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Air Fryer Potato Croquettes

5 from 10 votes

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Air fryer croquettes, inspired by Spanish croquetas de jamon, have a delicious, crispy exterior and a soft, creamy center—and you don’t even have to break out the frying pan. Everyone goes wild for this delicious appetizer.

Air fryer croquettes topped with cheese on a cooling rack.

Ham Croquettes Are All You Need to Make Your Next Tapas Party Amazing

To taste a croquette is fall in love with croquettes.

When I first tasted croquettes almost two decades ago, at the famed tapas restaurant Jaleo in Washington, D.C., it was love at first bite!

A few years ago I discovered a Spanish restaurant about an hour away from us that was also serving up some amazing versions of these fried bites of heaven. I made a few trips back specifically to get them.

But then it hit me: I need to figure out how to make these things myself! And so here we are.

This recipe isn’t traditional — it features a mashed potato base instead of bechamel sauce — but they taste spot-on and they’re so easy to make using your air fryer. These are so tasty you’ll never miss the traditional fried version!

What you’ll love about this air fryer recipe: 

Use your leftovers! These air fryer croquettes are a delicious way to use leftover mashed potatoes

7 ingredient recipe. Simple and straight-forward, but chock full of flavor. Just how this foodie likes it.

Prep them ahead. Make a double (or triple!) batch and keep them in the freezer. You’ll never be more than a few minutes away from a tasty snack.

Overhead image of air fryer ham croquettes on a white plate.

What are Croquettes?

So first off, what are croquettes?

Traditionally, they’re crispy, fried rolls with a creamy center and a crispy, crunchy exterior.

Spanish ham croquettes, which these were inspired by, are a popular item on tapas menus. The soft, oozy center is often confused for cheese or mashed potatoes, but it’s actually a very thick cream sauce (bechamel) infused with finely chopped jamon iberico or jamon serrano. They’re crispy, salty, and utterly delicious.

Bechamel isn’t difficult to make, but it does require a pan on the stovetop and it doesn’t hold up well in the air fryer.

So I used mashed potatoes instead.

As I said above, these aren’t traditional. But they do have all of the delicious flavor that you’d expect in a croqueta de jamon!

Ingredients needed to make ham and potato croquettes on a white marble board.

Ingredients you’ll need:

Leftover mashed potatoes. For the best results, use smooth mashed potatoes without skins and without too many strong flavors. Use leftover potatoes, or just buy a tub of premade mash at the grocery store.

Milk. Stirring milk into the potatoes helps loosen them up, giving you a texture that’s softer and more sauce-like.

Nutmeg. A pinch of ground nutmeg hints at the traditional bechamel flavor and gives these that unmistakable croquette flavor that so many people just can’t put their finger on.

Cured Ham. For the most authentic flavor, use Jamon Serrano or Jamon Iberico. A little goes a long way, but it can be pricy. You can also use prosciutto or even finely diced leftover Easter ham or Christmas ham.

Egg. To help create a crisp crust.

Unseasoned bread crumbs. For extra crunch, you can also use panko bread crumbs.

Manchego cheese. To sprinkle over the top!

Mixing the jamon and nutmeg into the mashed potatoes.
Breading the croquettes.

How to make croquettes in the air fryer

  1. Mix together the mashed potatoes, milk, ham, and nutmeg.
  2. Shape heaping tablespoons of the potato mixture into logs.
  3. Bread the logs by dipping them into breadcrumbs, then egg, then more breadcrumbs. Spritz generously with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Chill the croquettes thoroughly to help them firm up and keep their shape while they cook. 10 minutes in the freezer should do it!
  5. Air Fry in a preheated air fryer until golden brown and crispy.
  6. Serve topped with finely shredded Manchego cheese.
An air fryer basket filled with air fried potato croquettes.

Busy Foodie Tips and Tricks:

  • Be sure to thoroughly chill the croquettes (or even better, freeze them!) before cooking so they firm up. This will make it so the outside breading crisps up and holds everything together before the filling gets too runny. If you skip this step, the potatoes will melt and you’ll be left with a (very tasty) mess
  • Double breading these helps ensure every part of the surface is coated and helps them crisp up. Make sure you’re generous with the bread crumbs and don’t forget to coat the ends!
  • Jamon iberico is definitely a treat — 2 ounces cost me $17 — but there’s nothing quite like it. It’s intensely meaty, salty, and fatty. You can also use Jamon serrano (slightly more affordable) or speck, which have a similar deep porky flavor. In a pinch, you can also make these with prosciutto, pancetta, or even finely chopped leftover roast ham from your holiday dinner. These options won’t taste quite the same, but they’re still astoundingly delicious.
Sprinkling manchego cheese onto ham croquettes.

Frequently asked questions

Can you make these ahead of time?

Yes! They need to freeze for at least 10 minutes to hold their shape while they cook, but you can freeze them for up to 3 months. If cooking these croquettes from frozen, add 2-3 minutes to the cook time.

Can I make this without an air fryer?

Yes, it will just take a little longer! Bake at 425ºF for 15-20 minutes, turning them over halfway though the cooking process. You can also deep fry them on the stove top.

How to store these potato croquettes?

These ham and potato croquettes are best served immediately, so I prefer to make them in advance and cook however many I want at the moment. If you do have leftovers, keep them in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat for 3-4 minutes in the air fryer.

More appetizer recipes you’ll love:

Overhead image of air fryer croquettes on a marble background.
Air fries Spanish croquettes.

Air Fryer Croquettes

Welcome to the world of croquettes. These crispy, stuffed treats are the perfect way to use up leftover mashed potatoes.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Chill Time 10 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 24 croquettes
Calories 59 kcal



  • 2 cups cold mashed potatoes
  • cup milk
  • 2 ounces cured ham, such as jamon serrano finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 ½ cups unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • olive oil spray
  • finely shredded Manchego cheese for serving


  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the mashed potatoes, milk, ham, and nutmeg. Mix well.
  • To shape the croquettes, roll 1 heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture into a log. Coat with breadcrumbs, then into beaten egg. Roll in breadcrumbs again until fully coated. Spritz well with cooking spray. Repeat with remaining potatoes.
  • Place the croquettes onto a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze for at least 10 minutes or until firm.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF.
  • Arrange the croquettes in a single layer in the air fryer basket (cook in batched if necessary). Air fry for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.
  • Carefully remove the croquettes from the air fryer and serve piping hot, topped with finely grated Manchego cheese.


If cooking from frozen solid, add 2-3 minutes to the cook time.
Be sure the read the full blog post for tips, tricks, and ingredient substitutions. 


Serving: 1croquetteCalories: 59kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 3gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.2gTrans Fat: 0.001gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 158mgPotassium: 82mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 40IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 1mg
Love this recipe?Mention @TheBusyFoodieLauren or tag #busyfoodie!
air fryer croquettes landscape image.
By on October 31st, 2022

Hi, I'm Lauren!

I love to cook -- but even more importantly, I really like to eat! I have a demanding day job that keeps me busy, so time is precious. I'm a culinary school graduate and five-time cookbook author who's all about finding ways to make delicious, restaurant-quality meals at home on a tight schedule. Read more...

5 thoughts on “Air Fryer Potato Croquettes”

  1. 5 stars
    I had something like this at a Spanish tapas restaurant recently and wanted to recreate it. This version was so easy and just as delicious!

  2. 5 stars
    Loved these! And loved that I could do them in my air fryer and not have to mess with a deep fryer! Delish!

  3. 5 stars
    These croquettes are great. And the best part is they are cooked in the air fryer instead of deep frying them. I love them!

  4. I’m so excited to try these. I had croquetas years ago when I lived with a host family in Spain. Recently it dawned on me that maybe I could try to make some in the air fryer and your recipe looks wonderful!


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