Flavorful, juicy and melt-in-your-mouth tender, these Spicy Meatballs in chipotle sauce have a little kick. They're a perfect way to spice up your meal.
Chipotle meatballs are impressive enough for guests, yet simple enough for a weeknight family dinner. Say hello to your new go-to!
And if you have to eat gluten-free, don't miss my recipe for Gluten Free Meatballs (which could easily be made spicy with this chipotle sauce).
What’s The Secret To Great Meatballs? (Hint: It’s All In The Simmer!)
We can all agree that the best meat dishes are tender, juicy, and bursting with flavor. These Chipotle Meatballs tick all the boxes, and with these simple steps, you’ll be adding them to your weekly rotation!
There are many ways to make this savory comfort food, but the real secret is the simmer in that incredible Adobo sauce.
Seriously, do NOT sleep on adobo sauce. It is so good that I made it a featured flavor in my Spicy Chicken Marinade, and it is every bit as important here.
Simmering the meatballs low and slow in this homemade sauce of tomatoes, garlic, and chipotle peppers elevates these Chipotle Meatballs to a whole new level of delicious!
And the best part? The longer they simmer, the better they get. As an added bonus: your kitchen will smell AH...mazing!
Why You Are Going To Love these Spicy Chipotle Meatballs:
- They're an interesting twist on a traditional fave!
- Simple ingredients, simple instructions.
- Easily adjusted to please palates young and old!
- Leftovers (if you have any!) freeze and reheat well.
Key Ingredients And Substitutions
The best recipes feature simple ingredients that come together to create flavors that are anything but simple. You probably have most of these on hand. Grab what you’re missing and let’s get to it! Here’s what you’ll need, with a few notes:
- Ground Beef - Any ground beef will do, but for the juiciest results, stick with the highest fat content, which is usually ground chuck, or an 80/20 ratio.
- Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce - These are red jalapeño chiles that have been dried, smoked, and packed in a tangy sauce of tomatoes and spices. You can sub fresh jalapeños, serranos, or even poblanos to add heat to your dish, but you’ll miss out on the smoky goodness of the chipotles and that superb adobo sauce. Dried chipotle powder or smoked paprika can also work. For more info, tips, and leftover ideas, check out my post on Chipotles in Adobo Sauce Recipes.
- Milk- Friends, milk is KEY when it comes to moist, tender meatballs! Heavy cream or a non-dairy substitute such as full-fat coconut milk will work as well.
- Eggs- Eggs are also key and help bind the ingredients while keeping the meatball light and juicy.
- Breadcrumbs - Traditional or panko are great options. Crushed crackers are a great alternative if you’re out of breadcrumbs. You can even use cornflakes in a pinch.
- Tomatoes- San Marzano and roma are excellent choices, but any tomato will do. No fresh tomatoes? No problem. Canned crushed tomatoes are perfectly fine.
- Onion/Garlic - Is any recipe complete without the savory, aromatic base of garlic and onions? Any onion will do, but I tend to prefer yellow or large white onions. Freshly crushed garlic is ideal, but minced garlic in a jar will yield amazing results as well. Even shallots could be used in a pinch. Out of all of these? Grab some garlic powder and onion powder and carry on!
- Mayonnaise - Full-fat is best, but whatever you have on hand is fine.
How To Make Your Spicy Meatballs
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder, mayonnaise, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Combine the ingredients well, but don’t over-mix.
- Gently form the mixture into meatballs that are about 1 inch in diameter and place them on the lined baking sheet or in an oven-safe skillet or dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
- Once they’re cooked, let them simmer in the chipotle tomato sauce for at least an hour before serving. The longer they simmer, the better they’ll be!
For the Chipotle Sauce:
- Bring a large, 6-quart stockpot of water to boil over high heat.
- Carefully drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook until tender. (About 12-15 minutes)
- Reserve one cup of the water used to boil the tomatoes. Drain the rest of the water and place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, salt, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and reserved water into a blender.
- Blend until the mixture is smooth. Once smooth, pour your sauce into a sauce pan. Add the meatballs and simmer on low for at least one hour.
Tips and FAQs
- When working with the meat mixture, add a little oil to your hands to avoid sticking. (Hint: this also adds a little extra moisture!)
- Throw these babies onto some bread, top with melted cheese and enjoy an incredible Meatball Sub.
- Avoid over-mixing! This will result in a tough, dense finished product. Raise your hand if you enjoy tough meat! Yeah, me neither. When combining ingredients, be gentle and mix just enough to combine the ingredients and shape your meatballs.
- Garnish spicy meatballs with parsley, cilantro or Parmesan cheese.
Do You Cook Meatballs Before Putting Them In The Sauce?
Yes! Baking Spicy Meatballs in the oven, before adding them to your sauce, helps seal in all those delicious juices. This extra step is easy, and worth it. Alternatively, you can pop meatballs in the air fryer for before adding them to your sauce.
Can You Freeze Homemade Meatballs?
Yes! Meatballs should be fully cooked and cooled before freezing. They will freeze beautifully in an airtight container or bag for up to 4 months.
So whether you are making these chipotle meatballs, my Crock Pot Swedish Meatballs, or Crock Pot BBQ Meatballs, be sure to make EXTRA so you can save those leftovers for a quick reheated meal later on.
Can You Double This Recipe?
Speaking of extra, almost all meatball recipes are easy to double, and why not? It's easier to make a double batch while all the ingredients are already out, and meatballs freeze beautifully. It's so handy to have them ready to go for a quick weeknight dinner!
For ALL our favorite meatball recipes + the low down on cooking, freezing, and reheating meatballs, check out my Ultimate Guide to Making and Freezing Meatballs.
What To Serve With Spicy Meatballs
Also, you can never go wrong serving a hearty bread (like this simple sweet cornbread) alongside these, since you'll need something to mop up any extra sauce.
Spicy Chipotle Meatballs
- 2 lbs ground beef (lean)
- ¾ cup milk
- ½ cup breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
- ¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped)
- 5 tomatoes (Roma or paste variety)
- 1 garlic clove (minced)
- ¼ cup onion (minced)
- 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (3 oz = spicy, 1 oz = mild)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 pinch fresh parsley or cilantro (chopped)
- 1 pinch Parmesan cheese (grated)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, garlic powder, mayonnaise, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Use your hands to combine the ingredients well, but don’t over mix.
- Form the mixture into meatballs that are about 1 inch in diameter and place them on the lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Bring a large 6-quart stockpot of water to a boil over high heat.
- Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook them until the tomato is tender (about 12-15 minutes).
- Pour one cup of the boiling tomato water into a blender. Drain the rest. Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, salt, and chipotles in the blender.
- Blend until the mixture is smooth. Once smooth, pour the sauce into a large sauce pan.
- Add cooked meatballs to the saucepan, cover with lid and simmer over low heat for at least an hour before serving. The longer they simmer, the more tender and flavorful they are.
- Optional: Garnish with freshly chopped parsley or cilantro, and grated Parmesan cheese to taste.
- Serve the meatballs with a side of pasta or rice. Enjoy!
Need More Meatballs?
We love meatballs so much that we have a whole category of meatball recipes with ground beef. Don't miss it!