Fall in Love with Panzarotti: Naples’ Iconic Street Food

Introducing Panzarotti Napoletani – a delicious street food adored by every Neapolitan! Crafted from a sumptuously rich potato mash and filled with melted, gooey mozzarella, these delights are the perfect addition to any party table, picnic spread, or casual summer dinner. Personally, I adore them, and I’m certain you will too! Join me as I share my top tips and techniques to ensure you nail them every single time. Let’s dive into the wonderful world of Panzarotti Napoletani together!

Servings

 

6

Ready In:

 

60 min

Calories:

 

455

Good For:

 

Finger Food

More Neapolitan Recipes

Introduction to Panzarotti: A Neapolitan Must-Try

By: Silvana Lanzetta

Neapolitan potato croquettes, affectionately known as panzarotti (derived from the Neapolitan word “panza,” which means belly), are the epitome of scrumptious street food. You can find them gracing the tables of pizzerias as a delightful antipasto or nestled amongst an array of delectable fried treats in the irresistible cuoppo.

These little bites of heaven are also a staple at home, especially during parties or for a delightful summer dinner alongside a refreshing green salad. I remember feeling like it was Christmas every time my mum whipped up a batch, and now, seeing the excitement on my kids’ faces whenever I make them, brings me so much joy.

So, what makes Neapolitan croquettes stand out from the rest? Well, I reckon it’s the heavenly combination of creamy mashed potatoes and the gooey mozzarella centre. While some may opt for cubed mortadella or Neapolitan salami for that extra indulgence, I prefer to keep things simple with a generous slab of mozzarella. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about sinking your teeth into that ooey-gooey cheese and watching it stretch endlessly!

But you know what’s even better? Panzarotti aren’t just delicious; they’re also a blast to eat! Plus, they’re surprisingly easy to whip up once you’ve mastered a few tricks. Trust me, once you get the hang of it, you’ll be making these irresistible treats time and time again.

neapolitan panzarotti
neapolitan cuoppo with panzarotti

Neapolitan cuoppo with panzarotti

Tracing the Origins of Neapolitan Panzarotti: French or Spanish Influence?

The history of these delightful little morsels is a bit fuzzy. Some say they hail from France, given their fancy name “croquettes”. Others reckon they were brought over by the Spanish, with a dish called “croquetas de jambon”. Whatever the story, one thing’s for sure: Neapolitans have truly made them their own. They’ve turned these fancy-sounding nibbles into the perfect street snack, best enjoyed while wandering through Naples’ bustling streets, perhaps with a “cuoppo fritto” in hand – a Neapolitan street food staple.

The “panzerottaro” (panzarotti seller) used to catch everyone’s attention with his lively cries of “Fa marenna, fa marenna! Te ne magne ciento dint’ ‘a nu sciuscio ‘e viento” (“Have a snack, have a snack! You could eat a hundred in one breath of wind”). These little panzarotti were sold at all hours, either on their own or in a paper “cuoppo” (paper cone) along with other delicious fried goodies like zeppoline (fried dough balls), scagliozzi (fried polenta), rice balls, and pasta frittatas. And of course, they were meant to be enjoyed while standing, soaking in the lively atmosphere of Naples.

And guess what? You can still taste these little delights today in the charming fry shops dotted around Naples’ historic centre. So, next time you’re in town, don’t forget to grab yourself a tasty panzarotto and experience a true Neapolitan street food tradition!

Panzarotti or Panzerotti? The vowel that makes all the difference!

PanzArotti and PanzErotti may sound similar, but they are distinct culinary specialities with their own unique characteristics. Here are the key differences between the two:

1. Origin: Panzarotti originated in Naples, while Panzerotti originated in the Puglia region of Italy. Despite their similar names, they come from different culinary traditions.

2. Shape and Size: Panzarotti are typically smaller in size compared to Panzerotti. They are shaped like small cylinders, making them easy to eat as a snack or appetizer. On the other hand, Panzerotti are larger and usually shaped like half-moons or pockets, resembling a small calzone or turnover.

3. Ingredients: Panzarotti typically consist of mashed potatoes mixed with eggs and cheese, encasing a filling of mozzarella, while Panzerotti are small turnovers made of pizza dough and filled with various ingredients such as tomato sauce, mozzarella, and ham.

4. Frying Method: Panzarotti are typically deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. Panzerotti can be either deep-fried or oven-baked, depending on personal preference and regional variations.

5. Culinary Tradition: Panzarotti are deeply rooted in Naples’ culinary tradition and are often enjoyed as street food or as part of casual meals. Panzerotti, while popular throughout Italy, are especially associated with the Puglia region and are enjoyed in various settings, including street stalls, restaurants, and homes.

king Edward potatoes
grated parmesan cheese closeup
Best Italian cheeses - mozzarella di bufala
parsley leaves closeup

Nutrition

 

When enjoying panzarotti, it’s important to remember to indulge in moderation. While they are delicious, they are also fried and can be high in calories, fat, and carbohydrates. To enjoy them as part of a balanced diet, consider pairing them with a fresh side salad or vegetables to increase their nutritional value. Additionally, try to limit your portion size and enjoy panzarotti as an occasional treat rather than a regular indulgence. 

  • Proteins 15% 15%
  • Carbs 50% 50%
  • Fats 35% 35%
neapolitan panzarotti

The Key Ingredients to make Perfect Neapolitan Potato Croquettes (Panzarotti)

BecausePotatoes

When it comes to making Neapolitan panzarotti, the best potatoes to use are the floury ones! Think King Edward, Maris Piper, or Russet potatoes . Why? Because they mash up like a dream, giving you that smooth, creamy texture you need for perfect panzarotti.

These potatoes are a dab hand at soaking up less oil when frying, so you end up with light, crispy croquettes every time. Plus, they hold their shape beautifully, making them the ultimate vessel for that oozy mozzarella filling we all love.

Here’s a handy tip: reach for a potato ricer instead of a masher or a fork! Not only does it give you lump-free and silky smooth mashed potatoes, but it also helps prevent your mash from getting too sticky. Why? Because the less we work the potato, the fluffier the mash, resulting in a soft and malleable dough.

Also, using a potato ricer means you won’t need to add any flour to prevent sticking. Why’s that important? Because we want our panzarotti to be soft and melt-in-the-mouth delicious, without any added flour weighing them down.

 

Eggs

Adding eggs to the mashed potato mixture for making panzarotti brings everything together beautifully! Here’s why you don’t want to skip them:

1. Stick Together: Eggs work their magic as a binding agent, helping the mashed potato mixture stick together. With eggs in the mix, shaping and handling the panzarotti becomes a breeze.

2. Perfect Texture: Eggs add structure and texture to the filling, giving it that ideal combination of firmness and tenderness. When cooked, they give the panzarotti a delightful consistency that’s just right.

3. Moisture and Flavour Boost: Eggs aren’t just about holding things together – they also bring moisture and flavour to the party. They keep the filling from drying out and add an extra layer of deliciousness to every mouthful.

 

Fresh Parsley

Fresh parsley may seem like an unexpected addition to mashed potatoes, but it actually plays a crucial role in enhancing the flavour of panzarotti. Here’s why it’s an essential ingredient:

1. Flavour Booster: Fresh parsley adds a vibrant and herbaceous flavour to the mashed potatoes, brightening up the overall taste of the filling. Its fresh and zesty notes complement the richness of the cheese and potatoes, adding depth and complexity to each bite of the panzarotti.

2. Aromatic Appeal: Parsley brings a delightful aroma to the mashed potato mixture, infusing it with a fresh and fragrant scent that tantalises the senses. This aromatic quality not only enhances the overall eating experience but also adds a touch of sophistication to the dish.

3. Visual Enhancement: Beyond its flavour and aroma, chopped parsley also adds visual appeal to the panzarotti filling. Its vibrant green colour contrasts beautifully with the creamy mashed potatoes, creating an eye-catching presentation that makes the dish even more enticing.

4. Balancing Act: Fresh parsley helps balance out the richness of the cheese and potatoes, preventing the filling from feeling too heavy or overwhelming. Its light and herbaceous flavour provide a pleasant contrast that keeps each bite interesting and well-rounded.

Mozzarella

When preparing panzarotti, we often reach for a type of mozzarella known as “fiordilatte,” which translates to “flower of milk.” This mozzarella is made from cow’s milk and has a delicate, milky flavour and a soft, stretchy texture when melted.

However, finding fiordilatte  outside of Naples can be quite challenging. In such cases, the next best option is to use regular packaged mozzarella. There’s no need to splurge on expensive varieties, and it’s best to avoid buffalo mozzarella due to its soft and milky texture, which makes it unsuitable for use as a filling.

An important tip to remember is that the mozzarella used for panzarotti should be slightly dry. To achieve this, remove the mozzarella from its packaging, drain it well, and then cut it into pieces roughly the size of your index fingers. Then, place the mozzarella back in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow it to dry out slightly before using it as a filling for the panzarotti. This ensures that the mozzarella holds its shape during frying and prevents any excess moisture from making the dough soggy.

 

Grated Cheeses

Grated Pecorino and Parmesan cheese will take your panzarotti napoletani to the next level! Here’s why adding them to the mashed potatoes is the genius move:

1. Flavour Explosion: Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses are packed with bold, savoury flavours that instantly elevate the taste of the mashed potatoes. Their nutty and tangy notes add depth and complexity to every bite of the panzarotti.

2. Creamy Texture: As the grated cheeses are mixed into the mashed potatoes, they melt and blend seamlessly, creating a creamy and luxurious texture. This makes the filling irresistibly smooth and velvety, with a richness that’s simply divine.

3. Enhanced Aroma: The distinctive aroma of Pecorino and Parmesan cheeses permeates the mashed potato mixture, tantalising the senses and building anticipation for the delicious panzarotti to come.

Now, I like to add about 10% of the weight of the potatoes in grated cheese. And here’s why:

1. Flavour Balance: The 10% rule ensures that the cheese doesn’t overpower the other ingredients in the panzarotti filling. Instead, it strikes the perfect balance, allowing the flavour of the potatoes to shine through while still delivering a satisfying cheesy punch.

2. Creaminess Factor: By adding a generous amount of grated cheese, you ensure that the mashed potato mixture becomes wonderfully creamy and decadent. This creates a filling that is indulgent and luxurious, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s simply irresistible.

 

Breading 

Breading panzarotti may seem simple enough: coat the potato “sausage” in flour, dip it in beaten egg, then roll it in breadcrumbs. But here’s a secret that will elevate your breading game: before beating the eggs, season them with salt, pepper, and a generous amount of grated parmesan and/or pecorino cheese. I swear by this trick for almost (not for fish!) all my breading recipes. The outcome? A deliciously flavoured breading that’s so tasty, you’ll want to eat it on its own!

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Close -up panzarotti napoletani / neapolitan potato croquettes on a white plate

Panzarotti Napoletani


  • Author: Silvana Lanzetta
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 6 portions 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Ingredients

Scale

1 kg of floury potatoes, such as King Edwards, or Maris Piper

3 medium eggs

50 grams of Parmesan cheese

50 grams of Pecorino cheese

250 grams of mozzarella

2 eggs

2 tbsps. of parsley, finely chopped

100 grams of plain flour

1 cup of breadcrumbs

Salt and black pepper, to taste

Vegetable oil, preferably sunflower


Instructions

  1. To start, prepare the mozzarella by draining it and cutting it into finger-sized sticks. Place the mozzarella sticks on a plate and let them chill in the refrigerator until needed.
  2. Next, wash the potatoes thoroughly to remove any dirt. Then, place the washed potatoes in a large pot and cover them with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the potatoes for 20-30 minutes until they are tender when pierced with a fork. Once cooked, drain the potatoes and allow them to cool slightly.
  3. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin and transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Mash the potatoes using a potato ricer to easily achieve a fluffy, smooth, and lump-free mash.
  4. To the mashed potatoes, add the eggs, grated Parmesan cheese, grated Pecorino cheese, finely chopped fresh parsley, salt, and a generous amount of pepper. Mix all the ingredients together until well combined and a firm dough forms.
  5. Dampen your hands slightly with water to prevent sticking. Take a heaped spoonful of the potato mixture and flatten it in your palm. Place a mozzarella stick in the centre of the flattened potato mixture, then fold the potato mixture over the mozzarella to encase it completely, shaping it into a cylindrical croquette. Repeat this process until all the potato mixture is used up and you have formed all the croquettes.
  6. In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg until frothy, and season it with salt, pepper, and grated Parmesan cheese if desired. Place the breadcrumbs in another shallow bowl, and the flour in another one. Roll each croquette first into the flour, then dip it into the beaten egg, ensuring it is coated all over. Finally, roll the coated croquette in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated.
  7. Place the panzarotti on a large plate and refrigerate them for a couple of hours. This helps ensure that the panzarotti won’t break during frying.
  8. When ready to fry, heat vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium heat until it reaches at least 160°C (320°F). Carefully place the coated croquettes in the pan, making sure not to overcrowd them. Fry the croquettes in batches until they are golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  9. Once fried, use a slotted spoon to remove the panzarotti from the oil and transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen paper to drain any excess oil. Serve the Neapolitan panzarotti hot as a delicious appetiser, snack, or dinner. Enjoy!

Notes

After you’ve made the panzarotti dough, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to one day before frying.

When frying, ensure to cook only a few pieces at once to prevent the oil temperature from dropping excessively.

For added flavour, consider incorporating cubed Neapolitan salami or mortadella into the panzarotti filling.

For optimal enjoyment, serve Neapolitan panzarotti immediately after frying. Storing fried panzarotti is not adviced.

Prior to frying, panzarotti can be frozen, offering convenience for future preparation.

Refer to the blog for further details on ingredients and tips.

  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Rest Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Frying
  • Cuisine: Italian
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FAQs

Can I make Neapolitan Potato Croquettes ahead of time?

Yes, you can make Neapolitan Potato Croquettes ahead of time. You can prepare the dough and shape the croquettes, then refrigerate them until you’re ready to fry, for up to a day.  Additionally, you can freeze the croquettes before frying for longer-term storage, allowing you to have them on hand whenever you crave a delicious snack.

Can I bake the croquettes instead of frying?

Certainly! While Neapolitan panzarotti are traditionally fried for a crispy exterior, you can also bake them as a healthier alternative. To bake, preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F – Gas mark 7) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the shaped croquettes on the prepared baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly apart. Lightly brush the croquettes with olive oil to help them crisp up in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the croquettes are golden brown and crispy. Keep in mind that baking may result in a slightly different texture compared to frying, but they’ll still be delicious!

Are Neapolitan Potato Croquettes gluten-free?

Neapolitan Potato Croquettes are not typically gluten-free as they are made with breadcrumbs, which contain gluten. However, you can easily make them gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs or a substitute such as crushed gluten-free crackers. Additionally, ensure that all other ingredients used in the recipe are gluten-free to accommodate dietary restrictions.

How do I store leftover croquettes?

While Panzarotti are best consumed freshly fried, you can store leftover croquettes by allowing them to cool completely at room temperature. Once cooled, transfer them to an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag. Store the croquettes in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Can I freeze uncooked croquettes?

Yes, you can freeze uncooked croquettes for future use. After shaping the croquettes, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place the sheet in the freezer until the croquettes are firm. Once frozen, transfer the croquettes to a freezer-safe bag or container, making sure to separate them with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Frozen uncooked croquettes can be stored for up to 1-2 months. When ready to cook, there’s no need to thaw them beforehand—simply fry or bake them straight from the freezer, adjusting the cooking time as needed until they are golden brown and cooked through.

What dipping sauce pairs well with Neapolitan Potato Croquettes?

When it comes to panzarotti (Neapolitan Potato Croquettes), they are truly delicious on their own. Adding any dipping sauce might actually overpower their delicate flavour profile. These golden-brown treats are perfectly seasoned and have a crispy exterior with a creamy interior, making them a delightful snack all by themselves. So, my recommendation would be to enjoy them as they are, savouring every bite without the need for any additional sauces.

Silvana Lanzetta

Silvana Lanzetta

“Ciao, I’m Silvana, a fourth-generation pasta artisan from Napoli with a lifetime of experience! I began making pasta at the tender age of 5 under the watchful eye of my pasta-making generalissimo, my granny. Through her guidance, I’ve become a master in crafting traditional pasta dishes. Since 2014, I have been teaching pasta making classes in London, sharing my expertise with aspiring pasta enthusiasts. I’ve also had the privilege of showcasing my knowledge on BBC and in national newspapers like The Sun and iNews, and held pasta making demonstration in Harrods. Join me in exploring the world of Italian pasta and let’s create unforgettable culinary experiences together!”

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