Albondigas (or Spanish Meatballs)

I’m a dork. So when I decided to make albondigas (pronounced al-bon-dee-gahs) earlier this week I ran around saying, tweeting and emailing “Cloudy with a chance of ALBONDIGAS!!!” to everyone I knew. I thought it was funny…so did my Great Great Boss who, in a very Sabado Gigante voice says, alllllBONdigaaas!!!, every time I say I’m going to make them. It’s fun times all around when albondigas are made.

The first time I made these bad boys it was a bit of an experiment and The BF was forced into partaking. The original recipe, poor misguided soul  whoever wrote that thing, called for a HALF A CUP of adobo sauce. Crazy pants. More like poop your crazy pants. The sauce was so spicy, so hot that The BF and I kept having to stop and breath, open-mouthed and frantically sip water in a really lame attempt to please, please stop the burning. It was too good to stop eating though. So we pretty much decimated out taste buds and ended up eating the whole pot of albondigas.

This time, my second time making them, I cut back on the adobo – just 2 tablespoons to the whole pot – and while it didn’t give you that spicy kick, it did give you that smoky flavor adobo is so well-known for. Next time, I’ll add more, maybe 3 tablespoons or 4. The lesson here though folks – add the adobo in small increments and taste along the way. Also, the original recipe included the chipotles that are almost always paired with the adobo sauce. Um. No thanks. Well, I take that back. Do it…but like, half of one.

I feel like such a lame half Mexican-American. My tolerance for spicy isn’t so much low as it’s that I’m a baby about my tongue burning. What!? It’s an uncomfortable feeling!

Anyway – you guys will love this. Enjoy!

PS – These are more Spanish style albondigas – Mexican style goes in a brothy soup. Also, you can make the meatballs smaller and serve them as an appetizeror tapas, or make them the 1.5 inches as stated in the recipe and serve them as a meal. I usually serve them on a bed of long-grain rice!

PPS – I changed the order of the steps in executing the recipe. A friend alerted me that if you don’t read the whole recipe through first you lose cooking time on the sauce.


Adapted from


  • 2 1/2 pounds ground pork (you could do turkey or beef if you wanted to)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Chipotle Tomato Sauce

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 2-4tbsp of the sauce from canned chipotles in sauce (available in the International/Hispanic/Mexican section of most supermarkets)
  • 1/2 to 1 chipotle from the afore-mentioned can, minced
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-ounce unsweetened chocolate chopped into small bits
  • Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Put the tomato sauce, chipotles with sauce and the rest of the ingredients into a large, heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir well and place over high heat until the sauce begins to bubble. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, being sure to stir every 10 to 15 minutes so it doesn’t burn.

While the sauce is simmering, place ground pork into a large mixing bowl, making sure to break meat into smaller pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand until all the ingredients are well blended. Form into 1-ounce balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and place them closely together on a cookie sheet. Place the pan into the top half of the oven and cook until the meatballs are just firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Flip them about half way through so they’re brown on both sides! Remove from pan and drop into the Chipotle Tomato Sauce. Simmer 5 minutes and serve.

10 thoughts on “Albondigas (or Spanish Meatballs)

  1. Oh my gosh 1/2 cup of Adobo?! Thats some powerful stuff, no wonder you guys were frothing at the mouth LOL

    Anyway these sound delish! I am going to double your recipe and use the second batch to make some burgers. My fam would love that!

    Gracias for the receta and for linking up on my Sabroso Saturday linky!

  2. Oh my gosh 1/2 cup of Adobo?! Thats some powerful stuff, no wonder you guys were frothing at the mouth LOL

    Anyway these sound delish! I am going to double your recipe and use the second batch to make some burgers. My fam would love that!

    Gracias for the receta and for linking up on my Sabroso Saturday linky!.

  3. So I’ve been looking for a good albondiga recipe ever since I challenged a friend that pretty much anything would be better than “sweet and sour” meatballs prepared by dumping a bag of frozen meatballs in the crock pot with ketchup and grape jelly. It was harder to find a recipe than I thought (people must love ketchup and grape jelly) so I came up with a tomato based sweet/sour sauce and have been looking for Spanish style recipes since. This is one of the best I’ve seen, except the recipe strikes me as unbalanced. Yes, the 1/2 cup of chipotle adobo is overdoing it, but I wanted to take the spicy and savory elements of this sauce and combine them with my (now famous) sweet and sour recipe.

    First, the meatballs – the recipe is actually better than the one I was using, with the following modifications: I used a 1:1 ratio of ground beef and ground pork, I cut the oregano to a teaspoon so it wouldn’t overpower the fresh cilantro (I think oregano is often overused) and I added a good 1.5-2 tablespoons of smoked paprika – to give it that authentic Spanish flavor.

    As for the sauce, I used a 1/4 cup of the adobo – which is about as much as I could get out of the can, plus a whole chipotle. I like to put leftover chipotles in a plastic bag, flatten it out and freeze for later. Frozen chipotles are easier to portion out and chop up. I used 70% cacao dark chocolate that I had on hand, and I figured that would be ok because I also added 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tablespoon molasses, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon dijon mustard. Yes, it gave it more of a barbecue sauce flavor but that’s sort of what I was going for – with the chipotle kick and the albondiga flavor. The added “sweet and sour” elements really helped cut the spiciness of the sauce.

    Finally, I made the sauce and finished the meatballs in the slow cooker. Instead of baking the meatballs, I cooked them in a little vegetable oil on the stove. It’s a little more labor intensive, but the browning it so worth it.

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