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 sauce!
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 delicious melted cheese and ham concoction.
The answer is neither. The truth is much more simple, although a little less glamorous 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 too– I have lots of amazing vegetarian croquette recipes too!
Step-by-step photos: Making Serrano ham croquettes
Croquetas de Jamón Serrano Recipe - Traditional Spanish Ham Croquettes
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 scant cup flour (just under one cup)
- 1 medium onion very finely diced
- ¼ gallon whole milk at room temperature.
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- ½ pound jamón serrano diced into small pieces
- flour for breading
- 2 beaten eggs
- bread crumbs for breading (try Panko for non-traditional extra crispy croquettes!)
- Melt the butter and warm the oil in a medium sized pan over medium high heat.
- Add the onion and sauté for a few minutes, until it just starts to brown.
- Add a pinch of salt and the nutmeg. Don't add to much salt as the serrano ham is already salty.
- Add the diced ham and sauté for 30 seconds more.
- Add the flour and stir continuously, until the flour turns a light brown color. You must not stop stirring or the flour will burn!
- 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.
- Turn off the heat and let the dough cool a bit.
- 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.
- To make the ham croquettes, shape them into little logs (or use a pastry sleeve if you have one.)
- 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.
- Fry the ham croquettes in the hot oil and let them cool for a few minutes before enjoying!
- The trick to creamy croquettes is to add the milk very slowly and to stir constantly.
- You can substitute prosciutto or Iberian ham for the jamón Serrano -- or any other high quality cured ham.
- You can easily freeze the breaded prepared croquette logs.
Easy, quick, cheap, and impressive… did you try these delicious Spanish croquettes yet? What are you waiting for!?
What is your favorite croquette filling?