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.

Zucchini and mortadella balls breaded with tomato sauce

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.

Zucchini and mortadella croquettes on a plate

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.

An Italian croquette cut open showing the meat and cheese inside.

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 an Italian polpette croquette into tomato 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/160°C.

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Yield: 24 balls

Zucchini and Mortadella Polpette Italian Meat Croquettes

Zucchini and mortadella polpette croquettes viewed from overhead

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 (226 grams) potatoes
  • 1 large zucchini, grated
  • 3 ounces (28 grams) mortadella, chopped
  • 3 slices provolone cheese
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan, grated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 3/4 cup (90 grams) 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


Amount Per Serving Calories 80Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 3gCholesterol 32mgSodium 131mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 1gSugar 1gProtein 5g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.

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