Ham & Cheese Croquettes – Dumplings filled with rich prosciutto ham and manchego cheese are rolled in breadcrumbs and fried to perfection to make for one of the best appetizers you’ll ever have
A couple years ago, my husband and I had an incredible time visiting some of my family in Madrid, Spain. Not only did he get to know some of my family that he’d never met before, but we got to experience some of the greatest foods that Spanish culture had to offer.
I’d been to Madrid a few times before, but I was much younger and much less appreciative of the kinds of foods that I learned to love in my 20s. So when we went together, I was all about eating and drinking everything. And tapas were definitely some of my favorites things that we ate, including eggplant fries, patatas bravas, and today’s star, croquetas (or croquettes, as we call them in English).
When going out to various tapas bars in Atlanta, croquettes are always a must-have for us. I mean, fried little dumplings stuffed with meat and cheese?! How could we resist! So I just had to learn how to make these at home for myself.
See how they turned out!
But before we get to into the recipe, what exactly are croquettes? Croquettes are little dumplings made with mashed potatoes or a bechamel dough base and loaded with meats, vegetables, and/or cheeses and fried to perfection. They were developed as a means to use leftovers. In Spain, the most famous croquettes are stuffed with serrano ham and Manchego cheese.
I’ve had chicken and ground beef croquettes in South Florida, but ham and cheese are definitely my all-time favorites. When that cheese gets fried up in the croquettes, it gets so gooey and rich – pure heaven! So that’s what I’m sharing today.
In Spain, they make their croquettes with a thick bechamel dough. To make that, you cook butter and flour together with garlic and shallots and then add milk and let it all thicken up into a dough. Then we just add in the shredded ham and cheese and mix everything together. I used proscuitto in my croquettes because I couldn’t find serrano ham anywhere nearby. But they are relatively similar cuts of ham so you could use either in these croquettes.
After the dough is ready, it needs to chill to firm up before we even think about frying it. If you try to fry it when it’s still warm, it will fall apart while frying. Could you imagine – that is literally my worst nightmare!
After the dough is chilled, it’s ready to roll out and cut into pieces. I cut mine into pretty big croquettes but you can make them any size you want. If I were hosting a party, I’d make them about half the size so they would only require one or two bites.
After cutting, we dredge, coat in breadcrumbs, and then form the croquettes. Because of the size of the croquettes, logs are the perfect shape to make sure they cook through. But if you make them smaller, you can roll into little balls.
Okay now comes the frying part. I know some of you get nervous frying at home, but it’s really so simple! Here are a few tips to help you get the confidence you need to fry these gorgeous croquettes:
- Make sure the oil is hot before you attempt to fry anything. If it’s not hot, your food will take forever to cook through, which will make them so greasy on the outside. My rule of thumb is to let the oil heat up for at least 10 minutes before using.
- Do not over-fill your skillet with oil. You don’t want the oil to overflow when adding the food to the oil so I never fill my skillet more than halfway with oil.
- Do not fry too much at once. This will cause the temperature of the oil to drop quickly and create soggy, greasy food. As a rule of thumb, I only like to use about 1/2 to 2/3 of the space available in my skillet when frying.
- Always let your fried food dry on paper towels to remove the excess grease.
And there you have it – an incredible appetizer that will be all the rage at your next party. I hope you love these as much as we do! See you next week for June’s cookie recipe!
Here are all the kitchen tools and serveware that I used in today’s recipe. For each item sold below, I make a small commission. I only recommend items that I own and love so you can trust that each recommendation is tried and true. Thank you for supporting CPA!
Ham and Cheese Croquettes (Croquetas)
For the filling:
- 4 tablespoons butter salted
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons shallots minced
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup Manchego cheese shredded
- 1/2 cup prosciutto ham minced
- ground pepper to taste
For the breading:
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2-3 cups oil for frying
- Add butter to a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add shallots and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 cup of flour and stir with a wooden spoon until a ball forms.
- Slowly add milk to flour mixture and stir constantly. Once smooth, remove from heat and add prosciutto ham and Manchego cheese and combine. Add a couple pinches of black pepper. Mixture should be thick, like the consistency of dough. Transfer mixture to a storage container and refridgerate until chilled, at least 2 hours. I did mine overnight just to make sure it was chilled through.
- Once dough is chilled, remove from refrigerator and place onto floured work surface. Roll dough into a long log, about 24 inches long and 1 inch in diameter. Cut dough into 12 equal pieces (if you want smaller bites, cut into 24 pieces).
- Arrange coating ingredients into three separate bowls: one for flour, one with 2 scrambled eggs, and one with panko bread crumbs. Dip one of the dough pieces into flour and shake off excess. Coat in egg mixture and then place in bread crumbs, pressing crumbs into the dough to make sure they're secure. Form dough into a ball or a log. Place on a baking sheet. Repeat with other dough pieces.
- Place prepare croquettes in the refrigerator to get solid again, about 30 minutes. When you have about 15 minutes left, begin to preheat your frying oil. Add frying oil to a cast iron pan (oil should not be any higher than halfway up the pan). Place over medium heat.
- Remove croquettes from the fridge. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Test one croquette in the hot oil. If it begins to sizzle, the oil is hot and ready to use. If it does not sizzle, give it a few more minutes.
- Once the oil is ready, cook 4 croquettes in the oil for 2 minutes (if you did smaller croquettes, you will cook for only a minute or so). Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes (1 minute if croquettes are small), until golden brown. Remove from oil and dry on paper towels. Repeat with the rest of the croquettes, making sure not to overcrowd the pan (4 large croquettes or 8 small croquettes at one time, maximum).
- Once all the croquettes are fried, finish them off in the oven so they are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
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