Savory Air Fryer Japanese Pumpkin Kabocha Croquette Recipes: A Taste of Japan

Discover the delightful flavors of Japan with our savory air fryer Japanese pumpkin kabocha croquette recipes. These crispy, golden croquettes are made with sweet and nutty kabocha squash, perfectly seasoned, and perfectly air-fried. Easy to make and irresistibly delicious, these croquettes bring a taste of authentic Japanese cuisine to your kitchen. Indulge in this fusion of traditional flavors and modern cooking techniques for a truly unique culinary experience.

Preparing Your Kabocha: Tips and Techniques

When choosing a kabocha, look for one that feels heavy for its size, indicating dense and moist flesh. The skin should be firm, dark green, and free from soft spots or blemishes. A well-matured kabocha often has a dry, cork-like stem, a sign of ripeness.

Cutting and Peeling Techniques

Cutting a kabocha can be challenging due to its tough skin and dense flesh. Here are some steps to make it easier:

  1. Stabilize the Pumpkin: Place the kabocha on a sturdy cutting board. Use a sharp, heavy-duty knife.
  2. Cutting in Half: Insert the knife into the top of the kabocha and apply downward pressure. Rock the knife back and forth to cut through the tough skin. If necessary, tap the back of the knife with a mallet or use a gentle sawing motion.
  3. Scoop Out Seeds: Use a spoon to remove the seeds and stringy pulp after halving.
  4. Peeling: If a recipe requires peeled kabocha, use a vegetable peeler or carefully cut the skin off with a knife. Alternatively, you can cook the kabocha with the skin on and peel it afterward, as the skin becomes softer and easier to remove when cooked.

Cooking Methods for Optimal Texture

Cooking kabocha properly is key to achieving the desired texture for croquettes:

  1. Steaming: Steaming kabocha retains its moisture and sweetness. Steam the chopped kabocha pieces for 15 to 20 minutes, or until soft, in a steamer basket set over boiling water.
  2. Roasting: Roasting enhances the natural sweetness and adds a slightly caramelized flavor. After combining salt, pepper, and olive oil, toss the kabocha pieces and arrange them on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F (200°C) for approximately 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the dish midway.
  3. Microwaving: Place the kabocha pieces in a microwave-safe dish with a little water for a quicker option. Cover and microwave on high for 8-10 minutes or until soft.

Seasoning and Enhancing Flavors

Seasoning your kabocha before incorporating it into croquettes can enhance the overall flavor. Basic ingredients such as pepper, salt, and nutmeg are effective. For a more nuanced flavor, try a small amount of miso paste, soy sauce, or curry powder.

Key Takeaway:

Proper preparation of kabocha involves selecting a ripe pumpkin, safely cutting and peeling it, and choosing the right cooking method to achieve a tender texture. Seasoning the kabocha before making croquettes ensures a flavorful and satisfying dish. With these techniques, you’ll be well on your way to creating delicious kabocha croquettes that capture the essence of Japanese cuisine.

Crafting the Perfect Kabocha Croquette Mixture

Creating the perfect kabocha croquette mixture is essential for balancing the flavors and textures that make this dish delightful. Following a few key steps ensures your croquettes are always delicious and satisfying.

Preparing the Ingredients

To start, gather all the necessary ingredients. For a basic kabocha croquette mixture, you’ll need:

  • one medium kabocha squash, cooked and mashed
  • two medium potatoes, cooked and mashed
  • one small onion, finely chopped
  • one egg
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking and Mashing Kabocha and Potatoes

  1. Cook the Kabocha: Chop the kabocha and steam, bake, or microwave until soft. After letting it cool, remove the flesh and mash it until smooth.
  2. Cook the Potatoes: Potatoes are cooked by boiling them in salted water until tender. Drain and mash them until smooth. Combining potatoes with kabocha helps to balance the sweetness of the squash and provides a creamy texture.

Sautéing the Onions

Warm a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat. The chopped onion adds depth to the croquette’s flavor; sauté it until it becomes translucent and starts to caramelize. Before adding the onions to the mixture, let them cool.

Combining Ingredients

Combine the mashed kabocha, mashed potatoes, and sautéed onions in a large bowl. Mix well to ensure an even distribution of ingredients—season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, you can also incorporate additional ingredients like minced meat, cheese, or other vegetables.

Binding the Mixture

Incorporate a beaten egg into the recipe to help bond the ingredients together. The egg’s structure makes forming the croquettes easier. Thoroughly mix until all ingredients are well blended.

Shaping the Croquettes

Using your hands, form the mixture into small, evenly-sized patties or balls. Aim for uniformity to ensure even cooking. If the mixture is too sticky, apply a thin layer of flour or breadcrumbs to your hands.

Coating the Croquettes

Prepare three shallow bowls: one coated in flour, another in beaten egg, and a third in panko breadcrumbs. Coat each croquette in flour, dip it in the beaten egg, and roll it in panko breadcrumbs to achieve a crispy exterior. Ensure each croquette is evenly coated. 

Key Takeaway:

Crafting the perfect kabocha croquette mixture involves combining tender kabocha and potatoes with sautéed onions, seasoning well, and binding with egg for structure. Properly coating with panko breadcrumbs ensures a crispy texture, making these croquettes a delightful addition to any meal. With these steps, you’ll achieve a harmonious blend of flavors and textures in your kabocha croquettes.

Air Fryer Magic: Achieving Crispy Perfection

Using an air fryer to make kabocha croquettes reduces the oil needed and ensures a crispy, golden-brown exterior with a tender, flavorful interior. This section will guide you through achieving perfectly air-fried croquettes, from preheating to serving.

Benefits of Using an Air Fryer

Because they produce crispy food with less oil, air fryers are a popular and healthier alternative to traditional frying methods. The hot air circulation cooks food more quickly and evenly, ensuring that your croquettes come out perfectly cooked every time.

Preheating the Air Fryer

Preheating your air fryer ensures even cooking and a crispy exterior. Let it preheat to 360°F (180°C) for three to five minutes. This helps produce the ideal cooking atmosphere for your croquettes.

Arranging the Croquettes

  1. To avoid Overcrowding, Place the kabocha croquettes in a single layer in the air fryer basket. To ensure consistent cooking, leave enough space between each croquette so hot air can pass. Overcrowding can result in less crispiness and inconsistent cooking.
  2. Lightly Spray with Oil: Lightly spray the croquettes with cooking oil for extra crispiness. This helps produce a golden-brown exterior that resembles deep-frying but uses a lot less oil.

Cooking Time and Temperature

Cook the croquettes at 360°F (180°C) for about 12-15 minutes. To ensure equal browning, turn them halfway through the cooking process. The croquettes are done when golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Monitoring and Adjusting

Air fryers can vary in performance, so it is important to monitor the croquettes as they cook. If they are browning too soon, you can slightly reduce the temperature. Conversely, if they aren’t getting crispy enough, increase the temperature for the last few minutes of cooking.

Serving the Croquettes

Using tongs, carefully remove the croquettes from the air fryer basket after they are completely crispy. Let them cool somewhat before serving to preserve the crispiness of the outside. For optimal flavor and texture, serve right away.

Tips for Extra Crispiness

  1. Use Panko Breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs are coarser than regular breadcrumbs and create a crispier coating. Ensure the croquettes are well-coated with panko before air frying.
  2. Double Coating: To give the croquettes a crunchy texture, double-coat them. Dip them in the beaten egg and panko mixture twice before air-frying.
  3. Avoid Excess Moisture: Ensure the kabocha mixture is not too wet. Add a little more mashed potato or breadcrumbs to achieve the right consistency. 

Key Takeaway:

Cooking kabocha croquettes in an air fryer produces a healthier yet still crispy and delicious dish. Preheating the air fryer, arranging the croquettes properly, and monitoring cooking times are essential to achieving perfect results. With these techniques, you can enjoy the delightful crunch and rich flavor of kabocha croquettes with less oil and hassle.

Serving Suggestions and Complementary Dishes

Kabocha croquettes are a tasty and adaptable recipe that goes well with both informal meals and celebratory get-togethers. Their sweet and savory flavor profile pairs well with various complementary dishes and sauces. Here are some serving suggestions and ideas to create a complete and satisfying meal.

Traditional Japanese Accompaniments

To embrace the authentic taste of Japan, serve your kabocha croquettes with these traditional Japanese sides and sauces:

  1. Tonkatsu Sauce: This sauce, with its hint of sweetness and tang, goes well with croquettes. Made from a blend of fruits, vegetables, and spices, it enhances the flavor of the kabocha croquettes. Asian grocery stores carry it, or you can make your own with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and ketchup.
  2. Miso Soup: The savory flavor of kabocha croquettes pairs well with a warm bowl of miso soup flavored with tofu and seaweed. The umami-rich broth balances the sweetness of the kabocha, making for a harmonious meal.
  3. Pickled Vegetables: Japanese pickles, known as tsukemono, provide a refreshing contrast to the richness of the croquettes. Popular options include pickled cucumbers, radishes, and ginger. Their acidity and crunch add a delightful texture and flavor to the meal.
  4. Steamed Rice: Kabocha croquettes go nicely with a plain bowl of steaming white or brown rice, a mainstay in Japanese cooking. The croquettes are the dish’s star because of the rice’s subtle flavor.

Fusion and Western Pairings

For a more contemporary or Western twist, consider these pairing ideas:

  1. Salad Greens: Serve kabocha croquettes over a bed of mixed salad greens with a light vinaigrette. The acidic vinaigrette and crisp greens nicely balance the crispiness and richness of the croquettes.
  2. Roasted Vegetables: A side of roasted seasonal vegetables, such as carrots, bell peppers, and zucchini, complements the croquettes well. The entrée gains depth of taste and texture from the roasted vegetables.
  3. Mashed Potatoes or Cauliflower: For a comforting side, serve the croquettes with creamy mashed potatoes or cauliflower. This combination makes a filling and substantial dinner ideal for chilly weather.
  4. Dipping Sauces: Besides tonkatsu sauce, consider offering a variety of dipping sauces. Aioli, spicy mayo, or a simple yogurt and herb dip can provide flavor profiles and enhance the croquettes’ enjoyment.

Presentation Tips

Enhance the visual appeal of your kabocha croquettes with these presentation ideas:

  1. Garnishing: Garnish the croquettes with finely chopped green onions, sesame seeds, or a sprinkle of nori flakes. These garnishes enhance the flavor and provide a splash of color.
  2. Plating: Arrange the croquettes neatly on a platter or individual plates. Use small bowls or ramekins for dipping sauces to keep the presentation clean and organized.
  3. Accompanying Sides: If serving multiple sides, arrange them in small, separate dishes or bowls around the croquettes. This looks appealing and allows guests to mix and match flavors as they prefer.

Key Takeaway:

Kabocha croquettes can be served with traditional Japanese sides or contemporary Western dishes, making them a versatile addition to any meal. Whether paired with miso soup, pickled vegetables, salad greens, and roasted vegetables, these croquettes offer a delightful blend of flavors and textures. Thoughtful garnishing and presentation enhance the dining experience, making kabocha croquettes a visually appealing and delicious centerpiece for any occasion.


Embarking on the journey of making savory air fryer Japanese pumpkin kabocha croquettes opens up a delightful culinary adventure that brings a taste of Japan into your kitchen. From understanding the unique qualities of kabocha to mastering preparation techniques and utilizing the air fryer for the perfect crispy finish, each step enhances your cooking skills and culinary repertoire.

These croquettes offer a healthier alternative with their air-fried crispiness and introduce a rich, sweet, nutty, quintessentially Japanese flavor profile. Paired with traditional accompaniments or modern fusion twists, kabocha croquettes can become a versatile dish in your meal planning.

Kabocha croquettes are so easy and tasty that they don’t matter whether you’re an experienced chef or a first-time cook. Experiment with variations, enjoy the process and savor the delicious results. By incorporating these croquettes into your menu, you’re not just creating a meal but also celebrating Japan’s rich culinary heritage.

So, gather your ingredients, preheat your air fryer, and get ready to enjoy a flavorful taste of Japan with these delightful kabocha croquettes. Happy cooking!


  1. What is kabocha, and how is it different from other pumpkins?

Kabocha, often known as Japanese pumpkin, is a winter squash with a texture akin to sweet potatoes and a lovely, nutty flavor. Unlike other pumpkins, kabocha has a denser, creamier flesh and a green, bumpy rind that is edible when cooked.

  1. Can I make kabocha croquettes without an air fryer?

Yes, kabocha croquettes can be made using traditional frying methods. While you can pan-fry or deep-fry them, air-frying offers a healthier alternative that uses less oil while maintaining a crispy outside.

  1. What can I serve with kabocha croquettes?

Kabocha croquettes pair well with a variety of dishes. Traditional Japanese accompaniments include tonkatsu sauce, miso soup, and pickled vegetables. They also go well with Western foods like salads, roasted veggies, and your favorite dipping sauce.

  1. Can I freeze kabocha croquettes?

Yes, kabocha croquettes can be frozen. Prepare and shape the croquettes, then freeze them on a baking sheet before transferring them to a freezer-safe bag. They can be cooked from frozen in the air fryer, though you may need to adjust the cooking time slightly.

  1. Are there any variations of kabocha croquette recipes?

Absolutely! You can customize kabocha croquettes by adding minced meat (like chicken or pork), cheese, or different vegetables. Spices and herbs can also be varied to suit your taste preferences, making the dish versatile and adaptable.

Additional Resources:

For further reading and recipe inspiration, check out these helpful resources:

  1. Just One Cookbook – A comprehensive site with various Japanese recipes, including different kabocha preparation methods. Just One Cookbook
  2. Japanese Cooking 101 – Offers detailed recipes and videos on Japanese cooking techniques and dishes. Japanese Cooking 101
  3. Nami’s Kabocha Croquettes Recipe – A specific recipe for kabocha croquettes by a famous Japanese food blogger. Nami’s Kabocha Croquettes Recipe
  4. Cooking with Dog – A fun and informative YouTube channel that features traditional Japanese recipes. Cooking with Dog YouTube Channel
  5. The Japanese Pantry – Learn about essential Japanese ingredients, including kabocha, and where to find them. The Japanese Pantry

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