How to Make Albóndigas en Salsa: A Delicious Spanish Meatball Recipe

Albóndigas en salsa is a traditional Spanish dish that consists of tender meatballs cooked in a flavorful tomato-based sauce. This dish is loved by many for its rich taste and comforting qualities. In this article, we will guide you through the process of making albóndigas en salsa, providing you with valuable insights and tips along the way.

The Origins of Albóndigas en Salsa

Albóndigas, which translates to “meatballs” in English, have a long history in Spanish cuisine. The dish is believed to have originated in the Middle East and was introduced to Spain during the Moorish occupation. Over time, the recipe evolved and adapted to the local ingredients and flavors, resulting in the delicious albóndigas en salsa we know today.

Ingredients for Albóndigas en Salsa

Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s take a look at the ingredients you will need to make a batch of mouthwatering albóndigas en salsa:

  • 500 grams of ground beef
  • 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of milk
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon of paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 can (400 grams) of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup of beef or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of red wine (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf

Step-by-Step Instructions

1. Prepare the Meatball Mixture

To start, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, milk, chopped onion, minced garlic, egg, parsley, ground cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Mix the ingredients together until well combined. This mixture will serve as the base for your flavorful meatballs.

2. Shape the Meatballs

Once the mixture is well combined, it’s time to shape the meatballs. Take a small portion of the mixture and roll it between your palms to form a ball. Repeat this process until all the mixture has been used. Aim for meatballs that are approximately 1 inch in diameter for even cooking.

3. Brown the Meatballs

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs to the skillet, making sure not to overcrowd them. Cook the meatballs for about 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are browned and slightly crispy. This step adds a delicious caramelized flavor to the meatballs.

4. Prepare the Sauce

Once the meatballs are browned, remove them from the skillet and set them aside. In the same skillet, add the crushed tomatoes, beef or vegetable broth, red wine (if using), and bay leaf. Stir the ingredients together and bring the sauce to a simmer. Allow the sauce to cook for about 10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.

5. Cook the Meatballs in the Sauce

After the sauce has simmered for 10 minutes, carefully add the meatballs back into the skillet. Make sure they are fully submerged in the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet, and let the meatballs cook in the sauce for about 20-25 minutes, or until they are cooked through and tender.

6. Serve and Enjoy

Once the meatballs are cooked, remove the skillet from the heat. Serve the albóndigas en salsa hot, garnished with fresh parsley if desired. This dish pairs well with crusty bread or rice, allowing you to soak up all the delicious sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can I use a different type of meat for the meatballs?

A: Absolutely! While the traditional recipe calls for ground beef, you can experiment with different types of meat such as pork, veal, or a combination of meats to suit your taste preferences.

Q: Can I make the meatballs ahead of time?

A: Yes, you can prepare the meatballs ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours before cooking. This can be a time-saving option if you’re planning to serve the dish for a special occasion or a busy weeknight dinner.

Q: Can I freeze the leftovers?

A: Absolutely! Albóndigas en salsa freezes well and can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Simply thaw the dish in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave before serving.

Q: Can I make the sauce spicier?

A: If you prefer a spicier sauce, you can add a pinch of red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce to the sauce mixture. Adjust the amount according to your desired level of spiciness.

Q: Can I substitute the red wine with something else?

A: If you prefer not to use red wine, you can substitute it with an equal amount of beef or vegetable broth. The wine adds a depth of flavor to the sauce, but it is not essential for the overall success of the dish.


Albóndigas en salsa is a classic Spanish dish that brings together the flavors of tender meatballs and a rich tomato-based sauce. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this article, you can easily recreate this delicious dish in your own kitchen. Whether you’re cooking for a special occasion or simply craving a comforting meal, albóndigas en salsa is sure to satisfy your taste buds. So gather your ingredients, roll up your sleeves, and enjoy the process of making this traditional Spanish delight!

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