Cuban Stuffed Potato Balls


No food hits home like Hispanic food. The heavy influence of cumin and coriander remind me of Pakistan because this particular spice and herb are added in every traditional Pakistani dish. At times when I walk down the streets of LA past food carts selling tacos and burritos, I imagine I’m in Karachi. The familiar smells wafting in the air punctuated by the occasional traffic and honking of cars (it is downtown after all ) are enough to wake up nostalgia.

Cuban Stuffed Potato BallsCuban Stuffed Potato Balls

Sure, there are differences between the cuisines but at the base of it all is cumin and coriander. I almost wonder why Hispanics don’t make curry.

Cuban Stuffed Potato Balls

I went to Porto’s Cafe in Burbank about a year ago with my best friend. It’s a very popular Cuban cafe in LA. I love to Yelp for popular items, and the stuffed potato balls at Porto’s was something that we needed to try. It’s called Papas Rellenas, which are deep-fried balls of mashed potatoes stuffed with a meat filling. Both my friend and I spent a good ten minutes talking about how they tasted so Pakistani and that we had to go home and make these. It was a long while before I actually did make them. But they’re actually very simple to prepare because the flavor combinations don’t need any guessing.

Cuban Stuffed Potatoes

If you are more into visuals, check out how I make this!


5.0 from 5 reviews
Cuban Stuffed Potato Balls
Deep fried balls of fluffy mashed potato with a spicy beef filling is just the touch of Cuban you'll need! So satisfying.
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Cuban
Serves: 20
  • 5 medium potatoes boiled and mashed (I used russet potatoes)
  • ½ of a medium onion (finely chopped)
  • ½ large red bell pepper or 1 medium red bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • ½ pound ground beef
  • ½ of a jalapeno pepper (optional)
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 6 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 2 eggs beaten with a tbsp of water
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  1. Boil potatoes in salted water until fork tender, Peel the skin and mash them well with a few tbsp of milk at a time until very smooth and fluffy (it shouldn't be too sticky so be careful with the milk). Be sure to add enough salt to the mashed potato.
  2. In a saucepan, sautee onion and peppers for a few minutes until soft.
  3. Add the ground beef and stir until beef has brown.
  4. Add in the spices and stir for a minute.
  5. Next, pour in the tomato sauce and let simmer for five minutes. The meat filling won't have too much sauce because the liquid will make it difficult to stuff the potato balls.
  6. To make the potato balls, take about two ounces of mashed potatoes and flatten it in the palm of your hand in a disk
  7. Now take about a teaspoon of meat filling and place in the center of the flattened potato disk. Make sure you don't add too much filling because we need to wrap the filling inside the potato,
  8. Slowly take the edges of the potato and pull them over the filling and smooth it into a ball. If your filling is not covered, just take a little bit of mashed potato and glue it onto the filling.
  9. Now take each ball, dredge it in flour, dip it in egg and finally coat it generously in bread crumbs.
  10. Once all the balls are coated, chill in the fridge for at least an hour to ensure they don't fall apart while frying. (You can also prep them a day in advance up to this point).
  11. Once ready, deep fry them until golden brown.
  12. Drain on paper towel and enjoy! This makes 20 medium-sized potato balls.
Don't prod the potato balls too much during frying because they might crack open a bit. A few of mine did open just a little bit because I was impatient.

Be sure not to add too much milk to the mashed potato at once. While forming the balls, the mashed potatoes shouldn't be too sticky (watch how I made this in the video).


  1. Hi Im in the middle of making the papas rellenas, but I think the potatoes are too gummy, oops I think I overlooked the milk and put a little too much, what should I do? I put the mashed potatoes in the fridge to see if they firm up.

    1. Hey! I would recommend boiling another couple potatoes so it can absorb the milk. You can also add a couple teaspoons of flour. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  2. I used a hand masher to mash the potatoes. Should I use a food processor to get a smoother texture?

    1. Hand masher is perfect. That’s what I use too.

  3. I cannot wait to try them! Question: Could I possibly do these in an air fryer or bake them?

    1. Hi J! I have only ever fried these but I do want to say that air frying will work well. Just be sure to spray it liberally with some oil. Let me know how it turns out!

  4. How many cups of filling did this yield for you? Thinking of adapting this for a tamale pie recipe.

    1. Oops…i meant make them again! ?Ugh typing too fast*

    2. Can I make mashed potato balls with out bread crumbs

      1. Hi Tina, without breadcrumbs you will lose some of the crunch, plus a lot of oil will seep into the potatoes. You can, however, flatten the potatoes and make cakes out of them

  5. Hi I have left over mash potatoes we had ladt night dinner, of course some butter was added to potatoes not my h milk at all. Can i still use these potatoes and can I use progresso bread crumbs ” panko” cause i have little Italian bread crumbs. Thank you!!! Can not wait to make please reply if possible to day!!!!

    1. Hey Leftover mash will work just fine but you may need to work harder to form them into balls. I would recommend heating the mash potatoes overs double boiler to help them soften a bit. Pablo should be fine 🙂 hope this helps.

  6. Do you let the potato mixture cool off before forming? Or form them while hot?

    1. The mixture will be too hot to handle if not cooled off. I would wait until it is a bit cool to the touch.

  7. Hey I just wanted to say thank you for this recipe. I made these for my family for our super bowl party and they were a huge hit! They were so good that they actually thought I had them sent from Porto’s in So Cal!!! I will def be making this again. I think the most important tip is to keep the potatoes simple. I usually love tons of butter and milk in my potatoes but I followed your advice to keep it simple and the balls were perfect! The potatoes were still light and fluffy and full of flavor!! Thanks again. 🙂

    1. Yes! So happy to hear your success with these.

      1. I was raised with these. But I am Hispanic and my husband is all white and doesn’t eat Spanish or Cuban food, But I do try to slip him some of it every now and then. I know how to make them, but I wasn’t sure if you baked the or fry them. Thank you so very much.

        1. You will love these for sure! Be sure to taste the filling for spice level.

    2. I’m so excited to find this recipe! What kind of oil did you fry them in? Thank you!

  8. Made them tonight. I had bookmarked the recipe a few months ago. It was delicious!

  9. Wonderful a new favorite re cipe

    1. Thanks for checking out, Maureen!:)

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