Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

May 6, 2021Van
Blog post

Prep time: 2 hours

Cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 20-40 Potato Balls

Porto’s Bakery is one of most popular bakery-cafes in Southern California, any time you go visit Porto’s, there’s usually a line out the door and it’s easy to see why – they have delicious baked goods and Cuban food at very reasonable prices – it’s still family run and their quality control is amazing for how much they’ve grown. We had a season pass to Knott’s Berry Farm and we always stopped off at Porto’s in Buena Park to grab breakfast and snacks to bring to Knott’s. One of their most popular menu items are Potato Balls or Papa Rellena – potato puree is filled with Cuban Picadillo (ground beef with onion, bell pepper, olive, and Spanish seasonings), coated in a panko crust & deep fried until golden brown – it’s very similar to a croquette. This recipe is quite labor intensive and takes time, so it’s definitely for someone who loves to cook and create. You can always order the bake-at-home version from Porto’s here, I’ve tried it because one of my beautiful friends sent it to me as a gift and it’s just as good as getting it directly from the bakery.

Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

Cuban Picadillo (ground beef with onion, bell peppers, olives, and Spanish seasonings) is the filling for the Potato Balls.  The ingredient list is directly from Porto’s, so I just had to figure out the proportions – I tried my best to get it to taste similar to theirs Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball Recipe (Papa Rellena)

Print Recipe

Porto’s Bakery Potato Ball with Picadillo Recipe (Papa Rellena)

  • Prep time: 2 hours
  • Cook time: 20 minutes
  • Serves: 20-40 Potato Balls



Cuban Picadillo (filling for 40+ potato balls)

  • 1 Pound Ground Beef (80/20)
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • ⅓ Cup Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • ⅓ Cup Green Bell Pepper, chopped
  • ⅓ Cup Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1½ Teaspoons Fine Sea Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ Teaspoon Spanish Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
  • 3 Tablespoon White Wine
  • 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup Sliced Green Olives, drained

Potato Balls (double the quantities if you want to make 40 potato balls)

  • 2½ Pounds Russet Potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Teaspoon Fine Sea Salt
  • 1½ Cups Panko Crumbs
  • 2 Large Eggs, whisked
  • ¼ Cup All Purpose Flour
  • Frying Oil, enough for 3 inches of oil
  • Deep Fry Thermometer


  • 1)

    Add 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil into a large pan or pot. Turn to med-high heat and sauté 1 chopped onion until it’s soft and translucent. Add the minced Garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, add ⅓ Cup chopped Red Bell Pepper, ⅓ Cup chopped Green Bell Pepper, ⅓ Cup chopped Yellow Bell Pepper and sauté for about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add 1 Pound Ground Beef, 1½ Teaspoons Fine Sea Salt, ½ Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper, ½ Teaspoon Spanish Paprika, ¾ Teaspoon Ground Cumin and cook until beef is browned, break up the ground beef as you sauté. Add 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste, 3 Tablespoons White Wine, 1 Teaspoon White Vinegar and continue to sauté for an additional 5 minutes, turn the heat to med-low and simmer for about 10 minutes so the liquid evaporates. Turn off the heat and add ¼ Cup Green Sliced Olives and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until you’re ready to use it.

  • 2)

    Add enough water to a large pot so it will be 1 inch above the potatoes, bring it to a boil, add potatoes and cook until tender, a fork or knife should inserted in the middle of the potatoes should have no resistance, but the potatoes should not be falling apart. (See Instant Pot method below) Drain the potatoes very well. Use a potato ricer to make super smooth mashed potatoes. Sprinkle on 1 Teaspoon of Fine Sea Salt and stir well with a spoon so the salt is evenly distributed. Set aside until the potatoes cool enough to handle.

    *If you have an Instant Pot, pour 1½ Cups of Water into the pot, place the potatoes into a steamer basket, seal the Instant Pot and choose High Pressure for 10 Minutes. When the timer is up, switch the knob to venting and when the pin drops, open the lid.

  • 3)

    Stir up the refrigerated Picadillo mixture. Measure out 3 Tablespoons of the potatoes, form it into a flat disc shape about 3.5 inches in diameter in the palm of your hand. Place a 2 Teaspoon scoop of Picadillo in the center and wrap the potato mixture around the Picadillo. Cup and rotate the potato ball in the palm of your hands, compressing it slightly, then form it into a round ball. Place onto a baking sheet covered with parchment or a silpat. Continue until the potatoes are gone. Refrigerate the potato balls uncovered for 1 hour. You can freeze the leftover picadillo or enjoy it as a meal with rice.

  • 4)

    Coat the Potato Balls in All Purpose Flour, dust off the excess, then dip into the egg, making sure it’s completely coated. Lastly coat it with Panko Crumbs. Put back into the fridge for 15 minutes.

  • 5)

    Heat about 3 inches of oil in a large heavy bottom pot to 370°F (oil level should be high enough to completely cover the potato balls) – monitor the temperature with a Deep Fry Thermometer – these have a tendency to burst if not cooked at the proper temp & time. Once the oil is at 370°F, fry about 4 at a time for 40 seconds, remove immediately and place on a cooling rack, wait until the temp returns to 370°F and continue with the rest of the potato balls. Increase the Oil temp to 380°F and fry the the potato balls one more time until golden brown, this should take about 1 min – if they sit in the oil too long, they will burst. Let them cool on a rack for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!

↓ Supplies to make this recipe ↓


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