Looking for a quick and easy pasta dish that’s a little outside the norm? This Creamy Ham Pasta with Peas and Tomatoes can be ready in less than 30 minutes! With just a handful of grocery staples and maybe some leftover ham, you can pull together a super tasty cheap pasta dinner, perfect for a cozy night in or a regular family dinner.
I love to make this easy recipe with leftover Slow Cooker Ham. When you freeze ham, you can have what you need to add to recipes quickly and easily. Made in one pot, this Ham Pasta recipe is definitely one to make when you have no time to cook.
Once upon a time, I worked in a bougie Santa Barbara restaurant as a server. I peppered one of the younger chefs with questions, especially when it came to choosing the specials for the day. Turns out, he didn’t just dream it up, but he followed one of the tenets of the Good Cheap Eats System: Shop your kitchen!
Each day he would look and see what needed using and develop the latest recipes for the day’s specials based on what was already there. The result was always delicious, but it didn’t waste their resources.
This Ham Pasta is one of those types of recipes: it uses what you have on hand, like leftover cooked ham, and makes it into something amazing and super delicious.
Why Make This
It’s quick. Dinner will come together in a jiffy with just a handful of ingredients. This recipe for Ham Pasta is amazingly easy and delicious!
It avoids waste. Using up Easter or Christmas ham or leftover spaghetti can get tricky. This dish was born out of using what we had during a pantry challenge.
It’s delicious. You’ll want to buy ham on purpose just to make this! It’s restaurant-level without the big ticket price.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this Creamy Ham Pasta with Peas:
spaghetti – I like the long noodles, but if you prefer, you can use bow tie pasta or another shaped noodle.
butter – Butter gives this a rich flavor, but you can also use olive oil. Remember you can freeze butter if you won’t use the whole pound soon.
garlic – Minced fresh garlic is best for this. If you have shallots or leeks, those would also be good.
heavy cream – You don’t need a lot of cream, just enough to build a sauce. If you prefer to go dairy free, use some chicken broth instead.
crushed red pepper flakes – Pepper flakes add a little bit of a kick to Ham Pasta.
diced ham – You can use the leftovers of a crock pot ham, a ham steak, or cubed or diced ham bought at the store.
salt and freshly ground black pepper – Add these seasonings to taste. You may also want to use a custom spice mix like our homemade Cajun Spice Blend.
peas – I typically keep a bag of frozen peas on hand to use in Shepherd’s Pie or to add to pasta. You can use canned peas, but they won’t have as fresh a flavor as frozen.
tomato – One chopped tomato adds just enough acid and color to make this dish pop. For the best texture, be sure to seed tomatoes before adding them to your recipes.
fresh basil – A little chopped fresh basil really elevates this Ham Pasta. You don’t need much, so consider keeping a small potted plant in the kitchen.
Variation: If you want cheese pasta, you can make a parmesan cream sauce by adding shredded parmesan cheese to the cream in step 2.
Here’s how to make Creamy Ham Pasta with Peas:
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions. Rinse and drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet or the same pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring. Add the cream and red pepper, and bring to a low simmer.
Add the spaghetti, peas, and ham to the pan and toss gently over low heat until heated through.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss in the tomatoes and basil right before serving.
TLDR? Check out our web story.
While many pasta dishes are freezer-friendly, those made with cream, like this one, don’t typically freeze well as the cream separates.
This is a great dish for meal prep. Refrigerate it promptly after preparing it and consume it within four days. If you make it with leftover ham, be sure to adjust how long to eat it up.
If you’d like to bake this dish, add more cream so that it doesn’t dry out. Transfer the prepped noodles to a greased baking dish and bake for 15 minutes at 350.
Take your creamy ham pasta dinner to the next level with these serving suggestions:
1. Add a salad on the side: A crisp and crunchy side salad pairs perfectly with this ham pasta dish. Try a Green Salad with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Almonds.
2. Pass the bread basket: Garlic Brie Toasts certainly take this dinner to the next level. For something a bit lighter, try our Easy Garlic Breadsticks.
3. Pour some vino. This pasta recipe pairs well with a medium-bodied red wine, such as Pinot Noir or Merlot. Prefer white wine? Try a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
More Great Pasta Recipes
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Creamy Ham Pasta with Peas & Tomatoes
- 1 lb spaghetti cooked according to package instructions
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup diced ham
- 1 cup frozen peas no need to thaw
- salt to taste
- black pepper
- 1 tomato seeded and chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh basil (chopped)
- In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Rinse and drain.1 lb spaghetti
- Meanwhile, in a large skillet or back in the same pot, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook one minute, stirring. Add the cream and red pepper and bring to a low simmer, stirring.1 tablespoon butter, 1 clove garlic, ½ cup whipping cream, ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Add the cooked spaghetti, ham, and peas and toss gently over low heat until heated through.1 cup diced ham, 1 cup frozen peas
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss in the tomatoes and basil right before serving.salt, black pepper, 1 tomato, 2 tablespoon fresh basil (chopped)
- If you want cheese pasta, you can make a parmesan cream sauce by adding shredded parmesan cheese to the cream in step 2.
- For chicken pasta, swap 1 cup cooked and chopped chicken for the ham.
This post was originally published on July 26, 2012. It has been updated for content and clarity.
LOVE LOVE LOVE this dish. We had lots of ham to use up, and I remembered seeing this recipe here before. Some of my family don’t like tomatoes, plus it’s a pantry challenge in January (= no tomatoes here right now). It was easy to leave them out. I will definitely be making this again. Hubby doesn’t usually say much about individual meals I cook, but he said this was really good. The kids devoured it. Great recipe, Jessica!
Yay! So glad it was a WIN. Thanks for the great feedback, Lizzy!
I have some ham in the fridge right now that has already been diced and needs to be eaten today, this looks like it will happen tonight. I don’t have cream though… I’ll just try whole milk and thicken if I need too. Thanks for the great idea.
Hope you enjoyed it!
Sounds Yummy! Have you ever tried cutting the ham julienne style instead of dicing it? I occasionally do a pasta salad with angel hair pasta or spaghetti and cut thin slices of the meat in thin strips to blend in with the pasta shape. I also have been known to add a bit of grated carrot. I’ll admit I do it that way because I think it is easier to eat with a fork and the diced bits sometimes seemed to all wind up in the bottom of the bowl.
Just a thought I wanted to share. It looks yummy and I may have to go make some for supper.
Good point. Thanks for the suggestion!
Made this for lunch today. Used spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti. Forgot to add the red pepper. It was very delicious. Thanks for sharing.
Glad you liked it! Spaghetti squash sounds like a great substitute.
I also like to cook from the pantry, so I am looking forward to reading about your efforts.
This recipe is similar to something I whip up when I’m in a big hurry. Looks good.
Mmmmm, my choice almost always involves pasta, and classic spaghetti is a favorite. I’ve recently learned how to make it a one-pot meal, and pretty healthy to boot!
I love creating recipes of the fly, I almost always have cubed cooked chicken and ham in the freezer that I can add to my creations. I will use pasta or potatoes, rice or sometimes boxed stuffing as the binder and then added in a cheese sauce, homemade creme of soup base, or perhaps gravy as the sauce. Homemade biscuits is often the topping. I keep bags of frozen mixed vegetables on hands to add to my creations. Its creative and sometimes I come up with winners and sometimes flops.. which is why I try to keep a few cans of soup on hand for flop nights.
Living So Abundantly
My recipe is for Chicken Paprika. It is one of my husband’s favorites. Not only is a great make-a-head, but the marriage of flavors is amazing.
Crystal @ Serving Joyfully
This cheesy breaded chicken is quick and delicious: http://www.servingjoyfully.com/2012/03/27/cheesy-baked-chicken/
Wendy (The Local Cook)
I wanted to share this recipe for stir fried pork chops & peppers. It goes together quickly and is super tasty!