Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe - Traditional Spanish Ham Croquettes - Spanish Sabores

Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe – Traditional Spanish Ham Croquettes

With only a handful of ingredients, my mother-in-law’s traditional Spanish ham croquettes recipe is the best I’ve ever tried.

I still remember my confusion the first time someone explained that Spanish ham croquettes don’t have cheese in them. I couldn’t imagine how they could be so creamy and delicious without it! But the magic is real, and this easy croquetas de jamón Serrano recipe proves that the true trick to Spanish ham croquettes is time, patience and a great arm for stirring the bechamel!

Ham Croquettes recipe - croquetas de jamón serrano recipe
Delicious ham croquettes are a popular tapa throughout Spain.

Everyone likes croquettes even if they don’t know it quite yet. Wikipedia defines them as small fried food rolls and who in their right mind could find something wrong with that?

There is a croquette for everyone, vegetarians included, and Spanish people love to experiment with different ingredients. I’ve seen everything from wild mushroom croquettes (delicious!) to chocolate croquettes (not so much).

What Makes Perfect Spanish Ham Croquettes?

But true to every Spaniard’s heart is the classic croquetas de jamón Serrano recipe (Serrano ham croquettes). Their creamy filling is bursting with flavor and leaves many wondering whether they’re eating ham flavored mashed potatoes or some exotic melty cheese and ham concoction. The answer is neither. The truth is much more simple, although a little less appetizing perhaps. Being a traditional poor man’s food, ham croquettes are basically a fantastic bechamel sauce (olive oil, butter, flour, and milk) enriched with leftover scraps of Serrano ham and deep fried to crispy perfection. The result should never be oily, or cold in the center. When done well, they’re impossibly light and you’d never guess that flour was the main ingredient!

Now that you know the secret, there is no excuse not to make these ridiculously easy and extremely tasty tidbits of Spanish goodness. The following is my favorite version of my mother-in-law’s croquetas de jamón Serrano recipe and it will not disappoint! Vegetarians, I’ll take care of you soon– I have lots of amazing vegetarian croquette recipes too!

Antonia’s Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe

5.0 from 2 reviews
Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe - Traditional Spanish Ham Croquettes
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This easy and delicious croquetas de jamón serrano recipe is my mother-in-law's favorite.
Recipe type: Tapas
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 24
  • ~ 60 grams/4 T unsalted butter
  • ~ 60 grams/1/4 C olive oil
  • A bit less than 1 C of flour (120 grams)
  • One medium onion very finely diced
  • 1 Liter (~1/4 gallon) whole milk at room temperature
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 packet (250 grams) of jamón Serrano diced into small pieces
  • Flour for breading
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • Bread crumbs (try Panko for non-traditional extra crispy croquettes!)
  1. Melt the butter and warm the oil in a medium size pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until it just starts to brown.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg (not too much because Serrano ham is already quite salty).
  4. Add the diced ham and sauté for 30 seconds more.
  5. Add the flour and stir continually, until the flour turns a light brown color.
  6. You must not stop stirring or the flour will burn!
  7. When the flour changes color, add the milk little by little, always stirring until you incorporate the entire amount. It should take about 20 minutes to add it all.
  8. Turn off the heat and let the dough cool a bit.
  9. Butter the sides of a large bowl or plastic wrap and wrap the croquette dough inside, covered directly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours but preferably overnight.
  10. To make the ham croquettes shape them into little logs (or use a pastry sleeve if you have one).
  11. Next, while heating a pan full of olive oil on the stove, pass the croquettes through the breading process. First, cover them in flour, then in egg, and, finally, in the breadcrumbs.
  12. Fry the ham croquettes in the hot oil and let them cool a few minutes before enjoying!

Step-by-step photos: Making Serrano ham croquettes

Serrano ham croquettes recipe
Melting the butter in olive oil – light!
Spanish ham croquettes recipe
Browning the onions.
Spanish ham croquettes recipe
Dice up the jamón!
Spanish ham croquettes recipe
Add the flour.
Spanish ham croquettes recipe
Now the milk.
Spanish ham croquettes recipe
Keep stirring!
Croquetas de jamón serrano recipe
With homemade croquettes, imperfect is best!
Serrano ham croquettes recipe
The best croquettes are so creamy on the inside you’d think they were made of cheese!

Easy, quick, cheap, and impressive… did you try these delicious Spanish croquettes yet? What are you waiting for!?

What is your favorite croquette filling?

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As far as tapas go, practically nothing is more typical than a plate of creamy, delicious croquettes. If you don't know how to make them, they do require time and patience, but are actually pretty easy! This recipe for traditional ham croquettes is straight from Spain, so you can rest assured that it's as authentic as it gets. Get ready to discover one of your new favorite dishes! #tapas #Spain


  1. You’re really churning out the entries–and the good eats–this week! Thanks for the visual tutorial, you remind me that croquetas are on my scrolling list of items I want to try my hand at.

  2. EASY!? I think croquetas are the most time-consuming thing ever! Having to leave the bechamel overnight after knocking your arm off to try them? You have my heart, L! Happy cumpleaños to a dear friend…and let someone else cook for you today! so excited to see you next week!

          1. Spread the dough thin on a baking sheet and put somewhere cold,(fridge or freezer if you have space, or outside if its cold) they will cool completely in 1 hour. Then form all in advance and place on a plate back in freezer until you are ready to fry. This gets them don in 2 or 3 hours.

      1. My son and I are making ham croquettes for his high school Spanish class. What I need to know is approximately how many does your recipe make? There are 16 students plus the teacher and I need to be sure everyone gets one. Thanks!!!

  3. I love it. I’ve been wanting to cook now that I’m settled in my piso. Your entries are inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to post. Now that I’m blogging and adding photos to my post, I realize it takes some time.

  4. HI Lauren! I am very very happy to have discovered your blog! I love spanish food! I have recently started my food blog about italian cuisine and I was looking for a blog about spanish food they are so similar in certain things! In particular I love, but really love croquetas we have something similar in the south of Italy: Crocchè di patate!!!! I will post them soon!
    Nice to meet you Lauren I will follow your blog!

  5. I love tapas and recently ate the spinach & pine nut croquettes “croquetas de espinacas y pinones” as did my whole family and they fell in love with them. Found a recipe but doesnt sount like what we ate–i believe the spinach-cheese mix is in the center and the pine nuts may be ground into the outside breading??

    Do you have a recipe that sounds anything like i’m describing?

    Thanks for the fun recipies, commentaries and information!

    1. Hi Gabi, no problem thanks for reading! The recipe you describe sounds really interesting, as the spinach and pine nut croquettes I’ve eaten normally have the pine nuts on the inside. Are you sure they were a part of the breading mixture? I have a couple of good recipes for the other option but haven’t found any with the pine nuts on the outside.

      1. I’ve had pine nuts in croquetas and they were neither “inside” nor “mixed in the breading” (per se). Since the piñones are a delicate nut, toast them a bit to bloom the flavor and chop, if desired, or leave them whole, like one does with mazapanes. Then roll a croqueta masa ball/log in the pine nut mixture, dredge, and then egg, and then bread crumbs. They then form into the outside “crunch” texture while the breadcrumb breading helps protect them against over-browning.

  6. Nice,eazy and tasty….thanks for the recipe.i own a tapas bar in kuta bali indonesia.address is popies lane 1 gg.bedugul no.18 kuta,bali.opposite of kuta apartment town house…..

    1. Hi Leanna, it really depends on how big you like them– I like mine quite small and thin, so I get about 25– but you could get half that if you make them bigger!

      1. I love croquettes! I have used essentially this same recipe for years with any leftover hiding in the fridge- chicken, fish, canned salmon,. For those worried about deep frying- I have also baked them but the mixture HAS to be cold.

  7. Is it really a litter of milk! Just making these and it seems a lot. Worried that if I add it all it’ll be soup not dough!!

    1. I grow Padrón peppers (though in the hottest part of Northern Utah summers many of them are quite spicy instead of how they tend to be in the cooler months of fall more like Spain’s). At any rate, yes, blister your Padróns as you would for a tapa, cool, seed and chop. They are delicious inside a croqueta — though I use about half the onion volume and think they benefit from the offset of some cheesy flavor to amp the savoriness. Thus rather than a thick béchamel, make a thick mornay: that is, fold some cheese (like a Spanish Zamorano or French Gruyere) into your croqueta masa after it is completely cooked, removed it from heat, and then stir in.

  8. Hey, this recipe is awesome, my croquettes were delicious! I needed a little more flour than suggested as my dough was too runny, but the results were great, everybody thought my recipe was made with mashed potato and cheese!

  9. I fell in love with Tapas when I was in Madrid, Spain in 2011. I also fell in love with Sangria too, lol. I was wondering if anyone knows of an authentic Spain style (not an American version) Tapas Bar in the USA. I have tried to find one, but they just don’t seem to exist anywhere in the USA. I really wish that someone would open an authentic Spain style Tapas Bar in the USA. My favorite Tapas is Croquetas de Jamon Serrano which I’m scared to make myself, but I’ll follow your recipe and give it a try.

  10. Can I freeze before Shaping and frying? Just made a small batch and is chilling in the fridge but forgot that I will not be home next 2 days.

      1. Hi Lauren. Does freezing them change their texture at all? Do you recommend thawing them in the fridge or just frying them straight from the freezer? Thanks!

        1. I personally thaw a little, as there is nothing worse than a croquette that’s still a little cold in the middle! And I also don’t like them too dark when frying. But many people do them straight from the freezer – so in a pinch, that’s definitely possible!

  11. Just made these with my son for his intro to culinary arts class. We live in an area where Basque culture is strong and croquetas are “plentiful.”

    This recipe matches up nicely with anything we can get locally and is really quite simple. We subbed out the Serrano for prosciutto since the Basque Market was closed when we decided to pull this off. We’ll live–but next time, Serrano because there’s no substitute for that, really.

    Cook time at medium heat was not listed in the recipe, but you’ll find a minute or so before you turn them (we went with shallow oil) is sufficient or even too much. Just watch them go from breaded to golden brown and then turn.

    A note on the milk add: didn’t take us 20 minutes but your guideline did help us take it slow–which was a critical success factor.

    Loved the recipe and for the first time making, we were surprised at how easy this recipe is to follow and execute. Good call with the pinch of nutmeg, by the way. It adds that extra YES factor!

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