Albondigas Recipe

Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup) is a classic Mexican Soup that’s about to become a family favorite!

Albondigas Soup is a traditional Mexican soup made with juicy, herb and rice infused meatballs (albondigas), and loaded with veggies:  carrots, potatoes, celery, and chayote all simmered in a bold, aromatic tomato broth – and of course toppings!  This Albondigas Soup recipe is hearty, warm, comforting and customizable with your favorite veggies. Albondigas Soup is make ahead friendly (tips and tricks included!) stores and reheats beautifully, is freezer friendly irresistibly delicious!

top view of spicy Albondigas Soup in a white bowl



You will love this Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican Soups have a special place in my heart: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Mexican Chicken Corn Chowder, Chicken Fajita and Rice SoupCheesy Taco SoupWhite Chicken Chili, Salsa Verde Chicken Tortilla Soup and Caldo de Pollo – some of the best soups you will ever taste!  But you know what makes Mexican soup even better?  Meatballs! – AKA Albondigas Soup! 

If you aren’t familiar with Albondigas Soup, I’m excited to make the introduction because this soup is epic – loaded with everything delicious and then some. It tastes fresh due to the aromatic broth and veggies yet comforting due to the potatoes and meatballs and just plain fabulous due to the layers of flavor and texture all over. Patrick was swooning over this Albondigas Soup recipe and I hope you will be too!  

WHAT IS albondigas Soup?

Albondigas is the Spanish word for meatballs, so Albondigas Soup simply means Meatball Soup – but this isn’t just any meatball soup.  This soup will make you want to face plant into the broth and not come up until every meatball disappears.  Here’s what makes this Albondigas Soup recipe so divine:   

  • THE MEATBALLS.  The unique meatballs in traditional Albondigas Soup are the juicy, plump, delectable, flavor exploding star.  They are loaded with both ground beef and pork, tons of fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, parsley and oregano, aromatic onions and garlic and finally rice is used as the binding agent.  Can we say texture, flavor and YUM?!  The meatballs are made extra delicious – and extra easy -by cooking directly in the broth so they soak up even more flavor.
  • THE BROTH.  The tomato broth creates a soup that is both light yet hearty at the same time.  The broth is a hypnotic blend of beef broth, fire roasted diced tomatoes, green chiles, sautéed onions and garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and smoked paprika.  Its subtle soothing warmth will warm you from the inside out.
  • THE VEGGIES.  The vegetables in Albondigas Soup are customizable.  You can go as simple as potatoes and carrots but my favorite combination is carrots, celery, potatoes and chayote.  The tender veggies with the juicy meatballs create a symphony of textures you won’t be able to get enough of!
  • THE RICE.  Rice is not only added to the albondigas, but often added to the soup as well elevating this meatball soup with yet another layer of satisfying al dente texture.

Now just think of the meatballs, the broth, the veggies and the rice combined into one bowl – and drool a little. 

a spoon scooping up a meatball in authentic  Albondigas Soup

 Albondigas ingredients

There are a lot of ingredients listed for this Albondigas Soup recipe due to both the soup and the meatballs – but keep in mind while the soup does require sauteing a few veggies, the rest is dump and simmer; and all of the meatball ingredients are dump and roll – so please don’t be scared away!


  • Long grain white rice: you’ll want to use long grain white rice as opposed to brown rice otherwise it will not cook in the same time as the meatballs. You also don’t want to use short grain rice or it will cook in too short of a time.
  • Oil:  olive oil but any cooking oil such as avocado oil works great.
  • Onion: you will need one small yellow onion for the Albondigas Soup recipe – half for the soup and half for the meatballs. 
  • Jalapeno: jalapeno adds a pop of flavor and a little kick but does not make this Albondigas Soup overly spicy, in my opinion. I would omit the jalapeno if you want to make sure this soup is very kid friendly and then add cayenne to taste or to individual servings. On the other hand, if you know you LOVE heat, then consider using 2 jalapeno peppers or even a serrano pepper.  You may also use canned diced jalapeno peppers to taste.
  • Carrots:  chop the carrots into 1/2-inch thick slices.  I cut the small ends of my carrots even thicker because they are so narrow.
  • Celery:  chop the celery into 1/2-inch thick slices so they don’t become too soft. 
  • Potatoes:  I use Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1-inch chunks for their buttery flavor. Yukon potatoes are also hard to overcook and never taste mealy. You may also use red potatoes or any other waxy potato but don’t use russet potatoes because they are more likely to fall apart. 
  • Chayote: is also known as mirliton squash of Mexican origin AKA the most delicious squash you have never heard of – you will LOVE it!  They are pear or avocado in shape with a green skin.  When cooked, chayote taste like a baby squash with a hint of sweet corn.  I was able to easily find chayote at my local Sprouts (specialty produce store), so if you don’t spot them right away, make sure you ask someone before you give up. When buying chayote, choose firm, unblemished vegetables – the harder the better.  If you can’t find chayote, you may substitute with zucchini.
  • Garlic: I use 4 garlic cloves but you can use more or less depending on your garlic love.
  • Green chiles:  use one 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles.  They are not spicy, just add tangy flavor, just take care you get the MILD vs HOT. 
  • Fire roasted diced tomatoes:  the tomatoes and their juices add a tangy, slightly sweet and smoky flavor.  Fire roasted tomatoes are very common and can be located with the other canned tomatoes at your grocery store.  If you can’t find them, then you may substitute with regular diced tomatoes.
  • Beef broth:  use low sodium beef broth so we can control the salt otherwise your Albondigas Soup will be too salty.
  • Seasonings:  chili powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, ground coriander, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. It creates a dynamic, satisfying broth you will want to slurp with a straw.


  • Beef: I recommend lean ground beef because it is fatty enough to taste juicy and lean enough to not make your soup greasy.
  • Ground Pork:  is sublime when combined with beef.  I recognize it can be inconvenient, however, to use half beef and half pork, so you may substitute the pork with beef.
  • Rice:  serves as a binder in the meatballs instead of breadcrumbs. The recipe calls for par-boiling the rice before adding to the meatballs otherwise if you use cooked rice, the meatballs will be mushy; if you use uncooked rice, the meatballs will overcook by the time the rice is al dente. 
  • Onion:  use the other half of the yellow onion not used in the soup and make sure to dice it fine so you don’t end up with raw onion in your meatballs.
  • Garlic:  3 finely minced garlic cloves.
  • Egg:  one large egg will do the trick.
  • Herbs:  give these albondigas their distinctive alluring flavor.  Chopped cilantro, mint, parsley and oregano.  You may also use dried parsley and oregano – but fresh is always best!
  • Seasonings: chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper to round out the flavor profile.  If a meatball doesn’t have salt and pepper it will taste bland no matter how many other ingredients you add to it.


Like I mentioned previously, a huge part of what makes Albondigas Soup, Albondigas Soup are the unique meatballs made with rice and herbs so I HIGHLY encourage you to make these meatballs from scratch or the soup will not taste like it was intended.  You may use store-bought meatballs, but just keep that in mind.  

two hands holding a bowl of best  Albondigas Soup

Also, store bought meatballs won’t necessarily save you any time because you whip up your meatballs while your soup is simmering – and nothing beats tender, juicy, homemade meatballs cooked from scratch in flavorful broth.


You may make your meatballs from ground beef, pork, lamb, turkey or chicken.  Just keep in mind the higher the fat content, the juicier the meatballs. I also like to add a little beef bouillon to my turkey or chicken when I am substituting them for beef. The bouillon adds a rewarding beefy flavor. If using bouillon, you will want to reduce the amount of salt in the meatballs.

How to make Albondigas Soup

STEP 1 – Parboil Rice.  Boil rice for 6 minutes. Take this time to chop your veggies for the soup.  Note we are parboiling the rice, it will not be completely tender.

STEP 2 – Sauté Veggies.  Cook onions, jalapenos, carrots, celery, potatoes, garlic and all seasoning to enhance their flavor and expedite the cooking process.

showing how to make Albondigas Soup by adding seasonings to veggies
showing how to make Albondigas Soup by cooking vegetables

STEP 3 – Simmer.  Add tomatoes, green chiles and broth then bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for 20-25 minutes while you make the meatballs.

showing how to make Albondigas Soup by adding green chiles and tomatoes to veggies

STEP 4 – Meatballs.  Add egg to a large bowl and whisk.  Add 1 cup parboiled rice and all remaining meatball ingredients and mix well.  Shape 1 tablespoon-size meatballs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet; about 40-45 meatballs.

showing how to make meatballs for Albondigas Soup by adding hamburger, pork, onions, rice, garlic, cilantro, mint, oregano and parsley to a bowl
showing how to make meatballs for Albondigas Soup by mixing ingredients together in a bowl
showing how to make meatballs for Albondigas Soup by forming meatballs and placing them on a baking sheet

STEP 5 – Simmer meatballs in soup.  Add uncooked meatballs, remaining rice, and chopped chayote to the soup.   Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for an additional 12-15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender.

showing how to make Albondigas Soup by adding meatballs to soup to simmer

STEP 6 – Toppings!   Ladle Albondigas Soup into bowls and top with desired toppings.

a ladle scooping up  Albondigas Soup with cabbage

Albondigas Soup Recipe tips and tricks

  • Use a large pot. This Albondigas Soup recipe makes a large quantity so make sure to use a large pot otherwise you will need to half the recipe. You can also scale down the recipe if you don’t have a large family and don’t want leftovers.  If you do love leftovers (raising my hand high), then you will love this Albondigas Soup for an easy lunch or dinner!
  • Customize vegetables. I love the combo of veggies in this Albondigas Soup recipe- but there’s a lot of flexibility!  Other delicious vegetable options include green beans, bell peppers, zucchini, corn, peas, and cabbage.  Just be aware of veggie cooking times – for example, green beans take longer to cook than peas and cabbage which just takes minutes.
  • Parboil rice for the juiciest meatballs.   If don’t parboil the rice then you will have to cook the meatballs longer in order to soften the rice which results in overcooked, dry, falling apart meatballs; OR if you cook the meatballs just until cooked through the rice will still be crunchy.  So, please parboil the rice and everyone wins!
  • Wet hands to make meatballs. If your hands get too sticky when making meatballs, you can either dampen your palms or lightly spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Uniform meatballs.  I suggest using a scooper to roll your meatballs so they are a uniform size and cook evenly.  This also saves tons of time!
  • Don’t stir meatballs.  The raw meatballs can easily break apart if stirred after they are first added so wait until they have simmered for at least five minutes before gently stirring.  If they break apart though it’s not the end of the world – they still taste delicious -just are no longer meatballs 😉. 
showing how to serve  Albondigas Soup with an up close view of soup in a ladle

How to serve Mexican Meatball Soup

Albondigas Soup is a meal in one that is perfectly delicious with crusty bread, a big green salad, fruit salad, chips and salsa and churros!

Albondigas Soup toppings

Let’s be honest, some of the best part of Mexican soups are the toppings!  This Albondigas Soup doesn’t need much, but it is delicious with the addition of:

  • Lime Juice:  awakens the flavors of the entire soup with a bright pop of citrus.
  • Sour cream:  adds a wonderful creaminess and refreshing tanginess.  You may also use fat free sour cream or Greek yogurt.  
  • Cilantro:  adds a fresh, zesty flair. 
  • Avocado:  chopped or sliced avocados add a wonderful creaminess.  I prefer chopped so I can get a bite of avocado in every spoonful.  
  • Pico de gallo:  a spoonful of  pico de gallo isn’t necessary but adds a depth of freshness I love, otherwise fresh chopped tomatoes are fab. 
  • Hot sauce:  to customize the heat of your Albondigas Soup.


Absolutely!  As with all soups, Albondigas Soup tastes even better the next day so feel free to make it ahead of time for lunches or dinners. The rice and vegetables will absorb some of the broth, so you’ll want to add some additional water to thin to desired consistency.

top view of spicy Albondigas Soup with a spoon

Albondigas Recipe storage

Albondigas Soup should be stored in an airtight container in your refrigerator.  When properly stored, it is good for 3-5 days.

How to freeze this Albondigas Soup Recipe

Yes and no. Potatoes can become grainy and chayote can become mushy which is off-putting to some people but others don’t seem to have a problem with it.  If you don’t mind their texture or want to omit or remove these veggies, then freeze on!

To Freeze Albondigas Soup:

  1. Cool: Allow soup to cool completely before freezing to preserve the integrity of the ingredients and so it doesn’t linger in the “danger zone” temperature for too long.
  2. Package:  Transfer soup to a freezer safe container or smaller containers. 
  3. Freeze. Freeze for up to 3 months.
  4. Defrost/Reheat. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator then reheat on the stove or microwave per instructions.

How to reheat Albondigas

  • Stove: You can reheat large batches of Albondigas Soup on the stove over medium low heat, stirring gently until warmed through. Add additional water or broth as needed to reach desired consistency. 
  • Microwave: For smaller batches or individual servings, you can reheat Albondigas Soup in the microwave. Transfer soup to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lid or paper towel.  Microwave for 2 minutes, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.  Stir in additional broth or water to reach desired consistency. 

Albondigas Recipe FAQs


Yes!  Rice is gluten free and is used in place of breadcrumbs in the meatballs. The rest of the Albondigas Soup recipe ingredients are gluten free. 


For this Albondigas Soup recipe, I like 1 tablespoon round meatballs. This size is large enough so you can sink your teeth into a juicy meatball and they don’t just get lost in the soup. They are also large enough so they are hard to overcook and remain super tender. You can make mini meatballs if you prefer, just take into consideration they will require less cooking time so plan accordingly.

Are albondigas Spanish or Mexican?

There are variations of albóndigas (Spanish for meatballs) in both Spanish and Mexican cuisines, each with its own unique preparation and flavor profiles. In Spain, they are often served in a tomato-based sauce, while in Mexico, albóndigas are commonly added to a soup, such as “Albóndigas Soup” or “Sopa de Albóndigas.”

How do you keep albondigas from falling apart?

Albondigas require both eggs and rice to bind the ingredients together. If you don’ have enough of either ingredient compared to the ratio of meat and liquid, the meatballs can fall apart. My general rule of thumb for no-fail meatballs is 1 pound meat + 1 large egg + 1 cup parboiled rice – works like a charm every time! If your albondigas mixture is too loose to roll, let rest in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help firm up.

Why is my albondigas soup so greasy?

Albondigas soup can become greasy if you don’t use lean ground beef. You can skim the fat of the top of the soup to eliminate some of the grease – next time use leaner beef!



up close of a spoon scooping up a meatball of  Albondigas Soup

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Albondigas Soup Recipe

Albondigas Soup (Mexican Meatball Soup) is a traditional Mexican soup made with juicy, herb and rice infused meatballs (albondigas), and loaded with veggies: carrots, potatoes, celery, and chayote all simmered in a bold, aromatic tomato broth – and of course toppings! This Albondigas Soup recipe is hearty, warm, comforting and customizable with your favorite veggies. Albondigas Soup is make ahead friendly (tips and tricks included!) stores and reheats beautifully, is freezer friendly irresistibly delicious!
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes

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  • 1 cup long-grain white rice, uncooked divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 small yellow onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper minced
  • 2 medium carrots sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 stalks celery sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 2 small Yukon gold potatoes chopped into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tsp EACH dried oregano, ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt, pepper
  • 2 15 oz. cans fire roasted tomatoes with juices
  • 1 4 oz. can mild diced green chiles
  • 8 cups low sodium beef broth
  • 1 chayote, peeled, cored chopped into 1/2” cubes (may sub ½ zucchini)


  • 8 oz. lean ground beef
  • 8 oz. ground pork may sub lean ground beef
  • rice from above in directions
  • 1/2 small yellow onion minced
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano OR ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 tsp EACH chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper

TOPPINGS (pick your favs!)

  • Avocados
  • Tomatoes
  • cilantro
  • sour cream
  • lime juice
  • hot sauce


  • Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add rice and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally for 6 minutes. Take this time to chop your veggies for the soup. Drain rice and rinse thoroughly in cold water (we are parboiling the rice; it will not be completely tender). Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and jalapenos and cook 3 minutes. Add carrots, celery, potatoes and all seasonings. Cook for an additional 3 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, green chiles and broth.
  • Cover pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes while you make the meatballs.
  • Meatballs: Add egg to a large bowl and whisk. Add 1 cup parboiled rice and all remaining meatball ingredients and mix well. Shape 1 tablespoon-size meatballs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet; about 40-45 meatballs.
  • Add meatballs, remaining parboiled rice, and chopped chayote to the soup. Add 1-2 cups water if desired for a less chunky soup. Bring to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer for an additional 12-15 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through and rice is tender – don’t stir meatballs for at least 5 minutes or they’ll break apart.
  • Ladle into bowls and top with desired toppings.

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  1. Kimberly says

    I made this yesterday on a rainy day and it was the perfect meal – warm, just the right amount of spice, and full of texture and flavor! My daughter and I both had leftovers for lunch today and probably will again tomorrow. The meatballs are SO good!

    • Jen says

      Thanks so much Kimberly for the glowing review! I love hearing how much you and your family loved this soup. The meatballs would also be good with enchilada sauce and rice!

  2. Jen says

    Perfect slow Sunday meal. First time making this soup and blew our socks off – so much flavor, filling and can’t wait for leftovers tomorrow- thx for another delicious recipe!

    • Jen says

      Thanks for taking the time to leave such a nice review, Jen! I am so happy you found my site and are enjoying my recipes! I hope you have a wonderful week and find more recipes that make you look forward to leftovers!

  3. Heather Del Rio says

    This is definitely different than my normal Albondigas soup, but it looks incredible!! I have some Chipotle Better Than Bouillon that would be perfect in this!!

    • Jen says

      That is going to make it next level – yum!

  4. Jacqueline S Strand says

    Mint seems like a strange ingredient for a Mexican soup – especially for meatballs. I also find it strange that you don’t brown the meatballs first, though I found that most recipes for this soup do not brown first. And one more thing is that I think hominy would be a great ingredient for this soup. I am definitely going to try your version as I love your recipes.❤️

    • Jen says

      I think you’ll love the twist of mint! You are welcome to brown the meatballs if you like, but not browning is more traditional ;).

  5. Dee says

    It’s been raining off and on for the last few weeks here in North County…We need comfort food & this Soup was a hit everyone loved it …Thank you Dee

    • Jen says

      Thanks Dee! I’m so glad that this was the perfect food for the rainy days!

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