A white plate containing ball shaped panko-crusted Japanese pumpkin croquettes and a silver fork with black handle.

Japanese Pumpkin Croquettes

Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Japanese
Keyword: kabocha, korokke, pumpkin
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 15 croquettes
Japanese pumpkin croquettes or kabocha korokke is our family's fall favorite. Crispy on the outside and naturally sweet and savory on the inside, it's like a party in your mouth!  These croquettes will disappear in no time.


  • ½ kabocha squash/pumpkin (½ = 1.5 lb with seeds)
  • 3 slices bacon
  • ½ onion
  • ½ Tbsp unsalted butter
  • salt (kosher or sea salt; use half if using table salt)
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 3 cups neutral flavor oil (vegetable, canola, etc)


  1. Gather all the ingredients.
    Kabocha Croquette ingredients laying on the cutting board.
  2. Remove seeds and pith from the kabocha and cut into big chunks, about 2 inch pieces.
    Remove seeds and pith and cut kabocha into big pieces
  3. Set up the steamer (I use this steamer basket inside the dutch oven here). Steam kabocha for 20 minutes or until tender (enough that you can mash with fork) but don’t overcook.

    Steam kabocha.
  4. While steaming the kabocha, mince the onion. Slice parallel to the grain, slice against the grain (pic 1), cut into cubes (pic 2), and chop into even smaller pieces (pic 3).

    Mince the onion.
  5. Cut the bacon into small bits. For better texture, I like the bacon to be about ¼ inches.
    Cut bacon into 1/4 inch cubes.
  6. Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, and add the bacon. Cook until the onion is translucent, tender, and nicely brown. Set aside until the kabocha is done with steaming.

    Saute minced onion and bacon in butter.
  7. Remove the kabocha from the pot and let cool until you can touch (but still warm). Remove the skin using a knife or spoon. Kabocha skin is edible and you don’t have to remove it. However, your kabocha croquette will be dark in color instead of bright orange color.
    Let cool kabocha and remove the skin with knife.
  8. Transfer all the kabocha in a large bowl and mash with a fork.
    Mash the kabocha in a large bowl.
  9. Add the onion and bacon mixture to the mashed kabocha. Try to avoid adding excess oil, which could make the mixture too wet. Season with freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt.

    Add the sauteed onion and bacon.
  10. Combine well together. Using a cookie scoop, make it into ball shape. I can usually make 15-18 balls with ½ kabocha (1.5 lbs with seeds).

    Make kabocha mixture into 15-18 balls.
  11. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes to kabocha balls become firmer.
    Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  12. Add 1 Tbsp water to the beaten egg. Coat kabocha balls in flour.
    Add water in egg mixture and dredge in flour.
  13. Then coat with egg mixture, and finally panko.
    Dredge in egg mixture and then panko.
  14. Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. During this time, flour absorbs moisture. As a result, it’ll be less splatter in oil and the batter becomes sticker and won’t come off while deep frying.

    Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  15. When it’s almost 30 minutes, start heating up the oil to 340 ºF (170 ºC). Insert the long chopsticks and when you see small bubbles appear around them, it’s ready to deep fry the croquette. Inside croquette is cooked already, so all you need is to fry until golden brown.

    Deep fry kabocha croquette till golden brown.
  16. Transfer golden kabocha croquette to a wire rack or a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle some salt such as sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Once it’s cooled completely, you can put in an airtight container and store in the freezer for up to a month.

    Drain oil in wire rack.

Recipe Notes

Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.