Tacos are amazing… but every now and again our taste buds crave something a little different. Not too different, but just enough to keep things exciting. Enter these Fiesta Meatballs. They serve up a homemade enchilada sauce that surrounds the most tender and juiciest meatballs for a flavor-fusion unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before! You can serve them over rice, on their own, or even in a taco… if you’re still hunkering for a tortilla. There are no wrong choices, only tasty ones, when Fiesta Meatballs are on your plate!

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For the meatballs:

  • 1 egg
  • 11 buttered crackers or saltine crackers, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons green onions, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced, plus more, optional, to taste, chopped, for serving
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound lean ground beef

For the enchilada sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ground cinnamon, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup Mexican blend cheese, shredded
  • tomatoes, optional, to taste, chopped, for serving
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Step 1 –Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Step 2 –Line a baking sheet with foil and top with an oven-safe baking rack. Lightly coat the rack with cooking spray.

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Step 3 –In a large bowl, whisk the egg, the crackers, the green onions, 3 tablespoons of the cilantro, the milk, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the chili powder, 1 teaspoon of the garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon of the cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of the smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of the oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper together.

Step 4 –Add the beef to the spice mixture and use your hands to mix until just-combined. Be sure not to overmix to prevent the meatballs from becoming tough.

Step 5 –Scoop about 1 tablespoonful of the meat mixture at a time, then gently roll into balls (should make about 30 meatballs). Be sure not to compact the balls too much to prevent them from becoming dense.

Step 6 –Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes.

Step 7 –While the meatballs are baking, in a small bowl, whisk the flour, the remaining chili powder, the remaining cumin, the remaining garlic powder, the onion powder, the ground coriander, the remaining smoked paprika, the remaining salt, the remaining oregano, and the cayenne pepper together.

Step 8 –In a large cast-iron skillet or oven-safe skillet, melt the butter in the oil.

Step 9 –Whisk the flour mixture into the butter mixture and cook, while whisking, for 2 minutes.

Step 10 –Whisk the tomato paste into the butter mixture until it is completely combined, and cook for 1 minute.

Step 11 –Reduce the heat to low and gradually whisk the chicken broth into the sauce mixture until it is smooth and the lumps dissolve.

Step 12 –Whisk the cocoa powder, the sugar, and the cinnamon into the sauce mixture.

Step 13 –Bring the sauce to a simmer, whisking often, until it thickens to your desired consistency, about 5-7 minutes. Keep in mind that the sauce will also thicken as it bakes.

Step 14 –Transfer the sauce from the heat and stir in the apple cider vinegar.

Step 15 –Transfer the meatballs to the enchilada sauce and turn to coat them.

Step 16 –Evenly top the meatballs with the shredded cheese.

Step 17 –Bake the meatballs until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F and the cheese has melted, about 8-12 minutes.

Step 18 –Serve the meatballs sprinkled with the extra cilantro and the chopped tomatoes.