Chicken croquettes are the bomb! (Or, as my kids would say… FIRE!) If I could only eat one Cuban appetizer for the rest of my life, I think I would have to go with chicken croquettes! Crunchy on the outside with a creamy chicken filling made with bechamel sauce, these hearty little darlings travel well, can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, or by the tray full at parties. Cubans wouldn’t know how to throw a party without these!
Croquettes are an all-star Cuban appetizer. You’ll find them at every Cuban birthday party, baby shower, happy hour, or holiday gathering. And they come in so many flavors, including chicken, ham, fish, meat, or cheese. Today, we’re going to zero in on chicken croquettes because I had leftover chicken, and this chicken croquette recipe is the best way to use up the chicken. That’s the other thing about croquettes. They are a great way to use leftovers!
What Are Chicken Croquettes
Croquettes are made with minced, seasoned meat that’s incorporated into a bechamel sauce and then breaded and fried to make delectable tapas food. They are great by themselves, with saltine crackers or in a sandwich with lettuce and tomato.
Known as croquetas in Spanish, these tasty appetizers are originally from French but became a tapas favorite in Spain. From there, they made their way to Cuba and the rest of the Latin American and Caribbean region. Chicken and Ham croquettes are very popular for parties because just about everyone likes these flavors. But you can find them in all kinds of flavors at Cuban bakeries and restaurants, including codfish and chorizo flavors. Or a combination of flavors like ham and Manchego cheese.
How to Make Croquetas de Pollo
The key component to making croquettes is the bechamel sauce. Once you’ve got that down, the rest is relatively easy. You need just a few basic ingredients:
- Finely chopped or minced chicken
- Finely diced onion
- Crushed garlic
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking wine
- Parsley (optional)
- Breadcrumbs and eggs for the coating
- Frying Oil
I usually make these croquettes with leftover rotisserie chicken, but you can use any chicken leftovers. If you don’t have leftovers, you can poach two chicken breasts until cooked through and let cool. If you’re using the leftover rotisserie, save the drippings to add the sauce, they are great for seasoning your chicken croquettes. Pulse the chicken meat in a food processor until finely minced, then set aside.
Heat the butter in the skillet and cook the onion and garlic until softened but not browned. Blend the milk, flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until the sauce thickens. You should be able to run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and leave a path. Add the chicken, pan juices, and cooking wine and mix to combine. My mom likes to use Move the mix to a bowl and bring it to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight. You must give the mixture a chance to rest and chill. If the mix is not thoroughly chilled, the croquettes will burst open when you fry them. That’s no bueno.
The next step is the coating. Beat two eggs in a bowl and add 2 cups of cracker meal to another bowl. Take about 2 tablespoons of the chicken croquette mix and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten into an oval. Do this with all the mixture. Once you have the croquettes shaped, dip them in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and repeat the process.
Once they are all coated, you can store the chicken croquettes until you’re ready to eat them, or you can fry them right away. I like to chill them for about an hour before I drop them in the frying oil. This way, there’s less of a chance of them bursting as you cook them. The bursting happens because the interior of the chicken croquette is already cooked. As the outside gets heated and cooked, the internal temperature rises. If it’s not cold enough, the inside can overheat and burst. Fry them in hot oil until they are golden on each side.
Croquettes are best when you eat them while they are still hot because the outside coating is crunchy. But they keep very well and can be eaten at room temperature or even heated up later. That’s what makes these tasty little Cuban appetizers such a crowd pleaser!
Want more Cuban appetizer recipes? Check out my Cuban Tapas Party recipes!
Looking for a Good Cuban Cookbook?
I love the The Versailles Restaurant Cookbook affiliate link! The recipes are very authentic and traditional, similar to what I grew up eating. They have several croquette recipes including ham and codfish croquettes, plus other popular Cuban recipes.Print
Chicken croquettes are crunchy on the outside with a creamy chicken filling made with bechamel sauce. They make a great snack or appetizer.
2 Cups Finely chopped or minced cooked rotisserie chicken (reserve pan drippings)
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
3/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cooking wine
1 tablespoon fresh minced parsley (optional)
2 cups cracker meal
2 cups vegetable oil
Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic. Mince the parsley, if you’re using.
Pulse the chicken.
Blend the milk, flour and spices in the blender.
Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat and cook the onion and garlic until softened but not browned.
Add the milk mixture and cook until the sauce thickens. You should be able to run a spoon across the bottom of the pan and leave a path.
Add the chicken, pan juices, and cooking wine and mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasons as desired. I sometimes add a little salt or pepper, depending on the seasoning used in the rotisserie chicken.
Move the mix to a bowl and bring it to room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
Beat two eggs in a bowl and add 2 cups of cracker meal to another bowl. Take about 2 tablespoons of the chicken croquette mix and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten into an oval. Do this with all the mixture. Once you have the croquettes shaped, dip them in the egg and then the breadcrumbs and repeat the process. Chill the croquettes for an hour before frying.
Heat the oil over medium heat and test with a bread crumb before dropping in the croquettes. Make sure to fully coat the croquettes with the oil and fry until golden on each side. Gently turn them to keep them from bursting. Fry them in small batches so you don’t crowd them. It takes about 6 minutes too fry each batch. Drain on paper towels to cool a bit and then devour!
You must give the mixture a chance to rest and chill. If the mix is not thoroughly chilled, the croquettes will burst open when you fry them.
You can also freeze at this point. They freeze well and can be kept in a ziplock bag or container for up to 6 months. You can fry them frozen, too.
- Serving Size: 2 croquettes
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