Albondigas (Spanish Meatballs) are a traditional tapa found in tapas bars all over Spain. Serve them as appetizers with toothpicks and bread to mop up the sauce, over pasta or change it up and serve them in tacos!
Every year we host International students September through June. One of our students was from Spain and our experience with him was one of the best experiences we’ve had as a host. He had a thirst for sports and activities so he fit right in with our family. Plus he liked to eat!
We became friends with his parents and learned much about the culture and food thanks to his desire to cook some of the foods he missed from home. His dad sent me a video on how to make Croquetas de Jamon (Spanish ham croquettes) in Spanish! However food transcends language/words and I was able to follow the recipe and make them one night much to our student’s surprise!
My inspiration for these meatballs comes from him and all the tips and techniques he taught me while living here with us.
How do you eat Albondigas?
You can make Albondigas with ground veal or a mixture of beef and pork. They are served in a simple tomato sauce flavoured with saffron.
We add white wine to the meatballs and let the flavour blend for about 30 minutes before rolling. Once formed, they are sauteed in olive oil giving the outsides a nice brown for extra flavour before being simmered in a tomato sauce.
What is Saffron?
This is a fairly easy recipe to make, it just takes a little extra time to roll and sauce your balls! Here’s a few tips we’ve learned along the way.
- Once you’ve mixed your ingredients together, let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes to blend before rolling your meatballs.
- Shake off excess flour before sauteing.
- Don’t make them to big, appetizer size is perfect.
- Make them the day before if you have time. The flavours improve over night. They will warm up while simmering in your sauce.
- This recipe serves 6 or more people. You can freeze half the meatballs for another day or cook them all and enjoy over a few days.
Love meatballs? So do we! Here are a few more meatball recipes to wet your appetite!
If you made this recipe tag Wanda Baker on Instagram and hashtag it #bakersbeans or #wandabaker
- 3 lbs pork and beef mixed ground burger
- 1/2 cup parsley chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 eggs cracked
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs not seasoned
- 1/3 cup white wine dry, not sweet
- white pepper
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- Tomato sauce (recipe below)
- 1 good pinch saffron threads
- 1 cup water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 2 cans San Marzano Tomatoes
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp white pepper
- Gently mix together ground burger, parsley, garlic, eggs, breadcrumbs, wine, a good pinch of salt and pepper. Let sit for about 30 minutes.
- Shape into small meatballs about one inch round by rolling between your hands.
- Spread out flour on a rimmed sheet pan and roll your meatballs all over, lightly coating in flour.
- Heat oil in a heavy bottom fry pan over medium high heat. Working in batches, add meatballs to pan and cook about 5 minutes turning frequently.
- Once browned, transfer to a bowl or plate and continue cooking the rest. It's OK if they are not completely cooked through as they will finish cooking in the tomato sauce.
- While they are cooking, grind your saffron threads and mix into water. Set aside.
- Once all meatballs are browned, combine meatballs and tomato sauce in pan.
- Pour in saffron liquid and gently stir to combine. Let simmer about 10-20 minutes. Taste and add additional pepper and salt if needed.
- Serve with sliced rustic bread to mop up the tomato sauce.
Making the Tomato Sauce
- In a separate large pot heat oil. Add onion and cook until translucent.
- Pour in tomatoes, breaking up the whole ones.
- Stir in sugar, pepper and salt.
- Simmer for 15-20 minutes allowing flavours to combine.
- Using an immersion blender, puree tomatoes. Keep warm.