These easy-to-make and super hearty Albondigas are exceptionally tasty Mexican meatballs that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways! Serve the meatballs up tapas-style, in a rich beef and tomato-based soup, or make the best tacos ever!
Albóndigas - Super Tasty Mexican Meatballs
Savory and scrumptious, Albóndigas are Mexican meatballs often served as tapas. Make them as an appetizer or as the main course, and the dish will be a delight no matter the portion size!
Whenever I make these albondigas, the kitchen smells absolutely amazing! The wonderful blend of herbs and spices permeate the air, not to mention the beefy goodness that gets my mouth watering.
Since they only take 20 minutes from prep to serving, the wait isn’t long until we can dig in. Any longer and my patience would run thin (not to mention the rest of the hungry family)!
You certainly do not have to wait until Cinco de Mayo to make albondigas, but they would be fun to feature on the dinner table that day or as part of a celebratory meal in general. I make albondigas year-round, as they are so simple to prepare and taste so delicious!
You have surely had Italian-style meatballs before, so switch things up and go Mexican for a change! The difference in taste is delightful, thanks to the array of flavors that give these meatballs their signature unique flavor! Let’s get going!
What You’ll Need
This recipe makes 6 servings, so adjust the measurements if you want to make more. Something tells me you’re going to!
- Ground beef – Get good quality ground beef (use lean ground beef for best results). For the ultimate albóndigas in terms of taste and texture, combine lean ground beef and ground pork. Use equal ½ pound portions of each for the very best albóndigas!
- White rice – Make your slightly undercooked rice ahead if possible or use leftovers. The rice will finish cooking when combined with the beef mixture in the oven. *See instructions below.
- Egg – Binding these meatballs together well is a must. Your egg will help them keep their round shape and hold their structure.
- Garlic – This aromatic staple adds its unique flavor to make these meatballs divine!
- Cilantro – Cilantro adds a bright flavor and freshness.
- Ground cumin – The warm and earthy flavor of this spice adds depth of flavor to the dish.
- Ground oregano – Blended with the other spices, oregano enhances each bite.
- Salt & Pepper – Bring out all the flavors with some much-needed salt and pepper. A little goes a long way.
- Paprika – I love paprika! If you have smoked paprika on hand, try it out instead!
- Onion ( optional ) - I'm not a fan of biting into chunks of onion, however, if you grate your onion up it's a perfect addition!
How to Make Mexican Meatballs
Making these albóndigas Mexicanas is so easy! The outcome is incredible, so you don’t have to spill the beans and let anyone know that they only took 20 minutes to make. The gourmet-level flavor will have everyone fooled. Just accept the compliments and consider it a win-win!
*If you don't have some leftover rice (refrigerated overnight is ideal) you will have to make a small batch. Whichever rice you use, you will want it to be slightly undercooked, otherwise, the meatballs can come out too mushy. Combine ½ cup of water with ½ cup of rice and cook the rice for 10 minutes. Set the rice aside and allow it to cool slightly before forming your meatballs. Otherwise use the leftover rice which is already cool.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the lean ground beef, rice, egg, garlic, cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and paprika. You can do this with your (clean) hands. It's the easiest way!
- Portion out the ground beef mixture into ¾-inch meatballs and set on a tray, leaving at least an inch of space between them.
- Either bake the meatballs at 400ºF (205ºC) in the oven for 15 minutes or pan sear until cooked. Option 2 will have to be in batches. The meatballs are done when they are browned on the outside and have an internal temperature of 160ºF (70ºC) per USDA recommendations. Don’t overcook, as you’ll lose the moistness.
- Remove the albóndigas from the oven (or pan) and serve immediately with some salsa, rice, beans, or tortillas.
Your cooked meatballs are an amazing part of albóndigas soup which combines the hearty beef with rich tomato sauce and vegetables. Or make them albóndigas tacos for a huge upgrade on the normal ground beef taco meat!!
I usually offer everything so people can pick and choose how they want to eat their meal. You can also set out some guacamole, sour cream, hot sauce, chips, and refried beans. Enjoy!
How to Store Leftover Albondigas
Store any leftover meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Make sure that your albondigas are fully cooled before storing them in the refrigerator.
To freeze your albondigas, place them on a baking sheet with a clean piece of parchment paper. Transfer the baking sheet to your freezer and freeze the meatballs for 1-2 hours, or until completely frozen.
Once fully frozen, place the albondigas into an airtight freezer container or ziploc freezer storage bag. They will freeze for up to 3 months and retain their great flavor!
Place the frozen meatballs in the refrigerator to thaw before using. Once thawed, reheat like usual. *Unless your making soup, in this case, you can add the frozen meatballs directly into your soup and simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
You can reheat in the microwave or in the oven or in a pan. Reheat in the microwave in 1-minute increments until warmed to your liking. Or place the albondigas in an oven-safe dish and heat at 350ºF ( 175ºC ) for 10 - 15 minutes.
To reheat the albondigas in a pan, warm them over medium heat in a lightly greased frying pan or skillet. Cook until the meatballs are heated to your desired temperature.
- 1 lb ground beef (lean ground beef is recommended)
- ½ cup white rice (cooked)
- 1 large egg
- ½ tablespoon garlic (minced)
- ¼ cup cilantro (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- If you don't have some leftover rice (if it's been refrigerated overnight, that's ideal) it's time to make a small batch. Whichever rice you make, you'll need slightly under-cooked rice. Combine ½ cup of water to ½ cup of rice, then cook the rice for 10 minutes. Set aside and allow it to cool slightly before forming meatballs.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, rice, egg, garlic, cilantro, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Portion the ground beef mixture into ¾-inch meatballs and set on a tray.
- Either bake the meatballs at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 15 minutes or pan sear over medium-high heat until cooked. The meatballs are done when they are browned on the outside and have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F (70 degrees C).
- Remove from the oven and serve immediately with salsa, rice, beans, or tortillas.
Place the frozen meatballs in the refrigerator to thaw before using. Once thawed, reheat like usual. *Unless your making soup, in this case, you can add the frozen meatballs directly into your soup and simmer for approximately 10 minutes. You can reheat in the microwave or in the oven or in a pan. Reheat in the microwave in 1-minute increments until warmed to your liking. Or place the albondigas in an oven-safe dish and heat at 350ºF ( 175ºC ) for 10 - 15 minutes. To reheat the albondigas in a pan, warm them over medium heat in a lightly greased frying pan or skillet. Cook until the meatballs are heated to your desired temperature.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!