Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

Porcupine meatballs in tomato sauce
Porcupine meatballs in tomato sauce

Porcupine meatballs differ from traditional meatballs in that instead of using breadcrumbs as a binder, they use rice. The rice in the meat gives the appearance of "quills." The meatballs are then browned and traditionally cooked in a rich tomato sauce.

How to Make Porcupine Meatballs

This porcupine meatballs recipe is a traditional version of the dish. Note the rice is added uncooked. The moisture of the cooking environment then cooks the rice as the meatballs cook.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar


  1. Combine ground beef, rice, onion, salt, celery salt, garlic powder, and pepper in a bowl.
  2. Using your hands, mix ingredients until they are well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture into 12 equally sized pieces and roll into meatballs.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  5. Add meatballs and cook until they brown evenly, turning occasionally.
  6. Set meatballs aside on a plate. Empty the pan of excess fat and return it to the heat.
  7. Stir in tomato sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar, using the side of the spoon to scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  8. Bring sauce to a boil and return meatballs to pan.
  9. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until rice is tender and meatballs are cooked, 45 minutes to an hour.


You can vary these meatballs in multiple ways.

Sweet, Sour, and Spicy Porcupine Meatballs

Use the recipe above with the following changes:

  • Replace water with vinegar (so add one cup of vinegar in place of water).
  • Increase dark brown sugar to 1/4 cup.
  • Stir in one teaspoon Sriracha when you add the sugar.

Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

If you'd like, you can also use the above recipe in your slow cooker. To cook in a slow cooker, use the above recipe with the following variations:

  • Place browned meatballs in the slow cooker.
  • Pour prepared sauce over the meatballs once it has boiled.
  • Cover and set on low for seven to eight hours, until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Ground Turkey Porcupine Meatballs with Mushroom Sauce

This recipe uses leaner meat but adds a creamy mushroom soup sauce instead of the traditional tomato sauce.


  • Turkey porcupine meatballs with mushroom sauce
    1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/3 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 can (11 ounces) cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/2 cup sour cream


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine turkey, rice, salt, and onion in a bowl.
  3. Mix well using your hands until ingredients are well-combined.
  4. Separate mixture into 12 portions and roll into meatballs.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
  6. Brown meatballs in oil, turning occasionally, until meatballs are well browned on all sides.
  7. Place meatballs in a large casserole dish.
  8. Drain fat from pan and return it to heat.
  9. Stir in beef stock, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  10. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, mushroom soup, and sour cream.
  11. Pour over meatballs in the casserole dish.
  12. Cover and bake until internal temperature of meatballs reaches 165 degrees, about 45 minutes.

Serving Porcupine Meatballs

These meatballs are delicious and can be served in many ways. One traditional way to serve them is with mashed potatoes. Others like serving them on top of a nest of hot egg noodles. By adding a salad or some steamed vegetables, you'll have a delicious weeknight meal for your family.

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Porcupine Meatballs Recipe