Zucchini and Mortadella Polpette Italian Meat Croquettes are meat and cheese potato balls rolled in breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown. They are a perfect entertaining dish and delicious dipped in marinara sauce. Make sure you make a lot because they do go quickly.

A bowl of polette garnished with fresh basil and a bowl of marinara for dipping


Polpettine (plural)  are a popular summer dish in Italy. These fried meatballs are similar to what I had in a restaurant in Bologna Italy, which is where mortadella originates. The ones I had did not have zucchini, but I added it to these since they are in season and I love the green flecks you can see in the polpette.


A silver bowl full of polpette with 2 forks and a bowl of marinara sauce ready to be eaten


What is polpette?

Polpette literally translates to meatball, but they’re are not the Italian meatballs that we’re all used to seeing. These are a type of meatball that is made with mashed potato, cheese with added meat that can be Italian deli meat, beef or pork. They are breaded and fried. It’s the Italian version of croquette.


A polpette on a white plate cut open to show the stringy cheese, mortadella and zucchini with a ball in the background sitting in sauce


Can they be made without meat?

They are meatballs, but you can omit the mortadella and add shredded carrots, chopped mushrooms, whatever sounds good to yo for a delicious vegetarian option

When you want a quick and easy appetizer for entertaining or parties, this is always a favorite in my house, from the grownups to the kids. Perfect for dipping in marinara sauce. You can find this recipe at the bottom of this post.


Dipping a polpette in marinara sauce

Zucchini and Mortadella Polpette Italian Meat Croquettes – Step by Step

Add mashed potato, grated zucchini, diced mortadella, provolone and Parmesan cheese, fresh basil and an egg to a bowl and mix well.

Mashed potato, zucchini, mortadella, provolone, parmesan, basil and egg are mixed in a glass bowl



Using a 2 tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop some of the mix and roll into a ball.

A 2 inch balls is rolled



Roll the balls in breadcrumbs.

The ball is coated in breadcrumbs



Shallow fry the balls in small batches until golden brown.

They are fried until golden brown

Frying tip

Use a candy thermometer to regulate the oil temperature to 320°F


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Yield: 24 balls

Zucchini and Mortadella Polpette Italian Meat Croquettes

An overhead image of the polpette in a pewter bowl

Zucchini and Mortadella Polpette Italian Meat Croquettes are meat and cheese potato balls rolled in breadcrumbs and fried until golden brown.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes


  • 1/2 pound potatoes
  • 1 cup zucchini, grated
  • 3 ounces mortadella, chopped
  • 2 1/2 ounces provolone cheese, 3 slices
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable or Canola Oil


  1. Poke holes in the skin of the potato with a fork and microwave for 3 minutes. Turn and cook another 3 minutes. They are done when you insert a knife and they feel soft. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Peel the potato and mash well or pass through a potato ricer.
  2. Add the zucchini to a towel squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
  3. Use a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon, scoop out the mix and form into balls. They will be sticky and may not form properly, this is ok. 
  4. Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes to help them set. Roll them again to shape.
  5. Roll the balls in breadcrumbs to evenly coat.
  6. Add oil to a high sided pan, fill halfway and heat until it reaches 320°F on a candy thermometer.
  7. Fry the balls in batches depending on the size of your pan, so they are not crowded for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
  8. Drain onto a paper towel. Serve with marinara dipping sauce.


This recipes yields 24 meatballs

Nutrition Information



Serving Size

3 meatballs

Amount Per Serving Calories 171Total Fat 9gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 37mgSodium 328mgCarbohydrates 16gFiber 2gSugar 2gProtein 8g

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