This post may contain affiliate links. For more information, please visit the disclosures and privacy policy page.
Jun 24, 2021

Tapas-Syle Meatballs (Albondigas en Salsa)

Meatballs (albondigas) are often enjoyed in tapas bars in Spain for an after work snack and drinks or a glass of wine. 

In cities like Madrid, you might go from bar to bar, having a taste of a small dish and a cocktail before moving onto the next bar to try something different, kind of like a progressive dinner party! 

Almost anything can be tapas, as long as it's a small dish, but some of the more popular tapas include patatas bravas and Spanish tortilla

Tapas are often served on toothpicks, and in the past, the server would add up the number of empty toothpicks on your plate in order to calculate your bill. 

Making these meatballs: 

These meatballs, with a mixture of beef and pork, are simply made with bread crumbs, some parsely, garlic, salt and pepper, and an egg to bind everything together. 

Cook's tip for evenly dividing the meat mixture: 

To get evenly sized meatballs, weigh the meat mixture with a food scale first, divide the weight by ten, and then use your scale to evenly weigh out each meat portion. If you weight it in grams, it's even easier to get evenly sized meatballs. 

It's the sauce that really gives these meatballs their flavor. 

You brown the meatballs and then simmer them in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, onion, leeks, beef broth, and white wine that has been cooked and pureed. 

These meatballs are so moist and succulent. The sauce is rich and flavorful. To make it, you cook the garlic, onion, and leeks until they are super soft, and then add some flour, beef broth, and white wine. You continue to cook the mixture for another 12 or so minutes, until everything has thickened. 

Finally, you puree the sauce, return it to the pan, and add the browned meatballs, and simmer everything for another 15 minutes until you have a thick sauce and the meatballs are cooked through. 

How to serve these albondigas: 

You can either serve these meatballs as an appetizer or as a main course over rice, mashed potatoes, or pasta. If you are hosting a large party, this recipe easily doubles. Just brown the meatballs in batches. 

These meatballs are a little bigger than bite sized, so for tapas, serve them in little bowls with mini forks or sturdy toothpicks. 

Is this a good make-ahead recipe? 

Yes, these meatballs can be made in advance, which is great when you are trying to serve a variety of appetizers. In fact, these reheat beautifully, either on the stovetop or in the microwave. 

Next time you have a cocktail or tapas party, add these meatballs to the menu. Your guests will love them. 

More delicious meatball recipes:

Welcome to Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party. This month's theme is Tapas Party! Our host is Coleen who blogs at The Redhead Baker

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats it's a virtual party. A theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out. Come along and see all of the delicious Tapas inspired dishes!

Tapas Party

CocktailAppetizerMain CoursesSide DishDessert

Tapas-Syle Meatballs (Albondigas en Salsa)

Tapas-Syle Meatballs (Albondigas en Salsa)
Yield: 10 meatballs
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 20 M
Meatballs (albondigas) are often enjoyed in tapas bars in Spain for an after work snack and drinks or a glass of wine.


For the Meaatballs
  • 12 ounces ground beef
  • 12 ounces ground pork
  • 1/4 cup fresh white bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
For the Sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small leek, white part only, split lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/4 cups beef broth
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper


For the Meatballs
  1. Combine the beef, pork, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs, garlic, and salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Do not over mix. 
  2. Divide the meat mixture into 10 equal parts and roll them into balls. 
  3. Place the flour in a bowl and roll each meatball in the flour to coat. 
  4. Heat the oil in a large high sided skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides, for about 10 minutes. Transfer the meatballs to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the juices in the pan. Set aside. 
To Make the Sauce
  1. Heat the same skillet with the juices over medium-low heat. 
  2. Add the garlic, onions, leeks, and bay leaf and cook until softened, 12–15 minutes. Add the flour and cook for two minutes.
  3. Whisk in the broth and wine, and scrape up any bits in the bottom of the pan. Over medium-high, bring the mixture to a boil while whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and  simmer until thickened, 12–14 minutes. 
  4. Discard the bay leaf. After letting the mixture cool about five minutes, purée it in a blender in two batches. 
  5. Return the sauce to the skillet and add the meatballs. Bring everything to a boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and the meatballs are cooked through, 16–18 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)


Sat. Fat (grams)


Carbs (grams)


Fiber (grams)


Net carbs


Sugar (grams)


Protein (grams)


Sodium (milligrams)


Cholesterol (grams)

meatballs, albondigas
Did you make this recipe?
Tag on instagram and hashtag it #karenskitchenstories
Created using The Recipes Generator

Recipe adapted from Saveur

Would you like to comment?

  1. Meatballs that you can freeze and that you serve with toothpicks - yes!!! Sound like a tapas dream. Can't wait to try them.

  2. Albondigas is one of my favorite meals but I've never seen the meatballs served this way - how wonderful! I know I will love these beauties!!

  3. I am excited to try that sauce! Meatballs are the best party food!

  4. These look absolutely scrumptious Karen. I need more Tapas in my life, they are right up my alley. I've always loved a couple of appetizers more than a meal at a restaurant and I could make a meal of these meatballs!


I would love to hear from you! If you comment anonymously, be sure to leave your name in your comment.