Albondigas with Olives in tomato sauce in black cast iron dishes.

Albóndigas with Olives

Albóndigas with Olives in tomato sauce is a classic Spanish meatball dish with a twist that olive lovers will love. Perfect for tapas, as an appetizer, or a hearty meal on its own.

Albondigas with Olives in tomato sauce in black cast iron dishes.
Albóndigas with Olives

Albóndigas with Olives in tomato sauce is a classic Spanish meatball dish with a twist that olive lovers will love. Perfect for tapas, as an appetizer, or a hearty meal on its own, you will love this easy albóndigas recipe! This post is brought to you by Have an Olive Day featuring olives from Spain.

Albondigas with Olives in tomato sauce in a red Staub Dutch oven.

I think there might be a cloud following me. From the moment I stepped out of Newark Airport and drove into the city, I looked out the rain-streaked car windows as the shiny roads whizzed by. A touch of rain and a blast of cold air followed me through the revolving doors into my hotel, and as I settled into my cozy room, I closed the blinds on the dreary rooftops of the New York skyline.

Ingredients for Albondigas with Olives in a glass bowl.

Spanish Manzanilla Olives in a small black pan.

I haven’t had too much luck with the weather these last couple of times I’ve been back to New York. Last month, there was that arctic chill that made me coax my dad to reconsider moving out west to warmer weather. This time, it was rain, along with the cold. Wet umbrellas, dark raincoats, and the craving for cozy foods seemed to set the tone for the whole weekend.

But I really didn’t mind so much, since I was back for the IACP conference, where I had to be indoors anyways, for the most part. And if I wasn’t indoors, I was below ground in the subway, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise, because if the weather was better, I would be tempted to sneak away! It was a very full weekend, full of bagel making (you may have seen on Instagram stories!) and workshops and sessions, and lots of networking. I managed to see old friends, as well as my brother and adorable nephew. The rain didn’t hamper one bit.

Baking sheet with meatballs for Albondigas with Olives.

When I returned to the Bay Area, the rain followed, and back in my kitchen, so did the craving for more comfort food. Meatballs sounded like a good idea, albondigas, to be specific. I was making an olive inspired dish for the Have an Olive Day campaign using Spanish olives, and I knew I wanted to infuse each bite of meatball with bright, briny Manzanilla olives stuffed with pimiento. The pimiento is not to be ignored here, as it adds extra flavor, and as the rain fell, I rolled and rolled, while the sauce bubbled away on the stove.

Albondigas with Olives in red Dutch Oven with wooden spoon.

Serving of Albondigas with olives in cast iron dish.

It was the first home cooked meal I had made in days, and with each tear of doughy bread, wiping up the tomato sauce with a bite of tender pork and turkey meatballs, I could taste the olives shining through. It’s like that bright taste of lemon when you sip your tea, or the smear of jam on a scone with clotted cream. It’s the spicy bite of kimchee with bibimpap, or the fresh herbs in a steaming bowl of pho.

It’s the brightness amid the comfort, and the cozy that you crave. And the perfect way to say welcome home.

Bowl of albondigas with olives in tomato sauce.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you in partnership with Have an Olive Day. Thank you for supporting brands that matter to me; sponsored posts such as this help behind the scenes at Kitchen Confidante. All opinions in this post are, as always, my own.

Albóndigas with Olives

Serves 6-8 | Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 25 minutes

Albóndigas with Olives in tomato sauce is a classic Spanish meatball dish with a twist that olive lovers will love. Perfect for tapas, as an appetizer, or a hearty meal on its own.


For the meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego or parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated yellow onion
  • 5 oz finely chopped Spanish manzanilla olives
  • 4 cloves grated or minced garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoonWorcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

For the sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon saffron
  • 32 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 5 oz Spanish manzanilla olives


Make the meatballs:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment, foil or a silicone mat.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the pork, turkey, breadcrumbs, cilantro, cheese, onion, olives, garlic, egg, oregano, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil until well combined.
  3. Using a cookie scoop or small ice cream scoop, divide the mixture into even sized meatball portions about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You should have about 22 meatballs.
  4. Coat your hands with remaining olive oil and roll the balls until smooth and place on baking sheet.
  5. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

Make the tomato sauce:

  1. While the meatballs bake, heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is just beginning to turn golden brown.
  3. Add the beef broth and saffron and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Using a heavy spoon, mash the tomatoes as the sauce begins to bubble. If you have an immersion blender, this would be a good time to blend the sauce to your desired consistency, just be careful not to blend the bay leaf.
  5. Lower heat and let the sauce simmer partially covered.
  6. When the meatballs are done, add them to the sauce, along with the olives, and let it cook for about 5 minutes more.
  7. Drizzle the albondigas with a touch more olive oil and serve immediately with warm bread.


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  1. Leslie Ann

    Made this recipe for Father’s Day today and oh my gosh – amazing. If we can’t go to Spain, this will have to do! Will def be making these again. Thank you!

    • Liren Baker

      I’m so happy to hear that, Leslie! I hope you all had a great Father’s Day celebration – thanks for coming back to let me know!

    • Liren Baker

      The storms just won’t stop for you guys! I really hope you get a break soon — we had a gorgeous dose of sun today. I hope the rays reach you! In the meantime, more cozy meals!

  2. Brian @ A Thought For Food

    Glad you enjoyed your time at IACP. Shame the weather wasn’t great, but, as you said, you may have been tempted to run off to do stuff around the city.

    This dish looks so lovely and a great use of those wonderful Spanish olives!

    • Liren Baker

      IACP was great – and the weather just made it extra cozy to stay indoors :) But now that I’m back home, the cozy food craving continues! I want to try your beautiful tortilla next! Just bought some mushrooms!

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