Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce

In my previous post, I shared my recipe for Tortilla Soup, a lionized dish of Mexican cuisine that may be served on its own, or as a very nourishing first course.  Another all-time Mexican classic is a main course of Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce, often served with a side of rice.  In Mexico, the traditional way to cook meatballs, in general, is by preparing ground meat with egg and bread, similar to a mix for meatloaf, and then dropping the raw meatballs directly in caldillo, a brothy tomato-based sauce.  From there, they may be finished as a soup with vegetables, as I have posted before, or as in this case, with the iconic chipotle peppers, in a thickened caldillo. 

The level of spiciness may be easily controlled by the amount of chipotles used; two peppers will impart lots of flavour without adding too much fire to the sauce.  From there, more peppers will result in a spicier sauce, also with a deeper red tone.  Chipotles may also be chosen from dry (photo below, left), soaked in half a cup of hot water, with stems removed (photo below, centre), or from canned in adobo sauce, including about 1/4 cup of adobo (photo below, right):

The rehydrated chipotle peppers tend to be spicier than the canned, resulting also in a darker sauce.

Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce – Albóndigas en chipotle

Ingredients (for four portions)

1 lb (454 g) lean ground meat (beef, pork, or mixed)
1 egg
1 slice bread; broken into small pieces
¼ cup milk
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
¼ tsp ground all-spice
3 tomatoes; washed
2 chipotle peppers with their liquid (rehydrated in hot water, or canned in adobo), or more, to taste
¼ onion; peeled and cut into large chunks
2 cloves garlic; peeled and cut in half
1 tbsp oil
2-3 cups water, as needed

In a mixing bowl, beat egg with a fork, then add milk, salt, pepper and all-spice (photo below, left); mix-in bread and allow to soak for a couple of minutes, then incorporate the ground meat, mixing all ingredients together (photo below, right): 

Continue kneading with clean hands until the mix looks uniform.  Divide into 16-20 portions, and form each one into a ball:

Set aside. 

Score a cross on the bottom of the tomatoes, then blanch in boiling water until skins start to crack and separate from the flesh; transfer to a bowl (photo below, left), remove skin and stem spot, and slice into quarters.  Transfer tomatoes to a blender jar, add onion, garlic and chipotles with their liquid (canned with adobo sauce, in the photo below, right):

Process until very smooth (photo below, left).   In a large pot, warm up oil over medium-high heat, then add tomato mix (photo below, right):

Fry the sauce, stirring, for 2-3 minutes.   Add two cups of water (photo below, left); bring back to boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  After ten minutes, carefully drop reserved meatballs into the pot, one by one (photo below, right):

Add just enough water to cover the meatballs, gently stirring to incorporate all the ingredients.  Bring to boil again, then lower the heat to a simmer and cover pot (photo below, left).  Cook for  20 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed, stirring gently (photo below, right):

In the photo at the top of this post, and below, a plate of meatballs in chipotle sauce with a basket of corn tortillas, and a side of Mexican style red rice:


Another batch prepared with rehydrated chipotles, resulted in a spicier and darker sauce.  In the photo below, a portion of meatballs from that batch, with plenty of spicy sauce, a side of Mexican style white rice, and fried plantain with cream:


In this recipe, the lack of options if chipotle peppers are not available is not a pedantic vendetta against substitutions; the unique flavour and smokiness of chipotles truly make the dish.  For your convenience, click on the images below for products available on Amazon™.  DISCLAIMER: Any reviews included in this post are my own, for items I have purchased, not provided by any company; as an Amazon Associates Program affiliate, I might receive a commission for any purchases originated from the links below, at no extra cost to you (thank you to readers who have bought other products starting with a click from my links!): 

I am sharing my recipe at Thursday Favourite Things #474, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.


I am bringing my recipe to Full Plate Thursday #521 with Miz Helen @ Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.


I am bringing this dish to Fiesta Friday #365 with Angie @ Fiesta Friday, this with co-hosting with Eff @ Food Daydreaming.

14 thoughts on “Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce

    1. The dry ones, rehydrated by themselves are smokier and generally spicier because the adobo has vinegar, onion, and spices and herbs, even a little raw sugar, and some cooks add guajillo peppers, too, which are mild. So I would say, if you don’t like the sweet&sour in chipotles in adobo, you might like the rehydrated, but if what you dislike is the smoky spice, then most likely you wouldn’t like them either.

      Liked by 1 person

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