Papas Rellenas - Stuffed Potato Balls

Papas Rellenas - Stuffed Potato Balls

The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 50 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 12 to 16 servings
Yield: 12 to 16 papas rellenas
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
234 Calories
17g Fat
10g Carbs
10g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 234
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 22%
Saturated Fat 4g 22%
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 428mg 19%
Total Carbohydrate 10g 4%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 10g
Vitamin C 7mg 34%
Calcium 28mg 2%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 328mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This recipe for fried potato balls, known as papa rellenas, is stuffed with seasoned ground beef, tomato sauce, and spices. A favorite Caribbean street food, there are many versions of fried or baked potato balls with a variety of fillings throughout the Caribbean. In this recipe, the potato balls are shaped into a ball and deep-fried. Plan ahead and simply make a larger batch of mashed potatoes and use the leftovers for these potato balls.

These potato balls can be made in whatever size that you want, whether it be large or small. Miniature potato balls are perfect for snacks, appetizers, or party trays. Large papas rellenas make a filling lunch, side dish, or hand-held snack.

Have some dipping sauce on hand to dunk these into. Try some hot sauce, or for a milder dip, ranch dressing or a roasted aioli dip would be good. 

"The papas rellenas were delicious, especially dipped in ketchup. Make sure to let the potatoes cool and dust your hands with cornstarch to keep the mixture from sticking to them. Also, because sofrito can be a bit salty, I recommend tasting the filling before adding salt." —Diana Rattray

papas rellenas with beef filling
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 pounds hot mashed potatoes

  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine

  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch, plus more for dusting

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 4 tablespoons sofrito

  • 4 tablespoons tomato sauce

  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Papas Rellenas - Stuffed Potato Balls ingredients

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  2. Mix together the hot mashed potatoes, eggs, butter and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch. Set aside and let cool.

    mashed potatoes, eggs, butter and cornstarch in a bowl

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  3. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink, stirring to break up the meat, 6 to 8 minutes.

    ground beef in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  4. Add the sofrito, tomato sauce, oregano and salt to the cooked ground beef. Mix thoroughly. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

    ground beef with seasonings in a frying pan

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  5. Dust your hands lightly with cornstarch. Spread a spoonful of the potato dough mix in the palm of your hand. Make an indentation in the middle and stuff it with the meat mixture.

    ground beef wrapped with mashed potatoes

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  6. Cover the filling with more potato dough. Shape into a ball. Dust the ball lightly with the remaining cornstarch.

    mashed potatoes with ground beef inside

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  7. Repeat until mix is used up.

    floured mashed potato balls with ground beef inside

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  8. Fill a pot with 2 inches of oil and heat to 370 F. Deep fry the stuffed potato balls until golden, about 6 to 8 minutes.

    papas rellenas frying in oil

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg

  9. Remove and drain on paper towels.

    Papas Rellenas - Stuffed Potato Balls on paper towels

    The Spruce / Eric Kleinberg


  • Make sure the potatoes are completely cooled before shaping the papas rellenas.
  • If the potato dough is still too soft and sticky, add a little more cornstarch. It might also help to place a sheet of plastic wrap on your hand to keep the potato mixture from sticking.
  • When adding the papas rellenas to the hot oil, gently move them around for a few seconds to keep them from sticking to the pan or frying basket.
  • The internal temperature of the papas rellenas should be about 160 F to 165 F when done.
  • If you have leftover filling, use it to make tacos or add it to a grilled cheese sandwich or mac and cheese.

Recipe Variations

There are a few things you can do to change up this recipe, here are just a couple:

  • Omit the ground beef and stuff with cheese, or just leave out the beef.
  • Add some chopped onions into the ground beef mixture when cooking.

How to Store

  • Refrigerate leftover papas rellenos for up to 3 days.
  • To reheat, place them on a rack in a rimmed sheet pan and heat them in a 400 F oven for about 10 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 F.

Why Do My Potato Balls Fall Apart?

It is important to let the mashed potato mixture cool down before stuffing them and forming into a ball for deep frying. If they are warm, they will fall apart, and not hold the shape. Step away and let the potatoes cool. Patience is key to making these potato balls.