The Best Mexican Chipotle Meatballs

June 08, 2015

mexican chipotle meatballs

Meatballs.  Who doesn’t love meatballs?

I am obsessed.  I make Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Italian and Middle-Eastern meatballs all the time.

These Mexican Chipotle Meatballs are SO GOOD.  Spicy, flavorful and satisfying.  Here’s the recipe, and scroll down for my best tips on how to make meatballs.

The Best Mexican Chipotle Meatballs


  • 2 pounds ground meat (I like a mixture of pork and beef, but you can use turkey or chicken too. 1-2 slices of minced bacon is amazing in here too)
  • 1/2 onion, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chipotle pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Cracked pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • For the sauce
  • 2 cans whole tomatoes (pureed with the chipotle peppers)
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole or sliced
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo, pureed
  • 1-2 tbsp adobo sauce from can
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika


  1. Make the meatballs
  2. In a large bowl, add the meat, onions, garlic, salt and spices. Mix gently. Form into small or medium meatballs and place on a cookie sheet. Pour 1-2 tbsp of olive over the meatballs. Set aside.
  3. Make the sauce
  4. In a sauce pan large enough to add the tomatoes and meatballs, heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium low heat. Add the garlic and saute until brown, about 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, adobo and spices.
  5. Cook the sauce low heat while you bake the meatballs.
  6. Bake the meatballs
  7. In a 400 oven, bake the meatballs 10-12 minutes until the shape holds together but not cooked through.
  8. Finish baking
  9. Lower the oven to 350. Place the meatballs in the sauce and bake covered with the lid ajar 45 minutes-1 hour .

Tips on Meatballs

  • You can add approximately 1 egg per pound of meat, but you’ll need a couple of tablespoons of breadcrumbs to soak up the liquid.  This adds extra body and fat to the meatballs, which is always nice.
  • You can also add 1/2 to 1 cup water per pound of meatballs.  You’ll need about the same amount of breadcrumbs to soak up the water, but this a great trick to tenderize the meatballs.
  • You can bake, broil or sear the meatballs – searing will help develop the most flavor.
  • Baking in the sauce for 45 minutes to 1 hour will also tenderize and develop the flavors.
  • For Asian flavors, you can add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, lemongrass, even fish sauce
  • For Middle Eastern flavors I like a mixture of onion, garlic, allspice and cinnamon.  Cilantro and mint are also nice, as is a tahini or yogurt sauce on the side.
  • Fat is your friend – lean turkey can make an okay meatball, but pork shoulder or lamb will make a fabulous one

My friend Ellie Koleen took the photo for this blog post. She is an amazing photographer! 

Do you have a favorite meatball recipe?!

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