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Spanish Albondigas Recipe: A Hearty Meatball Delight

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Spanish Albondigas, or meatballs, are a delicious dish perfect for any meal. Made from a blend of beef and pork, these meatballs are seasoned with paprika, cumin, and parsley, delivering a rich, smoky flavor. Fry them lightly, then simmer in a flavorful tomato-based sofrito sauce. Whether served as tapas or a main course, albondigas will transport your taste buds to Spain in every bite.

Each region in Spain has its unique take on albondigas, making them a versatile and exciting dish to explore. They are usually paired with a good Spanish red wine and are a staple in many tapas bars across the country. Once you make these traditional Spanish meatballs, they’ll quickly become a favorite in your kitchen.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

To make Spanish Albondigas, you’ll need a few basic ingredients. Here is a list of what you need and some possible substitutes:

Ground Meat

  • Beef and Pork: Traditional recipes use a mix of both.
  • Substitute: You can use turkey or chicken if you prefer lighter meat.


  • Plain Breadcrumbs: Helps bind the meatballs.
  • Substitute: Panko for a crunchier texture or crushed crackers in a pinch.


  • One Large Egg: Acts as a binder.
  • Substitute: A flaxseed egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 3 tbsp water).


  • Minced Garlic: Adds flavor and aroma.
  • Substitute: Garlic powder (1/4 tsp per clove).


  • Sweet Paprika: For a smoky flavor.
  • Substitute: Smoked paprika or cayenne pepper for a spicier touch.


  • Chopped Onion: Adds moisture and flavor.
  • Substitute: Shallots or leek for a milder taste.


  • Fresh Parsley: Brightens the dish.
  • Substitute: Cilantro or dried parsley (use less if dried).

Salt and Pepper

  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper: Essential for seasoning.
  • Substitute: Kosher salt or white pepper if preferred.

Olive Oil

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: For browning the meatballs.
  • Substitute: Canola or vegetable oil.

Using these ingredients, you can create delicious Spanish Albondigas. If you need to, don’t hesitate to use the substitutes to fit your preferences or what you have on hand. Enjoy your cooking!


First, gather all your ingredients. You’ll need ground meat, garlic cloves, an egg, dried breadcrumbs, parsley, paprika (sweet, smoked, and hot), salt, and pepper.

Mix everything well in a large bowl using your hand. Form small meatballs, about the size of a walnut. You should get between 30 and 35 of them.

Next, heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the meatballs to the skillet and fry them for about 6-7 minutes, turning them frequently to ensure they brown evenly. Once cooked, remove them from the pan and set them aside.

In the same skillet, sauté a chopped onion until soft, for about 3-5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, beef stock, wine, paprika, and salt. Mix well and bring the sauce to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the meatballs back into the skillet. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce thickens.

Serve hot and enjoy your delicious albondigas with some fresh bread or rice.

Tips, Tricks & Storing

To make the best albondigas, use fresh ingredients. This will give your meatballs a better flavor and texture.

Mixing Tips:

  • Mix the ingredients just until combined. Overmixing can make the meatballs tough.
  • Wet your hands when shaping the meatballs to prevent the mixture from sticking.

Cooking Tricks:

  • Brown the meatballs in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. This ensures even cooking.
  • If you want extra juicy meatballs, add a bit of milk or grated onion to the meat mixture.


  • Refrigerate: Place cooked meatballs in an airtight container. They can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze: You can freeze cooked or uncooked meatballs. Lay them out on a baking sheet to freeze. Once firm, transfer to a zip-top bag. They can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.


  • Reheat refrigerated meatballs in a saucepan with a bit of sauce over medium heat until warmed through.
  • For frozen meatballs, thaw them in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Keep these tips in mind, and your albondigas will turn out perfect every time!

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Spanish Albondigas offer a versatile culinary experience. You can tweak the classic recipe to suit your taste.

Recipe Variations:

  • Meat Choices: Mix ground pork with beef for richer flavor. Use turkey or chicken for a lighter version.
  • Spices: Add a pinch of cayenne for heat or smoked paprika for depth.
  • Herbs: Cilantro can replace parsley for a different twist.

Serving Suggestions:

  1. Patatas Bravas: Crispy and spicy potato cubes that add a kick.
  2. Saffron Rice: Offers an aromatic side that complements the meatballs.
  3. Manchego Cheese: Brings a nutty flavor to the meal.
  4. Garlic Bread: Adds a familiar crunch.
  5. Mixed Green Salad: Provides a refreshing contrast.
  6. Marinated Olives: Tangy and flavorful.
  7. Grilled Asparagus: A nutritious variety.


  • Serve in a terracotta dish or deep earthenware plate for a rustic feel. The warm tones of these dishes enhance the visual appeal.

These simple tweaks and sides can elevate your Spanish Albondigas to new heights.

Benjamin Happy Muncher

Hi, I'm Benjamin. I love cooking, long walks, and my girlfriend! Here you’ll find simple and delicious recipes that you can make in 30 minutes or less.