Craving juicy meatballs with a mildly spicy twist? Then you'll love my Mexican baked meatballs, prepared with a combination of beef and chorizo, plus a kiss of cilantro, oregano and fresh mint. Seared off until golden-brown then baked in a zesty chipotle tomato sauce, these baked meatballs are extra cozy served over rice with a sprinkle of queso fresco cheese!
Baked Meatballs with Bold, Zesty Flavor
Tender, juicy, beefy meatballs...what's not to love about 'em?
When prepared with love and lots of aromatic ingredients, then seared, simmered, or baked off, these two-bite morsels pack a flavor punch, and bring a bit of extra comfy-coziness to our dinner rotation.
We love meatballs in our household, and I make 'em and add them into my rigatoni meatball soup, my albondigas soup, or even enjoy them in an extra decadent way by stuffing them with mozzarella and adding a crispy topping of panko when we crave these mozzarella stuffed meatballs.
So when I felt like upping my meatball “game” a bit with a fresh, slightly spicy twist, I decided to play around with south-of-the-border ingredients and created these mouthwatering Mexican baked meatballs, perfect when lots of bold, zesty flavor is what we're hungry for.
Prepared with a delectable combination of organic, grass-fed lean ground beef and pork chorizo, as well as a sprinkle of earthy spices, cilantro, oregano and fresh mint, these baked meatballs are gently simmered in a chipotle tomato sauce for lots of added coziness.
They're absolutely irresistible when spooned atop of hot rice with an extra sprinkle of cilantro, some queso fresco cheese and a few roasted pumpkin seeds, and with an accompaniment of simple flour tortillas they're just as delicious!
My Recipe For Mexican Baked Meatballs with Chipotle Tomato Sauce
When I think of rich, deep, earthy flavors with a Mexican twist, I think of fresh herbs such as cilantro, oregano, and mint, plus some heat from chipotle peppers and green chilis, along with a kiss of sweet citrus.
I also think pork chorizo, with its bright orange-red hue and rich flavor, which is a terrific candidate to combine with the lean ground beef that I use when preparing these baked meatballs.
To keep these meatballs tender and juicy, I like to use fresh breadcrumbs that I process using a slice of bread or a French roll, adding in whisked eggs and a splash of milk to act as binders.
Once I mix together my meatball ingredients, I sear them to create a tasty outer crust, and then bake them in the oven in my zesty chipotle tomato sauce.
Here's a glance at my Mexican baked meatballs recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I prepare my meatball mixture then roll portions of it into 1 ½ ounce meatballs. I allow the formed meatballs to chill for 20 minutes.
- Then, I sear the meatballs, just until golden-brown on the outside, then set them aside on a platter for a moment.
- In the same skillet, I prepare my chipotle tomato sauce with my aromatic ingredients and peppers, a touch of orange juice for mild sweetness, plus my crushed tomatoes.
- I bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, then nestle the seared meatballs into the sauce, place the skillet into the oven, and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through.
- To finish, I sprinkle extra cilantro and queso fresco over the meatballs, then spoon them with some sauce over rice, if desired, or enjoy with a side of flour tortillas.
Mexican Baked Meatballs
by Ingrid Beer
These juicy Mexican baked meatballs are seasoned with fresh herbs and spices, then baked in a mildly spicy chipotle tomato sauce!
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 518 calories (per 3 meatballs with sauce)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 50 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Baked Meatball Ingredients:
- 1 (heaping) cup fresh breadcrumbs (processed from a 2 to 3 ounce roll or slice of bread)
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 pound lean ground beef (85/15 ratio, organic and grass-fed, preferably)
- ½ pound pork chorizo
- ¾ – 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoons black pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ cup cilantro, finely chopped, plus extra for garnish
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
- 1 jumbo egg, whisked (or 2 smaller eggs)
- Avocado oil, for searing
- Roasted pumpkin seeds, optional garnish
- Queso fresco, optional garnish
Chipotle Tomato Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilis (mild), drained
- Black pepper
- 1 chipotle pepper, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce (sauce from chipotle peppers can)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ cup orange juice (from 1 large orange, if squeezing fresh)
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of your meatball ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized.
- To prepare your baked meatballs, combine the breadcrumbs with the milk in a small bowl, and allow to soak for a moment to moisten. To a large bowl, add your ground beef, chorizo, the moistened breadcrumbs, the salt, pepper, and the remainder of the ingredients up to and including the whisked egg(s).
- Using your clean hands, gently combine the mixture just until the ingredients are incorporated, then scoop out 1 ½ ounce portions of the meatball mixture and roll to form roughly 20 meatballs (the mixture will be a little delicate/moist, which is fine).
- Place the rolled meatballs onto a large plate or platter, and chill in the freezer for 20 minutes until slightly firm.
- While the meatballs chill, gather and prep all of your chipotle tomato sauce ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Preheat your oven to 350°.
- Once your meatballs have chilled, drizzle a little of the avocado oil into a large, oven-safe, heavy-bottom skillet (I love my cast iron for this), and heat the skillet on medium to medium-high heat.
- Once the skillet is hot, add half of the meatballs in and brown them on all sides for about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining meatballs. Set them aside on a platter for a moment.
- To prepare your sauce, wipe out any excess oil from the skillet, leaving about 2 tablespoons worth in the skillet. Add your onion in and saute for a few moments until softened.
- Add in the garlic and diced green chilis, along with a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and stir together until aromatic. Next, add in the minced chipotle pepper and the adobo sauce, and stir to combine.
- Next, add in the orange zest, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, and stir until aromatic. Stir in the tomato paste and cook it for a bout 30 seconds, then add in the orange juice and allow it to bubble up for a moment.
- Add in the crushed tomatoes, plus another pinch or two of salt, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, then nestle the seared meatballs into the sauce, and place the skillet into the oven.
- Bake the Mexican meatballs uncovered for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cooked through.
- To finish the Mexican baked meatballs, garnish with additional cilantro leaves, queso fresco, and roasted pumpkin seeds (if desired), and serve with your desired accompaniment such as rice, flour tortillas, etc.
Tips & Tidbits for my Mexican baked meatballs recipe:
- Lean, grass-fed, organic beef, for best flavor: For best flavor and quality, opt for organic, grass-fed ground beef if you possibly can. The flavor is richer and beefier, and the meat better for you. Choose ground beef with a ratio of 85/15 lean to fat for best results.
- Pork chorizo for a kiss of spice: Adding a small amount of Mexican-style pork chorizo to the ground beef mixture adds lots of delicious flavor and richness. You can typically find it in the meat department of the market with other ground meat or in sausage casings. And if you're not a fan of chorizo, feel free to leave it out and use all beef instead.
- Go spicy or go more to mild side: For the sake of the recipe, I'm going about medium level of heat here. If you like things less spicy, feel free to use less chipotle pepper and adobo sauce, and opt for mild green chilis in the can. If you like more of a "kick", then use a bit more chipotles and adobo sauce, plus spicy green chilis.
- What to serve with Mexican baked meatballs: I typically like to serve rice with these, and then spoon the sauce over top. But a simple side such as warm flour tortillas, or roasted potatoes, or even a salad is terrific.