Affectionately dubbed “Portuguese tater tots” by our testers, we can’t get enough of these pillowy nuggets of potato-y heaven. They’re the ideal cocktail party or dinner party nibble because who can resist sausage and potato in a deep-fried, three-bite, handheld package? We certainly can’t.Angie Zoobkoff

A wooden bowl filled with golf-ball-size fried potato and chouriço balls on a wooden tray.

Chouriço and Potato Balls

5 / 4 votes
For these chouriço and potato balls (bolinhas de chouriço com batata), sauteed Portuguese sausage, onions, and mashed potatoes are rolled and deep-fried. An excellent hors d’oeuvre, cocktail party nibble, or snack.
David Leite
CourseHors d’Oeuvres
Servings15 servings
Calories137 kcal
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 3 medium (1 3/4 lbs) russet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium (14 oz total) onions, finely chopped
  • Coarse sea salt and ground white pepper
  • 3 1/2 ounces chouriço, skin removed, sausage diced
  • 1 3/4 ounces fine dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Mild vegetable oil, for frying


  • Set a large saucepan almost filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Season generously with salt, add the potatoes, and cook until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Drain the potatoes and set aside until cooled. Peel off the skins and mash the flesh with a fork.
  • In a medium skillet set over medium heat, warm the oil. Stir in the onions and cook until softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the chouriço and continue cooking until the onions caramelize, 7 to 10 minutes longer.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the mashed potatoes and sautéed chouriço and onions. Stir in the breadcrumbs and egg. Shape the mixture into walnut-size balls and chill for 30 minutes.
  • Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pan one-third full with vegetable oil and heat it to 355°F (180°C), or until a cube of bread sizzles and turns golden brown almost immediately. Fry the balls in small batches until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve warm.
My Lisbon Cookbook

Adapted From

My Lisbon

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Serving: 1 ballCalories: 137 kcalCarbohydrates: 14 gProtein: 3 gFat: 8 gSaturated Fat: 2 gMonounsaturated Fat: 3 gTrans Fat: 0.03 gCholesterol: 17 mgSodium: 130 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 2 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2018 Nuno Mendes. Photo © 2018 Andrew Montgomery. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Portuguese tater tots! These chouriço and potato balls are little bites of heaven. I did not expect to like these as much as I did. They are very much like the Spanish croquettes you may get in a tapas restaurant—but better. This would be great as an appetizer and I would add a nice glass of Alvarinho or a wine spritz next time to accompany.

The outer edges were just crisp, not overly breadcrumbed. The inside was very well seasoned, with each ingredient important on its own. Unfortunately, we could not source the Portuguese chouriço so I had to substitute Spanish chorizo, which worked incredibly well.

I made 34 balls. If I added too much potato, or made the balls too small, it doesn’t matter as the result would still be a winner. The ratios definitely have wiggle room in this recipe as it produces such great flavor. I think these would freeze well, too. This is a keeper.

These chouriço and potato balls are like little pieces of heaven. They’re a perfect appetizer for any get-together.

Not difficult to pull together, they can easily be prepared up to the point of frying early in the day, left in the refrigerator, and fried when you’re ready. I found that once they’re fried, if you place them on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet versus on paper towels they stay crisp and hold nicely in an oven set at about 175°F until ready to serve.

These chouriço and potato balls make a nice little snack for those days when you have an hour and a half to make a snack. It would also make nice hors d’oeuvres for a party when the average sausage ball will not do.

The caramelized onions enhance the flavors of the chorizo and potatoes. I boiled the potatoes earlier in the day and allowed them to cool before mashing.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    David, I live in the Algarve (Tavira), and I’ve never seen these here in the south. Where are they from please and what is the Portuguese name for them? They look delicious. Maybe I’ll try making these for my birthday on July 4th. Can you also tell me please, what type of potato to use? Obviously, russets aren’t available here. Should I use batatas para fritar ou para cozinhar? Thank you.

    1. Karen, I absolutely LOVE Tavira. One of my favorite places in the Algarve. This is from a Lisboeta chef named Nino Mendes. This is his creation–a meat version of pastéis de bacalhau. He calls it bolinhas de chouriço com batata. I would use batatas para cozinhar.

      1. Thank you. I’m going to try them for the Fourth. I should have asked: Can these be done ahead like bolas bacalhau?

        1. KarenJ, none of us had tried making them ahead of time, but I don’t think it would be a problem.

  2. What would you suggest to serve with them? A dip? A sauce? And if they were served for dinner, with what? Thank you.