How to Make Albondigas with Tomato: A Delicious and Traditional Mexican Dish


Albondigas con tomate, or meatballs with tomato sauce, is a classic and beloved dish in Mexican cuisine. This flavorful and comforting meal is perfect for any occasion, whether it’s a family dinner or a gathering with friends. In this article, we will explore the history of albondigas con tomate, the ingredients and steps to make it, and some tips to enhance its taste. Let’s dive in!

The History of Albondigas con Tomate

Albondigas, which means “meatballs” in Spanish, have a long history that dates back to ancient times. The concept of combining ground meat with other ingredients to form small balls has been present in various cultures around the world. However, the specific recipe for albondigas con tomate as we know it today has its roots in Mexican cuisine.

Mexican cuisine is a rich blend of indigenous, European, and African influences. The introduction of tomatoes to Mexico by the Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century played a significant role in the development of many traditional Mexican dishes, including albondigas con tomate. The combination of juicy tomatoes with well-seasoned meatballs created a harmonious and flavorful dish that quickly became a staple in Mexican households.

The Ingredients and Steps to Make Albondigas con Tomate

To make albondigas con tomate, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Now, let’s go through the steps to make this delicious dish:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, cooked rice, finely chopped onion, minced garlic, chopped cilantro, beaten egg, ground cumin, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated.
  2. Shape the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter. You should be able to make around 20 meatballs.
  3. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and minced garlic, and sauté until they become translucent and fragrant.
  4. Add the tomato sauce, chicken or vegetable broth, dried oregano, ground cumin, salt, and pepper to the skillet. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  5. Gently place the meatballs into the skillet, making sure they are submerged in the tomato sauce. Cover the skillet and let the albondigas simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  6. Once the albondigas are cooked, remove them from the skillet and transfer them to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
  7. Serve the albondigas con tomate hot with rice, tortillas, or crusty bread. Enjoy!

Tips to Enhance the Taste of Albondigas con Tomate

While the basic recipe for albondigas con tomate is delicious on its own, there are a few tips you can follow to enhance its taste even further:

  • Use a combination of ground meats: Instead of using only ground beef, you can mix it with ground pork or ground turkey to add more depth of flavor to the meatballs.
  • Add spices and herbs: Experiment with different spices and herbs to season the meatballs. For example, you can add a pinch of chili powder for a hint of heat or fresh chopped parsley for a burst of freshness.
  • Make a homemade tomato sauce: While using store-bought tomato sauce is convenient, making your own from scratch can take the dish to a whole new level. Simmer fresh tomatoes with onions, garlic, and spices until they break down into a rich and flavorful sauce.
  • Serve with a side of Mexican rice: Albondigas con tomate pairs perfectly with Mexican rice. The combination of the juicy meatballs and the fluffy rice creates a satisfying and complete meal.


1. Can I use a different type of meat for the meatballs?

Yes, you can use different types of meat or a combination of meats for the meatballs. Ground pork, ground turkey, or a mixture of ground beef and pork are all great options that will add unique flavors to the dish.

2. Can I make the meatballs ahead of time?

Absolutely! 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 albondigas con tomate for a special occasion or a busy weeknight dinner.

3. Can I freeze the leftovers?

Yes, you can freeze the leftovers of albondigas con tomate for future meals. Allow the dish to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container or freezer bags. It can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you’re ready to enjoy it again, simply thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and reheat it on the stovetop or in the microwave.

4. Can I make this dish vegetarian or vegan?

Absolutely! You can easily adapt this recipe to be vegetarian or vegan. Instead of using ground meat, you can substitute it with plant-based alternatives such as textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu, or tempeh. Additionally, you can use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth and omit the egg in the meatball mixture. The result will be a delicious and satisfying vegetarian or vegan version of albondigas con tomate.



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