Get Creative with Leftover Ham Skin – Delicious Crackling and More

The holidays often leave us with a variety of leftover meats, including the inevitable ham. While the ham itself can be used in many dishes like sandwiches, casseroles, and soups, the skin is often discarded. However, with a little creativity, that ham skin can become a delicious treat!

I often find myself wondering what to do with the leftover ham skin after carving a holiday ham. I hate to just throw it away, so I started experimenting with ways to transform it into something tasty. After plenty of trial and error I’ve found some fantastic options for using up every last bit of that holiday ham.

Make Crunchy, Salty Crackling

One of my favorite things to do with leftover ham skin is turn it into crackling. Crackling is a beloved snack in many cuisines, from European chicharrones to Chinese pork rinds. By frying or roasting the skin until bubbly and crispy, you can create a seriously addictive crunchy treat.

I’ve made crackling both in the oven and on the stovetop with great success. The oven method takes longer, usually 60-90 minutes at 350°F, but requires less hands-on time Frying on the stove takes just 10-15 minutes but you’ll need to watch it closely to prevent burning.

To oven-bake the crackling, I place the skin on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until browned and puffed Frying is even easier – I just cut the skin into pieces, render some of the fat in a skillet, then fry the bits until crispy. They puff up just like pork rinds!

A few tips for perfect crackling:

  • Pat the skin very dry before cooking – excess moisture prevents crisping.

  • Cut away any thick fatty areas to help it render and puff evenly.

  • Fry in rendered ham fat or neutral oil like canola or peanut.

  • Watch closely when frying – it goes from perfect to burnt quickly.

  • Season with salt and other spices once done cooking.

The end result is a pile of crunchy, salty, umami-rich crackers. We love munching the crackling on its own, crumbling it on salads and soups, or using it as a garnish for greens or beans. It adds great texture to all kinds of dishes.

Mix Into Cornbread, Biscuits, and Other Baked Goods

Another way to use up extra ham skin is mixing it into cornbread, biscuits, scones, or other savory baked goods. The salty, smoky, porky flavor it contributes gives these baked treats a unique twist.

I like to mince the skin into very small bits before incorporating it into doughs and batters. For cornbread, I’ll add 1/4 to 1/2 cup diced skin to my usual recipe. It adds little porky bursts throughout the sweet cornbread.

With biscuit dough, I’ll finely dice a couple tablespoons of skin and gently knead it in with my hands after mixing the dough. The flecks of ham skin bake up deliciously crispy inside the soft, fluffy biscuit.

Muffins and scones also benefit from some minced ham skin mixed into the batter. The porky flavor pairs especially nicely with cheese, chives, or other savory mix-ins. Just be sure to chop it very small so it’s evenly distributed.

Flavor Soups and Beans

Don’t let leftover ham skin go to waste – it can add a boost of flavor to pots of soup, chili, beans, lentils and more. Ham skins are loaded with savoriness that infuses the whole dish as it simmers.

I like to add bigger chunks of skin to noodle soups, bean stews, and chilis so they break down into tender bits. In smoother pureed soups, I’ll crisp up the skin into crackling, then crumble it atop the finished soup for texture and porkiness.

Tossing a piece of ham skin into the pot when cooking beans, lentils or chicken stock infuses them with a subtle smokiness too. Just fish out the skin after cooking, as it usually gets quite rubbery when simmered long.

Use for Collagen and Bone Broth

That ham skin is loaded with collagen, the connective tissue that transforms into gelatin when slowly simmered. Put it to good use when making bone broth!

I always save my ham skins in the freezer specifically for broth making. Adding a skin or two to a big pot of chicken bones enhances the collagen content, resulting in a jiggly, mineral-rich homemade stock.

Simply rinse the skin and add it to your broth pot along with bones, vegetables, and seasonings. The skin may not fully dissolve, but it will lend fantastic body, mouthfeel and health benefits to the finished broth. Scoop out any un-dissolved bits before using the broth.

Turn into Pet Treats

My dog goes nuts over ham skin, so I like to chop up any leftovers to make natural, meaty treats for her. It satisfies her cravings while avoiding processed pet treats packed with junk.

I simply cut the cooked skin into bite-sized pieces for my pup. Since ham skin is quite hard, I recommend steaming the pieces for 5-10 minutes to soften them up before feeding to your dog. This makes them easier to chew and digest.

For extra flavor, I’ll sometimes brush the skin pieces with a bit of bacon grease or sprinkle on some grated Parmesan before baking them into chewy, savory treats. Just be sure to limit ham skin treats, as too much salt isn’t good for dogs long-term. In moderation, it makes a delicious flavor she goes wild for!

Final Thoughts

I hope these creative ideas have inspired you to get more use out of those leftover ham skins! With a little innovation and experimenting in the kitchen, it’s easy to transform what would normally be waste into something delicious.

4 EASY ham recipes! | Perfect for using LEFTOVER HAM!


Should I keep the ham skin?

Some people prefer to trim away the extra layers of fat and skin before cooking the ham, but this is not necessary and roasted fat can add mouth-feel, flavour and appearance and reduce drying of the meat within.

What can I do with ham skin and fat?

The cracklings can be used in recipes for cornbread and egg salad, or to top soup, salad, and casseroles. Store cracklings in the fridge, or if not using within a day or two, freeze. Rendered fat for use in cooking can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for several months.

Should you eat ham skin?

On a perfectly cooked ham, the rind is almost inedible. Though full of flavor, it is thick, leathery and tough.

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