Spanish Meatballs

Offering solace from a week of sweet Christmas bakes, we’re tucking into a pan of Moorish Spanish meatballs for savoury relief. Think of it as a one-pan tapas supper.

In the midst of whipping up berry jellies, pannacotta puds and caramel date slices, dinner inspiration was rather lacking. What I really needed was something easy that I could throw together with the least amount of effort and still taste amazing? I finally settled on meatballs. No matter how often I make them, the pan is mopped. Other meatball favourites are my North African Chermoula meatballs or juicy Italian-style Prosciutto meatballs and spaghetti. I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like meatballs. When everyone gathers around table and starts counting with intent, you know they’re kind of special.

The Spanish are skilled at eliciting the best from food aromatics. Here, gutsy aromas of cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika and oregano mingle with a house red to deliver bold flavour. This recipe was completely unplanned but it turned out so delicious that I thought I’d quickly share it with you. I’m serving mine with a butter bean mash. Fluffy mashed potatoes or polenta will be equally good. If you need to make these gluten-free, omit the breadcrumbs and replace with ground almonds.

Spanish Meatballs
Spanish Meatballs
Serves: 4
For the meatballs
  • 500g free-range beef mince
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) ground coriander
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon( dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the tomato sauce
  • 30ml (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  • one large red onion, diced
  • 1 -2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
  • 7.5ml (1 1/2 teaspoons) smoked paprika
  • 80ml (1/3 cup) red wine
  • 2 x 400g tinned, chopped tomatoes
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) brown sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Place all the ingredients for the meatballs in a large bowl and mix together until well combined. Roll into evenly sized balls and rest in the fridge to firm up for about half an hour.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large based pan. Brown the meatballs on both sides. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, sauté the onions until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the spices and stir through. Return the meatballs back into the pan and deglaze with the wine. Reduce down by half. Now add the tomatoes, sugar, bay leaves and oregano. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer on a low heat for about 20 – 25 minutes until the meatballs are cooked through and the tomato sauce, thickened.



10 Comments. Leave new

  • I’ve just made these for supper. So easy and so delicious! Thanks Di, we now have another firm favourite from you. x

  • Woohoo! Go Gill. These meatballs are also perfect party food if you roll them mini-sized.

  • Do you brown the meatballs before putting them in the sauce.

  • Hi Julie. My apologies. Yes, you do. I’ve corrected this omission on the recipe. Thanks Di

  • Hester Hill
    7 April 2016 5:39 pm

    I grew up on meatballs _ the South Arican Boere ones The Spanish alternative sounds competative enough to challenge the old -time favourite .Will report back on the outcome !

  • Dianne Bibby
    13 April 2016 7:40 pm

    I’m sure it’s going to be a new favourite!

  • What are these garnished with? Is that parsley or cilantro?

  • Dianne Bibby
    19 June 2017 4:30 am

    Hi Michelle. I’ve used Italian flat leaf parsley, but you can use cilantro if you prefer a stronger herb flavour.

  • Hi Di, can you turn this into a freezer meal? How long would it last? Thank you!

  • Dianne Bibby
    22 June 2022 5:20 pm

    Hello there. My apologies for the very late reply. Absolutely. Meatballs freeze really well. I try to cover them with the sauce as they keep best this way. So handy having dinner frozen for those days when there’s just no time! Best regards Di

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