Lamb Albondigas Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo

Lamb Albondigas Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo

My Lamb Albondigas Tacos start with handmade lamb chorizo. The emphasis is on handmade but I could have easily (and probably should have) said homemade because you can’t buy lamb chorizo in the store. You have to make it at home by hand. It’s not hard. There’s no great mystery to chorizo. Though I realize it’s a confusing word. Different cultures use it to describe different creatures. However, at it’s most basic chorizo is simply sausage. Typically coarsely textured and well-spiced. Also it’s typically pork. But it doesn’t have to be. These Lamb Albondigas Tacos are made with coarsely textured, well-spiced lamb with just enough pork to keep them juicy.

However this post is not about chorizo. I’ve gone into plenty of detail on that subject before. Feel free to click over and learn what the differences are between Spanish chorizo and Mexican chorizo here. Just don’t do it until you’ve tasted my Lamb Albondigas Tacos. I’m rather proud of my effort.

Lamb Albondigas Tacos

I have to admit the lofty concept behind these Lamb Albondigas Tacos with Raw Tomatillo and Pickled Red Onion is not my own – but it is my recipe. Here’s how it came to be.

There’s a food truck here in Los Angeles called Guerrilla Tacos. They specialize in (you guessed it) tacos. The truck moves around town and there’s only one day a week this truck is geographically friendly to Hollywood. I can never remember what day of the week that is so I’m constantly popping into their website to check the schedule. While I’m there I virtually devour the daily menu as well.

The taco selection is always tempting and always creative. Chef Wes Avila’s tacos could easily be the best tacos in town. This is Los Angeles, there are great tacos everywhere. So calling these out as the very best is really saying something.

Anyway, I typically have no intention of driving my mouth across town just to eat eat tacos (no matter how good they are). Still I enjoy checking out the Guerrilla Tacos daily taco selection. It varies but can include:

  • Sweet Potato with Almond Chile, Feta, Fried Corn, and Scallions
  • Roasted Squash with Oaxacan Cheese, Chile and Charred Tomato
  • Foie Gras Tacos
  • Sizzled Broccolini with Almonds, Cheddar Cheese and Poached Egg
  • Hanger Steak with Fried Egg, Aged Cheddar, Sumac Onion, Chile de Arbol,
  • Seared Cauliflower with Castlevaltrano Olives, Dates, Peanuts, Chile Morita, and Herbs

Well, on one of these virtual taco runs I saw his version of Lamb Albondigas Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo and Pickled Red Onion. I knew immediately I had to have one of these tacos. However, the one rule I have about living in Los Angeles is I never (ever) drive east to west in the middle of the day. Especially since I doubt he would have sold me the recipe along with my Lamb Albondigas Tacos! So I was on my own.

Here’s my version. I can’t promise it’s anything like Wes Avila’s taco. But I can promise you won’t have to drive to Venice to taste it. GREG

TomatilloRaw MeatballsLamb Albondigas Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo and Pickled Red Onion

Lamb Chorizo Albondigas Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 15–20Published

The pickled red onion, tomatillo salsa and lamb chorizo may be made up to 1 day in advance. Store in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using.

Lamb Chorizo Albondigas Tacos with Fresh Tomatillo


  • 1 red onion (peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup warm water
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning)
  • 3 fresh tomatillos (husks removed and cut into ¼‑inch dice)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshtl squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (divided)
  • ½ pound thick cut bacon (roughly chopped)
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 5 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 ounce tomato paste
  • ¼ cup adobo sauce (such as Doña Maria brand) it may need to be heated slightly to liquify)
  • ½ medium yellow onion (cut into ¼‑inch dice)
  • 4 clove garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 3 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 15–20 warm tortillas
  • crumbled queso fresco (as needed)


Make the pickled red onion: Place red onion slices into a medium bowl. In a 1‑cup pitcher whisk together water, vinegar, granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon salt until dissolved. Pour the mixture over the onions. Set aside.

Make the fresh tomatillo salsa: In a medium bowl combine diced tomatillos, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Make the lamb chorizo: Place the chopped bacon in a food processor and process until completely ground. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, add the lamb, paprika, coriander, cumin, cayenne, tomato paste, adobo, 1 tablespoon salt, diced yellow onion, and garlic, and mix until just combined. 

Make the albondigas: Combine the lamb chorizo, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl and mix until just combined. Use a 2‑inch ice cream scoop to divide the mixture into 30 equal sized portions, roll each portion between the palms of your hands to form into balls. Place the formed chorizo albondigas onto 1 or 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover and refrigerate until firm; at least 4 hours and up to 1 day. 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium heat, add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Working in batches, sear the meatballs on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Return the seared meatballs to the parchment-lined baking sheets; they should not touch. Bake in the heated oven 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Make the tacos: Wrap 1 or 2 lamb chorizo albondigas in the center of a warm tortilla. Garnish with pickled red onions, fresh tomatillo salsa, and queso fresco.