Oven-roasted Albondigas with Árbol Chile Tomato Sauce- an easy main dish, perfect for a quick meal. Tender meatballs made with lots of fresh herbs, ground pork and ground beef in a delicate tomato sauce. Serve with Coconut-Cilantro Rice for a super tasty dinner.
Recipe first posted November 24, 2020 and last updated in September 14, 2023
*Hey Friends! Looking For Mexican Albondigas Soup? Head here
Today, I’m bringing you a Mexican comfort food classic: Albondigas! Succulent meatballs made with a mixture of ground pork and ground beef in a chile de árbol sauce that is just a teensy bit spicy. If you have tried my albondigas soup recipe then you will LOVE these perfectly tender little morsels.
There is no easier way to put a smile on my family’s face than to present a dish of albondigas at the dinner table. In my experience, no one turns down a meatball. These are made of ground meat of your choosing. I used pork and beef but this would be a great place to use ground chicken, ground turkey or even Impossible meat.
The sauce is a slightly spicy mixture of dried arbol chiles and fresh tomato, perfect for soaking the white rice you should definitely serve these with. It is one of my absolute favorites, so easy to prepare, and it has just a subtle bit of heat that heightens the whole dish.
If you are sensitive to heat, don’t shy away from making this sauce. It will taste spicy at first, but the flavor mellows when you combine it with the meatballs. My kids don’t love spicy things and they eat this all the time with no problem.
There are two parts to this recipe and luckily neither one requires a ton of ingredients. Just some ground meat, fresh vegetables, and a few spices. Let’s gather those ingredients!
- Ground pork. Perfect ratio of fat to lean meat that yields moist, tender meatballs.
- Ground beef. For that rich beefy flavor.
- Fresh mint
- Fresh oregano. Preferably Mexican oregano.
- Fresh cilantro
- Ground cumin
- White onion
- Large egg
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Tomatoes. The freshest you can find.
- Dried arbol chiles. Can be found at most grocery stores or at any Latin market.
- Chicken broth or beef broth
How To Make This Recipe
Heat oven. Heat oven to 400°F and arrange rack in the middle.
Combine the meat mixture. Mix together all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl. Make sure you chop the onion super small. You will use half of the onion for the meatballs and the other half for the sauce. If you want to make the onions even smaller than a mince you can grate them on a box grater or in your food processor.
Form albondigas. Shape into small balls and place on the baking sheet. Use wet hands. Mix all the ingredients together with wet hands for a quick and less messy mix. Remember, don’t overwork the ingredients, combine them just enough to get everything distributed evenly but still loose.
Roast albondigas. Place in the oven and roast until firm and cooked through.
Blend the sauce. Prepare the sauce while the meatballs are cooking. Remove the stems from the dried chiles and shake the seeds out. Rinse under cold water and put in the blender. Chop the tomatoes and onion and add them to the blender along with the peeled garlic cloves and salt. Use the ripest tomatoes you can find. Blend until sauce is very smooth.
Fry the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add sauce and fry, stirring constantly. Add chicken or beef broth and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to medium-low heat so the sauce is at just a simmer and wait for the meatballs to finish cooking.
Simmer. Once the meatballs are ready, transfer them (along with their juices) to the sauce and let it all cook together a few minutes to create a flavorful broth.
what NOT to do when making albondigas
Making Mexican meatballs is not rocket science, but a few missteps will give you rock hard albondigas instead of the fluffy moist ones we all love.
Here’s what not to do.
Don’t over work the mixture. Use your hands to gently combine all the ingredients together in a large bowl, but don’t over mix. The more the ingredients become packed together, the tougher they will be.
All different sized meatballs are a no-no. Use a cookie scoop to make even sized meatballs. If they are all different sizes the small ones will be undercooked, and the big ones will be overcooked.
Watch the cooking time. Don’t bake them for too long. The meatballs are cooked when they gently bounce back from slight pressure. If you are unsure, it’s okay to take them out of the oven a bit early, they will continue to cook when you add the meatballs to the sauce.
tips for freezing/making ahead
These albondigas are amazing for meal prepping or batch cooking. This recipe doesn’t make a ton (about 20-22 meatballs) but you could double the recipe and freeze half for another meal.
I think it’s best to freeze them before cooking. To do that, scoop and roll the meatballs and place close together on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Stick the baking sheet in the freezer and freeze until hard then transfer to a resealable freezer bag or airtight container and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to bake, cook from frozen (no need to thaw) for an extra 10 minutes.
If you want to make a batch and have in the fridge for meals later in the week, cook the albondigas all the way through and store in the refrigerator covered, in the sauce. They will keep for up to 5 days. Reheat the meatballs and sauce together on the stovetop or in the microwave.
If You Love This Recipe, Try:
- Roasted Mexican Street Carrots
- Crispy Potatoes in Red Sauce
- Cheesy Mexican Zucchini
- Pot Roast Mole Chicken with Veggies
- Cilantro Lime Fish Taco Slaw
- Jugo Verde with Celery
- Mexican Soup with Potatoes and Cheese
No one says no to meatballs, especially juicy, ultra-flavorful meatballs in red chile sauce. If you make this albondigas recipe let me know, okay? When you do, share it with me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating). Also, make sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
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