Albondigas are a typical tapas dish in Spain, little meatballs in a rich, paprika-infused tomato sauce, served alongside a cold beer or glass of wine. They are a perfect appetizer, each bite being a delightful combination of meat, herbs, and spices, all coated in a rich sauce that you will undoubtedly be dredging from the bottom of the dish with a piece of bread before too long. Next time you want to have guests over: a warm dish of albondigas with individual toothpicks, plenty of crusty bread, and a nice pitcher of sangria is all you need.

If you’ve been following along on social media, this dish might strike you as familiar. For those of you that read my recent article in the Huffington Post, this is the recipe I mentioned in the introduction, simmering away on our stove in the midst of the red rock desert. Alternatively, if you stopped by the happy hour we hosted at Holy Toledo, you already got to try this recipe, so you’re aware of how wonderful it is.

Whether it was the article, the happy hour, or just the photo at the top of this post which first whetted your appetite, I suggest you get to the store and cook up a batch of these ASAP.


plate of albondigas


A classic Spanish tapas dish, these little meatballs are tough to beat. Made of beef and pork infused with garlic, parsley, and smoked paprika, they are delicious by themself, but simmering in a sauce of tomato and red bell pepper takes them to the next level. Serve with lots of bread, because before you know it you'll be scraping the last bit of sauce from the pot.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean, Spanish


For the meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 egg beaten
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

For the sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes


  • Make the meatballs first by combining all of the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing until uniform, and then rolling into balls ½-1” across (about the size of a large marble).
  • In a large pot or skillet, cook the meatballs over medium heat until they are browned on all sides. Once browned, remove them from the pan.
  • To make the sauce, bring a large pot to medium-high heat (this can be the same pot used for the meatballs). Add the olive oil followed by the onion and bell pepper. Cook this until the edges of the onion begin to brown.
  • Next, add the smoked paprika, broth, and tomatoes. Mix together, bring up to a simmer, and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce. Then add the meatballs back to the pot and simmer for around 5 minutes, until they are cooked through. Remove from heat.
  • Serve with cold drinks and lots of crusty bread to sop up the delicious sauce.


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