Chipotle Meatballs

Ground pork formed into meatballs with minced bacon, garlic, eggs, bread crumbs, and oregano, cooked with a chipotle chili and tomato sauce.

Chipotle Meatballs
Elise Bauer

Several years ago a Rick Bayless recipe for chipotle meatballs appeared in the Wednesday section of the New York Times. Fortunately we didn't notice the recipe until a correction for it appeared in a subsequent paper, correcting the 2 cans of chipotle peppers the paper had published with the correct 2 chiles.

We made the meatballs and loved them, but couldn't help wincing over the idea of eating them made with 5 times as much chipotle!

We first published this recipe in 2006 and have since modified it a bit. This is the updated version. Excellent served with rice and/or tortillas.

You could even serve the meatballs with spaghetti for a Tex Mex-ish version. It's quite spicy and best accompanied with something cooling like sour cream and thinly sliced head lettuce.

Chipotle Meatballs

Prep Time 25 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 6 to 8 servings



  • 2 slices bacon, minced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or fresh mint, finely chopped

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chipotle powder (or a couple teaspoons adobo sauce)


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 to 3 chipotles chiles in adobo (canned), minced fine and sauce reserved

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 cup beef or chicken stock


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Mix meatball ingredients:

    Mix all the meatball ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well with your clean hands for a minute or two. You want the mixture to be well integrated, but you don't want to overwork it or the meatballs will be tough.

  3. Form into meatballs and bake:

    With wet hands or an ice cream scoop, form meat into about 16 plum-size balls and space them out in a 13-by-9-inch baking dish, or, if you have one, a mini-muffin tin. Bake at 400°F until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

    Elise Bauer
  4. Make the sauce:

    While meatballs bake, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat and sauté the onions until they just start to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.

    Add the minced chipotles, the can of tomatoes, oregano or mint, and beef broth. Mix well and add salt to taste. If you want more chipotle flavor, add the reserved chipotle sauce spoonful by spoonful, mixing and tasting between spoonfuls. Simmer the sauce uncovered as the meatballs cook.

    Elise Bauer
  5. Toss meatballs with sauce to serve:

    When meatballs are ready, put them into the sauce and toss to coat. If the sauce is too thin for your taste, continue to boil it down for a few minutes. Otherwise, serve with rice, tortillas or polenta. Garnish with cilantro to serve.

    Elise Bauer


The word "chipotle" actually comes from the Nahuatl words chil (chile pepper) and poctli (smoke). (See Wikipedia.)


Diana Kennedy's chipotle meatballs from The Wednesday Chef

Rick Bayless' chipotle meatballs as written in the New York Times

Chipotle Meatballs
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
393 Calories
24g Fat
17g Carbs
28g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 393
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 24g 31%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 129mg 43%
Sodium 803mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 17g 6%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 28g
Vitamin C 13mg 64%
Calcium 94mg 7%
Iron 3mg 19%
Potassium 748mg 16%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.