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Cuban Meatballs Recipe

Cuban Meatballs Recipe (Albondigas)

This Cuban Meatballs Recipe (Albondigas) is a a great step by step recipe that will result in the most flavorful delicious meatballs that everyone will love.

Meatballs are a part of many Hispanic countries and many cultures around the world such as Italian and Asian. They come in many different forms from fried to steamed or braised. They all began as a humble and affordable dish. Simply just as an afterthought to use up scraps. The idea to add breadcrumbs, fresh bread or cracker meal came into play to the ground meat to help stretch the protein and serve a crowd. 

While that’s how they started, it’s definitely not how we feel about meatballs here. Cuban albondigas deserve a spot among the best of Cuban recipes. They are as delicious as Picadillo and Carne con Papas. 

What are Cuban Meatballs?

We all know meatballs. Here in this Cuban Meatballs Recipe we are doing something a little different. This recipe takes the traditional meatball and puts a little sofrito in it. Cuban Meatballs are small meatballs filled with a mixture of sofrito, bread crumbs and veggies. The meatballs are so delicate and tasty as they are simmered in a rich tomato sauce. It may be bold, but we dare say – they are the most flavorful and tender meatballs you will ever make.

What Makes This Cuban Meatballs Recipe (Albondigas) the Best?  

When it comes to meatballs, being moist is key. It is assumed that in order to have a moist meatball, you should focus on the the type of meat. However, this isn’t the whole story. Although the quality of the meat is always important, it’s really the filler that makes meatballs succulent and delicate. 

In this recipe we use bread crumbs and almond flour. Together they help soften the meat and give a great texture. There is also something a little extra going on. We blend a portion of the sofrito (just the onions and peppers) along with zucchini together and pour that over the meat and mix it up. This gives great moisture, which leads to soft tender meatballs.

Our Tips for Making this Cuban Meatballs Recipe (Albondigas)

There are definitely a few things you can do that will help keep your meatballs moist and delicious.

  • The Perfect Pan: It’s good to use a wide pan so that you can have all your meatballs simmer in the sauce. We love THIS one and it will come in handy for so many different recipes.
  • Do Not Overmix! This one is important! We can’t stress this enough. Over mixing will make the meatballs very hard and tough. You want a homogenous mixture between meat and filler but it’s ok to see pieces of meat here and there. Don’t make it tight, try to keep it loose.
  • Searing the Meatballs: in this recipe we tell you to sear the meatballs in oil before cooking in the sauce. This isn’t just for the sake of keeping them moist, but it also adds a layer of flavor. You don’t want to cook them through, you just want to add some texture and color to the outside of the meatball. Even if you only get them golden brown on two sides, that is more flavor than they started with.  
  • Is the Mixture too Wet?  If at this point you find the mixture is very wet, add another ¼ cup of breadcrumbs. It should be moist but stay together when you make a ball. 

What to Serve with Your Cuban Meatballs Recipe?

Probably one of my favorite ways to eat albondigas is the most simple. I remember sitting on the counter of the kitchen while my mom made them. As she was finished, she would let me soak up the sauce with Cuban bread and stuff a hollowed out Cuban roll with a big fat meatball. It was heaven. 


Traditionally, Albondigas are served with The Perfect White Rice and an additional side of Tostones or Maduros.

A Meatball Sub on Cuban Bread may actually be a genius way to enjoy these Cuban Meatballs. Serving them over our Cuban Spaghetti would make any traditional Italian’s head spin, but we are sure the combo would be a hit! 

Cuban Meatballs Recipe (Albondigas)

Recipe by Abuelas Cuban CounterCourse: EntreeCuisine: CubanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 pounds of ground beef

  • 1 onion, finely chopped 

  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 poblano pepper, finely chopped

  • 1 small zucchini, chopped

  • ½ to 1 ½ cup avocado oil, divided 

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of sazon

  • ¾ cup almond flour

  • 1 cup of whole milk

  • 10 oz tomato sauce (we like to use pomi)

  • 8 oz of fried tomato sauce (we like to use goya)

  • 3 eggs, well beaten

  • 1 ¼ cups of bread crumbs

  • 1 ½ teaspoons of garlic powder

  • 1 bunch of parsley, cleaned and destemmed  

  • ½ cup of gold vino seco

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 2 cups of chicken broth

  • 1 cup of green olives (we like to use castalvatrano or manzanilla)

  • Salt

  • Freshly cracked pepper


  • Start by making your sofrito in a large saute pan with your heat on medium. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of avocado oil to start (you will need more later). Add the onion, sazon, salt and freshly cracked pepper. Cook together for another 2-3 minutes until softened but without getting too much color. 
    Then add the peppers and another 4 tablespoons of oil. Cook for a couple of minutes until softened. Then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes while being careful that it doesn’t burn. Incorporate everything together and remove the sofrito from the pan. Set aside. 
  • In a blender, add ONLY 1 cup of sofrito. If it is still warm, remove the insert from the top of the blender so the steam has somewhere to go before blending. 
    Blend the sofrito together with the zucchini, milk and the ¼ cup of the parsley. It should be completely smooth.    
  • In a bowl, spread out the ground beef so it is in one layer. Add salt and pepper, the blended sofrito, the eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, a teaspoon of salt and almond flour. 
  • Now you can finally mix. But don’t overmix (see above). You want everything to blend together, but you don’t want to over work the mixture or it will get very tough. If at this point you find the mixture is very wet, add another ¼ cup of breadcrumbs. It should be moist but stay together when you make a ball. 
  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Scoop out each meatball with an ice cream scooper and shape into a ball with your hands. Set them on the parchment paper and separate them about 1 to 1 ½ inches apart. 
  • In the same pan you made the sofrito add enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the pan. You are not deep frying, but you do need enough oil to be sure the meatballs don’t stick. Heat the oil to medium/ medium high. Working in batches, start dropping the meatballs delicately in the oil. Using two spoons start turning them on all sides until they are golden brown. You need to work quickly here since the temperature is high and you want to maintain as much of a round shape as possible. Don’t cook them through! It’s only a sear.     
  • Remove back onto the sheet pan when most sides are golden, but they are still raw on the inside. Set them aside on a plate.  Remove all the oil in the pan and discard. 
  • Add the remaining sofrito that was cooked and was not blended. Then add the tomato sauce, a can of Cuban tomato sauce and vino seco. Start temperature on high and once it starts to boil add in bay leaves and 2 cups of chicken broth. Leave the temperature as is, and cook everything down on a boil for about 10 minutes.  
  • Add the meatballs and nestle them into the sauce. It will start to boil again and once it does, drop the temperature to low, cover the pan and simmer for 12-15 minutes. 
  • Add the olives and chopped parsley. Delicately mix the sauce being careful not to break up the meatballs.