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!


4.8 from 9 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. There is a Pakistani equivalent of this if you’re interested, I’m sure you’re already aware of them but essentially it’s kebabs stuffed in potato, so pretty similar except it’s missing the tomato sauce (some recipes use a white sauce but traditionally they don’t). Made with either lamb or chicken

    1. Oh interesting, what’s it called?

  2. There was some sort of chipotle sauce that came with this order when I went to portos.. do you happen to know how I can make that or even where to buy it? Hehe

    1. Hi Jane, I’ve never had this with any Chipotle sauce. Not sure if they typically serve that alongside this.

  3. Trying this tonight already have everything together fixing to put in fridge, Can’t wait for dinner

  4. Thinking about making this tomorrow night. What are some sides I can make with this? Cant wait to try, super excited.

    1. Hi Cindy! These are typically sides/appetizers to go with the main dish but if these could totally be the star of the table alongside some mexican rice, some toasted buns. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

      1. Oh okay thank you! Now if I do serve this as the side dish what can I make as a main dish?

        1. Oooh I would totally make this with Ropa Vieja (haven’t shared a recipe yet) and if you’re looking for soup starter combo, I would make my Chicken Tortilla Soup!

  5. I’m planning on making this tomorrow night but what can I make for sides?

  6. 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.

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

  8. Wonderful a new favorite re cipe

    1. Thanks for checking out, Maureen!:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: