Potted Ham Recipe | Moorlands Eater (2024)

Potted Ham is a delicious, easy way to use up cooked ham. But I think it’s so good I often buy a ham hock specially to make it.

Whichever ham you include, spread on toast or crusty bread with a few pickles on the side, Potted Ham always feels like a treat.

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Besides the ham, the only other ingredients you’ll need are butter, seasoning, and optional herbs.

After the ham is shredded, you’ll need just ten minutes to put together these tasty little pots.

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Convenient for a quick lunch, but impressive enough as an easy, make ahead starter for entertaining.

Serve in individual ramekins or line any small pots with cling film and turn out.

Jump to Recipe

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Potted meats are a very old method of preserving.

Made by slowly cooking meat in fat, the mixture was pounded and put into pots. A layer of fat was then poured over with the aim of keeping out the air and stopping the meat going bad.

These days, it’s sensible to keep potted meats in the fridge and used within a few days. But a layer of butter on top does make them much more appealing!

Potted meats may be old fashioned but, judging by the response to my recipe for Homemade Potted Beef, many of us still love them.

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And you’re not limited to meat either: potted shrimps are still hugely popular. I think you could even consider my Smoked Mackerel Pate, with its topping of horseradish flavoured butter, as ‘potted’. Or how about dead simple Potted Cheese?

But today I want to share with you a beautifully simple recipe for Potted Ham.

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If you have some leftover cooked ham and don’t quite know what to do with it, Potted Ham is a great way of using it up.

All you do to start is shred it.

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Then it’s mixed with melted butter and any chosen seasonings.

If you have a little more time then I highly recommend you find a butcher who can sell you a ham hock.

Yes they’re not the prettiest cuts of meat.

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But they are relatively inexpensive and have bags of flavour. Which is precisely why you’ll often find them as the basis of hearty broths like my .

And that flavour is why ham hock also ideal for making Potted Ham.

Admittedly, taking off the meat from a hock isn’t as simple as slicing off uniform pieces from a big ham.

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But take your time, use your fingers to prise off strands of meat and… try not to pop too much of it into your mouth!

Whichever type of ham you have, and whether you have a small or large amount, there’s a rule of thumb I use when making Potted Ham: the amount of butter you’ll need to mix in is half the weight of the shredded ham.

For example, if you have 250 grams of ham you’ll need 125 grams of melted butter (plus extra for covering the tops).


If you’ve never made potted meats before, I think you might be pleasantly surprised at just how easy they are.

To get a smoothish texture, I use a food processor. But if you want it chunkier, there’s no reason why you can’t just stir everything up by hand.

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After shredding my ham, I pop it into the bowl of the processor and give it a quick whizz to break it up a little more.

Next, in goes the melted butter. You can use either salted or unsalted, depending on which you prefer.


If you want to be fancy, you can clarify the butter by removing ‘impurities’.

Personally, I don’t bother. But in case you want to, I’ve included instructions in the notes to the recipe card at the end of this post.

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Basically, after melting the butter it’s left to stand for a couple of minutes. Most of the milk solids (the white stuff) will sink to the bottom leaving a golden yellow liquid (the clarified butter) on top.

However, because we’re adding butter for taste and spreadability rather than using the preserving properties of clarified butter, as far as I’m concerned, this step isn’t necessary.


When I’ve whizzed the ham and melted butter together a little, I have a taste.

Because the free-range ham hock I get from my butcher isn’t particularly salty, I add a pinch of salt plus some black pepper. Then I briefly whizz again to distribute the seasonings and get the texture I want: spreadable, but still with discernible pieces of ham.

If you want to add additional flavourings along with the salt and pepper, then do. Mustard is common in potted hams, or you could add a little vinegar for acidity. If you want it slightly spicy, those traditionally used in old British recipes would be most fitting. Try cloves, mace, or nutmeg.

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For freshness, I like to add chopped herbs to my Potted Ham. Parsley is a good choice, as are chives or tarragon.

Because I want to see flecks of herbs rather than them being all whizzed up, I transfer the mixture from the food processor into a bowl and stir them in.


When the seasoning is right for you, it’s time to pot up.

I divide the mixture between individual ramekins. The amounts given in the recipe card should be enough for four generous portions.

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There are a couple of other ways to serve this potted meat though.

If you want to be able to turn them out later, line the ramekins with cling film.

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If you don’t have any ramekins then almost any little pots can be used, or even mugs! Just line them with cling film and turn out before serving if they’re not aesthetically pleasing.

You could also make one large Potted Ham in a bowl or small loaf tin.

The final step is to cover the tops with more melted butter. You can omit this if you like, but I think it would be a shame in terms of both appearance and taste.

Again, you can clarify it if you wish although I don’t. Unclarified butter may mean a few flecks of white milk solids on top of the Potted Ham, but that doesn’t bother me.

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If the weather is particularly warm, you might want to chill the ramekins in the fridge for a few minutes before pouring over the butter so that it doesn’t sink in.

I add a few grinds of pepper over the top, although you could add a few herbs if you like.

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Whatever the weather, put the pots in the fridge to set the topping before use.


The classic way of serving potted meats is on crisp toast.

Dig into the Potted Ham, get a generous amount on your knife and spread it over the warm toast so the butter melts a little.

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Pickles that cut through the richness are a perfect accompaniment. Try gherkins, cornichons, caper berries or good old pickled onions.

This potted meat is also irresistible on fresh, crusty homemade bread or savoury biscuits and crackers like Scottish Oatcakes.

If it’s been in the fridge for a while, take it out 20-30 minutes beforehand or until it’s soft enough to spread.

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If you’re not eating it all immediately, cover the Potted Ham with cling film and store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Having this little treat tucked away is great for a delicious lunch, snack, or part of a savoury afternoon tea.

But the satisfying taste and texture means it also makes an impressive starter when entertaining. As it can be made well in advance, it’s a good choice for taking some of the pressure off the cook.

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There’s a reason that potted meats like beef and Potted Ham are still around after hundreds of years.

First off, they’re a wonderful way of using up tougher but full flavoured cuts and leftover meats.

But secondly, and most importantly, they taste fantastic. Rich, meaty and buttery, you can’t help but love them!

Have you made this recipe?
– Leave a comment below and don’t forget to rate it!

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Potted Ham

A delicious way to use cooked ham that's easy enough for a quick lunch but impressive enough to serve to guests as a starter. Serve on toast or crusty bread alongside pickles.

CourseAppetizer, Starter, Lunch


Keywordpreserves, potted meat

Prep Time 30 minutes

Cook Time 5 minutes

Chilling 5 minutes

Total Time 40 minutes

Servings 4

Author Moorlands Eater


  • 250gcooked hamsee Recipe Note #1
  • 125gbutter (salted or unsalted)see Recipe Note #2
  • 1tbspfinely chopped parsleyor tarragon or chives
  • salt and pepper

For the topping

  • 40gbuttersee Recipe Note #2


  1. Shred or finely chop the ham, discarding any unwanted fat, skin and sinew.

    Place into the bowl of a food processor.

    Gently melt the butter in a saucepan (see Recipe Note #2 if you want to clarify it), then add it to the ham along with a grind of pepper.

    Switch on the processor and blend until just combined, scraping down the sides as necessary.

    Taste and add a little salt plus more pepper if needed.

    (Add any additional flavourings such as mustard, cloves, or mace at this point too)

    Blend again until your preferred smoothness is reached.

  2. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and stir in the chopped herbs.

    Divide between individual ramekins or dishes and smooth over the tops so they're level.

    If you want to be able to turn out the potted ham: line the ramekins or dishes with cling film before filling, or line a 1lb loaf tin to make one large potted ham.

  3. For the topping

    In warmer weather, you may wish to chill the ramekins in the fridge for a few minutes before adding the melted butter topping.

    Melt the remaining butter in a saucepan (clarified as per Recipe Note #2 if liked) and pour over the top(s) of the ramekins or dish(es).

    Add a grind of pepper or more chopped herbs over the top if liked.

  4. Put the ramekins or dish(es) in the fridge and leave until the butter on top has set.

    Can be kept in the fridge, covered for 3-4 days. Take out of the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving.

Recipe Notes

Note #1 You can use any leftover ham or the meat from a cooked ham hock.

If you have more or less ham than suggested in the recipe, the amount of melted butter you'll need to add will be half the weight of the ham.

Note #2 If you want a clearer butter you can clarify it but will need to start with approximately 25 per cent more butter than stated in the recipe. After melting in a saucepan, leave it to settle a few minutes. Pour off and use only the top layer of yellow clarified butter, discarding the white milk solids left behind.


Potted Ham Recipe | Moorlands Eater (2024)
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