Chipotle Meatballs

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

  • Prep time: 25 minutes
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8



  • 2 slices bacon, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder (or a couple teaspoons of adobo sauce)


  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped, about 1 cup
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-3 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 broth


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.


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.


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.


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  • Bree

    Oh these are so yummy! I’ve made them on several occasions, also froze them, and they always turn out very delicious. My husband can’t handle spicy food all that well, so I only put in about 1/4 to 1/2 a chipotle pepper and that seems to be just enough to get the flavour but not so spicy that he’s in pain for a few days… I usually make my meatballs smaller sized (more sauce coats them this way!). I’ve been using diced fire roasted tomatoes (the only fire roasted kind I can find in my area are diced). I’ve attempted running the tomatoes through my blender a couple times, but I actually like the texture of the diced tomatoes better.

    Question, Elise: Do you know how long the chipotle peppers in adobo would last in the fridge? Seeing as we don’t actually use many in this recipe, there’s quite a few left from the tin that I don’t really want to throw away.


    • Elise

      Hi Bree, great question. I find that chiles in adobo can last a really really long time in the fridge. The chili acts as a preservative. I’m sure I’ve kept some for up to a year.

      • Janet Anderson

        I freeze ours and it keeps that way too.

  • Jenny

    Elise, you never disappoint with your recipes. I made this dish last night using the adobe sauce and 1 adobe pepper, the spice was just right. I served with tortillas, sour cream and white rice. Very simple and flavorful dish. I am making cashew chicken tomorrow and I can’t wait. Thank you again for your wonderful recipes.

  • Trish Percy

    We made this tonight, it was delicious. I had never used chipotle powder before so only put in 1 tsp, next time I’ll put the two in. Used two chipotle chillis in the sauce but could have stood three. We had it with Mexican rice. I think using my homemade chicken stock in the sauce added to the flavour as well, rather than bought stock.

  • Diego


    I was born and raised in Mexico city, living in Switzerland at the moment and this is what my mexico blues needed. Whenever i end up making meatballs, i make the traditional “Albondigas” meatball soup. But today, i found your recipe and it hit my “Mexican food” crave back in to place. I had also just chipotles brought by my mom from Mexico city so it was meant to be. It was Delicious!!!!! Thank you!

  • Renee

    Hi Elise,

    big fan… been following along time. This is a go to recipe for me & hubby…but what I like to do is turn it into a sub. Toast the sub bun, add some cheese, top it with meatballs and sauce, then some cilantro, maybe a little mayo and a big squeeze of lime. Yum!

  • Jo

    Me again. Finally found chipotles in adobo here! I just wanted to know, since I’ve heard that there are two types of oregano (Mex and Italian?), would it be okay to use Italian oregano? I’ve never come across the Mexican type.

    If I have Mexican oregano on hand, I use it, if not, I use regular (Italian) oregano. ~Elise

  • Helen

    I did try making these with veal and they turned out terrific.

    Fabulous recipe.


  • Erin

    My daughter made these meatballs tonight for dinner. They were very good. Funny, though…she misread 1-3 chiles and instead read it 1-3 CANS OF CHILES. Thankfully we only had one can!! So, she used an entire can of chipotles. IT WAS SO HOT!! She was able to salvage it though, by taking out some of the sauce and adding more tomatoes and broth. The sauce was hot, but the flavor of the meatballs, as well as the sauce was very good!

  • Jennie

    I made this into meatball subs with some manchego cheese on top. My fiance who is not a fan of meatball subs could not get enough.

  • Allison

    This recipe is absolutely amazing. I used the mix of pork/veal/beef for the base. Great kick and flavor – pared it with manicotti – yum!

  • David boring

    Loved it. I still prefer my meatballs which I use hot italian sausage to make, but I love new uses for Chipotle peppers in adobe sauce. I make fire roasted salsa with them and chicken tortilla soup and now I can make meatballs! I never use a full can(anymore!) and I hate for it to go to waste.

  • Grace

    I have a dumb question… are the bacon slices cooked first or uncooked and right from the package?

    They are uncooked. ~Elise

  • Cheryl A.

    Hi there – I love this website. Anyways, I have been meaning to make these since you posted this recipe. Was finally able to make these last night and they were SOOOO delicious!! My husband’s words – “this is a keeper.” Thank you for the recipe!! Very flavorful and a nice change from regular italian meatballs. FYI – to the person who posted that they don’t eat pork – I used ground turkey because that’s what I had on hand. I also didn’t use the bacon as my husband suffers from heart failure and we can’t have the excess sodium. They were still delicious!! I plan on making them for some friends in a couple of weeks and will use the bacon then though – I’m sure they will be really good!! Thanks again!!

  • Kris

    HELP! I have the worst luck with canned chipotles in adobo. I’ve made two chili recipes using them and both were disasters. One from Bobby Flay and the other Rick Bayless. Both had such strong chili flavor we couldn’t eat it. What am I doing wrong?

    For anyone in the San Francisco area check out the supermarket called Mi Pueblo. It’s a fantastic grocery store for authentic Mexican ingredients.

    Sounds like you just need to cut back on the amounts you are using. Everyone’s taste is different and perhaps your tastebuds are just more sensitive to chiles than the authors of the recipes you are trying. ~Elise

  • Helen

    Do you think veal would be a good substitute for the pork?

    No idea. If you try it with veal, please let us know how it turns out for you. ~Elise

  • Rose

    My husband and I both like spicy food so we tried this for dinner tonight. I tasted a meatball shortly after they came out of the oven and thought that it might not be spicy enough. Shortly after I put the meatballs in the sauce, I tasted the sauce and still thought that it might not be spicy enough. We let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for about 2 hours and then ate dinner. On the front of the palate there wasn’t much heat but there was a very pleasant heat on the back of the palate which kept us going until our plates were clean. We will definitely try this recipe again.

  • Ashley

    Hi Elise, where did you buy the dish in the picture? It’s absolutely beautiful.

    Thanks Ashley, it’s Mexican talavera pottery. I either bought it somewhere around here (lots of place in California sell this style of Mexican pottery) or I picked it up on one of my trips to Mexico, can’t remember. ~Elise

  • Jo

    Hi, long-time site gawker.. I love Simply Recipes!

    Just a question: It says to use pork, but unfortunately my mother grew up not eating it, therefore anything I make for the family cannot include pork, ham, bacon, etc.

    Mindful of possible flavour sacrifice, what would be the next best type of ground meat to use?

    I know others have used ground turkey but I’d be happy to know your opinion :)

    I would use ground turkey and perhaps up the spices a bit. Also, you’ll need to add fat to the meatballs as ground turkey is lean. I would add some olive oil. ~Elise

  • Lady Amalthea

    I love the idea of serving these over spaghetti! I think I may also make a double batch of the sauce and use it to make a spicy version of baked ziti, with Jack cheese and cotija instead of the usual mozzarella. Yum!

  • The Starving Student

    Sounds delicious! But for some reason it is almost impossible to find chipotles in adobo in Canada (or at least where I live). They are so good…our grocery stores need to smarten up and get with the program! I always add a combination of chili powder and smoked paprika to give it that extra smokey flavor.

  • latenac

    My family loves the original Rick Bayless recipe. With the bacon it’s quite good with ground turkey as well.

  • Katie | Healthnut Foodie

    What is it about this time of year that just screams meatballs? I just posted a more mild, turkey based version a couple weeks ago! Yours look fantastic! I can’t wait until my girls get a bit older so we can start cranking up the heat again!

    On a side note, the first time I made homemade baked beans, I naively swapped the traditional chili powder for chipotle chile powder. Holy moly! Makes me feel bad for those that used two cans of chipotle in adobo!

  • Becki's Whole Life

    These sound delicious and full of flavor. That is kind of funny that the original recipe called for 2 cans….wow, that would be pretty hot!

    Not the kind of typo you want! Rick’s recipe called for 2 chiles. The NYT called for 2 cans. Can you imagine being at the editor’s desk the next morning when the calls came in from all the people who tried the recipe with two cans? Yikes. ~Elise

  • Kendra

    Wow are these tasty! I used ground turkey and omitted the bacon (and used my usual wheat germ for the bread crumbs), and they turned out fantastic! The sauce was one of the best I’ve ever had. The chipotle flavor was so powerful, and the fresh cilantro was a nice touch. Thanks for this recipe!

  • David

    A note not included here from Rick Bayless’ book. If you’re using panko, increase to 3/4 cup. I always use panko now and think others probably are doing it more, too. Love this recipe. If you like Authentic Mexican, check out any of Rick’s books. He’s the best, bar none!!

  • KA Jones

    Wow, this was good. You know what’s really good with it? is polenta — especially polenta into which you’ve mixed some fresh corn (say, an ear’s worth) that you’ve cut from the cob and sauteed in a little butter until it almost starts to brown. Then when the polenta is done simmering, stir in the corn, mix, and spoon the whole shebang into an oiled pan, let it cool, then slice it, grill the slices, and serve them alongside the meatballs with some of the sauce drizzled over. YUM.

  • Rebecca

    Boy, these meatballs pack a punch! I’m in the midst of a kitchen remodel (no oven right now) so sauteed meatballs on the stovetop. Also couldn’t gain access to my put-away food processor — just chopped all ingredients finely. These were really very good. I love how the hint of mint shines through. I served with some leftover brown rice blend from Trader Joe’s that was really too hearty and chewy for an already pronounced dish. Will definitely make again with some fluffy white rice and a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt on top.

  • Karen

    Did you use dried bread crumbs or fresh?

    When a recipe calls for bread crumbs, we take the hard ends of French bread that we save, break them up a bit, and run them through a blender. So they are definitely dry. ~Elise

  • Bill

    I made these, but left the seeds in the Chipoltes, added a little extra spice. I also don’t have a food processor, so I left the diced tomatoes whole and just kind of minced up the peppers, it still turned out fantastic, a little more of a rustic type feel leaving the tomatoes whole. I didn’t do the bit with the chicken broth either, but still great either way. I might get a food processor so I can make this dish the way it was intended.

  • Vladimir

    I have some nice smokey bacon ends that I need to use for something. Would this be too much for this dish or would they complement the chipotle? I’ll probably half this recipe and give it a whirl this weekend and will get the opinion of my very-much carnivorous girlfriend.

    I think the smokey bacon will work great with the smokey chipotle. Go for it! ~Elise

  • Ken Sloan

    I’ve actually been able to find chipotles in adobo at my local walmart of all places. Otherwise, they’re usually in the general ‘ethnic’ section of the supermarket.

  • Annabelle

    I just discovered Chipotle Chile Powder and am having fun experimenting with it. All this time I thought it was a whole different variety of pepper, that’s neat that it’s just smoked and dried jalapenos.

  • scotte

    This sounds sooo tasty, I can’t wait to try it!! I have to ask though. I tried finding chipotle in adobo at my supermarket and couldn’t…I live in an area with a heavy Hispanic make-up and an incredible international food section….was I looking in the place? Where did you find them?

    Hi Scotte, you should be able to find them at your supermarket in the ethnic food section. They come in small cans. Otherwise, you might try to find a local hispanic market, where you would be very likely to find chipotle chiles in adobo. ~Elise