Save on Pinterest

Porcupine Meatballs

These well-seasoned porcupine meatballs in a rich tomato sauce are one of my mom's best main dishes. I used to love this meal when I was growing up. I made it at home for our children, and now my daughters make it for their families. —Darlis Wilfer, West Bend, Wisconsin
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Cook: 1 hour
  • Makes
    4 servings


  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


  • In a bowl, combine the first seven ingredients. Add beef and mix well. Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. In a large skillet, brown meatballs in oil; drain. Combine tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce; pour over meatballs. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.

Porcupine Meatball Tips

Why are they called porcupine meatballs?

Porcupine meatballs have been a family staple since the Great Depression (and even before that!). They're called porcupine meatballs because the rice pokes out of the meat while they're cooking, resembling the spiky animal.

What goes well with this recipe?

These porcupine meatballs taste great over rice or on their own as a party appetizer. Serve them alongside these other fabulous appetizer recipes.

Can you freeze meatballs?

Meatballs are a great meal to make ahead and freeze. Make sure they’re cooled completely and then wrap and seal tightly with either foil, plastic wrap or plastic freezer bags. Try to remove as much air when wrapping to prevent freezer burn. Or if you’re using food storage containers, make sure you’ve left enough space in the container for liquid to expand as it freezes.
Nutrition Facts
1 serving: 421 calories, 21g fat (6g saturated fat), 70mg cholesterol, 1317mg sodium, 34g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 2g fiber), 24g protein.


Click stars to rate
Average Rating:
  • Augusta
    Oct 8, 2020

    Why is the amount of worcestershire sauce and brown sugar needed not in the recipe???

  • chocolateveryday
    Aug 3, 2020

    This recipe is elevated from a 4 star to a 5 star with the following tweaks.... First, I only use 1/4 c water in the meat mixture, and add an egg to help bind the ingredients when mixing - otherwise they tend to fall apart. I use a quick rice. Also, I microwave the onion in a tsp of water for 1.5 minutes before mixing in with rest of ingredients. Most importantly, I make 1.5 times the sauce by increasing all of the ingredients by 1.5 except the water, which I leave at 1c. (I use Italian seasoned tomato sauce.) This way we have plenty of sauce, as we like to enjoy this dish over mashed potatoes. PS: Remember to cover the dish while cooking or your rice may not get done! (I made this mistake the first time I made them many years ago.)

  • kawfytawk
    May 21, 2020

    Awesome recipe! Super good!.....for those who have crunchy rice....uniform meatball size (try using a cookie scoop) and/or forgetting the water are your likely culprits. This will work very well every time as written.

  • Angela
    May 19, 2020

    Tripled the recipe for a family dinner and it tasted so good. I used what we had at home so the sauce was a jar or spaghetti sauce and tomato paste with equal parts water. Then we also added two eggs. They were awesome. Would make again.

  • Beulah
    May 6, 2020

    I always make mine in a crockpot. I thought, last minute, I wanted this and gave it a try. Sorry, was not happy. It looked odd, to not have an egg to hold together, but I gave it a shot.

  • Rose
    May 1, 2020

    Great recipe...will be making these more often for the grand babies.

  • David
    Apr 30, 2020

    I had some doubts while making this recipe exactly as directed as the meatballs were a bit mushy (might use less water next time) and a bit difficult to saute but after cooking them in the sauce, they were fantastic!! Anything you would like to add to the sauce will be absorbed by the rice and increase the flavor (garlic, hot sauce, a bit of parmesian). The other half and a guest (unexpected) raved about them and asked for seconds. This is definitely on my regular rotation for meals. Thank you so much for the recipe!!

  • Jan
    Apr 27, 2020

    Didn't turn out well. IF I ever make these again I will omit the water in the meatballs cause they fell apart. I will also omit the sugar, a little too sweet

  • Donna
    Apr 21, 2020

    I followed this recipe except I used 1 can campbells soup, a small can of tomato sauce and omitted the sugar. Turned out delicious. I will make again.

  • Barbara
    Apr 19, 2020

    I make this in my pressure cooker. No frying. Delicious