Learn how to make these croquetas de jamón (aka ham croquettes) that are perfectly crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. These are a classic Spanish appetizer that can be found in Puerto Rico, Cuba, and across Latin America. They are known for their signature crispy breaded exterior, and lusciously creamy beschamel filling.
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If you've ever tried any Puerto Rican recipes, you're likely familiar with the strong European influence in many of our dishes. This crispy fried treats are filled with diced ham and a creamy beschamel sauce.
What Are Croquetas?
Croquetas or croquettes are crispy fried bites, originally made with a mashed potato filling.
While the name and origin of croquetas can easily be mistaken as Spanish in origin, croquettes are actually of French origin.
That said, you can find versions of these ham croquettes in Spain, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and across Latin America.
What are croquetas de jamón made of?
It's a valid question. Here's the rundown:
- onion, minced
- ham, minced
- all purpose flour + more for breading
- whole milk
- eggs, beaten
- oil for frying
See recipe card for quantities.
Make the filling. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat. Add onion, sauté until fragrant, then add ham and flour.
Mix to coat everything with flour and sauté for a few more minutes before adding the milk, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Mix until smooth and creamy before removing from the heat.
Prep for the croquetas. Cool the filling and transfer to a freezer safe container. Cover and freeze for 2 hours.
Once the time is almost up, heat the oil and prep the breading station with a bowl for flour, a bowl for breadcrumbs, and separate bowl for the beaten eggs.
Fry the croquetas. Scoop out tablespoons of the filling, roll into balls or logs, then move through the breading station. Dip into flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Fry in hot oil in batches until golden brown all around.
There are many variations of croquetas you can find all over the world. Here are some of my favorites to explore:
- cod croquetas - a seafood spin on the classic croqueta that's delicious with sofrito in the filling
- shrimp croquetas - this adds a savory bite of protein and lots of flavor
- cheese croquetas - cheese versions are usually made with mashed potato filling, but can be made using a beschamel sauce as well
- veggie croquetas - these are often filled with mushroom, broccoli, sweet potato, etc
What to Eat Croquetas With
These croquetas de jamón are an excellent snack, appetizer, or side. Here are a few of my favorite dishes to serve alongside:
- enslada verde - a fresh green salad makes the perfect pairing with the crispy fried bites
- arroz con gandules - a plate of rice and beans can really balance out the fried elements of the croquetas
- pink sauce - if you need a dipping sauce, look no further than mayoketchup
- mojo de ajo - another classic Puerto Rican dipping sauce that's heavy on the garlic flavor
- sorullos - enjoy a plate of assorted Puerto Rican appetizers and serve sorullos and alcapurrias with your croquetas
- mofongo - try this classic fried plantain recipe with your croquetas
- pina colada - a refreshing cocktail to enjoy with the fried bites
- cafe con leche - it's not uncommon to enjoy fried bites like these with a cup of coffee
You could invest in a deep fryer if you're getting really into Puerto Rican cuisine. That said, I've had success using my all-clad frying pans or a trusty cast iron pan.
Use what is most accessible to you.
I do recommend using a tablespoon scoop to portion out the croquetas. It helps ensure they are equal in size, and makes rolling them easier.
Like most fried delicacies, croquetas are best enjoyed fresh out of the fryer. I do not recommend storing leftovers.
Make sure to let the filling cool in the freezer for several hours before shaping so they don't fall apart while frying.