Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Low-Carb Spanish Meatballs (Albondigas)

Low-Carb Spanish Meatballs (Albondigas)

Albondigas (Spanish meatballs) are a popular offering in tapas bars. They differ from Italian meatballs in their seasonings and smaller size—about an inch in diameter. Serve on toothpicks.


For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef (80/20 lean-to-fat ratio)
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup grated Manchego cheese
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • Crumbled pork rinds (chicharrones), as needed
  • Grated Manchego and chopped cilantro, for serving

For the tomato sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 15 ounces tomato purée
  • 3 ounces Spanish sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon pimentón


Step 1

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 2

Combine the ground beef, ground pork, onion, minced garlic, the eggs, cilantro, pimentón, Manchego cheese, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly, adding pork rind crumbs to firm up meatballs. (Start with 1/2 cup.)

Step 3

Form into 24 small meatballs. Bake for 15 minutes, turning once. Set aside.

Step 4

Make the sauce: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the shallot and cook for 2 minutes. Add two garlic cloves and the red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add the sherry, tomato purée, and salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Step 5

Return the cooked meatballs to the pan, baste with the sauce, and simmer for 15 minutes. Top with more cilantro and shaved Manchego, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and serve on a small plate.

Serves 4 to 6 as a tapa — Recipe from