Barceloneta Potato Bombas

November 27, 2018 (Last Updated: June 30, 2020)
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Potato Bombas are breaded and fried mashed potato balls with meat filling. An invention hailing from the Barceloneta beach-side neighborhood of Barcelona, these are must-have tapas when visiting Barcelona. If a trip to Barcelona is not on the horizon right now, make them yourself with this recipe!

A plate of tapas, including 2 fried potato bombas with sauce, shrimp, and veggies

I returned from a trip to Barcelona incredibly inspired by the food there. There were many dishes I wanted to recreate, so I decided to plan an ode to Barcelona in the form of a tapas party for my family. There are many dishes from our trip that didn’t make it onto the menu. I simply had to limit the number of dishes, but I hope to try others in the future.

Tapas Menu

A table set with plates of various tapas including shrimp, potato balls, roasted vegetables, and bread

I purchased a variety of Spanish cheeses from Whole Foods to create a Spanish cheese board. These include 6 month aged Manchego (sheep’s milk cheese), Capricho de Cabra (soft goat’s cheese), and Drunken Goat (aged goat’s cheese with edible red wine rind). The latter two are from the same cheese maker.

A wooden cheeseboard with a little wooden mouse figure on it, and 3 different cheeses.

I also was able to procure Serrano ham there as well (I later found some at Aldi as well). It’s from a different breed of pig, and not nearly as amazing as jamón ibérico. But it’s the best I could do with my resources stateside, and reminds me a bit of prosciutto. The jumbo green olives are pre-stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes. I purchased them from the World Market section at Bed, Bath, and Beyond.

Serrano ham, roasted vegetables, olives, and bread on a red and white striped tablecloth

When we were in Barcelona, we ate pan con tomate more than any other tapas dish. Everywhere it was made with different types of bread. On this occasion I used ciabatta bread, split and light toasted, rubbed with fresh whole garlic cloves, halved tomatoes and a light drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. So simple and so incredibly good! I also made some gluten-free pan con tomate on gluten-free baguettes for my nephews!

A plate of tapas including pan con tomate, mushrooms, shrimp, roasted vegetables, ham, and potato balls

The birthplace of Potato Bombas

Potato bombas were actually invented at La Cova Fumada in the Barceloneta neighborhood of Barcelona. You may recall from my Barcelona blog posts that I had planned lunch one day in Barceloneta. Well, my plan was to eat at La Cova Fumada, the birthplace of these famous potato bombs. But that unfortunately didn’t happen on this trip 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 try making them myself at home.

A white platter of fried potato bombas with bowls of red and white sauces

How to make Potato Bombas

Our favorite bombas from the trip were filled with stewed beef. The more traditional version, however, uses ground meat as the filling. Make the filling by sauteing 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.

Ground meat filling with onions

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. I yielded 21 bombas. Small discrepancies in measurements, or depending on how much you peel your potatoes may fluctuate that number a tad. You’ll just want to aim for about 1/4 cup potato and 1 tablespoon filling per bomba. Using a measuring cup and spoon will save the day and yield more accurate and evenly sized potato bombas.

Mashed potato balls on a tray
Before breading and frying

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 potato bombas themselves are pretty easy to assemble as well. I was worried shaping them would be messy, but it wasn’t bad at all. Use a deep fryer to cook these if you can. I highly recommend this since it keeps the oil temperature steady, and doesn’t make a huge mess on my stove top. They fry very quickly, at only about 2 minutes each.

overhead closeup of a plate of Spanish tapas

What to do with leftover allioli and bravas sauce

There are two sauces that go on the potato bombas: 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! I used some of my leftover sauces to make what I’m calling “trashy” huevos cabreados, or angry eggs.

A white plate of tator tots topped with red and white sauces, and a fried egg

Huevos cabreados were one of my favorite discoveries in Barcelona. We really didn’t know what to expect, but were floored by how much we loved this dish of french fries, bravas sauce, and allioli topped with a fried egg which was sliced table side and tossed together.

tator tots topped with red and white sauces, and a sliced fried egg

I recreated it in the trashiest, most American way possible: with frozen tator 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 tator tots, finished with the egg, and viola!

tator tots mixed with sauces and sliced fried egg on a white plate

Other tapas recipes you may like

Have you ever eaten Spanish tapas before? What are some of your favorites? Tell me in the comments. And don’t forget to rate this recipe if you’ve tried it. Thanks 🙂

overhead view of a plate of tapas

Barceloneta Potato Bombas

Potato Bombas are breaded and fried mashed potato balls with meat filling. An invention hailing from the Barceloneta beach-side neighborhood of Barcelona, these are must-have tapas when visiting Barcelona. If a trip to Barcelona is not on the horizon right now, make them yourself with this recipe!
Prep Time 1 hr 10 mins
Cook Time 50 mins
Total Time 2 hrs
Course Appetizer, Snack, Tapas
Cuisine Catalan, Spanish
Servings 20 to 22 bombas
Calories 292 kcal



  • 6 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion or 1/2 large onion finely chopped
  • 4 ounces (113 g) ground beef
  • 4 ounces (113 g) ground pork
  • 1/2 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 1/2 pounds (1134 g) Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large egg

Bravas sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon sweet (regular) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • Pinch cayenne pepper or more to taste

To finish:

  • 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 1/4 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 1/2-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 degrees 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.

Notes & Nutrition

  • 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.
Servings 20.0 * calories 292 * Total Fat 24 g * Saturated Fat 4 g * Monounsaturated Fat 9 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 7 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 55 mg * Sodium 335 mg * Potassium 271 mg * Total Carbohydrate 17 g * Dietary Fiber 2 g * Sugars 1 g * Protein 8 g
*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.*

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overhead view of a plate of Spanish tapas

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