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Spanish Tuna Croquettes

Spain’s favorite appetizer, the Tuna Croquette. This decadent finger food is created using canned tuna, a béchamel sauce and breadcrumbs. Crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside, these little culinary torpedos will surely delight your guests at your next tapas party.

Tuna croquette tapas on a white plate.

What are Croquettes?

Croquettes are a versatile snack food that can be found all around the world. Rolled in breadcrumbs and fried to golden perfection, they are a perfect addition to your dinner table as a side dish or as tapas (appetizer).

Croquettes can be made with a variety of fillings including meat, potatoes, cheese, and vegetables. They are usually served with a creamy white sauce called béchamel.

In Spain, croquettes are one of the most common tapas dishes you’ll find in any home or restaurant. Smaller Spanish restaurants will have simple variations of them, while fancier restaurants will make theirs using more unique fillings like blood sausage and cuttlefish

Once you make your own croquettes and see how easy it is to put together, you’ll understand why they’re so popular.

Tuna croquette tapas on a white plate.

Making Tuna Croquettes

The best thing about making croquette is the flexibility. While traditional croquettes are made with ham and potatoes, you can make them out of anything. Many countries have their own variations which use ingredients popular to the region.

If tuna isn’t your thing, don’t worry! Feel free to substitute in your favorite fish or favorite meat (whether it’s beef, chicken, turkey, veal, sausage or something else entirely).

You can also make vegetarian croquettes by substituting the meat with potatoes, mushrooms, or any other vegetable you like.

Breaded croquettes before frying.
Breaded croquettes before frying.

Tuna Croquette Tips

  • These Spanish tapas are traditionally served with a garlic aioli.
  • The key is having a good béchamel sauce.
  • Incorporate tuna into your béchamel sauce. A hint of the meat you use in your croquettes will really make the sauce stand out.
  • You can form your croquettes into any shape you want. Don’t worry if they all look different.
  • Lightly fry them. Keep an eye on them and don’t let them stay in the pan for too long.
  • Substitute the meat with your favorite vegetables for an easy vegetarian alternative.
Tuna Croquette.

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Tuna croquette tapas on a white plate.

Tuna Croquette Recipe

Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

A classic Spanish Tappas appetizer, the Tuna Croquette can be found at almost every tappas bar and restaurant in Barcelona. A crispy outside covers a bechamel & tuna creamy center.


  • 4 Tbs salted butter
  • 3/4 cup finely diced white or yellow onion
  • 5 Tbs of all purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 7 oz canned tuna in oil, drained
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp fine ground pepper
  • Oil for frying (canola, veg, peanut, sunflower, grapeseed)
  • 1 cup of plain breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1.5 cups of panko breadcrumbs


  1. In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onions and stir frequently until onions are soft.
  2. Add flour and stir frequently until the flour mixture has a slightly nutty aroma and is golden color.
  3. Add milk, stir to work out the lumps. Add tuna, nutmeg, salt, pepper, stir well. Cook and stir until the mixture becomes very thick.
  4. Cool mixture in fridge for one hour.
  5. On one plate place the plain breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, add the egg and beat. On a second plate add the panko breadcrumbs.
  6. Take the mixture out of the fridge. With a tablespoon scoop mixture and form into a cigar shape about 2-3 inches long. With your right hand roll in plain crumbs, dip in egg, place on panko crumbs. With your left hand scoop the panko and sprinkle on top, patting it down gently to make sure the panko sticks. Place on a plate, baking sheet or wax paper. Repeat until all are done.
  7. On medium high heat, add 3 inches of oil to medium sauce pan. Heat until 350F. Drop croquettes in 2-4 at a time and fry until golden but not brown. Be careful not to overcook the croquettes or they will be hard.
  8. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all are cooked.
  9. Serve with your favorite sauce or with a traditional garlic aioli.


  • Serve with Garlic Aioli.
  • The mixture will be harder to work with if you don't let it rest in fridge where it will set up nicely.
  • You can swap out any meat. This can be a real fridge cleaner appetizer. Chicken and ham are populare croquettes in the Spanish tappas style.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 166Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 303mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 3gProtein: 8g

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Bianca is a graduate student at the University of Cincinnati. She is an Applied Behavioral Health Technician and a freelance writer. She spends her free time catching up with friends and scaling walls at indoor rock gyms.


Friday 18th of September 2020

I love the recipe! Ham croquettes are always a good idea, and everyine loves it. Have you tried cooking them with iberian ham? Its a delicacy. Congrats for the recipe.


Tuesday 22nd of September 2020

I have heard of the Iberian ham but haven't tried it. I wonder where I can find it. Is it hard to find Mar? Glad you like the recipe, they were so good!

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