Mexican Albondigas en Chipotle

4.89 from 17 votes
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A plate of albondigas al chipotle
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Given how many meatballs I eat, it was inevitable that I would come up with a good albondigas recipe. What can I say? I love meatballs. Anyone who doesn’t lacks some critical gene required to be a good human, I suspect.

Every culture in the world makes some kind of meatball, and those cultures that are vegetarian make meatless meatball-like orbs. Meatballs are universal. They are little balls of comfort.

I’ve made this particular albondigas recipe with venison, duck, and wild pork. Any meat will do. Bear? Sure. Beef or pork? Of course. Skip the muskrat, though. This recipe comes together in an hour or so, making it easy enough to do on a work night. Kids love making meatballs, too, so shanghai them into it.

I mostly like eating these with rice while watching football or nature shows, but chipotle meatballs make a damn good party appetizer. I’d like to see a duel between chipotle meatballs and Swedish meatballs. Both awesome, both classic party fare, just very different.

OK, I am rambling. Make these meatballs! Seriously. Make them.

One good tip is to double the batch and, before you sauce your meatballs but after you’ve browned them, set them on a baking sheet or plate in the freezer until they are solid, then keep your albondigas in a freezer bag. That way you can pull out meatballs whenever the mood strikes you. Just reheat in the sauce of your choice, ideally this chipotle sauce.

Note that there is one other common way to eat albondigas, which is as a soup. Those meatballs are much smaller. And there’s another Mexican recipe for a what’s essentially a flattened meatball that’s also well worth a look: pacholas.

albondigas al chipotle recipe
4.89 from 17 votes

Mexican Albondigas en Chipotle

Clearly, while I tagged this a venison recipe pretty much any ground meat will work here. Just make sure it has been ground with some fat or your meatballs will be sad and dry. Other than that, this is a dead-easy recipe. Only thing even remotely challenging is finding the chipotles in adobo, but every Latin market in America sells it, as do most larger supermarkets. In a pinch, you could buy chipotles in adobo online.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 4 people
Author: Hank Shaw
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour



  • 2 pounds ground venison, duck, or other meat
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons dried mint
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Bacon fat, lard, or oil for frying


  • 2 tablespoons lard, bacon fat or oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups tomato puree
  • 2 cups broth, chicken, duck, venison, whatever
  • 3 to 6 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Salt to taste


  • Put all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix with your very clean hands until the mixture comes together. Don't overwork the mix or the meatballs will get tough. Roll into meatballs of whatever size you want. I like to make them by the tablespoon. If you have the time, let the meatballs sit in the fridge for up to an hour; this helps them stay together.
  • Brown the meatballs in the bacon fat, lard, or oil. Set aside once browned.
  • If you browned the meatballs in a large enough pan to hold all of them, drain all but about 2 tablespoons of the fat and keep using that pan. Otherwise, get a pot or pan large enough to hold all the meatballs and heat 2 tablespoons of fat in it. Cook the onions in this until soft and browned at the edges, about 10 minutes. Stir from time to time. Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add the spices, chipotles, broth and tomato and mix well. Nestle the meatballs into the sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the meatballs are cooked through. Eat with rice or by themselves as an appetizer.


Serve this with rice, or by itself as an appetizer.


Calories: 653kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 278mg | Sodium: 1833mg | Potassium: 1621mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1593IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 170mg | Iron: 13mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe? Tag me today!Mention @huntgathercook or tag #hankshaw!

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About Hank Shaw

Hey there. Welcome to Hunter Angler Gardener Cook, the internet’s largest source of recipes and know-how for wild foods. I am a chef, author, and yes, hunter, angler, gardener, forager and cook. Follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Hi Hank,

    I’m excited to try this recipe but forgot to buy the dried mint. Could you recommend a substitute or should I just go without?

  2. question, in the nutrition area it says that there are 1833 MLG of sodium. why. this recipe would forbidden for most people it’s almost the daily allowance of sodium for a healthy diet. just wondering

    1. Guadalupe: No idea. That nutrition calculator is weird, and often off. This dish really isn’t terribly salty.

  3. I just made these for dinner tonight. Making a meal like this is very satisfying. I am a wife and mother of two boys. So I live with hunters and anglers, I am the gardener and cook. I used the antelope (pronghorn) that my son shot and processed with his father and tomatoes, onion, garlic and chipotles from my garden. Yes, I make my own chipotles from jalapenos I grow myself. The broth was venison broth that I made with the leg bones of my husbands deer last winter. All in all a family affair.

  4. I love that this meals comes together quickly and tastes like I spent all day in the kitchen. I’ve used all types of ground from pronghorn, deer, elk and moose. I do add chipotle adobo sauce only to tone down the heat to make it more kid friendly and my little absolutely heathens crush this!