Porcupine Meatballs are filled with juicy ground beef and perfectly cooked rice. These classic homemade meatballs are easy, flavor packed meatballs made with rice to give them that spiky “porcupine” look!
Make sure to try my Classic Baked Meatballs too!
Old Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs
Spaghetti and meatballs is classic comfort food but, every once and a while, it starts to feel a little boring. That’s when it’s time to whip up something like these Porcupine Meatballs! They’re tender and juicy like regular beef meatballs are, but they’ve got a couple of fun twists to them.
For starters, they’re filled with rice..that’s right – rice! You might be thinking, why would I put rice in my meatballs when I can just make it on the side? A fair question, but one with a simple answer. Because it’s delicious! And also because using rice in the meatballs means that you don’t have to buy/use as much ground beef.
The meatballs themselves are divine, but when you let them simmer in that rich tomato sauce… oh my gosh. Long story short, don’t miss out on this classic meatball recipe!
And, if you end up missing the spaghetti, feel free to serve it on the side.
No They Are Not Made of Porcupine!
No, we are not making meatballs out of porcupine meat today – breathe easy! This meal got its name because when you incorporate the rice into the meatballs, it kind of sticks out. It looks like little porcupine quills, so that’s why these meatballs have such a unique name.
What You’ll Need
These meatballs are made with pretty basic ingredients. You’ll need beef, of course, rice, a couple of spices and seasonings, etc.:
- Rice: I always use instant rice, but feel free to use long grain white rice instead (uncooked).
- Onion: Finely diced. You can use a white or yellow onion, it doesn’t really matter.
- Seasoning: There’s a whole bunch! Round up some kosher salt, celery salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder.
- Ground Beef: I like to stick to lean ground beef for this recipe. However, you totally don’t have to if you’d rather use ground beef with a higher fat content. (Also, see variations section for substitutions.)
- Olive Oil: Other cooking oils will work too. (Canola, avocado, etc.)
- Tomato Sauce: I used 1 15 ounce can for this recipe. No specific brand required!
- Beef Broth: Feel free to use a reduced sodium broth if you want.
- Brown Sugar: A little sweetness totally takes the flavor of these meatballs to the next level!
- Worcestershire Sauce: This adds a little tangy, savory flavor.
How to Make Porcupine Meatballs
Making porcupine meatballs is just like making regular meatballs. The process is the same, you’re just adding in some rice to the mix. So, grab a skillet and a jar of your favorite tomato sauce, and let’s get to it!
Form Meatballs: In a large bowl combine the rice, diced onion, celery salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and ground beef. Form the mixture into 1- inch meatballs.
Start the Sauce: In another medium bowl combine the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and set aside.
Cook the Meatballs: In a large (10- inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on each side. Drain excess grease from the pan. Turn the heat to low and pour the tomato sauce mixture onto the meatballs. Cover the skillet and cook for 30 – 40 minutes. Serve warm.
Tips for Success
Yep, just three quick steps and these meatballs are ready to be devoured. (And they will be – trust me.) Dinnertime doesn’t get much easier than that!
There are a few extra tips that you might find helpful, though:
- Use Leaner Beef: You’ll still form juicy meatballs with great flavor, but there will be so much less grease in the sauce and in the pan. If you’re fine with the extra grease, feel free to use beef with a higher fat content.
- How to Form Meatballs: I like to use an ice cream scoop to form these 1-inch meatballs, because it ensures that the meatballs are all relatively the same size. You could also use a tablespoon.
- Make the Meatballs Ahead: These meatballs are a great make-ahead meal! Complete step 1, and freeze your uncooked meatballs on a baking sheet until they’re frozen through. Then, keep them in an airtight container or Ziploc bag until you’re ready to make the sauce and finish the meal.
Don’t feel like you have to make this recipe the same way every time. You can switch up the meat, the add-ins, etc. Here are a few variations that would be fun to try:
- Use Another Kind of Meat: I haven’t tried it, but I think ground turkey, ground pork, or even ground chicken would make delicious porcupine meatballs.
- Add Cheese: Throwing some shredded cheese into these meatballs is a great idea – I would recommend something like mozzarella.
- Vegetables: Chopped carrots or peppers are great additions to the meatballs – this is a casual way to get your picky eaters to eat vegetables too.
Serving Suggestions for Porcupine Meatballs
Porcupine meatballs can be served with anything you like. More rice? Done. Other carbs? You bet!
These are a few of my favorite go-to sides that you might like too:
- Rice: These meatballs can be served over white, brown, or even cauliflower rice. It’s up to you!
- Noodles: If you’re not in the mood rice, try a plate of noodles instead! I like to keep it simple and use spaghetti or penne.
- Mashed Potatoes: That’s right! These meatballs can even be served with creamy mashed potatoes.
- Salad: If you’re trying to keep it healthy, serve these meatballs alongside a light bowl of salad.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
You can store these meatballs, sauce and all, in an airtight container in the fridge. They should keep for 3-4 days.
When you’re ready to reheat them, set a pan on low heat on the stove. Add the meatballs and sauce, and cook them until the meatballs are heated through. Don’t forget to add in a little bed of rice before serving again!
Can I Freeze Meatballs?
Sure! Freeze these meatballs in an airtight container for 1-2 months – you can freeze them with or without sauce. Before reheating, remember to let them thaw in the fridge overnight.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: American
Porcupine Meatballs are filled with juicy ground beef and perfectly cooked rice. These classic homemade meatballs may look a little funky, but they are indescribably delicious!
- 1/2 cup instant rice
- 1/3 cup finely diced onion
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon celery salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 (15- ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup beef broth
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- In a large bowl combine the rice, diced onion, celery salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and ground beef. Form the mixture into 1- inch meatballs.
- In another medium bowl combine the tomato sauce, broth, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In a large (10- inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meatballs on each side. Drain excess grease from the pan. Turn the heat to low and pour the tomato sauce mixture onto the meatballs. Cover the skillet and cook for 30 – 40 minutes.
- Serve warm.
Keywords: porcupine meatballs, homemade meatball recipe
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5 comments on “Porcupine Meatballs”
Wow, blast from the past is right. This was my mom’s thing & I always thought she made up the name as I’ve never heard or seen anyone else make them. In my family, we made this with a sweet & sour sauce. You could really use anything, a honey garlic would be good as well. I’m now inspired Togo make this for dinner. It’s been years! Thanks for the memory.
What do you mean by instant rice?? Ready cooked microwave, or quick cook raw rice??
Old fashioned comfort food for sure!!! We drop the raw meatballs in the simmering sauce, cover for 20-25 min., turn and cook another 15 minutes or so until the rice pops out. My mom used a can tomato soup and water, we use a jar of cheap spaghetti sauce.
Omg, what a blast from the past! My mom made these when I was a kid many many years ago and then I made them for my kids. I’ll have to see what my grandkids think! My grandson is taking cooking classes, I think he’d love to make these for his family. Thanks for sharing!
These look very good!! When I was little girl, my mom used to make these in a pressure cooker and added potatoes and carrots in with them. At that time, she just used tomato soup. So good. Comfort food! Nowadays, I suppose they could also be done in an instant pot as well.