These Easy Baked Mexican Meatballs are packed with roasted poblanos and cilantro, and served in thickened enchilada sauce! They are perfect with rice and beans for an easy weeknight dinner, or served with toothpicks as a cocktail or game-day appetizer.
My parents are on a safari in Africa right now. For real! It sounds kind of fairy tale-ish, right? Like, do people actually do that?? Well, they do. They keep sending us videos of warthogs and baboons they randomly see on the side of the road. And every time I start singing NAAAAAA SAVENYAHHHHHH
When I tell someone that my parents are in Africa, they ask, oh, what countries are they going to? And I say, Botswana, Kenya…Nambi..namibi…and then I trail off and change the subject, because those are the only countries in Africa I can remember, and apparently I can’t even remember exactly how they are pronounced. (Literally just googled a map of the continent…)
Well whatever, Africa, is probably overrated (false) let’s go to Mexico instead where they have these meatballs. Actually, totally false, these are more like Tex-Mex Meatballs, maybe we should just head to Texas. Texas is fun, right? (False. It’s not. My sister lives there, she can tell you. Laura is the best part of Texas for sure.) (I think I just realized why I keep saying false. We started re-watching the Office and I’m channeling my inner-Dwight.)
How to make Easy Baked Mexican Meatballs
A couple years ago my mother-in-law Kris was visiting and we found this meatball recipe in a Southern Living magazine. I haven’t made them since, but we have talked about them multiple times since then. Any time you remember a meal like that, you definitely need to save that recipe.
So here it finally is! You start of with a roasted poblano pepper. This sounds fancy but I promise it only takes a few months under the broiler. (I’m just gonna leave that typo right there. It’s one of those days.)
Crushed Fritos are where it’s at, yo. You can use any breadcrumbs you like of course, but Fritos give it that punch of corn flavor, like there is a corn tortilla all wrapped up inside your meatball.
Stir it all together…
Look at this beauty just out of the oven.
And voila! The most delicious Mexican meatballs of your life. SO much flavor in these, you guys, and they are super easy to throw together. You can tailor this to your tastes by what enchilada sauce you choose to get, spicy or mild, red or green, whatever floats your boat.
What to serve with Mexican Meatballs
What’s Mexican food without a little rice and beans? These meatballs would be great paired with Traditional Tejano Pinto Beans (one of my all time favorite sides) and maybe some Coconut Jasmine Rice. Yum! OR if you are serving these as an appetizer, serve them with scoop-style Fritos and sour cream, with lime wedges to squeeze on top. I will watch football all day if you give me these meatballs to eat. Although what I really should be doing is studying a map of Africa, because dang. (I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AAAFRICAAA)
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One year ago: Easy Cheesy Cheeseburger Sliders
Four years ago: Halloween Cheesecake Parfaits
Six years ago: Ham and Potato Soup
Easy Baked Mexican Meatballs
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 & 1/2 cups Fritos
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 small onion, chopped into a few chunks
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup cilantro, firmly packed
- 2 eggs
- 1 & 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 20 ounces red enchilada sauce
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Turn the broiler on to high heat and arrange the top rack to be about 5-6 inches below the heat. Place the poblano pepper on a bit of foil on a baking sheet. Broil for about 6-8 minutes (depending on the size), making sure to turn the pepper every 1-2 minutes with a pair of tongs. The pepper is done when the skin is blistered and blackened.
- Remove the pepper and place immediately in a sealed ziplock bag. Let it steam for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, open the bag and peel off the skin. Remove the stem and seeds.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, use a food processor or blender to crush the Fritos into small crumbs. You need about 1/2 cup crumbs, I started with about 1 and 1/2 cups whole Fritos. Place the crumbs in a large bowl and add 1/4 cup milk. Stir it together and let it soak for a few minutes.
- Don’t bother washing the food processor. Add the onion, garlic cloves, cilantro, and the roasted pepper (with skin, seeds, and stem removed). Pulse until finely chopped.
- Add the poblano mixture to the bowl with the Fritos and stir it all together.
- Stir in 2 eggs, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
- Use your hands to fold the ground beef into the bowl. Mix until just combined and then stop. You don’t want to end up with overworked, tough meatballs.
- Shape the meatballs into 1 and 1/2 inch meatballs. You should get about 35. Just make sure they are all about the same size.
- Bake at 400 for about 10-12 minutes, until they are lightly browned on top.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot on the stove, add the enchilada sauce, chicken broth, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over high heat.
- Whenever the meatballs are done, lift them from the pan with a fork (try to scrape off as much of the fat on the edges as you can) and add to the pot of sauce. It doesn’t matter if the sauce is still cold, just throw them in.
- Bring the meatballs and sauce to a boil over high heat (don’t stir much, you don’t want to break all the meatballs. Just scrape your spoon along the edges and on the bottom of the pot.
- Simmer over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
- These meatballs are delicious served as an appetizer with scoop Fritos!
I found this recipe in an old copy of Southern Living!
More meatball recipes you will love!
Easy Baked Meatballs << This is my go-to “basic” recipe. You can pair this with any kind of sauce you like.
Raspberry Balsamic Meatballs (Slow Cooker) << these are really good as a meal or with toothpicks at a party!
Pepperoni Meatballs << these taste like pizza! So good!
Chicken Tikka Masala Meatballs << I loooove these.
More meatball recipes from blog friends!
Turkish Meatballs from Foolproof Living
Italian Turkey Meatball Recipe in Tomato Sauce from Cookin’ Canuck
Honey Barbecue Instant Po Cocktail Meatballs from Wine and Glue
These Mexican Meatballs is the bomb dot com!!! My sister and I served this dish with Cheesy Pinto Beans and White Rice. I will be making this dish again in the very near future. Thank you so much for sharing, Ms. Karen!!!
Ooh so glad you tried these Shawnae! This is one of those recipes that never really took off, but we still make them all the time (just a couple weeks ago for us!) they make the best tacos. would love it with a side of cheesy pinto beans and rice! Yum! Thanks for chiming in with your review :)
You had me at Fritos for a binder! Holy cow these are good. The best meatball I’ve ever eaten. It tastes like a street taco in a corn tortilla. I swapped a pound of the beef for turkey and substitued Almond milk for milk for mine. So delicious. Thanks Karen!
fritos for the WIN, right Emily? :) So glad you loved these! Thanks for sharing your turkey and almond milk substitutions, great idea!!
I want to make these but we don’t like cilantro (I know, I know, who doesn’t like cilantro, turns out it’s because of some gene) is there something you can suggest as a substitute? Thanks!!
Hi Susan! You can just leave it out if you are not into cilantro! There is no substitute really. But it will still taste great! Enjoy!
Thanks so much they look fantastic!
OK, Karen. These are just the best. Tender, flavorful meatballs and the sauce was delish. I’m a Texan that’s been living in Singapore for the last 5 years. Gotta get my Mexican fix once in a while. Can’t get poblano peppers here, so subbed roasted red pepper from a jar and just dried it off. It may make the recipe a bit quicker (or less intimidating) for some. Can’t get Fritos either, sadly, but Mission Tortilla Strips worked for me. I used homemade enchilada sauce. You guessed it–can’t buy here in the cans. But homemade is much better anyway. Karen, you are one of my favorite bloggers. I keep returning to your surefire recipes. Thank you!!!
You are so sweet Jeanne! Thanks for saying that! It makes all the hard days worth it! :) I’m so glad you were able to adapt this recipe with ingredients you could find, you’re a genius. Love the jarred roasted pepper idea. I might try that next time I’m feeling lazy!!
Love the Fritos in these. Because I can’t leave any recipe alone, I added a 1/2 tsp of cumin to the meatballs and added fresh cilantro on top just before serving.
Anything with this much cilantro in it has got to welcome cumin too, right? good addition :) I’m glad you liked them!
Hahaha- 1/2 the time I can’t even remember what countries we’re going to! I keep saying Zaire, which used to be a country, but we’re really going to two other ‘Z’ countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
What I really need is for you to have these meatballs waiting for me when I get home :)
Zambia! I knew I was missing one!! And okay deal let’s have meatballs together soon :)
Those Mexican meatballs and pepperoni meatballs sound wonderful for a snack or with sides for dinner can’t wait to try them
Thanks Regina! The pepperoni meatballs are really good too, you should definitely give them a try!
A couple of things: I will never say no to a recipe that calls for Fritos. And also, Texas is the best! I love it for so many reasons, not the least of which is that I was living there when I became acquainted with the one and only Sarah Quinn! 😉
AMEN I mean Fritos for life, right?? Also, this post is misleading, because I actually love Texas and especially Texans. I think I would really love raising a family there (preferably next door to my sister), but it’s true that if you are going for a vacation there is not much going on! I mean. Unless you count, like, rodeos? And the food in Austin?? Don’t hate me for making huge generalizations lol!!