Gluten Free Tamale Meatballs

Whether you're looking for dinner, a snack, or your next game day treat- these tamale meatballs are tasty, tender, and will quickly become your new fave!

Don't want to spend hours cooking?

Want all of that tamale flavor packed inside a mini meatball?

Well, look no further!

With a few simple ingredients, plus your favorite cornbread recipe- you can make these fun and flavorful meatballs!

This recipe uses about half of a typical cornbread dish. You can make your favorite cornbread recipe, use up leftovers, or choose a box mix. And, if cornbread involves a little too much work- simply add some crushed Fritos.

Mini Gluten Free Tamale Meatballs with Fritos and Cilantro

Ingredients in Gluten Free Tamale Meatballs

  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Pork
  • Enchilada Sauce or Salsa
  • Onion Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Egg Whites
  • Cornbread (gluten free)

What are tamales?

Growing up, I had no idea what a tamale was. I had heard of them, usually as in "hot tamale" There's a good chance I just believed tamales were candy. Then, I moved to Southern California... Tamales are ah-mazing and bare no resemblance to candy! The Spanish word is tamal. For tamales- masa or cornmeal dough is stuffed, then wrapped in corn husks and steamed. They are filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Chicken and pork are the most popular, but tamales can be savory or sweet. They likely originated in Mexico or Guatemala and then quickly spread throughout the rest of Latin America. Tamales appeared in the Aztec Empire in 7,000 BC. Aztecs and Mayas would use them as portable food for hunting and traveling. Tamales also played a part in rituals and festivals.

Gluten Free Tamale Meatballs on a Baking Sheet

How to Make the Best Meatballs

  • Mix well to evenly distribute spices; however, over-mixing can lead to tough meatballs.
  • Sometimes- I grate some fresh onion for moisture and flavor!
  • Use a cookie scoop for evenly-sized balls.
  • Fattier meats will create more tender meatballs.


What to Serve with Tamale Meatballs

I served my meatballs inside of Fritos corn chips. Delish! But, there are many other (and healthier) options!

  • Rice
  • Cauliflower Rice
  • Peppers & Onions
  • Other Roasted Veggies

Can you cook meatballs in a skillet?

You bet! Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Then, cook for a few minutes until beginning to brown. Turn and brown the other side. To check for doneness, I typically cut open the largest meatball. You can also simmer the meatballs in tomato sauce.

Gluten Free Tamale Meatballs with Fritos on White Plate

Craving more tamale dishes?

Gluten Free Tamale Pie

Tamale Chili

Gluten Free Tamale Meatballs

Whether you're looking for dinner, a snack, or your next game day treat- these tamale meatballs are tasty, tender, and will quickly become your new fave!

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Gluten Free Cornbread

  • 1/4 c. gluten free flour
  • 1/4 c. cornmeal
  • 1/4 c. corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. Xanthan gum
  • 1/2 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 4 Tbsp. butter, cold & cubed
  • 1/2 c. milk


  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 c. enchilada sauce (or blended salsa)
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 4 Tbsp. egg whites
  • Salt and pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, mix the gluten free flour, cornmeal, corn starch, Xanthan gum, baking powder, cumin, and salt. Using clean hands or a fork, cut in the butter. Then, add the milk and use a spoon or spatula to stir until a sticky dough is formed.
  • Spread batter in 2-3 greased ramekins and bake for 18-22 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef, pork, enchilada sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, egg whites, salt, and pepper. Next, crumble in the cornbread. Use clean hands or a spoon to mix until combined.
  • Scoop about 1/2 Tbsp. of the mixture and roll into a ball. Place meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then, bake for 20-24 minutes.


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