Porcupine Meatballs

Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 5 servings

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Porcupine Meatballs are homemade beef meatballs that are boldly seasoned, cooked in a rich tomato sauce, and have plenty of “spikes” from the addition of white rice! They’re so easy to whip up with just about 15 minutes of prep time.

Enjoy more of the best ground beef recipes like Taco Mac, Instant Pot Goulash and Air Fryer Meatloaf.

wooden spoon scooping porcupine meatballs out of pan.

Porcupine Meatballs have taken the internet by storm! It’s not hard to see why, either. First of all, the name is adorable which definitely helps.

Secondly, these meatballs really have it all! They’re beefy, super flavorful, saucy, and have the best consistency from the simple addition of white rice (which look like little porcupine spikes).

This easy dinner recipe requires just about 15 minutes of prep work on your part. After you toss everything into a skillet, you just have to let the meatballs cook low and slow to perfection in marinara sauce. Your kitchen is going to smell SO good!

Why we love this Porcupine Meatballs Recipe:

  • Kid Friendly: Your picky eater might just love these protein packed meatballs! They’re not spicy and have a fun name – a win win for most little ones.
  • Easy: These homemade meatballs are so easy to toss together with a handful of pantry staples you might already have on hand.
  • Flavorful: One quick look at the ingredients list will show you just how flavor packed these meatballs really are! Garlic, herbs, seasonings and more give the meatballs tons of flavor all by themselves. Cooking them in marinara sauce really seals the deal!
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Porcupine Meatballs Ingredients Needed:

ingredients needed for porcupine meatballs in bowls and plate.
  • Ground Beef – You can swap this with ground turkey if you’d like. Just note that the flavor and consistency may be a little different.
  • Garlic – Feel free to measure this with your heart, garlic lovers out there!
  • Egg – This acts as a binding ingredient for the meatballs.
  • Milk – If you need to omit the dairy, just swap this with broth or even water.
  • Rice – Long grain white rice is what gives porcupine meatballs their signature spikes!
  • Marinara Sauce – Feel free to use any store-bought brand you like best.
  • Broth – Beef broth creates the best flavor. I like to use low sodium broth so I can control the amount of salt in the recipe.
  • Parmesan – If you have an extra minute or two, freshly grate the parmesan yourself! It really helps to create the best flavor and consistency.
  • Brown Sugar – This is used to sweeten the sauce a little bit. You can omit it if you’d like.
  • Worcestershire Sauce – This adds an amazingly savory umami flavor!
  • Seasonings – All you need is a little bit of oregano, parsley, onion powder, salt and pepper.

How to make Porcupine Meatballs

Take a quick look at how easy it is to make this porcupine meatballs recipe! For more details about ingredients and instructions, scroll down to the recipe card.

  • Stir together the rice, parmesan cheese, milk, egg, salt, parsley, onion powder and pepper in a bowl.
  • Add the ground beef to the mixture and mix until combined.
  • Roll the mixture into meatballs. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat with oil. Brown the meatballs for about 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Whisk together the marinara, broth, garlic, worcestershire, brown sugar and oregano. Pour this sauce all over the meatballs.
  • Cover the pan. Simmer on medium-low heat for 40 minutes or until the rice is tender. You can pull a grain of rice out of a meatball to check and see if it’s ready.

Variations and Substitutions

  • Ground Beef: I like to use lean ground beef, but you can choose a fattier ground beef if you’d prefer. Just note that you may want to wipe the rendered fat out of the pan after you brown the meatballs.
  • Onion Powder: You can finely chop up about half an onion and use that instead of onion powder if desired. I just like to use onion powder because it’s less chopping!
  • Rice: Here’s the deal – I haven’t tested this recipe with minute rice or long grain brown rice. You can definitely try using one of those options if that’s what you have, but the cook time will change.
  • Parmesan: You don’t need to add the parmesan… But I can’t make meatballs without it! My Easy Meatball Recipe is another great example of this. Parmesan (especially when freshly grated) adds great flavor.

How to store Porcupine Meatballs

Once cooled to room temperature, you can store leftover porcupine meatballs and sauce in an airtight container in the fridge. Properly stored, they’ll stay fresh for about 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until warmed all the way through.

Can I freeze porcupine meatballs?

Sure thing! Let the meatballs fully cool to room temperature. Then, transfer them to a freezer safe container and store for up to 3 months. I recommend letting them slowly defrost in the fridge prior to reheating.

wooden spoon in pan of porcupine meatballs with parsley beside.

Serving suggestions:

Porcupine meatballs are best when served over pasta (try these Buttered Noodles!), Baked Rice or Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes to help absorb all of that amazing marinara sauce! Also, consider any of these delicious veggie side dishes to add some fresh flavor:

More Meatball Recipes You’ll Love!

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Easy Porcupine Meatballs

5 from 1 vote
Porcupine Meatballs are homemade beef meatballs that are boldly seasoned, cooked in a rich tomato sauce, and have plenty of "spikes" from the addition of white rice! They're so easy to whip up with just about 15 minutes of prep time.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Cuisine American
Course Main Course
Servings 5 servings
Calories 331cal

Ingredients

Porcupine Meatball Recipe

  • ½ cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Porcupine Meatball sauce

  • 22 oz marinara sauce (650 ml or 2¾ cups)
  • ¾ cup low sodium chicken or beef broth
  • 2 cloves garlic (finely minced)
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  • (Preheat oven to 350 degrees F if baking — stove top directions included as well)
  • In a large bowl, stir together rice, Parmesan, milk, egg, salt, parsley, onion powder and pepper. Add the ground beef and mix just until combined.
  • Roll beef mixture into 1½" balls and set aside (you should get 20-22 meatballs)
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.
  • Brown the meatballs on each side, about 1-2 minutes per side.
  • Meanwhile, whisk together the marinara sauce, broth, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and oregano. Pour over the meatballs in the pan and cover.
  • You can either bake the meatballs for 40-45 minutes until the rice is tender, or you can simmer on medium-low heat for about 40 minutes until the rice is tender. To test if they are done, simply pull out a grain of rice to check for doneness. If needed, you can add an extra splash of broth and continue baking.
  • Serve over pasta or with side dishes of your choice.

Notes

*This recipe makes about 20 meatballs, or 5 servings of 4 meatballs each (or 4 servings of 5 meatballs each). 
Ingredients and Substitutions:
  • Ground beef: feel free to use a fattier beef if you prefer — you may want to clean the excess fat out of the pan after browning if you go this route.
  • Onion powder: if you prefer, you can finely chop about ½ an onion and use that instead of onion powder. My family prefers not to have pieces of onion in the meatballs, so I find onion powder a great substitute (and less chopping!)
  • Rice: I have not tested this recipe with minute rice or long grain brown rice. You may be able to swap them, but the cook time will change. 
  • Parmesan: you can omit the Parmesan if you prefer — I love adding Parmesan to my meatballs (like in my Easy Meatball Recipe) because it adds a ton of flavor! They will not taste overly cheesy.
  • Milk: water or broth is a fine substitute if you are trying to reduce or omit the dairy in this recipe.
 
 

Nutrition Information

Serving: 303grams | Calories: 331cal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 94mg | Sodium: 1278mg | Potassium: 818mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 661IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 4mg
Keywords porcupine meatballs

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Meet Ashley

My name is Ashley Fehr and I love creating easy meals my family loves. I also like to do things my way, which means improvising and breaking the rules when necessary. Here you will find creative twists on old favorites and some of my favorite family recipes, passed down from generations!

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Comments

    • The Recipe Rebel says

      Hi Lydia, Sure thing! Let the meatballs fully cool to room temperature. Then, transfer them to a freezer safe container and store for up to 3 months. I recommend letting them slowly defrost in the fridge prior to reheating.

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