Mexican-Spiced Cocktail Meatballs

Mexican-inspired ingredients like cumin, cinnamon, lime zest and scallions give these mini meatballs a subtle, but distinctive flavor. They’re served with a simple Mole-Style Dipping Sauce that borrows some of the flavors of the traditional (and far more complex) Mexican sauce.

Mexican-Spiced Cocktail Meatballs

Mexican-Spiced Cocktail Meatballs

Yield: 24 pieces
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

These cocktail meatballs are flavored with Mexican-inspired ingredients like cinnamon, cumin, lime and cilantro and are served with a mole-style dipping sauce.


  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Mole-Style Dipping Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1-1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate


  1. Start by preparing the sauce. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes (do not brown). Season with oregano, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
  2. Cook until the spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes, the add the tomato puree and continue cooking, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until melted. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
  3. Place the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, mayonnaise, garlic, lime zest, cilantro and scallion in a large bowl. Add the cumin, cinnamon, salt and a few grinds of black pepper and combine thoroughly.
  4. Roll the mixture into 1-inch meatballs.
  5. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs in a single layer and fry until lightly browned on all sides.
  6. Continue cooking, turning frequently, until no longer pink in the middle, 4 to 5 minutes.
  7. Drain the meatballs on a paper towel lined plate, transfer to a serving platter and serve with warm dipping sauce.