Creamy, bacon-y, carby, and cheesy, these Crispy Fried Potato Cheese Balls are made with just 10 ingredients in under an hour! These golden orbs of deliciousness will win the hearts and minds of anyone who tries one.
As an added bonus, these potato cheese balls are a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes!
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Why We Love This Recipe
I love bacon, I love potatoes, and I LOVE cheese. So it should come as no shock that I combined all three in this insanely tasty potato cheese balls recipe.
Cheese-stuffed potato balls aren’t a uniquely American dish. In fact the French would call these potato cheese croquettes, Koreans would make a lightly sweetened, flatter version known as hotteok, Spanish speakers know them as papas rellenas, and in the Philippines, they make a similar dish of mashed yam stuffed with cheese known as kamote cheese rolls. What I’m trying to say is, these potato and cheese balls are universally appealing.
Aside from being true crowd-pleasers, these cheesy spud balls are:
- Budget-Friendly. Relying on pantry staples like russet potatoes, all-purpose flour, and breadcrumbs mean these carby delights are easy on the eyes and your pocketbook.
- Meal-Prep & Freezer-Friendly. Once made and fried, these heavenly spheres can easily be refrigerated or frozen for future noms.
- Comforting & Hearty. Potatoes. Cheese. Bacon. Need I say more?
Ingredients For Crispy Fried Potato Cheese Balls
You need a mere 10 ingredients to make these potato balls, most of which I’d bet you already have on hand. Here’s your list:
- Russet Potatoes – I’m a firm believer that starchy potatoes make for the best mashed taters. If you can’t get your hands on russets, try Yukon gold.
- Milk – For just a touch of creaminess. You can also use half-n-half or cream if you like.
- Salt & Black Pepper – Seasoning is super important for balance. Try to use freshly cracked black pepper for the best, most intense flavor.
- Garlic Powder – Either plain or California-style (with parsley) will work!
- Bacon Bits – Feel free to make your own or buy pre-made.
- Mozzarella Cheese – I love the mild creaminess of mozzarella, but feel free to swap in your favorite melting cheese instead!
- All-Purpose Flour – For the first stage of standard breading.
- Eggs – To get the breadcrumbs to stick.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – These Japanese breadcrumbs are lighter and crunchier than regular American breadcrumbs.
- Dried Parsley – You can also try dried basil, oregano, or cilantro if that’s your cup of tea (it isn’t mine lol).
- Neutral Oil – Vegetable, canola, corn, peanut, grapeseed, sunflower seed, or avocado oil will all work. We’re looking for neutral flavor and a high smoke point.
How To Make Potato Cheese Croquettes
Be sure to check the recipe card below for full ingredients & instructions.
These cheese-filled potato balls take a *little* longer than some of the other recipes here on EasyAppetizers.com, but I promise — they’re still easy! Here’s how they’re made:
- Prep & Boil Potatoes. Wash, scrub, peel, chop, & boil the potatoes until fork tender.
- Mash Potatoes. Add the milk, black pepper, garlic powder, bacon bits, and salt to the drained cooked potatoes. Mash well.
- Shape Potato Balls. Use a disher to measure out 2 tablespoons of cooled potato. Form into a ball and make a hole to the center. Place a cube of cheese inside, pinch the hole shut, and roll it back into a ball shape. Set aside on a tray. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
- Set Up Standard Breading Station. The first dish should have seasoned flour, the second should have beaten eggs, and the final should be herbed panko.
- Bread Potato and Cheese Croquettes. Gently roll each potato ball in the flour to coat, then in the egg, and finally, the panko before setting it aside on a tray. Repeat with all croquettes.
- Fry. Heat oil to 375F, then gently fry each potato cheese ball one at a time, turning occasionally, until crispy & golden. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate before repeating with the remaining unfried cheesy mashed potato balls.
- Serve. When cool enough to handle but still warm, garnish croquettes with fresh parsley and serve with marinara sauce for dipping.
It’s important to let your potato mixture cool before breading and frying. If you’re unsure, feel free to refrigerate your tray of assembled cheese-stuffed potato balls overnight before breading and frying.
Also, make sure you’re not getting too greedy with your cheese-to-potato ratio. Make sure there’s plenty of the potato mix protecting the cheese, which essentially turns into lava during frying. Delicious lava, but not particularly structurally sound lava.
I’m partial to mozzarella, but taste is totally subjective! Feel free to experiment with other melty cheese varieties like cheddar, havarti, queso quesadilla, or colby to find your favorite.
How To Serve
These cheesy potato croquettes are practically begging to be dipped in something delicious. My personal favorite is warmed marinara sauce, but you have plenty of other things to choose from:
- Spicy Arrabiata – for a bit of extra spice.
- Ranchero Sauce – for a Mexican-inspired twist.
- Queso – for that sweet, sweet cheese on cheese action.
- Lemon Butter – potato cheese picatta sounds like a winner.
- Ranch – for extra creaminess.
- Honey Dill Sauce – bonus points if some gravlax are part of your spread.
- Runny Eggs – serve croquettes alongside fried or poached eggs, preferably with some bacon or sausage, for a truly decadent brunch.
If you have a food allergy or picky eater in your midst, have no fear! There are simple swaps you can make to accommodate most diets:
- Gluten-Free – Swap in your favorite cup-for-cup gluten-free flour blend and gluten-free panko.
- Egg-Free – If eggs are off the menu, heavy cream can be used for the standard breading instead.
- Vegetarian – Can’t do pork? Swap in plant-based bacon bits instead! (Fun fact: most store-bought bacon bits are actually made with soy products!)
- Sweet Potato – Take a page out of the Filipino playbook and swap in starchy white or yellow yams for the russet potatoes.
Storage: Assembled cheese and potato balls can be refrigerated for 3-4 days, either baked or unbaked.
Freezing: To freeze, place assembled potato cheese croquettes in a single layer on a flat baking sheet or plate. Freeze until solid, then transfer to an airtight container or bag before freezing for up to 2 months.
Reheating: To reheat, allow to defrost overnight in the fridge. If they are unfried, you can fry as described above. If they are fried, feel free to re-fry, air fry, or bake until heated through.
You can use leftover mashed potatoes but may need to add a little extra flour or an egg IN the mashies to keep the potatoes together since mashed potatoes have much more milk and butter than the single tablespoon we use to make the croquette mix.
Assign a wet hand and a dry hand for your standard breading. As a rightie, I suggest using your right hand to roll the balls in flour, then gently place them in the egg mixture, without touching it. Use your left hand to roll in the egg mix before transferring it to the Panko plate, again without touching. Switch back to your right hand, tossing some of the breadcrumbs on the wet egg before touching the ball. If you’re a leftie, invert this process. This will help you keep your station clean and the breading where it belongs.
More Cheesy Recipes
Crispy Fried Potato Cheese Balls
- 2 large russet potatoes
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 tablespoons crumbled bacon bits
- 8 ounces block mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2" cubes
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs lightly beaten
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Canola or Vegetable oil for frying
- Wash, scrub and peel the potatoes. Cut into 1-inch chunks and place into a large pot. Cover with cold water and add a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 15-20 minutes.
- Drain well and place the potatoes back into the pot. Add the milk, black pepper, garlic powder, bacon bits and a ½ teaspoon of salt and mash well. Set aside to cool.
- Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, use an ice cream scoop or a large cookie scoop to measure out 2 tablespoons of potato. Form into a ball and make an indentation in the center with your thumb. Place a cube of cheese inside and enclose it with the mashed potato. Gently roll into a ball shape and set aside on a tray. Repeat with the rest of the cheese and mashed potatoes.
- Prepare the breading station with three shallow dishes (like pie pans). 1-flour and ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, 2-2 eggs, lightly beaten; 3-Panko breadcrumbs and dried parsley.
- Gently roll the potato ball in the flour to coat, then in the egg and finally coat completely with the panko. Set back on the tray and continue with the remaining balls.
- Heat 2-inches of oil to a large, heavy bottomed pot with high sides over medium heat. It should reach 375 degrees. Using a heat-safe slotted spoon or metal strainer, gently place the balls one at a time into the hot oil. Fry, turning occasionally, until the breading is crispy and golden, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, but serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping. Garnish with fresh minced parsley.