Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas with Smoked Pimentón Aioli

By • December 8, 2011 79 Comments

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Author Notes: My husband and I celebrated our anniversary last year by taking a wonderful trip to Spain. Although we tried a countless number of tapas, our favorite was the croquetas- Spanish croquettes filled with different ingredients. My croquetas use classic Spanish ingredients like salty Serrano ham and nutty Manchego cheese. And to serve with them, I make an aioli using Pimenton de La Vera, a delicious sweet smoked paprika. You may want to make extra croquetas because your guests will gobble them up!Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Food52 Review: We always love hors d'oeuvres that can be made ahead and fried up quickly for a party, and these addictive Spanish croquetas fit the bill. The cheesy, ham-flecked dough is a cross between a choux (without the egg) and a floury bechamel. Once it cools and thickens up, you can put little (or big) helpers on ball-rolling duty. The crust fries up shaggy and golden from the panko, and the paprika aioli is pretty in pink, with an assertive garlic punch. - A&M The Editors

Makes 20-22

Serrano Ham and Manchego Croquetas

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped Serrano ham (can substitute prosciutto), about 1.8 oz
  • 1/3 cup grated Manchego cheese, about 1.8 oz
  • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Smoked Pimenton Aioli

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish sweet smoked paprika such as Pimentón de La Vera
  1. Heat the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes while whisking frequently. Gradually add the milk while whisking and continue to cook another 2-3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth. Switch to a wooden spoon and stir in the ham, cheese and nutmeg. Cook another 1-2 minutes while stirring- the mixture will pull away from the sides of the pan. Taste the mixture and add salt if desired- the ham and cheese are salty so you probably won’t need to add any additional salt.
  2. Transfer the mixture to an 8x8-inch baking tray and spread it out so that it is even. Let the mixture cool, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  3. When ready to cook the croquetas, lightly beat the eggs in a shallow dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and ½ teaspoon salt in another dish. Scoop up tablespoons of the cooled filling and form them into balls. Dip each ball into the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Place the completed croquetas on a wire rack or baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. The croquetas must be chilled before frying otherwise they may fall apart in the oil.
  4. Meanwhile, make the aioli by pureeing the mayonnaise, garlic, lemon juice, and smoked pimentón in a blender or mini food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Pour enough vegetable oil into a large stockpot to reach a depth of 1 inch and heat over medium high heat. Working in batches, fry the croquetas in the oil, turning them on all sides, until golden brown and crispy, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with the smoked pimentón aioli.

More Great Recipes: Pork|Appetizers|Hors d'oeuvres|Snacks|Olive Oil

Topics: Holiday Entertaining

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Comments (79) Questions (5)


4 months ago Sue

My guests loved and the Aioli is going to be a staple in my refrigerator. I expected more of a bread texture than dough. Wondered if I over stirred. Regardless, will make again and think will just make smaller croquetas so that I have more crisp on each bite.


3 months ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

So glad you liked them! It doesn't sound like you over-stirred- the texture of the filling should be soft and creamy, not breadlike.


over 1 year ago Amber

Divine! I have another recipe for Serrano and Manchengo croquetas from Jose Garces but his recipe is so much more complicated and intimidating than this. Thank you for making my life easier!


over 1 year ago Sunny Aalami

This recipe is amazing! Serive with lime.


over 1 year ago Miguel Rossello

Espectacular... You should also try sobrasada (sausage from Mallorca) with Mahones cheese croquetas... With tomato jam...


over 1 year ago The Tasty Word

Oh, I second the idea of using sobrasada. My mother's family is from Mallorca, but we live in Panama, and the most anticipated treats from when someone in the family travels there is when they bring back sobrasada and ensaimada.


over 1 year ago Joseph Hamby

Another wonderful recipe, Doc...definitely on-point!


over 1 year ago Amy

I wanted to love these, but just didn't :( I made them on Christmas morning to take to an afternoon family get together, but I fried up a couple, tried one for the first time, and had to leave them behind. The texture was very unappetizing, and the flavor just didn't do it for me. Didn't try the sauce...


over 1 year ago Irma Davidson

Thank you very much Sonali. I just made them last night as an appetizer for my 7 year old granddaughter and she loved them. She asked me to make them and take them warm for her school lunch next Wednesday and Christmas appetizers.


almost 2 years ago procrastibaker

These are AMAZING. I made them as an appetizer for Thanksgiving, and it's all we can do not to eat all of them before we head to our official dinner. Having the oil at 350F helps avoid the oozing, although I still had to carefully watch them. A few of them split, but they stayed together enough to transport. Delicious. I'll certainly be making these again.


almost 2 years ago keg72

Great recipe! For those who've had the oozing problem, I might know the issue. Make sure your oil is hot enough. I had mine down around 325 because I like the look of the blonder color. But, they all oozed. When I got the oil up to 350, using the same batch of formed croquetas, no oozing. (And I also didn't have the oozing problem the first time I made these at 350.) Also, I just wanted to note that I froze fully cooked croquetas and then baked them, from frozen, at 350 for 15-20 minutes, and they were as good as they were when fresh. Finally, this time I added a few TBS of minced onion, and it really increased the flavorfulness. Hope that helps someone!


over 2 years ago Mel Mercedes

Such a great recipe! I lived in Southern Spain for half a year and ordered croquetas everywhere I least 3 times a week! These are just as good if not better than most I tried. Thanks for sharing :)


over 2 years ago sansan123

Thank You. Made the mistake of sending my darling hub to the supermarche wihout adult supervision. e returned with a whopping big serrano ham and I have been trying to find things to do with it. This looks perfect,though I will substitute the machengo as he doesn't like it.


over 2 years ago Nela

I made these over the Holidays and they were delicious. Please keep in mind that once you make the bechamel you must refrigerate in a baking pan for at least 2 hours prior to shaping the croquetas and refrigerate again for another 30 minutes before you can finish them. So I would recomend to start them a day ahead so all you have to is fry them and serve just before you are going to serve them. They are delicious and very filling. Just like the ones in Spain.


over 2 years ago Urbain Dubois

Thanks so much for this recipe and the step by step images for preparation. I have not tried it but I am certain these are addictive!


over 2 years ago Urbain Dubois

What is the difference between Spanish and Hungarian paprika? I just purchased a large, beautifully decorated can of hot Hungarian paprika. As infrequently as I use paprika it is way too much but couldn't resist.


over 2 years ago ELISER

if you need any of this ingredients, you can buy here;
Spanish Food Online;


over 2 years ago htan

I made these the other day for my baby shower. Unfortunately they also exploded like another reviewer said (In the question portion). I even measured/weighed out the cheese because it was thought that too much cheese would make that happen. Disappointed in the results, I couldn't even serve any of them, 2/3 of them had the cheese ooze out into my oil. I wonder what the problem was?


over 2 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

I'm sorry to hear that! I think the most common reason for them exploding would be that they're not chilled enough. Did you refrigerate them for several hours to firm up the mixture before frying? Also, if you were frying them for too long or if the oil was too hot, that could have caused the problem. Finally, perhaps they weren't coated with enough breadcrumbs. Sometimes I crush the panko very finely to ensure an even crust.


almost 3 years ago Frankiefurt

Hi, I'm from Spain and, although this ones are great and are one of my favourites, here we have croquetas of almost everything. You can change the ham for boiled chicken, or for boiled codfish, or for boiled Spinachs or for boiled Shrimps. And we don't usually eat them with ali-oli. Ali-oli goes great with Fideuá, cuttlefish, Paella, etc. And the real Ali-Oli is just garlic and olive oil, but it's really difficult to make it. It requires a great patience and technique. We also usually do it with mayonnaise. ¡Hasta luego!


almost 3 years ago blanka.n

I have been dying to make these,


almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Thanks, I hope you like them!


over 3 years ago DIANELLY

this looks delocius and I will try to do it today. Can I change the sweet paprika for hot paprika? is so, how much should I put? thank you


almost 3 years ago Sonali aka the Foodie Physician

Yes, you can substitute sweet paprika. I would start with the same amount and then adjust to taste.


over 3 years ago LE BEC FIN

hi sonali,want to thank you for this terrific recipe.You would have had me at Crunchy, but Gooey Cheesy and I was all yours! I made them last night for dinner for the 2 of us, to accompany chowbella's terrific recipe for Citrus Chimmichuri Pork Roast , whch i adapted for turkey .I had to MAKE myself eat my salad!

I did make a few changes. I added 1/8 cup grated/ground Parm , used 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (double yours) and , because i don't care for serrano, used Jone's Canadian bacon, my fav ham component.The parm made a huge difference and really brought together all the flavors.

I learned to pull them from the oil a little bit before I would have (because otherwise, they explode and lose their filling!)
I am new to 52 and was thrilled to have one of my citrus recipes chosen as a CP. thanks so much again and congrats on your well deserved win.