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the inside of a papa rellena up close.
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5 from 2 votes

Papas Rellenas

These papas rellenas aka relleno de papas are crispy potato balls filled with savory ground beef. A cuban classic recipe that is inexpensive to make and feeds a crowd.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 10 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: Cuban
Servings: 12
Calories: 400kcal


  • 6 Russet potatoes
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 tsp sazon
  • 1 tsp adobo
  • 1/4 cup olives
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 onion finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups plain bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil for frying


  • Start by peeling the potatoes and rinsing them in cold water. Chop them into quarters and place them in a large pot. Cover with water and cook for 25-30 minutes or until fork-tender. 
  • Once the potatoes are fork-tender, drain well. Pass hot potatoes through a ricer into a large bowl. Add the egg, butter, granulated garlic, and salt. Season generously. Let the potato mixture cool completely. 
  • While the potatoes cool, prepare the ground beef mixture. Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and brown completely. This should take about 10 minutes. Add the onions and tomato paste and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, adobo, sazon, bay leaf, tomato sauce, and olives. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Allow the beef mixture to cool completely. 
  • Measure out about 1/4 cup of the potato mixture onto the palm of your hand. Flatten the potato mixture with an indentation in the center. Add about 1-2 tbsp of the beef mixture to the center and roll the potato into a ball. You can make these as small or big as you like. 
  • In a bowl, whisk 3 eggs. Add the plain breadcrumbs to a separate dish and season with salt and pepper
  • Dip the balls into the egg mixture and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat this process twice or until the potato balls are completely coated. Place the potato balls on a lined baking sheet with parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes. 
  • Heat some oil and fry the potato balls for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. It's important to flip the potato balls frequently for even coloring. 


  • The ideal oil temperature for frying potato balls is between 350 and 375 degrees F.
  • Use peanut oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil for frying. Don't use olive oil for deep frying, it has too low a smoke point and will overheat.
  • Freeze the potato balls before frying, this is so important. Otherwise, the potatoes can fall apart.
  • Stuff the potato balls with hard-boiled eggs and cheese to switch it up.
  • Enjoy the papas rellenas with ketchup or hot sauce.


Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 480mg | Potassium: 795mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 253IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 4mg