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When we visit any of our favorite tapas bars in Spain, one of my go-to choices is Spanish Meatballs (in Spanish, albondigas). Albondigas Tapas are similar to Italian meatballs, but the Spanish meatballs are smaller (about 1 inch in diameter).
They are meant to be appetizer or snack portions and are often eaten with a toothpick or on individual small plates.
These tapas meatballs are usually served in a smoky tomato sauce. The unique flavor comes from the addition of smoked paprika. One of the best parts of eating the albondigas is scooping up the delicious remaining tomato sauce with crusty bread.
What are Tapas?
For those not familiar with the concept of tapas, they are small plates served with drinks at bars in Spain. It is said that a Spanish king declared that all drinks would be served with food, to prevent workers from getting too inebriated during their midday meal.
This food would typically be a piece of bread with some ham, which was usually served free of charge atop a glass of wine.
Today, you can still find bars that provide free tapas – typically in local neighborhoods. These free options are typically very basic, and in my experience, not very good.
Some tapas bars specialize in much more elaborate “snacks”. Here, don’t expect freebies – you’ll be paying for the quality.
At these establishments, no menu is necessary. The various tapas options are displayed on trays or under glass on the counter.
We typically start by ordering our glass of wine, sangria, or tinto de verano. Then we “window shop” up and down the bar to see what’s on offer. We’ll then point to a few delicious-looking options and the bartender will prepare a plate.
Some of our favorite tapas joints are self-serve, with color-coded toothpicks indicating the price. When you’ve had your fill of wine and snacks, you simply bring up your toothpicks for your bill to be calculated.
And of course, if Spanish meatballs were one of the options, that would always have been one of the choices for us.
These days, we’re not always within easy reach of a tapas bar. Fortunately, Spanish-style meatballs are very easy to make for the home cook.
What to serve with Spanish Meatballs
Albondigas should be served along with smoky tomato sauce (recipe below).
You can serve these small meatballs as an appetizer, as a side dish, or main course. Better yet, you can serve them as part of your own homemade tapas menu! Don’t leave out some of the other most popular tapas dishes, such as Patatas Bravas or Chorizo in Red Wine, along with a nice pitcher of Spanish Sangria.
Check out our additional Spanish Tapas recipes:
Meatballs can be frozen before or after finishing them in the sauce. Optional: Add a ½ teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to add sweetness. You can also use a blender if you like a smoother sauce.
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 164Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 91mgSodium 123mgCarbohydrates 3gFiber 0gSugar 1gProtein 11g
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 135Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 0mgSodium 93mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 1g
Meatballs can be frozen before or after finishing them in the sauce.
Optional: Add a ½ teaspoon of balsamic vinegar to add sweetness.
You can also use a blender if you like a smoother sauce.