Albondigas: Authentic Spanish Meatballs Bursting with Flavor

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Albondigas, Spanish meatballs, are a savory and comforting dish enjoyed throughout Spain and beyond. These meatballs are typically made with a mixture of ground meat, often a combination of beef and pork, seasoned with herbs and spices, and cooked in a rich tomato-based sauce. Albondigas can be served as tapas, a main course with rice or crusty bread, or even as a filling for sandwiches. Here’s how to prepare traditional Albondigas at home, along with tips to ensure they turn out tender, juicy, and packed with flavor.


For the Albondigas:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil, for cooking

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (14 oz) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish


1. Prepare the Meatballs:

  • In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and milk. Let them sit for a few minutes until the breadcrumbs absorb the milk.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, chopped onion, minced garlic, soaked breadcrumbs, beaten egg, chopped parsley, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly using your hands until well combined, but avoid overmixing which can make the meatballs tough.
  • Shape the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter, and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Cook the Meatballs:

  • In a large skillet or frying pan, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the meatballs in batches, ensuring not to overcrowd the pan. Cook them for about 3-4 minutes per side until browned and cooked through.
  • Transfer the cooked meatballs to a plate and set aside.

3. Prepare the Tomato Sauce:

  • In the same skillet or a separate saucepan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the finely chopped onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened and translucent.
  • Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute until fragrant.
  • Stir in the crushed tomatoes, chicken or beef broth, dried oregano, and smoked paprika.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the sauce to a simmer.

4. Simmer the Meatballs:

  • Return the cooked meatballs to the skillet or saucepan with the tomato sauce.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to meld together and the sauce to thicken slightly.

5. Serve Albondigas:

  • Transfer the Albondigas to a serving dish or individual plates.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley for added freshness and color.
  • Serve hot, either as tapas with toothpicks for easy serving, or as a main dish with crusty bread or over rice to soak up the flavorful sauce.

Tips for Success:

  • Meat Selection: A combination of ground beef and pork provides a good balance of flavors and textures for the meatballs.
  • Breadcrumbs and Milk: Soaking breadcrumbs in milk helps keep the meatballs moist and tender.
  • Cooking Technique: Brown the meatballs well on all sides before simmering them in the tomato sauce. This enhances the flavor and texture of the Albondigas.
  • Seasoning: Adjust the seasoning of the meat mixture and tomato sauce according to your taste preferences. The smoked paprika adds a distinctive Spanish flavor.

Nutritional Benefits:

Albondigas are rich in protein from the meat and provide essential nutrients from the vegetables and herbs used in the dish. They are a hearty and satisfying meal option when served with vegetables or grains.

Serving Suggestions:

Serve Albondigas as tapas alongside other Spanish dishes like Patatas Bravas, Gambas al Ajillo, and Tortilla Española. They also pair well with a glass of Spanish red wine or a refreshing sangria for a complete dining experience.


Albondigas, with their flavorful meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, exemplify the warmth and comfort of Spanish cuisine. By following this recipe and tips, you can recreate the authentic taste of Albondigas at home. Enjoy the tender, juicy meatballs and savory tomato sauce, and savor each bite of this classic Spanish dish!

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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