Classic Cheesy Ham Tetrazzini Recipe

While tetrazzini may sound like a fancy Italian dish, it's actually a made-in-America casserole that was named for an early 20th-century Italian opera singer. While the earliest such casserole was made with chicken, it may now be best known as a way to use up leftover turkey, although in this recipe we're using ham as the meat, instead. Recipe developer Erin Johnson calls this recipe "the perfect way to use leftover ham or a ham steak," so perhaps it could be to Easter what turkey tetrazzini is to Thanksgiving.

One thing Johnson points out about this casserole, though, is that it's "easily adaptable to your tastes and preferences." She says that she sometimes likes to use asparagus in place of peas and Swiss cheese instead of cheddar, although you can make whatever other cheese, vegetable, or even meat swaps that suit you as long as you stick to the basic template of pasta, meat, cheese, and vegetables cooked in a white sauce.

Collect the ingredients for the classic cheesy ham tetrazzini

The basic building blocks for this tetrazzini recipe are spaghetti, cooked ham, shredded cheddar, and peas, cooked in a sauce made from butter, flour, milk, and chicken broth. Additional ingredients include an onion, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme, plus some salt and pepper for seasoning.

Boil the spaghetti and sauté the vegetables

Boil the spaghetti until it's just al dente –- the package it comes in should provide the cooking time, but it's best to test a strand early just to make sure it doesn't overcook and get mushy.

While the pasta is cooking, fry the onions and mushrooms until they soften Once the onions are tender, stir in the garlic and cook it until it smells nice and garlicky.

Make the cheesy sauce

Stir the butter and flour into the pan. Once the butter melts and the flour starts to form a paste, slowly stir in the milk and the broth. Follow this up with the thyme and the cheese, stirring until the latter melts.

Add the ham, peas, and pasta

Once the cheese melts, stir the ham and peas into the sauce, then taste it and add whatever salt and pepper you feel that it needs. Follow this up with the cooked spaghetti, stirring until every noodle is coated with sauce. Your tetrazzini is now ready to eat if you want it to be, although Johnson notes that she likes "to take a moment to brown the top under the broiler." She does say, though, that this additional step is "not necessary if you're in a hurry to get dinner on the table."

Leftover tetrazzini should be good in the refrigerator for up to three days. If you won't be eating it within this time period, though, you can always freeze it for later use.

Classic Cheesy Ham Tetrazzini Recipe
5 from 21 ratings
This classic cheesy ham tetrazzini features salty ham, spaghetti noodles, vegetables, and lots of cheese.
Prep Time
Cook Time
ham tetrazzini on plate
Total time: 20 minutes
  • 8 ounces spaghetti
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 pound ham, diced
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions.
  2. Sauté the onion and mushrooms until softened, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic to the pan and cook it until it is fragrant, about 1 minute more.
  4. Stir the butter and flour into the vegetables, followed by the milk and broth. Stir in the thyme and cheese and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Once the cheese has melted, stir the peas and ham into the pan.
  6. Season the dish with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Stir the spaghetti into the pan until all of the noodles are coated in sauce.
  8. Optionally brown the tetrazzini under a broiler and serve right away.
Calories per Serving 530
Total Fat 25.5 g
Saturated Fat 10.9 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 95.4 mg
Total Carbohydrates 44.2 g
Dietary Fiber 4.3 g
Total Sugars 7.1 g
Sodium 938.4 mg
Protein 31.0 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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