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Porcupine Meatballs combine ground beef and rice into tender meatballs simmered in tomato sauce and served over mashed potatoes.

Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs are a vintage recipe that became popular as a way for home cooks to stretch their grocery budget.

Ground beef and white rice are combined and formed into meatballs. The meatballs are then cooked in a rich tomato sauce that’s flavored with Worcestershire Sauce – then served over mashed potatoes.


Porcupine Meatballs

Where did Porcupine Meatballs get their name?

As the rice cooks inside the meatballs, the ends of the rice poke outside the edges of the meat – like a porcupine – and that’s where the name Porcupine Meatballs comes from.

The original recipe was published decades ago in the Betty Crocker Cookbook – and it included packaged onion soup mix to flavor the meatballs, as well as canned tomato soup (among other ingredients) to create a sauce.

Our Porcupine Meatball recipe is 100% from scratch – but like the original – we do include Worcestershire sauce in both the meatballs and the tomato sauce. The Worcestershire sauce gives this dish a distinctive savory flavor in every bite and it is deliciously satisfying comfort food the entire family will love.


Porcupine Meatballs

Do I add uncooked rice or precooked rice to Porcupine Meatballs?

You’ll use uncooked rice in this recipe – and as the meatballs cook, the rice will cook and absorb both the juices from the meat and the sauce. Using uncooked rice also help the meatballs to stay nice and tender in the finished dish. (Precooked rice will continue to expand as it absorbs the juices, making the meatballs more dense.)

Porcupine Meatballs

How do I serve Porcupine Meatballs?

We decided to serve our Porcupine Meatballs over mashed potatoes. But you could also serve it over more rice or pasta.

Other great side dishes include green beans or a simple mixed greens salad with homemade vinaigrette.

You may enjoy these other Meatball recipes:

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Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 5 servings
  • Category: entree
  • Method: roasted
  • Cuisine: American



1 pound ground beef

½ cup uncooked white rice

¼ cup finely minced onion

¼ cup whole milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 whole egg


3 tablespoons butter

½ cup onion, minced

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3 cups low sodium beef stock or beef stock or broth

1 teaspoon gravy browning and seasoning sauce (such as Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master)

1 14.5-ounce can pureed tomatoes

Mashed potatoes to serve with the meatballs (see recipe here)


Make meatballs by combining all meatball ingredients. Scoop out twenty balls, about 1 ¼ ounces each and roll. Refrigerate while you make the sauce.

In a large deep skillet or saute pan, melt butter and add onions and saute for three minutes over medium heat.

Add the tomato paste and cook for two minutes.

Add the flour, lower heat and cook two more minutes.

Add the Worcestershire sauce, stir then add the beef stock, gravy color and pureed tomatoes.

Bring the mixture up to a simmer then gently add all of the meatballs.

Cover the pan, lower to a slow simmer and cook 15 minutes. Turn meatballs over, cover again and cook 15 more minutes.

While meatballs are cooking prepare the mashed potatoes. Serve meatballs and sauce over the mashed potatoes.

Keywords: porcupine meatballs


Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs



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  • Beatrice wrote:

    Made it tonight and my family loved it!!! Must make this again

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Beatrice!

  • Jacquie Jonsen wrote:

    Made these for dinner last night. Absolutely delicious. Thanks for posting.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Jacquie – glad you enjoyed the meatballs!

  • Emma wrote:

    Followed the recipe almost exactly (just made my meatballs bigger). Came out great. The meatball mixture seemed way to wet and I was worried they would fall apart, but they did fine! Very nice, comforting meal.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Emma!

  • Faith Brockoff wrote:

    Trying your recipe tonite. My mom and Grandma made a similar recipe. Beings back great memories! Thank you for sharing.

    • Martha wrote:

      I hope our meatballs are half as good as your mom and grandma’s! Enjoy!

  • Mary Poelker wrote:

    I’m in my early 60’s and my mother use to make this often. I also made it for my own children. I’m making dinner tonight for my daughter’s family and this is what they requested! Meatballs are in the refrigerator.
    Only difference I’ll do is brown them, add to the sauce and bake at 350 degrees (covered) for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 30 minutes. I’m transporting these and a skillet would be too messy lol

    • Martha wrote:

      I hope you all enjoy the meatballs Mary!

  • Katherine Kelley wrote:

    What a blast from the past! First recipe the Home Ec teacher taught us back in 1972. Can’t believe I forgot all about this, it’s so easy & tastes great!

    • Martha wrote:

      LOL – great memory Katherine! (We love old recipes from our childhood!)

  • Pam wrote:

    Made these for dinner tonight exactly as written. The whole family liked them. That makes for a great meal at our house! Thanks!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Pam! So glad you enjoyed the recipe!

  • G. wrote:

    No followed the recipe exactly.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for confirming G. While we just had another reader comment come in – and they didn’t mention any issues with the meatballs falling apart – we will test the recipe again on our end to reconfirm that there are no errors. We take reader feedback like yours to heart and want to make sure that the recipe works as intended. Thanks for letting us know.

      • Martha wrote:

        Hi G – Jack just finished making the meatballs again this morning (he thought about your comment all night and was determined to test the recipe right away) – they stayed together as the recipe was written.

        We’re still trying to figure out where things might have gone wrong for you…did you chill the meatballs in the refrigerator while making the sauce? Did you happen to use instant rice rather than the regular long grain white rice?

        We weren’t able to recreate the issue you saw so are puzzled why the meatballs disintegrated for you.

  • G wrote:

    Epic failure and waste of money On ingredients. Nothing to bind the meatballs together. They all fell apart. One big mushy mess. Not one meatball. Family had nothing for dinner. Especially disappointing during virus since shopping is limited.

    • Martha wrote:

      Sorry to hear you had issues with the recipe G – as you can see from our photos, our meatballs held together. Did you happen to leave out the egg? Or maybe added more rice or other ingredients than called for?

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