For your next breakfast or brunch, serve up a slice of this delicious ham and cheese quiche made with a flaky homemade pie crust. It’s perfect for sharing with a crowd or meal prep for the week.
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Ham and cheese quiche is a flavorful savory pie that makes breakfast time more enjoyable. This version is entirely made from scratch, but I share plenty of make-ahead tips and substitutions for easy preparation. I love making this recipe with leftovers, especially after the holidays, and I want to transform them into a gourmet meal.
For a sturdy yet flaky base, I use my homemade pie crust. I whip it together in my stand mixer, then chill it for easier rolling. You need to par-bake it before filling it with savory cubes of meat, cheese, and green onions. The smooth custard goes into the shell, then bake until the eggs firm up, yielding gorgeous golden slices.
Make the pie crust
My dough has a higher butter ratio which reduces gluten formation, creating a light, flaky crust texture. My stand mixer swiftly breaks down the fat into pea-sized pieces in less than two minutes compared to using your fingers. A dough cutter works well too.
The dough comes together rather quickly, but make sure to rest and chill it for at least 4 hours. The aggressive mixing process makes the flour proteins elastic, so resting lets them retract and makes the dough easier to roll. If you can, I recommend making the dough the day before as it will save you a lot of wait time the day you’re ready to bake.
Shape the shell
I find that rolling out the pie dough into about a ⅛-inch thickness yields a sturdy crust, with the proper ratio of dough-to-filling. Use a 9-inch pie plate. I prefer glass so I can monitor the color change on the sides.
Once the edges are trimmed, tucked, and fluted, freeze it for 20 minutes to firm up the butter. Alternatively, you can cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days to prep in advance. That way, you can just blind-bake, fill, and finish baking within an hour.
Par bake the shell
The custard filling is very wet. You will need to par-bake it to prevent the bottom of the crust from becoming soggy. This process is also known as blind-baking. Place a small piece of parchment paper in the shell, then cover the bottom and sides with pie weights or beans.
I use 2 cups (20 ounces) of ceramic pie weights. After 20 minutes, the proteins in the flour begin to set and very lightly brown. This process also prevents the crust from shrinking. After removing the weights, bake for 5 additional minutes to heat the area of the shell that was previously covered.
I like to use ham steak, cut into ¼-inch cubes. This variety gives a little burst of flavor and prevents the heavy pieces from sinking to the bottom. If desired, you can also use thinner deli meat or Canadian bacon. Whenever I make my slow cooker ham, I use the leftovers to make this quiche.
Use an aged cheese like sharp cheddar to add dimension to the filling. This shredded low moisture variety melts with ease, infusing into the flavorful egg custard. Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, swiss, or gruyere, traditionally used in quiche lorraine, all make suitable substitutes.
You can even try a combination of different varieties. A little bit of parmesan adds a more robust taste, but the drier texture doesn’t have a nice melt. Therefore still pair it with a slightly higher moisture cheese.
Layer the ingredients in the crust
To get an even distribution of flavor in each slice, layer the ingredients. Evenly sprinkle half the cheese, then half the green onions so that they don’t just float to the top. The onions add a fresh earthy taste without being pungent like raw white or yellow onions. The dense cubes of ham go in the middle, then more green onions and cheese to lock everything together.
Make the custard filling
To achieve a smooth base that firms up just enough to slice, it’s all about ingredient selection. I use high milkfat products, heavy cream (36%), and whole milk (3.5%) to create richness without leaving a greasy film in the mouth. Half-and-half is a good substitute but has a slightly lower percentage of milkfat, about 19 to 20%.
For every 1 cup of dairy, you need 2 eggs. The albumin proteins help to solidify the liquid egg mixture. However, I use 3 whole eggs and 1 egg yolk for a creamier consistency. Salt, pepper, and a hint of nutmeg season the quiche.
This ham and cheese quiche bakes until the edges of the custard have set, and the center is slightly jiggly but not fluid, about 45 minutes. I find the edges measure about 200-degrees and the center around 185 to 190-degrees. These temperatures allow for carryover cooking during the cooling period so that the egg texture stays smooth and creamy.
Overcooking causes the proteins to pack closely together, pushing out moisture and yielding a rubbery texture. It’s best to cool the quiche until it reaches just above room temperature so that the crust hardens and the custard has time to sets. Ample cooling makes for cleaner slices. The pieces reheat well.
Serve this with
Baking temperature for a smooth and sliceable custard
Baking the quiche at 375-degrees ensures gentle cooking of the egg proteins over a longer period of time. The whole egg proteins start to set around 144ºF (62.2ºC). However, the fat in the dairy products prevents the custard from binding too tightly together. This also requires a higher temperature of the custard to set into a gel-like structure, above 185-degrees in the center. This is when I stop baking to allow for gentle carryover cooking.
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Ham and Cheese Quiche
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes, chilled
- ½ ice-cold water chilled
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese, packed
- ¼ cup sliced green onions, or chives
- 1 ½ cup ham steak, diced into ¼-inch pieces
- 3 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Keep the diced butter and ice water in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Using a stand mixer bowl, add the flour and salt. Mix using the paddle attachment at the lowest speed (stir) for about 10-seconds.
- Add chilled diced butter to the bowl. At the lowest speed, turn the mixer on and off quickly for a few seconds to coat the butter with the flour. This helps to prevent the flour from spilling over. Continue to mix on low speed (setting 2) until the flour and butter resemble wet sand with coarse crumbles and some pea-sized pieces remaining, about 75-seconds. Use fingers to break up any large pieces. Do not overmix. The dough should not bind together before adding the water. Alternatively, use a dough/pastry blender or your fingers to break the butter into the dough.
- Gradually add 1 tablespoon of ice-cold water to the bowl. After each addition, turn the mixer on for 1 to 2-seconds. Only add enough water until the dough looks lumpy and hydrated but not wet or sticky. Where it just begins to clump together with small crumbles on the bottom of the bowl. All of the water may not be needed, about 5 to 6 tablespoons is typical. When the dough is pinched together, it should compress and hold, not be dry or crumbly. Do not over-mix. The dough will be pressed together before resting.
- Press the dough into a 1” thick round disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in a resealable bag. Store in the refrigerator to rest for at least 4-hours, overnight, or up to 2 days.
- Once removed from the refrigerator, allow the crust to sit at room temperature for about 5 to 10 minutes. This will make it easier to roll. If it’s still too hard, let it sit at room temperature until more pliable.
- Dust the counter and top of the dough with flour. When rolling out, make sure to rotate and dust with flour underneath and on the top. This will prevent sticking and make it easier to transfer to the pie dish. Roll the dough into about a 14-inch circle, slightly thicker than ⅛-inch thick.
- Place the rolled-out dough into a 9-inch pie dish and gently press against the sides and bottom. With a paring knife, trim the excess dough with a ½-inch overhang over the pie dish's edge. Tuck the extra underneath the bottom crust edges. Crimp by pinching the dough using the pointer and thumb fingers. Place the crust in the freezer for 20 minutes.
- Set the oven rack in the middle position. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- To par-bake, place the chilled pie dish on a sheet pan. Place parchment paper on top of the crust and add the pie weights to cover just the bottom and sides, do not overfill. Bake until the edges are lightly golden and just begin to set, about for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, and allow the weights to sit in the crust for about 4 to 5 minutes to press down any puffed areas. Remove the paper and weights, it will not be used again. Bake for another 5 minutes to dry the crust's bottom before filling. The crust may be a bit puffy, but it will deflate as it sits. Set on a wire rack while making the filling.
- Evenly sprinkle half of the cheddar cheese and green onions into the par-baked pie crust. Top with all of the ham, followed by the remaining green onion, then cheese.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk, whole milk, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie crust, allowing it to settle around the ingredients.
- Bake the quiche on top of a sheet pan in the middle of the oven until the surface and crust are golden brown, about 45 to 50 minutes. The center will be slightly jiggly, and the temperature should be about 185 to 190ºF (85 to 88ºC) in the center. When a knife is inserted about 1-inch from the edge, it should come out clean and not wet.
- Cool on a wire rack until it reaches room temperature, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Slice or cool completely, cover, and refrigerate to serve the next day.
- Using store-bought crust: For an unbaked refrigerated crust, follow the same instructions for shaping and par-baking in the recipe. If using a frozen crust, allow it to defrost before using.
- Storing: Cool completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 7 days.
- Freezing: A whole quiche or slices can be wrapped and stored in a plastic bag for up to 1 month.
- Reheating: Reheat refrigerated individual slices in the microwave in 15 seconds intervals on high power until warmed through. Alternatively, bake slices in the oven at 375ºF (191ºC) on a foil or parchment paper-lined sheet pan, about 10 to 15 minutes. If frozen, bake sliced for 20 to 25 minutes. Defrost a whole quiche, then bake until warmed through.
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