulsed up in the food processor. Chunk up and pulse a bit at a time until broken down. I normally pulse up the ham, add some of the ground pork and whirl it a few times to combine, then mix all ingredients together. It makes for a more cohesive ball when made in the food processor.

Keywords: Bargain Meal of the Week, Family Recipe, German, Ground Ham, Ground Pork, Ham, leftover ham, Pork, Pork Shoulder Recipe

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I’ll be bringing Iowa Ham Balls with Sweet Sour Glaze to our very own Throwback Thursday as well as to Fiesta Friday . Our Fiesta Friday co-hosts this week are Caroline @ Caroline’s Cooking and Tânia @ Iwanttobeacook.

Helpful Links:

If you came to this recipe looking for a way to use ham, be sure to check out the link below for 12 Days of Ham. You might want to see the sister post for 12 Days of Turkey, too.

  • 1 (7 pound) bone-in ham
  • 1 cup pineapple juice, divided
  • 1 cup brown sugar, divided
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 pinch ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

Place ham in a large baking pan and score the surface with a knife. Mix 1/4 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and butter together in a bowl. Inject the mixture into the ham pour any remaining liquid over the ham. Pour an additional 1/2 cup pineapple juice and water into the pan. Rub 1/2 cup brown sugar onto the ham.

Mix remaining pineapple juice, remaining brown sugar, ginger, and cloves in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the mixture comes to a boil simmer until glaze is reduced and dark brown, about 10 minutes.

Bake ham in the preheated oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the ham and not touching the bone reads at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C), about 2 hours.

Continue baking, brushing glaze onto ham every 10 minutes, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to sit 10 minutes before slicing.

How To Make Ham Balls with Graham Crackers:

  1. Combine ground ham, ground pork, ground beef, beaten eggs, milk and graham cracker crumbs.
  2. Roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, and place side by side in glass baking dish.
  3. In a bowl, mix tomato soup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar and dry mustard and spoon over old fashioned ham balls.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour. Serve with sauce drizzled over the top.

For the full instructions and ingredient list for ham balls in brown sugar glaze, scroll to the bottom of this post.

Pineapple-Glazed Ham

Holiday dinners always starts with a ham, one big enough to both feed your dinner guests and supply leftovers for hearty, next-day sandwiches or weeknight casseroles. There are many delicious ways to prepare a ham. You can glaze it with the South's favorite soft drink or your favorite Kentucky bourbon. Or you can rub it down with mouthwatering flavors like brown sugar, garlic, paprika and (of course) bourbon, and have all the neighbors at your door when they smell the delicious aromas coming from your grill when you barbecue the ham. If you prefer using heirloom recipes for special occasions, those recipes that remind you of how your mom or grandmother cooked, then this Pineapple Glazed Ham is the perfect choice for your holiday table. Aromatic cloves are inserted into slits in the ham and it is then dressed in one layer of Dijon mustard and another layer of brown sugar. The ham is further adorned with lovely pineapple rings and maraschino cherries secured to the meat with toothpicks. It may look old-school, but this mouth-watering ham boasts just the right balance of sweet and salty.

What Should You Serve with Pineapple Glazed Ham?

If you’re planning an Easter brunch or dinner with friends or family with this pineapple glazed ham as the centerpiece, make your Easter menu with these side dishes:

If you’re planning a holiday meal during the winter season, check out these side dish ideas:

How to Use Pineapple Ham Glaze

Because this is basically all sugar, I’d recommend brushing a little glaze on the ham before transferring to the oven or crockpot first and then using the glaze liberally in the last hour of cooking to get it really sticky and delicious.

I know a lot of you guys have your own preferred methods, so this all-purpose Pineapple Ham Glaze can be used however your little heart desires.

In the photos, it shows that I used the glaze on a Crockpot Ham, but you are welcome to use my basic oven directions for baking a ham (spoiler: its super easy.)

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