Potato Bombas are breaded and fried mashed potato balls with meat filling. An invention hailing from the Barceloneta beachside neighborhood of Barcelona, these are must-have tapas when visiting this jewel of the Mediterranean. If a trip to Barcelona is not on the horizon right now, make them yourself with this recipe!
Visiting Barcelona inspired me to recreate the food I discovered there. There were many dishes I wanted to try, but in particular I was intrigued by these meat-filled potato bombas topped with a duo of flavorful sauces.
Spanish potato bombas were actually invented at a restaurant named La Cova Fumada in the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona. In my Barcelona trip report I mention that I had planned lunch one day in Barceloneta. I intended to eat at La Cova Fumada, the birthplace of these famous potato bombs, but that unfortunately didn't happen due to a few circumstances.
I still managed to eat potato bombas on two other occasions in Barcelona. It was so memorable that I absolutely had to make them myself at home. These flavorful fried balls are incredibly delicious and relatively easy to prepare. I definitely recommend adding them to your next homemade Spanish tapas menu.
How to make Potato Bombas
Make the filling by sautéing chopped onion, and then adding a combination of ground beef and pork. Cook until the meat is cooked through and crumbly, then add grated tomato and spices. Set aside to cool until you're ready to assemble the potato bombas.
Next, make mashed potatoes. Simply peel and cube up potatoes, and boil them in salted water until tender. Then drain and mash them with olive oil and seasonings.
Once the potato mixture is cool, add a beaten egg. Scoop ¼ cup of the potato mixture at a time into the palm of your hand. Carefully pat the scooped potato into a disc about ½-inch thick in the palm of your hand.
Add 1 tablespoon of the cooled meat filling into the center, then carefully cup your hand to start bringing the edges of the potato together and use your other hand to pinch it closed.
Smooth into a round ball and set aside as you continue shaping the remaining bombas. The bombas can be refrigerated at this point until you are ready to bread and fry them.
To each of 3 wide bowls add flour, beaten eggs, and dried breadcrumbs to set up a dredging station. Dredge each bomba one at a time in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a clean tray or work surface until the remaining bombas are breaded.
Fry the breaded potato bombas in batches for about 2 minutes each or until they are golden brown. If you fry them much longer the balls may start to crack open. Set finished bombas aside on a paper towel-lined tray or sheet pan to drain. Serve the hot bombas immediately with allioli and bravas sauce.
Our favorite bombas from Barcelona were filled with stewed beef. The more traditional version, however, uses ground meat as the filling which I have used in this recipe. You can modify the recipe and change up the filling to suit your preferences.
Using a measuring cup and spoon will save the day and yield more accurate and evenly sized potato bombas. Small discrepancies in measurements, or depending on how much you peel your potatoes may fluctuate the number of bombas you yield.
Although there are a number of steps, the recipe is actually not very difficult. It just requires a bit of planning and patience. The different components are quite easy to make and the Spanish potato bombas themselves are pretty easy to assemble as well.
Make these potato bombas gluten-free by using gluten-free flour in the bravas sauce, and using gluten-free flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs for the breading.
I highly recommend using a deep fryer to cook these if you can. It keeps the oil temperature steady, and doesn't make a huge mess on the stove top.
What to do with leftover allioli and bravas sauce
There are two sauces that go on the potato bombas: a garlicky, mayonnaise-based allioli sauce, and spicy, smoky bravas sauce. You may end up with some leftovers of both, but there's a lot of great things you can do with them!
For example, use some of your leftover sauces to make what I call "trashy" huevos cabreados, or angry eggs. Huevos cabreados was one of my favorite discoveries in Barcelona.
When we ordered it we really didn't know what to expect, but were floored by how much we loved this dish. It's a combination of French fries, bravas sauce, and allioli topped with a fried egg. The egg is sliced table side and everything is tossed together.
I recreated it in the trashiest, most American way possible: with frozen tater tots baked until crisp in my toaster oven.
This was a super easy rendition of the original, and I didn't even need to heat up my deep fryer or slice a single potato into matchsticks. I just drizzled the two sauces over the top of my crispy tater tots, finished with a fried egg, and viola!
You can follow the same basic process using homemade French fries or cooked frozen fries if you prefer. Either way, it's a really delicious flavor combination and super easy once you have made the sauces!
Other recipes you may like
- Patatas Bravas (Fierce Potatoes)
- Pan con Tomate (Spanish Tomato Bread)
- Warm Stuffed Piquillo Pepper Bruschetta
- Escalivada (Catalan roasted vegetables)
- Spanish Potato Salad (Ensaladilla Rusa)
- Gambas al Ajillo (Garlic Shrimp)
- Browse all Spanish Recipes
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Barceloneta Potato Bombas
- 6 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion or ½ large onion finely chopped
- 4 ounces (113 grams) ground beef
- 4 ounces (113 grams) ground pork
- ½ tomato flesh grated on a box grater, skin discarded
- 1 teaspoon sweet (regular) paprika
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Chili flakes or cayenne pepper to taste
- 2 ½ pounds (1.13 kg) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
- Kosher salt
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon sweet (regular) paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth
- Kosher salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper or more to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
- All purpose flour as needed
- 2 to 3 large eggs beaten
- Dried breadcrumbs as needed
- To make the allioli: In a small saucepan combine the garlic cloves and olive oil and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the garlic is tender and honey gold (occasionally tilt the pan as needed to keep the garlic submerged–even off the heat the olive oil should be hot enough to keep cooking it). Watch the garlic carefully so that it does not overcook. Lift the garlic cloves from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towels to cool. Reserve the garlic oil for another use (1 tablespoon will be used later for the allioli).
- In a small food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the garlic cloves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon of the garlic oil. Taste, season with salt, and pulse to mix. Scrape the allioli into a lidded storage container and chill for up to 3 days. You should have about 1 cup allioli.
- To make the filling: In a large non-stick skillet heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, and cook until softened. Then add the ground beef and pork, and cook, breaking the meat up into small pieces with the edge of a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and most of its natural liquid has evaporated. Add the grated tomato, paprika, garlic, salt, and cayenne and continue cooking until the remaining liquid has absorbed/evaporated. Set aside to cool completely.
- To make the potatoes: Add the cubed potatoes to a pot and cover with cold water by at least an inch. Salt generously and bring to a boil over high heat, being careful it doesn’t boil over (lower the heat as needed). Boil the potatoes until they are easily pierced with a fork, drain and then return to the pot off the heat. Add the olive oil and mash the potatoes with a potato masher until smooth. Adjust seasoning if needed. Let the potatoes cool slightly and then mash in the egg (you don’t want the potatoes super hot or else the egg will cook). Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- To assemble the bombas: Scoop ¼ cup of the potato mixture at a time into the palm of your hand. You can slightly wet your hands as needed if the potato starts to stick to your hands during this process. Carefully pat the scooped potato into a disc about ½-inch thick in the palm of your hand. Add 1 tablespoon of the cooled meat filling into the center, then carefully cup your hand to start bringing the edges of the potato together and use your other hand to pinch it closed. Smooth into a round ball and set aside as you continue shaping the remaining bombas. The bombas can be refrigerated at this point until you are ready to bread and fry them.
- To make the bravas sauce: Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and paprikas and whisk for a couple minutes to ensure the flour starts to cook. Slowly add the chicken broth while continuing to whisk into a smooth sauce. It will thicken more once the mixture comes up to a boil. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. This sauce can be served hot, warm, or room temperature.
- To finish the bombas: To each of 3 wide bowls add flour, beaten eggs, and dried breadcrumbs to set up a dredging station. Dredge each bomba one at a time in the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs, and set aside on a clean tray or work surface until remaining bombas are breaded. You can also bread them in batches as you fry them, but this can get messy.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 350°F. You’ll want the oil to be deep enough so the bombas will be fully submerged once you add them to the oil. Fry the breaded bombas in batches for about 2 minutes each or until they are golden brown. If you fry them much longer the balls may start to crack open. Set finished bombas aside on a paper towel-lined tray or sheet pan to drain. Serve bombas immediately with the allioli and bravas sauce.
- Make these potato bombas gluten-free by using gluten-free flour in the bravas sauce, and using gluten-free flour and gluten-free breadcrumbs for the breading.
- Using a measuring cup and spoon will save the day and yield more accurate and evenly sized potato bombas. Small discrepancies in measurements, or depending on how much you peel your potatoes may fluctuate the number of bombas you yield.
- I highly recommend using a deep fryer to cook these if you can. It keeps the oil temperature steady, and doesn't make a huge mess on the stove top.
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*