Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

Can be made Gluten Free, Vegan Friendly + Vegetarian

17 Feb · Written by Raquel Jones


The term 'croquette' derives from the French word "croquer," signifying 'to crunch.' These delectable delights are often attributed to Antonin Carême, a culinary genius of the mid-eighteenth century who served 'croquettes à la royale' at extravagant banquets for the French aristocracy.

Originating from an era of scarcity, when flour was abundant but other ingredients were not, croquettes emerged as a ingenious solution to prevent food waste. Their versatility knows no bounds, with a myriad of fillings and flavours to explore.

Across Spain, you'll find them gracing the menus of local bars, showcasing varieties like salt cod, chicken, and the esteemed Croquetas de Jamón, reigning supreme.

In this recipe, I share a fail-safe method using a 'backward' béchamel sauce to guarantee success with every batch. I trust you'll relish crafting these pockets of pleasure as much as I do!

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)

Yields: 30 oblong croquettes or 60 balls


  • 75 g unsalted butter (use vegan alternative if desired)
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped and sautéed with a pinch of salt until soft and translucent
  • 250g finely chopped jamón, briefly fried (1 min) in a hot, dry pan to rendered the fat a little (use 125g coco-bacon as vegan alternative and 1/2 cup fresh/frozen peas)
  • 3 cups full-fat milk (use soy as vegan alternative)
  • 3/4 cup plain flour (GF flour can be used)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • 3-4 large eggs (substitute 3 tbsp of veganaise for vegan version)
  • approx 200 g fine bread crumbs (use rice crumb or GF crumbs, if desired)
  • approx 200 g panko crumbs (substitute rice crumb or GF crumb, if desired)
  • approx 600-700 mL olive oil or vegetable oil, for frying

Part 1. Filling


  1. In a medium-sized pan melt butter over medium heat, then add flour and cook for 5-7 mins stirring every so often.
  2. In a high-powered blender, add flour-butter mix, onion, jamón, milk, salt and nutmeg. Blend on med-high for about 30 seconds to properly combine (check for flour lumps, if any, mix for 15 seconds more)
  3. Pour contents back into pot on stove and heat liquid over medium flame.
  4. Gently stir the sauce (with wooden spoon) regularly for 7-10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken. The sauce is ready when it begins to come away from the base of the pan when you run your spoon along. Note: do not walk away from the pan, as sauce will thicken quickly and can catch on bottom of pan - stir gently, but do stir. 
  5. Transfer to an oven/baking dish (I use one approx. 30cm x 20cm, use whatever you have)
  6. Allow to cool slightly, before covering and refrigerating for at least 2 hours, if not overnight.

Note: At this point you can leave mixture in refrigerator for up to 5 days before proceeding to next steps.

Part 2. Shaping & Coating


  1. Take out your dish with filling from the fridge and cut your filling into pieces.
  • For 30 pieces: Roughly measure and cut to make 10 vertical lines (roughly 3cm wide). Then cut 2 horizontal lines (roughly 6.5cm wide), making a total of 30 evenly sized rectangle pieces.
  1. Prepare your dipping station by setting out three shallow bowls.
  • One with fine bread crumbs, one with lightly whisked eggs and the third with panko crumbs.
  1. Squeeze and mould all rectangle pieces of filling into somewhat long oval shapes in your hands and line up on a flat tray or surface.
  2. Take one moulded piece and roll in the fine bread crumbs, coating evenly.
  3. Shake off excess crumbs and dip the piece in egg, coating evenly.
  4. Shake off excess egg and roll in panko crumbs, coating evenly.
  5. Place finished croquette back on tray and repeat Steps 4-7 until all 30 pieces are finished.

Note: At this point you can freeze the breaded croquettes in a freezer safe container for up to 2 months. Simply defrost in fridge overnight for 30 minutes before proceeding to next steps.

Part 3. Frying

  1. Fill a medium-size frypan halfway up with oil (approx. 600-700ml). Note: You want the oil to cover croquettes at least 3/4 if not fully.
  2. Heat oil to medium-high temperature. (You can test the temperature by dropping in a bit of batter. If it sizzles and froths gently it is ready, if it froths too vigorously turn heat down a fraction and wait a few minutes)
  3. Place a maximum of 6 croquettes at a time into the oil.
  4. Fry croquettes for about 5 mins (turning mid-way if needed) until beautiful and golden brown (Not too dark!)
  5. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a plate lined with paper towel.
  6. Continue to fry remaining croquettes.
  7. Serve immediately.
  8. Alternatively, you can reheat just before serving in 160° fan-forced (180° non fan-forced) oven for approximately 15-20 minutes, depending on how long you let them cool.Note: Keep an eye on them in the oven so they don't brown too much or burn.


My croquette mixture is not solid enough to cut even after being in the fridge:

You may have added too much oil or your onion has released some of it's moisture so the mixture is struggling to set. Place mixture into freezer until well set, but not frozen solid. Don't worry if you forget and they freeze completely, just taken them out and leave tray for 30 mins on the bench before attempting to cut up. When you cut them, work quickly to flour, egg and bread before placing them pop them back on a tray to go back into the freezer for 30 mins before frying.

Briefly fry them until slightly coloured, then after briefly blotting them on paper towel, place them on a tray and into a pre-heated oven (180 degrees C) for 10-15mins to warm-up fully through to the centre, otherwise they'll be cold inside when you eat them.

My croquettes are splitting when I fry them:

Your oil is too hot, it should be medium hot, not smoking. Lower the heat and allow the oil to cool slightly and then try again.

I'm having trouble with the shape:

If the football shape is too difficult to achieve, cut each rectangle in half again and shape/squash into balls instead! They don't have to be perfect, you're making a morsel that will last all of 2 seconds in someone's hand before being devoured because they taste so good!


Why not try filling you croquetas with other fillings:

  • Leeks (substitute half a leek for the brown onion)
  • Mushrooms (dice mushroom and fry with onion as an alternative to jamón)
  • Chorizo (substitute diced pieces of chorizo for the jamón) 
  • Chicken, Pork, Beef (use leftover meat that has been pre-cooked. Either shred or dice and add before blending instead of jamón) 
  • Salted Cod (let cod cool and then break up a little with your hands and add prior to blending instead of jamón and onion) 
  • Tuna (Substitute a can of tuna, mashed for the jamón and onion - just add before blending)
  • Cheese (Substitute 75 g of grated Manchego or parmesan for the jamón or leave the jamón in!) 

SUPER IMPORTANT! Please mind how much salt you add when using these filling variations. Leave out salt and test filling mixture once all ingredients have been blended - add salt only if required after tasting first!