Serrano Ham & Manchego Croquetas With Smoked Pimentón Aioli

October  4, 2022
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 8 hours 25 minutes
  • Cook time 23 minutes
  • Makes 20-22
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  • 1 pinch Kosher salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • nancy essig
    nancy essig
  • Alan Haraldson
    Alan Haraldson
  • Änneken
  • Joel
  • Yayita

98 Reviews

nancy E. December 16, 2023
so luscious and delicious. well loved by everyone. very rich but worth every calorie
Darian January 16, 2022
I have made croquetas with other recipes and been very disappointed, so I was VERY happy to have great success with this one! I skipped the salt because I assumed the ham and cheese were salty enough, but I was wrong - they needed salt. The dipping sauce made up for it though. I like the idea in an earlier review to add some finely minced onion; I think that would punch up the flavor really well. I also appreciate some of the tips for making ahead (keeping warm in low oven, freezing and reheating in oven, etc.). I will definitely make these again, and probably experiment with different ingredients too.
cosmiccook October 17, 2021
I didn't see this recipe until after making the one from Garden & Gun in which I had GREAT success! I wound up freezing unfried croquettes inthe freezer for almost a YEAR! (I know) and they were still excellent! Unfortunately I had to throw away a wonderful serrano ham bone due to hurricane power outage. My neighbor said her dog just loved it (the bone, not croquettes)!
Omg November 22, 2020
It's "allioli" not "aioli", or "alioli" if you want the not-accured-spanish version of the name... Search in internet before look like an incult asshole.
Tina G. April 1, 2021
Good lord. CHILL, man. You're the only one here looking like an asshole, I'm afraid.
Noli March 6, 2024
Wrong. “Allioli” is garlic and olive oil base, no egg yolk.
Alan H. October 16, 2020
Hi. What is the trick so you are not working with something similar to wet noodles and the stuff sticking to your fingers when trying to roll them and then putting them through the flour eggs and bread crumbs? I had more flour egg and bread crumbs stuck to my fingers than were on the croquettes? What are some good sauces to go with this? Thanks.
Sonali A. October 18, 2020
I usually cool the dough overnight- maybe you should cool it longer so that it firms up more? You could also try coating your hands with a little flour so that it doesn't stick. I serve them with the smoked pimenton aioli at the bottom of the recipe. You could also try a Romesco sauce.
Alan H. January 16, 2022
Hi. Thanks for the flour the hands tip. When I did the flour on the hands it worked out fine. Even reheated they were good.
Änneken May 27, 2019
Amazing flavor!! They taste like a million bucks.
Sonali A. June 19, 2019
So glad. You liked them!
pottsy.1990 February 20, 2019
These were epic! Made to have with drinks with friends before dinner and they were a smash hit. Already looking forward to making again. I fried them about 20 mins before we ate them and just warmed again on a baking sheet in a low oven.
Joel December 20, 2016
Made without a hitch...just did a few testers for the holiday snack...

Anywho...make sure when you add the milk to not just dump it all in, just a 1/4 at a time. I think this why some had an issue with it being hard to roll? mixture was too wet. You want a consistency of firm mashed potatoes. i didnt refrigerate or cool, as it was a quick test to see if they could work quickly. i also would not substitute off the original recipe for egg . into panko. There is not need for dry wet dry...preflouring..might just make the crust too thick.
Yayita June 8, 2016
The execution of this recipe was a failure :( something went amiss and I am still trying figure out what, please help! I want to get it right! After chilling the bechamel for 24hrs I started scooping a tablespoon to roll it into balls but it was too sick to do this. Despite being cold the be channel would stick to my fingers and I couldn't roll them into a ball. Since this was one of the items I was serving at a viewing party I couldn't afford not making them (I learned my lesson haha? always have a plan B) so I decided to improvise and use flour to help me roll them into balls and then dip them into the egg mixture followed by the Panko (from reading previous comments I smashed these to make them finer to ensure I would get an even coating to avoid the croquettes from gushing out while frying them). Using flour appeared to resolve the rolling issue and save he day...but then when I started frying them after chilling them for another 30mins after rolling them up, I noticed that they weren't browning as seen in the pictures. And when I Split one open, I noticed that the coating was sturdy while the bechamel sauce appeared to be 'melting' inside so in the end I ended up with croquettes that had a sturdy spherical Panko casing with a small shrunk gooey center as the filling *insert crying emoji*. What did I do wrong?? It is bothering me not knowing where I messed up because these would be incredible is prepared correctly. Help! Thanks in advance :)
Haley H. February 1, 2016
These were AMAZING!!! Such a crowd pleaser and so delicious.
nancy E. December 11, 2015
Can you tell me why, in the breading of these, you do not first coat in flour, then the egg, then the crumbs. Can this be why some are having problems with seepage?
Yvette April 1, 2024
Seepage when frying is most likely because the oil is not hot enough. You need to sear the outside in a flash before the inside gets hot and expands. Get a thermometer and rest it in the oil as you cook the batches.
Sue May 4, 2015
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.
Sonali A. May 18, 2015
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.
Amber April 30, 2014
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!
Sunny A. April 16, 2014
This recipe is amazing! Serive with lime.
Miguel R. January 30, 2014
Espectacular... You should also try sobrasada (sausage from Mallorca) with Mahones cheese croquetas... With tomato jam...
The T. February 4, 2014
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.
Joseph H. January 7, 2014
Another wonderful recipe, Doc...definitely on-point!
Amy December 29, 2013
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...
Yvette April 1, 2024
The sauce is an important part of the total flavor profile and texture. You didn't make the recipe as it was written.
Irma D. December 11, 2013
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.
procrastibaker November 28, 2013
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.
keg72 November 2, 2013
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!
Rowena L. November 29, 2015
Oooh! This is certainly helpful, especially the make-ahead, freeze, and reheat tip. Thank you!! Is the inside pretty creamy?
keg72 November 29, 2015
Canuck December 15, 2015
hi Keg72. can i do all the steps all the way to the breading, freeze the croquetas, and then bake? i wasn't sure what you meant by "fully cooked croquetas..." thanks,

keg72 December 15, 2015
I mean that I fried them and then froze them.