Spanish Meatballs with Tomato Sauce (Albondigas)

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These Spanish meatballs with tomato sauce are a Mediterranean twist to your regular meatballs. They are full in flavor and easy to make.

spanish meatballs

These meatballs can be served as a “tapa” ( a type of aperitive served usually with beer) or as a main dish with a bowl of white rice.

If you are new to this blog… hello! I’m Maria and I’m a Spanish food addict.

I can not believe how many Spanish recipes are in this blog without even noticing it. I just realized that they are really popular among my readers and I don’t have any intention to stop making them.

Eating tapas and drinking wine is my definition of a good Friday night. I was immediately hooked to the concept of small plates of food served with wine or beer (tapas). In Madrid, I could eat an entire dinner just with tapas. I ordered 3 beers and they served me 3 small plates of finger food. Happy me!

Every time I go to Spain I gain at least 2kgs. Completely worth it!

I have a few Spanish tapas recipes that you might LOVE:

Anyway, let’s get down to the recipe.

What is the difference between Spanish meatball and classic Italian meatballs?

The principal difference is the size. Spanish meatballs are made to eat as an appetizer with small wooden skewers. They are bite-size.

But the flavor is slightly different too. Paprika is a popular spice in Spanish cuisine. These meatballs are seasoned with paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder.

Regular Italian meatballs don’t have cayenne pepper or paprika, but they are heavier with the oregano and thyme. Plus, they have parsley and basil in it. 

How to make meatballs Spanish style?

They are pretty easy to make. If you’ve made regular meatballs, this recipe will be pretty similar.

The first thing is to combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and mix using your hands. This way you ensure that all the meat is evenly seasoned.

The ingredients for the Spanish meatballs are:

  • 500gr lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano 
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

This amount of meat will usually serve 10-12 meatballs.

After you shape all the meatballs, I like to sear them in a pan — preferably cast iron. Then, I remove them to use the same pan for the sauce.

Now, all that is left to do is the sauce. This is a pretty simple tomato sauce.

First, I like to cook 3 garlic cloves minced — for about 30 seconds — with a bit of olive oil. Then, I add 1 can of crushed tomatoes (400 gr) and I season with basil, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Then, my favorite trick for a perfect tomato sauce… A bit of sugar. This will balance the acidity and give you a well-rounded tomato sauce.

Finally, add the meatballs to the sauce and mix well before serving. 

What goes with these albondigas?

If you use them as tapas, they are good on their own. Just stick a small wooden skewer to make it easier to eat.

If you serve them as a main dish, you can add fluffy white rice that you can soak in tomato sauce. DELICIOUS!

Other Spanish Recipes

Spanish Meatballs
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
These Spanish meatballs with tomato sauce are a Mediterranean twist to your regular meatballs. They are full in flavor and easy to make.
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Spanish
Keyword: albondigas, spanish meatballs
Servings: 12 meatballs
Ingredients
For the meatballs
  • 500 gr lean ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion cut into tiny cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the sauce
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 400gr
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs in a big bowl and combine using your hands.
  2. Shape the meat into bite-size meatballs.
  3. Heat a big pan and sear the meatballs on all sides. Take the meatballs out of the pan.
Sauce
  1. In the same pan, add 3 garlic cloves minced with olive oil. Cook for 30 seconds until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and let it simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the cooked meatballs and cook for 5 minutes more. Serve.

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