Learn how to make Puerto Rican-style, seasoned ground beef stuffed potato croquettes, also known as Papas Rellenas. This popular Spanish appetizer consists of mashed potato balls stuffed with picadillo filling, deep fried to crispy, creamy perfection. My version of this classic Puerto Rican recipe is not breaded! Papas Rellenas are an impressively tasty dish to serve as an appetizer, side dish, or snack.
⭐️ Why We Love This Recipe
It's not every day we get to enjoy mashed potatoes, and on really special days, we get Papas Rellenas de Puerto Rico.
The combination of the fluffy, light mashed potatoes, with the spicy, savory Puerto Rican-style picadillo filling, and the perfectly crunchy deep fried exterior is a treat you have to experience.
Similar to the magical texture in other Puerto Rican recipes like these bacalaitos, sorullos, fried Puerto Rican fritters (alcapurrias) and croquetas de jamón, this tapas-style appetizer will have you living for happy hour.
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Here's all the ingredients you'll need to make these stuffed potato croquettes:
- corn starch
- sazon seasoning (can also be store bought Sazon)
- adobo seasoning (can also be store bought Adobo)
- Puerto Rican picadillo
- oil for frying
See recipe card for quantities.
👩🍳 Step by Step Instructions
Make the picadillo. See the detailed instructions in my Puerto Rican style Picadillo recipe.
Peel, chop & boil the potatoes. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Prep the potatoes by peeling and chopping into halves or quarters (depending on their size).
Add to the boiling water and cook until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl.
Mash & season the potatoes. Mash the potatoes until all of the solid chunks have broken down and a consistent mash is formed. Mix in the corn starch, sazon, and adobo seasoning until the potatoes resemble a dough.
Form & stuff the potatoes. Using a ½ cup measuring cup or small scoop, grab large balls of the potatoes.
Flatten the ball gently, fill with a tablespoon or two of the picadillo.
Reminder: You can always add another small scoop of the potato filling over the top of the filling, to help create a solid seal. This is important when frying, to prevent them from breaking open in the oil.
Carefully form the potatoes around the filling, adding an additional scoop of the potato mixture if needed.
Fry. Fry the croquettes in hot canola or vegetable oil until golden brown and crispy all around. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain any oil. Enjoy!
I recommend frying these in canola or vegetable oil.
Here are some fun ways to change it up and experiment with your croquettes:
- Add cheese - I love adding a pinch of cheese (shredded or sliced) on top of the picadillo, before closing the croquettes for a melty sharp addition.
- Skip the tomato sauce - Some people feel very strongly about removing the tomato sauce from picadillo. If this is you, feel free to skip that ingredient and make a more meat forward, less tomato-y filling.
- Breaded - Many papas rellenas recipes will bread the croquettes with egg and breadcrumbs before frying. This gives them an extra crispy exterior. If you're interested, follow the breading steps in this croquetas de jamon recipe.
- Oven baked & air fried - Like many deep fried recipes, you could also make papas rellenas in the oven or air fryer. I recommend cooking at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown and crispy all around, about 10 minutes.
This recipe requires no special tools or equipment. Make sure you have a couple good quality pots for boiling the potatoes & frying the croquettes.
I like using a smaller pot for deep frying, so that you don't need to use as much oil to over the croquettes. Keep in mind that this does require you to fry them in smaller batches, to prevent overcrowding the pot.
Like most fried appetizers, papas rellenas are best enjoyed fresh! I do not recommend freezing or storing leftovers.
If you want to prep them and enjoy another day, prep the picadillo and mashed potatoes separately, and assemble & fry the day of.
⭐️ Top Tip
Remember that you can add another small scoop of the potato filling over the top of the filling, to help create a solid seal.
Also take a moment to seal all the way around the croquettes with your hands. This is important when frying, to prevent them from breaking open in the oil!
🍽 Related Recipes
Here are some more Puerto Rican recipes with similar flavors to these stuffed potato croquettes: