Albóndigas - delicious Spanish meatballs! - Talking Tapas

Albóndigas - delicious Spanish meatballs!

These delicious little meaty bites, smothered in a rich and slightly picante tomato sauce are a staple of the Spanish tapas bar, especially in the heartland of Spain, where meat is on the menu more than seafood. The dish is a great example of how simple Spanish cooking can produce wholesome tasty food, and is popular with both the grown ups and the little ones in our house! I tend to make a large batch of meatballs (double the amount of meat below) and then freeze half of them before cooking to be used again the next time. 

Ingredientes (Serves 6-8 as a tapa)  

  • 200g minced pork
  • 200g minced beef or veal
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp of breadcrumbs
  • 1 small beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Tomato sauce

  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 large red pepper finely chopped
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, or 6 large fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika (dulce)
  • ½ tsp hot paprika (picante)
  • Splash of sherry vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chopped parsley to garnish (optional)


  1. Make the tomato sauce first. Begin by gently cooking the onion to soften for 5 minutes in olive oil, add the garlic, paprika and diced peppers and cook for another few minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sherry vinegar, a pinch of salt and twist of pepper, reduce the heat and leave to simmer gently for 15 minutes until rich and thick, then put aside until needed.
  3. To make the meatballs, begin by sweating off the onion for 5 minutes in olive oil until softened, then remove and leave to cool.
  4. In a separate bowl put the pork, beef, cumin, thyme, breadcrumbs, a good pinch of salt and pepper and then add the cooled onion, beaten egg and combine well.
  5. With wet hands (to avoid the mixture sticking) shape the mixture into small bite-sized balls. Place on a plate and chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
  6. When ready to cook, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the meatballs off in batches for about 10 minutes each, turning as they cook to brown on all sides.
  7. Warm the sauce and pour over the meatballs, sprinkling with fresh parsley at the last minute if you wish. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce!