Meatballs in Guajillo Sauce

Meatballs in Guajillo Sauce

Albóndigas con Salsa de Guajillo
6 to 8 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Albondigas, epazote, guajillo chiles, meatballs, tomatillos, turkey
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Meatballs in Guajillo Sauce recipe from Pati's Mexican Table Season 6, Episode 5 "From Pueblo to City"


  • 6 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 pounds tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt, divided, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons canola or safflower oil
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion, divided
  • 2 pounds ground turkey breast
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs of fresh epazote, or cilantro sprigs, or substitute 4 dried leaves

To Prepare

  • Heat a casserole over medium-high heat. Once hot, toast the guajillo chiles, turning often, until toasted deeply browned and you can smell the chile fumes, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatillos and garlic, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the tomatillos are thoroughly cooked, their color has changed from a bright green to olive, and the guajillos have plumped up and rehydrated, about 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatillos, garlic, chiles and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to a blender. Allow to cool slightly, add 1 teaspoon salt and puree until completely smooth. Drain the water from the casserole or soup pot, rinse and dry, and return to the stove.
  • Add the oil and heat over medium heat. Once hot, add 1 cup of the chopped onion and cook until tender and the edges have just begun to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatillo puree, cover partially as the thick sauce will splash and splutter, and simmer for about 7 to 8 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and darkened.
  • Meanwhile combine the ground turkey with the breadcrumbs, egg, remaining 1/4 cup onion, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Mix together well.
  • When the tomatillo puree has cooked down stir in the broth, scraping the bottom and sides of the casserole to incorporate any sauce sticking to the bottom and sides of the pan.
  • Place the ground turkey mixture and a small bowl of water next to the casserole. Wet your hands, and start shaping the turkey into approximately 1 1/2-inch balls. Gently drop the balls into the sauce as you form them. When all the meatballs have been added to the sauce, add the sprigs of epazote or cilantro and simmer over medium heat, uncovered, for 35 minutes. Serve.

167 comments on “Meatballs in Guajillo Sauce

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Hi Pati, I just have to say that I am in love with this recipe! We are in Queensland Australia and really love your show. We experimented after having the meatballs and used chicken thighs and it was equally as yummy! We are now addicted to real Mexican food because of your show and plan to travel there one day when the world settles down. Cant wait to see what you cook next! x

    1. So glad you liked the Albondigas Susan and that you decided to use the Guajillo sauce with other protein, yay, great idea! Please visit Mexico when it is safe again, it is truly an amazing country. Un abrazo to Queensland 😉

  2. Hi Pati I saw your show a few weeks ago on PBS and made these meatballs. They were so delicious my son asked me to prepare them again for Christmas. Thanks

  3. I just watched your show and can not wait to make these for my family. I wanted to make the rice as well but can’t seem to find the recipe? I forgot the name of it. Could you guide me to it? I absolutely love watching your show. Thank you for opening your home to us to share in your love of Mexican cooking.

  4. I made this last night after watching it on your show and it is delicious! My picky eater ate it! Mis hijas 5, 3, and 1 love watching your show and trying your recipes. Muchas gracias por las buenas ideas y consejos en la cocina. I have learned to cook many things thanks to you.

  5. I made this recipe after seeing it on your show and it came out great! The ground turkey has a delicate texture and flavor that really goes well with the delicious guajillo sauce.

    One question for you Pati: I used dried guajillo chiles that were available at my local grocer. Even after simmering for 15 minutes in water the skins were still pretty tough. I blended them quite well in the blender but I still had some small flakes of tough chile skin in the finished product. Should I blend the chile/tomatillo mixture longer or is this just a feature of making sauce from dried chiles?

    Love your show!

    1. Thanks for reaching out Scott! Dry guajillos take time to re hydrate, but if your toasted them before simmering they should be OK, maybe just blend a little longer? Enjoy!

  6. Akk! You didn’t mention to scrub the tomatillos prior to cooking. Made the recipe, it came out bitter! Googled it and found I had to remove the sticky residue on the tomatillos with soap, water and then vinegar!

    Need to let us know these things ahead of time. Had to toss the sauce.

    1. Good point John, I will try to be more thorough in my recipes, although I never wash my tomatillos in vinegar, so probably the problem is that they were not so fresh and therefore bitter from the beginning 🙁

  7. Just found your show on our local PBS station and love it! It was the Albondigas with guajillo sauce. I will try it tonight with grassfed beef! I expect it to fabulous! Now, my question….do you have a segment that talks about all the different types of dried peppers and their uses?? I have seen Arbil, pasilla, ancho, guajillo (and maybe more?). I would love to start exploring them but need a primer first. Thanks in advance!

  8. Made exactly to recipe. Excellent flavor depth. I simmered a bit longer for a thicker sauce and for meatballs to absorb more flavor. Another poster said that she made the day before and that may have the same effect.

  9. Yours is the very best cooking show on earth! I loved this dish. Thanks for striking a perfect balance between Mexican recipes and culture.

  10. This recipe is fabulous, fun to execute and serve, easily modified and a crowd pleaser. I’ve used ground beef in place of turkey and have substituted tomatoes from garden for half of the tomatillos. I’ve even increased the number of guajillos to 8. All turned out as wonderful as the original. Pati, thank you for making this recipe available. One of my favorite recipes and a definite five star.

  11. Pati, these were superb! You encouraged me to try cooking with dried chilis. Thank you! I’ve watched you cook with these for a few years now, and I finally decided to try it for myself! These meatballs were so tender, and this sauce was unique and full of flavor! I made it for company, and they loved them! I served them with your arroz con chepil! I made them the night before, and they tasted even better the next day! I will definitely be making these again. Not difficult to make either!

  12. Hi Pati – I love your show and recipes!! You’ve taught me so much about the country I consider my home away from home. I’m planning to make this for a dinner party tomorrow and can’t find fresh guajillo chiles. Can I use dried guajillo chiles and follow the recipe as written or do you recommend a substitute for the guajillo chiles (e.g. Pasilla)?

    1. Yes Michael, actually I made this recipe with dried Guajillos! If at some point you don’t have any kind of Guajillos, is much better to substitute with Anchos than with Pasillas, have fun!

  13. Pati, this is my second time making your meatballs in guajillo sauce and I am attempting a double recipe. Actually I’m Italian descent and my mother has always made homemade gravy but we’re never able to double it unless cutting down on the liquid. My first Venture with your authentic recipe with absolutely scrumptious and I have watched you on your video do it especially on the create channel. I’m wondering if cutting down a little of the liquid make sense to you as well because when you double things there’s always a little too much liquid. I so adore you your family and your recipes!

    1. Hi Denice, thanks so much for your message. Love that you love these meatballs, yay! To be honest, I would not reduce the liquid at all, if anything, just let them simmer a bit longer to reduce the sauce, or just enjoy the extra! If you serve your meatballs with rice, a bit of sauce on top will make it extra yummy! Enjoy 😉

  14. Hola Patty Buenas noches !
    Viendo la televisión este domingo, vi tu receta de estas deliciosas albóndigas, nunca las he hecho me las antojaste así que ya tengo los ingredientes y mañana las prepararé. Crees que sea buena idea ponerle un polideportivo cilantro picado a la carne ?
    Gracias por compartir tus deliciosas recetas con nosotros tus seguidores, saludos y bendiciones.

  15. Good afternoon Mrs. Jinich,
    Can I just say, WOW! Not like you didn’t already know this, but this is absolutely amazing. I stumbled across this recipe while looking for a recipe for salsa and I am so happy that I did. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!

  16. Question, can you substitute Guajillo powder for the chili. My Tia gave me a canister of powder and I’d like to use it. Thank you for your wonderful easy directions.

    1. Guajillo has a very unique flavor that goes perfect with meatballs, but by all means go ahead and use the Chili Rudy! Let me know how it turns out 🙂

  17. I made this last night according to the recipe, except for using ground pork instead of ground turkey. Delicious, and the guajillo sauce was mild enough that even my wife liked it! Great balance and flavors. Thank you, Pati!

  18. I loved the idea of a turkey meatball with Mexican flavors rather than Italian. I followed the recipe exactly the first time to get a baseline. The sauce is delicious. I think I would strain it next time because I did not love the texture of the chilis (even after pureeing, I had some bits in it). My meatballs needed a boost. Next time, I will start with dark meat ground turkey (more flavor than white meat), use a panade (breadcrumbs soaked in milk), omit the egg and add some cotija cheese into meatlballs. I’ll also add some additional spices (Mexican oregano, garlic powder). Instead of cooking this on the stove, I’ll pop it into an oven to finish cooking after I add the meatballs to the sauce. Still feel so lucky to have Pati’s wonderful recipes!

  19. This recipe is a real winner! Once you have all of the ingredients it is very easy to make. I made it tonight for dinner and my husband and I both loved it. It was hard to stop eating. Thanks for all the delicious recipes. Love your show.

  20. Hello Patti!!!
    We just saw your episode with the albondigas and chepil rice!!! It looks delicious and we’re going to make it soon! We can’t wait to try it!!!
    I’m not sure we can find Chepil so we’ll try watercress as I’m reading below!
    Most of all, I want to thank you for your humility and your humanity. Your lovely, kind nature. Your passion for food and family. Your kind and loving spirit. There’s something so beautifully genuine that jumps off the TV screen. You are more than just a TV cook/host/personality. You are a very special human being with a big heart and kind soul. I’m so happy for your success and so grateful to share these delicious dishes with my friends and family.
    Muchisimas Gracias!!!

    1. Pati! We made these last night and it was one of those times you eat something and you can’t believe you made it – it tasted as good as our favorite family-owned Mexican restaurant (maybe better:) Thank you for sharing your love of cooking and your love of life.

  21. Hola,
    I made this sauce last night and it was very tasteful, and everyone enjoyed the albondigas.
    I have watched your TV episode for this recipe and the sauce that you made looked very thick, and your son commented that it tasted like “BBQ sauce”. So I was surprised then, that my sauce when it was finished it looked very runny, yours looked thick! did you add corn starch to thicken ?
    Michael Delgado

    1. That’s great that everyone enjoyed the albondigas, Michael! It sounds like you needed to cook the sauce a little longer to get it thicker.

  22. Love this recipe along with the Rice Chepil! I have to confess-I swapped out the ground turkey for half ground pork and half ground beef(como mi abuelita) and they were delicious. My son, daughter and her boyfriend devoured all of the albondigas! I had been hoping to have a bit leftover for lunch the next day, but no!
    I couldn’t find chepil in my local latinoamericana market in SF, so I substituted watercress as you suggested-yum! And I don’t particularly like watercress, but in this dish with the serrano pepper, it is just fabulous! Thank you for your wonderful recipe-I have been looking for recipes like yours to help keep my heritage and that of my children alive.

  23. First, I love your show in so many ways but in particular the way you showcase Mexican culture so lovingly and your family being part of it all makes so much sense. I watch when its on in the morning and then often make a dish. In fact, today I watched and am now making the Chickpea and cucumber salad for dinner.
    I made this meatball dish and it was a big hit – the flavors so outstanding! I loved the sauce so much I used it to make a guisado of pork ribs. I added zucchini and corn on the cob cut into small rounds also. I took the dish to my family reunion and everyone loved it. My aunt who lives in Mexico half the year asked for the recipe. This is a major compliment. Gracias por todo Pati – Saludos!

  24. Hi Pati,

    I discovered your show recently, and I’ve been watching old seasons on demand. Originally I mostly liked your take on culture, and, enjoyed the places and people you visit and cook with. When I saw this recipe, I thought I’d try it. It was very easy and very tasty. I made it as written, except I added 2-3 tbsp of sugar to balance the flavors of the sauce. I like tomatillos but I rarely cook with them. I’m glad I made this recipe. I really like that your recipes are a Mexican, and not New Mexican, or, Tex Mex. I’m learning a lot.

    Looking forward to the new season, and watching the old seasons I haven’t gotten to yet. Why are season 1 and 2 not On Demand?

  25. Absolutely outstanding. I made this with ground pork and the flavor of the sauce was amazing.

    Anytime I used dries chilies, seems the flavor is always remarkable.

  26. I made this recipe for the first time with no mistakes it was so delicious my son my nephew and a good friend of mine lapped it up over a bed of rice didn’t last at all. Easy to make and I have a whole bag of guahillo peppers on hand at all times now. I love all of your recipes Pati!! I thank you!!

  27. I have made these before and am craving it again tonight. I am so excited to gobble these up and I know my kids will too. This recipe comes together beautifully and disappears quickly. Thank you again Pati, for another great tasting recipe!

  28. I made these meatballs and the flavor is an explosion of deliciousness! I’ve never cooked with these chili’s before. The combination of tanginess of the tomatillos with the subtle mild chicken broth blended so beautifully! I LOVE watching your show. You give me the courage to try some different recipes in the kitchen. Keep making our mouths water watching you cook!
    Muchisimas gracias!

  29. Hola Pati

    I tried this recipe, my version of it at least.
    I did it with chicken thighs and OMG it was delicious… it took me a little to find the ingredients but u did it. Proud of my improved Mexican cooking skills that’s to you.
    Gracias Pati, me diviertes mucho & I love love love love Mexican kitchen (I am Colombian by the way, no spices at all and no Chile’s for sure)

  30. I made this recipe along with the Chepil Rice – except I didn’t use Chepil leaves. I wouldn’t know where to find this so I used cilantro. My 17 year old son, Christopher, loved the meatballs in the guajillo sauce. The rice served on the side absorbed some of the guajillo sauce and the whole meal was super delicious! I will definitely be adding this combo, permanently, to my repertoire.

    Side note: Thank you for sharing your love of Mexico, the many delicious recipes, and your beautiful sons. The episode where you are sharing a few cooking tips with your son because he will be heading off to college was simply precious!! I was deeply moved. You are such a lovely person, Pati – I thoroughly enjoy every episode. Hugs and blessings,

  31. I had left over Checken Brest pieces, so I cut them into bites and poached them in seasoned water…used this amazing sauce as a drizzle over Chicken burritos!! It was a HIT!!!

    Love your show, your recipes…I’ve learned so much about authentic Mexican Cuisine…and your sweet love for and within your family warms my heart!! You and your husband have raised 3 amazing young men!!!

    God Speed Patti!!!

    Much love, Loren

  32. me and my wife made your recipe and it was the best, there was plenty of sauce left so I added another cup of rice and a pound of ground beef and now we are going to have Guajillo soup tomorrow. thank you for sharing your recipe !

  33. I have made these a couple times. They are amazing and so delicious. I make the rice but have to substitute baby watercress and a tiny bit of mint. It is amazing also. Thank you for amazing recipes. My wife loves your bracelet also.

  34. hola Pati. mucho gusto sometimes it is so sad not finding ingredients for the recipes even though there are about 100,000 Mexicans here which most are illegal, and only two supermarkets that have Latino products,I have lived from San Diego to Arizona ,Texas and now her in Florida and always loved ,sometimes craved Mexican food, I love it so mucho and I like watching you on television ,you are so fun. keep up the good work, via con Dios

    1. Thanks so much for watching my show Ed. It can be frustrating to not find the ingredients, but the great thing is that they are becoming increasingly available. Talk to your grocers and request the items, the more they hear that their customers want them, the more they will source them!

    1. Oh mine is passed down from my mom…but you can find them all sorts of places, like online, your local kitchen store, Latin Market…and Mexico!

  35. Wow!

    Love these! Tender meatballs and the wonderful sauce. I added a tablespoon of brown sugar to manage the sour. It sent it over the top!

  36. Which Season and Episode did you make this in? I’m making it for the 2nd time (BIG hit the 1st time) and I’d love to watch you on Amazon while I do it.

  37. The sauce was delicious. I did have to substitute ancho chilies because I could not get the guajillos locally. When I served it, some of the meatballs did fall apart, but I didn’t mind that- it made for a nice meaty sauce. We served it on rice, but I was kinda wondering if it would be good with spaghetti or linguini.

  38. Pati. Me again. 😊. Love your show.
    Can I find epazote at a Mexican market? Is it seasonal? Really want to make it like you did

    1. Sometimes you can find it dried at a good Latinoamericana markets-some carry it fresh in their produce section, too!

  39. Hi Patti, unfortunately I didn’t finish watching this episode. How do you accompany this delicious Guajillo Meatballs plate? Arroz blanco? tell me, please =-)

  40. I know it pretty much ignores the whole meatball idea, but do you think cooking chicken breast in the sauce and then shredding it would work? Or would you put the shredded chicken in already cooked? Kind of like your chicken tinga? Thanks for your thoughts.

  41. Hi Pati! Do you have to use guajillo chiles or can other types of chiles be used like Colorado? I can’t wait to try this recipe. I love your show! Thanks!

  42. Hi patti is the broth needed. Or can i put a lil bit of water in it .want to try them with ground beef ? Looked really delicious

    1. Of course you can try them with ground beef! Any ground protein will do. You can sub water for broth, but broth will help it have a bit more depth of flavor​.

  43. Delicious recipe. Worth the time and effort of making it. I would cut the recipe in half next time since we are only two people eating this.

  44. I made this recipe of yours on Saturday along with your Chepil Rice. I posted my completed food on FB and had alot of people saying they were coming over! Nobody made it, but there is still tonight. I love, love, love your programs.

    Thank you

    1. ​Hi Marty! There is supposed to be an acid taste because tomatillos are acid. But they shouldn’t be overwhelmingly acid, if they are, that means that they were either unripe or past their prime. ​

  45. i wish that i could spend a day with you cooking and visiting, your recipes ALWAYS turn out. The ingredients are easy to find here in OK and that makes a big difference. You are so fun to watch and my husband and i enjoy your show every chance that we get. Best wishes for a future that is as sunny as you!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that the recipes always turn out and the ingredients are easy for you to find Juliann! I hope you continue to enjoy the show and new recipes!

  46. my wife and i are in the process of making this recipe and we are using ground vinison
    smells very good in our home.Also we love your show.

  47. Hi Patti….where does one find guallio dried chili’s and espizote? I live on Whidbey Island, WA. We are heading off to the mainland tomorrow and I only know of a couple of Mexican stores in Mt. Vernon. I know you said you can substitute w/cilantro and oh, and I can easily find Ancho dried chili’s. Also, do you suggest long grain or pearl rice.

    1. Try your local latin or international market…or even online for the dried chiles. It depends on the dish but for the rice I make with these meatballs (Arroz con Chepil) I recommend long grain rice. Have fun on the mainland!

  48. Sauce came out very nicely. I thought the meatballs were hard, however. If I made again, I would use beef instead of turkey breast. Or maybe just plain ground turkey with more fat in it. But the recipe taught me a valuable new technique — cooking with dried peppers and tomatillos. Thanks!

    1. Hi Hugh, I made this last month and the meatballs were very tender. You may have worked the meat too much. I would try it again with turkey but work the meat as little as possible. Good luck!
      Pati, I love this recipe and want to make a large batch to take to work for 33 people next time we have a pot luck 🙂

  49. Hey Pati: In a word, Delicious! Took a bit to round up the ingredients in northeast Ohio, but well worth the effort! And the complimentary chepil (we used cilantro) rice dish completed the meal. Great show! Thanks

  50. Hi Pati: Here is something to try? After we ate the meat balls, there was a nice amount of sauce left, so my wife took a 7.05 La Moderna Vermicelli Pasta noodles, boiled them, and than mixed with the sauce! Try it, it’s VERY good and filling! Take care, and Happy New Years.

  51. Hola Pati,
    Que orgullo aprender de tus deliciousas recetas! Eres una inspiracion al conocer la autentica cocina Mexicana. Muchisimas Gracias! Esta receta deliciousa, mi Esposo facinado con todos los diferentes sabores. Delish! Sige dandonos mas!! Ole!

  52. Hello Pati! We watched all your episodes and this is the first one we made! Just finished, and it was VERY good, and filling. Keep up the good work, and we really enjoy watching your shows! Merry Christmas! Patrick & Denise Kelly

  53. Hi, Pati.

    Rather than meatballs, would chicken thighs be appropriate? I assume they’d be cooked in the sauce for about the same amount of time. Please advise. Thank you.

  54. I made this recipe for a family birthday. 2 batches, one with ground beef, one with turkey. I was a little concerned about the spicyness of the dried Chiles. I got 2 brands of the same type Chile. Surprisingly, one was bland and the other was so spicy I used 4 instead of 6 pods. The dish was a hit. I like the tartness the tomatillos give the sauce and will use them more often now. I also made the chapil rice, although I couldn’t find the herb. I used the left over sauce and meatballs to make a vegetable, bean soup. Thanks Pati. I love your show.

    1. ​Hola! Se agrega el caldo como 7 u 8 minutos después de que el pure de tomatillo se halla guisado y espesado un poquito. ​

  55. I made this recipe last Sunday and my family loved it. It’s easy to make. I actually strained the sauce before adding to the meatballs to make it silkier. Thanks Pati for such flavorful and delicious recipes!!

  56. I tried this for my Weight Watchers meeting and it was a hit. Busco recetas con menos calorías y esta receta es perfecta. Gracias

  57. Yummmmmm!
    This is going to be dinner for our family tomorrow. I let my kids stay up 30 extra minutes tonight and they cuddled up next to me to watch your show with me.
    What a treat that was to watch with my kiddos, we loved your show. We homeschool so this is going to be incorporated into tomorrow’s lessons.
    I’m glad I stumbled upon your cooking show. Thanks!

    1. I’m so glad you stumbled on the show too…and I’m happy that the recipe will part of your lesson and that the show is part of family time!

  58. wonderful dish!!! We had this today and can’t wait to make it again along with the rice and salad. Thank you for the recipe! the ground turkey and guajillo Chile was flavorful and spicy. recommend for every one.

  59. Hello Pati. I just finished cooking the meatballs and the sauce is delicious. Haven’t tasted the meatballs since I don’t like turkey at all but my family does. I added cilantro instead of epazote and a teaspoon of chicken bouillon. Next time I will make them with ground beef. Thanks for sharing your recipes.

  60. I’ve made albondigas forever but these almost came apart without the rice to bind. I might still use rice instead of egg to bind them and a little of the guajillo sauce in the meat so they don’t look to white when you cut them. Thank you it was delicious, I’ve almost forgotten how to make the guajillo sauce. Thank you

  61. Hi Pati!
    I made these meatballs last night. They were amazing!! I substituted some fresh venison, and added 3 extra garlic cloves. The ground venison and spicy sauce complimented eachother soooo well.

    My wife is Mexican, from Guanajuato, and we absolutely love your show. We both share a passion for cooking, and I’m sure this was just the first of many of your recipes that We’ll try together. We’re planning to make the Almond Chocolate Leche Cake, tomorrow…. We’ll let You know how it turns out

  62. im sorry ms. patti, u lost me at ground turkey– could i substitute with another kind of meat? i luv meatballs and ur chile

  63. We saw your cooking meat balls, and they look so good, so I printed your recipe, but I must ask you what is epazote? I sort of miss that, again thank you so much for all the recipes that you share.