Tex Mex Meatballs — Tender, juicy homemade beef and pork meatballs with just the right amount of spicy kick! Simmered in chipotle enchilada sauce and smothered with melted cheese, this EASY meatball recipe will become a weeknight family dinner favorite. Or make them as a game day or party appetizer recipe!
Easy Tex Mex Meatballs Recipe
If you’re wondering how to spice up your weeknight dinner life, these easy Tex Mex meatballs will do the trick! Just spicy enough, but not too much.
These tender, juicy, and cheesy meatballs are made with a combination of ground beef and ground pork, they’re simmered in homemade chipotle enchilada sauce, and topped with plenty of gooey melted cheese.
But don’t let this recipe fool you, it’s faster and easier than you think. The meatballs come together very quickly – just toss everything in one big bowl, mix, and form the meatballs.
And while the enchilada sauce is “homemade”, it’s a no-cook sauce that’s made by whizzing everything together in your blender. The meatballs simmer in this chipotle chile sauce for 15 minutes and voila, they’re done.
These beef and pork Tex Mex meatballs will be a family favorite dinner recipe. Or serve them at your next potluck, game day party, tailgating party, graduation, or anytime you need a great appetizer.
Ingredients in Tex Mex Meatballs
For these juicy, cheesy, and family favorite meatballs, you’ll need the following easy to find and common fridge and pantry ingredients including the following:
- Ground beef
- Ground pork
- White or yellow onion
- Jalapeño pepper
- Large egg
- Ritz Crackers (or breadcrumbs, crushed tortilla chips, or crushed Fritos)
- Shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
- Olive oil, for browning
- Cilantro, for garnishing
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
Ingredients in Homemade Chipotle Enchilada Sauce
There’s nothing quite like making your own enchilada sauce from scratch.
And guess what?
This chipotle-based enchilada sauce is a no-cook sauce and you add all of the following ingredients to a blender and blend.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce or chipotle sauce
- White or yellow onion
- Cloves garlic
- Tomato paste
- Dried Mexican oregano
- Reduced sodium chicken broth
Note: All ingredients amounts are listed in the recipe card section when you keep scrolling down.
How to Make Pork and Beef Tex-Mex Meatballs
Making homemade meatballs is faster and easier than you may think!
Follow my straightforward and easy steps and you’ll be devouring these Tex Mex meatballs in no time.
Step 1: Combine all the meatball ingredients (use half the shredded cheese) in a large bowl, and with clean hands or a wooden spoon, mix to combine.
Meatball Making Tip
When you’re mixing up the meatball mixture, do NOT overmix! The best way is mixing with clean hands and just getting in there and doing it. However, a wooden spoon also works fine.
Just take it easy and don’t overdo it!
Step 2: Use a large cookie scoop to make 2-tablespoon sized meatballs.
Step 3: To a large oven-safe skillet such as a cast iron skillet, add the olive oil and brown the meatballs on all sides over medium-high heat.
Step 4: While the meatballs are browning, make the red enchilada sauce (see below).
Step 5: Pour the sauce over the meatballs and simmer for 15 minutes.
Step 6: Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top.
Step 7: Optionally broil until the cheese is golden brown, garnish with cilantro, and serve.
How to Make Tex Mex Meatballs with Enchilada Sauce
The chipotles in adobo enchilada sauce is super fast and easy to make! As I mentioned, no cooking, boiling, or straining later on.
In fact, all you need to do is combine all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blend to combine. Add as much chicken broth as you need for the desired consistency.
Pour it over the meatballs and you’re set.
Can I Use Store Bought Enchilada Sauce?
However, if you don’t want to take the time to shop for the individual ingredients in the enchilada sauce, it’s completely fine to use store bought red enchilada sauce.
You’ll probably need about 2 cups (16 ounces or so) but you can eyeball it.
A 28-ounce can of La Victoria or a favorite red enchilada sauce will surely be enough.
If you want to make it spicier, add a teaspoon of red chili flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Is Beef or Pork Better for Meatballs?
When it comes to meatball recipes, there are so many options and ways to go with regard to what kind and quantity of proteins you use.
I like the flavor and fat combination of using both ground beef and ground pork.
However you can use the following protein combinations:
- 1 pound ground beef + 1/2 pound ground pork. This is what I do.
- All ground beef. I suggest using lean ground beef in the range of 90%. Not ultra lean, and not too fatty.
- All ground pork
- 1 pound ground pork + 1/2 pound ground beef
- Leaner proteins such as ground chicken or ground turkey. If you want to go this route, I recommend 1 pound ground chicken/turkey + 1/2 pound ground beef/pork so the meatballs aren’t dry.
Serving Suggestions for Beef and Pork Tex Mex Meatballs
If you’re serving these meatballs as their own main course – and trust me they are hearty and filling – you may want to serve them with rice to soak up all that fabulous sauce and cheese.
You can also consider a side salad like Kale Caesar Salad, BLT Salad, or any favorite green salad.
If you’re going to serve these meatballs at a picnic, potluck, tailgating party, game day party, or the like I don’t see any need for other sides since there will be plenty of other options to fill up the rest of your plate!
Can I Make Tex Mex Meatballs in Advance?
You can definitely prep the meatloaf mixture and form the meatballs, and refrigerate them for 48 to 72 hours before browning them and carrying on with the rest of the recipe.
Can I Make Homemade Tex Mex Meatballs in a Slow Cooker?
I didn’t design this recipe to be made in a slow cooker although after browning the meatballs in a skillet on the stove, you could transfer them to your Crock-Pot, add the sauce, and simmer on low for about 4 hours or on high for about 2 hours, or until the meatballs are cooked through and done.
Add the cheese before getting ready to serve the meatballs and let it sit long enough to melt and serve it up.
Are Frozen Meatballs OK?
If you want to skip the step of making your own meatballs and want to use frozen meatballs (precooked), you can.
Thaw the meatballs, add them to a skillet, smother with the enchilada sauce, and simmer.
Top with cheese, allow it to melt and/or broil, and serve.
Storing Leftover Tex Mex Meatballs with Enchilada Sauce
These easy Tex Mex meatballs and chipotle enchilada sauce will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Reheat gently in the microwave for a minute or so before serving the leftover.
Tex Mex Meatballs FAQs
When something is named “Tex Mex” it generally implies there’s a bit of a kick or some heat to the dish. These Tex Mex meatballs do have a bit of a kick thanks to the jalapeno in the meatball mixture and the chipotles in adobo. However, I would not call them overly spicy.
If you want to reduce the heat level, add half of a jalapeno pepper and use chipotle sauce rather than chipotles in adobo.
If you want to increase the spiciness level, consider using a serrano chile rather than a jalapeno as they’re much hotter. You can also add a teaspoon of red chili flakes or a pinch of cayenne pepper to either the meatball mixture or the sauce, or both – depending on how spicy you want your meatballs.
You can use bread crumbs rather than Ritz Crackers if you have them on hand instead. I suggest using traditional seasoned bread crumbs and not panko (Japanese) bread crumbs.
Another option is using crushed Fritos if you want to channel that Tex-Mex-walking-taco type of vibe going!
You should add 1 cup of shredded cheese to the meatball mixture to help bind it and keep the meatballs juicier.
However, sprinkling 1 cup of cheese over the top of the meatballs and chipotle sauce is optional – but recommended!
You can bake the meatballs if you’d like but if you do go that route, I still recommend browning them off in a skillet first, then baking at 375F for about 15 minutes before adding them to the sauce.
I really don’t see much of an advantage or necessity to bake the Tex Mex meatballs and actually just serves to create another step of browning in a skillet, transferring to a sheet pan, and then back again into the skillet.
Broiling is an optional step and isn’t required. It does serve to help the cheese turn golden brown and can set the enchilada sauce around the perimeter of the pan a bit. But it’s not required and you can simply sprinkle on the shredded cheese and the heat from the meatballs and red sauce will melt the cheese, sans broiler.
Tips for the Best Meatballs
I always recommend using a large cookie scoop when making meatballs not only to keep them visually equal in size.
But a uniform size also ensures even cooking so they all cook at the same rate. Two tablespoons is my preferred size but you can decide.
You can also make them smaller, about 1 tablespoon in size, if you prefer smaller meatballs or want to stretch the yield. They’ll cook quicker so keep an eye on them earlier than you would with slightly larger meatballs.
As I mentioned above, you don’t have to make your own and can use store bought red enchilada sauce. If you want to save some time and hassle of purchasing a variety of ingredients for homemade enchilada sauce, then I recommend using store bought and you can always doctor it up with extra spices if desired.
If you’re making your own red sauce, you’ll need about 1 cup of chicken broth to start with, blend, and if it’s too thick, add more chicken broth to thin it out to your desired consistency.
Homemade sauce tends to be thicker and with slightly more texture (unless you strain it; it’s a pain – not recommended or worth it) so just thin it out with the broth as you see fit.
Use reduced sodium chicken broth to control the overall sodium level of the dish.
As I mentioned above, this is an optional step but is nice for browning up that cheese on top. If you choose to broil there are three cardinal rules:
- Use an oven safe skillet (up to 500F degrees) like stainless steel or cast iron.
- You don’t have to broil on the top rack and can keep the skillet a bit lower which is a bit of insurance against burning. It may take a little longer but it’s safer!
- Above all else, do not walk away from your oven and don’t get distracted. Food under the broiler can go from fine to burnt-to-a-crisp in one minute flat. Don’t do that to yourself after you’ve made these amazing Tex-Mex homemade meatballs!
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Tex Mex Meatballs
Tex Mex Meatballs - Tender, juicy homemade beef and pork meatballs with just the right amount of spicy kick! Simmered in chipotle enchilada sauce and smothered with melted cheese, this EASY meatball recipe will become a weeknight family dinner favorite. Or make them as a game day or party appetizer recipe!
- 1 pound lean ground beef (about 90% lean)
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/3 cup white or yellow onion, diced small
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup crushed Ritz Crackers (seasoned bread crumbs or crushed Fritos may be substituted)
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, for browning
- Fresh cilantro, finely minced; for garnishing
- one 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
- 2 or 3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce OR 1/4 cup chipotle sauce
- 1/4 cup white or yellow onion, diced small
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (regular oregano may be substituted)
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
- 1 cup reduced sodium chicken broth, plus more to taste; or as desired for consistency
- Meatballs - To a large bowl, add all the ingredients (use 1 cup cheese and reserve the remaining 1 cup) for the meatballs and mix lightly with clean hands or a wooden spoon. Tip - Do not overmix or overwork the mixture or meatballs will be tougher.
- Form 2-tablespoon sized meatballs using a large cookie scoop. Tips - Use a cookie scoop for visual uniformity and this uniformity also ensures that cooking time will be uniform. You can use a smaller cookie scoop if desired and make smaller meatballs, noting that cooking time will be reduced.
- To a large cast iron skillet or oven-safe skillet, add the olive oil, add the meatballs, and brown the meatballs over medium-high heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, flipping as necessary to ensure uniform browning on all sides. While meatballs are browning, quickly blend the sauce.
- Chipotle Enchilada Sauce* - To the canister of a high-speed blender, add all ingredients. Start with 1 cup of reduced sodium chicken broth, and as desired or necessary for consistency, add additional broth.
- Pour the enchilada sauce over the browned meatballs, reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the meatballs to simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened some and the meatballs are cooked through. Tip - If the sauce gets too thick, you can add a bit of additional chicken broth or water directly into the skillet to thin the sauce as desired.
- Evenly sprinkle the remaining 1 cup of cheese. The cheese will melt just like this in about 5 minutes. You can cover the skillet with a lid for faster melting.
- However, optionally, turn the broiler to high, and place the skillet under the broiler, and broil for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is as golden browned as desired. Tips - This is optional, but make sure if you're broiling you don't turn your back on the stove or get distracted because food can burn in less than 1 minute under a broiler. You don't have to broil on the top rack and can broil a bit lower down which is a bit of insurance against burning.
- Garnish with cilantro as desired and serve immediately. Extra meatballs will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
*If you don't want to make homemade enchilada sauce, you can used store bought red enchilada sauce. One 28-ounce can of La Victoria will be more than enough. You'll probably use about 15 to 20 ounces of it, but you can be the judge and eyeball it.
**Recipe makes about 18 meatballs. The recipe serves about 4 people if this is all you're serving but if you're serving this with rice, mashed potatoes, with a salad or other sides, or as a party appetizer, you'll get more mileage out of the yield.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 598Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 172mgSodium: 1262mgCarbohydrates: 14gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 44g
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