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The finished ham and cheese casserole displayed on a table with a blue and white linen in the background.

Ham and Cheese Casserole

This ham and cheese casserole is an easy, delicious meal that’s perfect for a weeknight or Sunday dinner. In this recipe, pasta is covered with a creamy béchamel sauce, Swiss cheese and diced ham.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword easy pasta dinners
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 791kcal
Author Elizabeth


  • 6 tablespoons Butter
  • 6 tablespoons Flour white all-purpose flour
  • 5 cups Whole Milk warmed through (or use reduced fat not skim)
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • teaspoon Salt plus 1 tablespoon for the pasta water
  • ¼ teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon Black or White Pepper
  • 16 ounces Spiral Shaped Pasta rotini, rotelle, fusilli, etc. or a tube shape pasta – cooked to package directions for al dente
  • 10 ounces Ham cut into ¼ inch slices then into ½ inch pieces
  • 8 ounces Swiss Cheese shredded


  • Start a large pot of water over medium to medium-high to get the water going for the pasta. When you’re ready raise the heat to get the water to a boil.

Make the béchamel

  • Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is melted add the flour. Whisk the butter and flour until well combined and smooth. Cook the flour mixture for 2-3 minutes, stirring almost constantly.
  • Slowly add the milk to the saucepan while stirring.
  • Add the bay leaf.
  • Gently bring the sauce to a simmer; it will take about 10-12 minutes. It will happen. Don’t raise the heat. Stir the occasionally to keep it from sticking and burning on the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg to the sauce, stir to combine well.
  • Lower the heat to medium-low to low, cook for 3-4 minutes keeping it at a gentle simmer, stir frequently. The sauce will thicken as it simmers it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  • Remove the bay leaf and discard. Taste the sauce; add a little extra salt, if needed. As a reference we added ½ teaspoon to ours. Keep the sauce on low or warm until ready to use, stir occasionally.
  • Once you have the sauce under control (on low heat), drop the pasta in the boiling water and cook to package directions for al dente. Remember to salt the pasta water 1 tablespoon of salt should do it.
  • When the pasta is cooked reserve about ½ cup of the pasta water just in case it’s needed later (see Notes). Drain the pasta well, return it to the pot.

Preheat oven to 350°F

    Build the ham and cheese casserole

    • Use a large, ovenproof casserole dish or baking pan (about 9X12). Add half of the pasta to the baking dish.
    • Add about half of the béchamel sauce over the pasta.
    • Sprinkle half of the grated Swiss cheese and half the diced ham.
    • Add the remaining pasta, the rest of the sauce and top the casserole with the remaining cheese and ham.
    • Bake the ham and cheese pasta for 30-35 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and some of the ham pieces are a little toasty on the tips.


    • Have everything ready to go for this recipe before you start cooking. Everything moves really fast when making this white sauce. Plus, all your attention needs be on the sauce. It’s very important to never leave milk on the stove unattended.
    • If the pasta is sitting around for whatever reason it will start to dry and become sticky. Use the reserved pasta water to make it slippery again. Add a tablespoon or two of the water until you can stir it easily.
    • Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet just in case it bubbles over.


    Calories: 791kcal | Carbohydrates: 74g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 21g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 115mg | Sodium: 1407mg | Potassium: 614mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 995IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 553mg | Iron: 2mg