Porcupine meatballs are not exactly gourmet food. They are more of a down home everyday type meal. And they are not a very pretty meal, or a very photogenic one as you can tell from the picture above, but they are so good.
And not only are they good, they are an inexpensive and kid friendly meal that is so easy to make.
The first time I made porcupine meatballs was back in 1995. I had only been married about a year and I came across a recipe in a Taste Of Home magazine and knew I had to try it. It looked easy to make and I had everything in my cupboard to make them. I also knew that I could get ground beef on sale and this was a meal that would make that ground beef stretch.
You see those were our poor days, or at least back when my husband was trying to finish up college and money was very tight. If it was not on sale, or extremely cheap, we did not eat it.
It was also back when meat was a treat for us to eat. It was rarely the star of the meal because I had to make it stretch and these meatballs worked great for that because we always served them over rice which allowed me to stretch this one meal into two or three meals.
Now I know they have rice in them, but I could make them stretch even farther if I served them over rice also. And because I served them that way so often years ago, this is the way we have continued to eat them.
Rice was one of those inexpensive things that we ate a lot of during those years and I loved to find creative ways to use it so that it did not feel like we were just eating rice all the time.
The first few months after we were married, we lived in an apartment near some Asian markets where you could get some really good deals. And I quickly learned that buying rice by the 25lb bags from the Asian Market was much cheaper than I could buy it anywhere else and so we ate a lot of rice. And when I say we ate a lot of rice, I do mean a lot of rice.
And do you know what, rice is still a staple in our house because it is still an inexpensive and easy dish to serve and it is easy to change up and serve many different ways.
So, feel free to serve these how you want to. And if like them with lots of sauce, feel free to double the sauce, I like to do that sometimes and it gives it more sauce if you are serving it over rice.
Porcupine meatballs are a great pantry ingredient dinner.
- 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2-8 ounce cans tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- In a bowl combine rice, water, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ground beef.
- Shape into 1-1/2-in. balls. In a large skillet, brown meatballs and drain off any fat. (If you use really lean beef than you may need to add some oil to the pan.)
- Combine tomato sauce, water, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce and pour over meatballs.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 hour or until meatballs are done.
If you are gluten-free be sure to read labels to make sure that your ingredients are gluten-free.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 258Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 67mgSodium: 831mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 22g
Nutritional values are approximate and aren't always accurate.
I’m sure porcupine balls are different all over the country. Where I lived they were stuffing wrapped in hamburger. I like yours better. It reminds me of the center of a stuffed pepper or cabbage roll. And I love them!
That version sounds really good also!
Thank you for posting this. I understand having cheap meals and at our house rice, and beans I might add, is a staple. I am 24, my husband is the only one working and we have 4 young children so bring on the inexpensive meal ideas! : )
You are welcome. I am glad you liked it. When I was writing this post up I realized that I have quite a few recipes that I used to make all the time when I was first married and money was so tight that I have never shared. I need to start posting more of those, because I really did learn how to get creative with rice and beans and other inexpensive type foods.
I LOVE Porcupine Balls! I grew up eating them. Like you said, it was a cheap meal to make, and hamburger was typically the “meat” of most of our meals because it is much cheaper than other meats. My mom is Japanese and though we ate rice AT LEAST 3 or 4 times a week, we never had Porcupine Balls on rice. My mom always made them with mashed potatoes. I would always squash my ball up and mix it with some mashed potatoes and make a “sandwich” with it. Of course, I used to eat everything with a slice of bread as a “sandwich”. I haven’t ever made these for my family, now that I am grown, but plan to now that you have brought this back to my attention. Thanks for posting the recipe, and for bringing back the memories of one of my favorite foods growing up. 🙂
I bet it would be good over potatoes, we have never had it that way. Thanks for sharing the version you grew up eating.
My hubby hates tomato sauce so I have made ours with cream of mushroom soup for…oh…maybe 40 years now. LOL!
This is one of my husbands favorite meals! For the rice I have used Uncle Ben’s Long Grain & Wild Rice. I use half a box and half of the seasoning mix, saving the rest for the next time I make Porcupine Meatballs. Just a variation of the original version!
That’s what I do too! The long grain and wild rice “dresses them up” LOL, and makes them a little more substantial, I think. And I add a pinch of onion soup mix to both the meatballs and the sauce.
This recipe makes me think of my mom! I always requested this. My sister hated it LOL This was always made with instant rice & v8 (for lots of extra suace!) and served over mashed potatoes with canned green beans. My husband won’t eat it so it’s something I won’t be eating for awhile 🙂
My mom used to make porcupine meatballs, and I loved them, but I’ve never made them myself. Thanks for the recipe. 🙂
cooking right now! thanks!
When this post appeared in my inbox, it made me laugh. The one meal my mom made growing up that I couldn’t stand were porcupines. I was convinced she was the only one that ever made them and upon moving out of the house I could avoid them at all costs.
Then one night, while having dinner with the in laws, my father-in-law starts discussing all the meals his wife used to make that he misses. A bit into the conversation he says, “You know what meal I really miss?….Porcupines.” It about hit me like a ton of bricks. “You know what Porcupines are?” I said. And yes he did and he loved them and he wanted his wife to start making them again. And that’s when I realized my mom wasn’t the only person who made them and I would still have to work on avoiding them even as a grown up. We eat dinner with my in laws a lot and I am soooo thankful that my mother-in-law hasn’t yet followed his advice.
With that said, I know a lot of people that love porcupines and I am sure your recipe is great. For some unexplainable reason, I just have a thing against this dish.
I think it’s one of a few things that turns people off with porcupine meatballs: either they don’t like meatballs at all (I didn’t for many years), they don’t like the texture that the rice adds, or they don’t like the sauce. When my mom made porcupine meatballs the sauce wasn’t tomato based. It was a sweet & sour sauce that had pineapple in it. Hmmm. I’ll bet my kids would like that … going to go dig up that recipe now. 🙂
The only change I made was I used 1 cup cooked brown rice I had in the refrigerator and omitted the 1/2 c water in the meat balls and they turned out great! The thing I never liked about Porcupine Meatballs is when the rice is still crunchy. And they didn’t need to simmer for an hour this way either.
I was sure that this would be yet another meal my kids would not like. So I made them on “Pizza Night” for myself and hubby if he wanted them. When the kids smelled it they said they wanted to try them. So they ate pizza and a meat ball or 2 or 3! lol. They totally loved them. I’ll have the double the recipe!
I put it over rice and fresh spinach. It wilted the spinach nicely! Very good. The next day Hubby made spaghetti and put the sauce and meatballs over it. The 3 of them who got to have it as left overs loved it!
I am so glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing your version.
When I first got married. My hubby wanted porcupine meatballs. I really that they had porcupine in them because my hubby gots from a family of hunters. I heard his grandma made excellant raccoon.
Do you think I could crock pot these after browning? Too hot her to simmer for an hour.How long do you think I should cook them on Low?
The one meal my sweet wife of 17 years has never cooked for me, (in spite of my occasionally reminding her that I remember them fondly , having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s) is , you guessed it, Porcupines!!
Having recently been given a pressure cooker, I’m taking things into my hands (always looking for ways to help out more around the house) and I want to make some for both of us to enjoy. If I take a standard, Pressure Cooker-based, Porcupine recipe and exchange Wild rice for the standard, what changes would you recco in moisture, cooking time and seasoning?
I think the moisture and seasoning will probably work the same, it is the cooking time that will vary. If I remember right wild rice takes longer to cook, but since these simmer for about 1 hour, I think even that would be fine on this. I have never done them in the pressure cooker though, so I am not exactly sure. I think if you have a standard pressure cooker recipe, you could just exchange the rice and maybe add a little time on and be fine. I hope that helps and you enjoy them!
My foster mother used porcupine balls in her stew. Hoping I can use this recipe and have the same flavor ( super yummy!) that she did. Maybe onion soup mix and a little V-8. Thanks so much for the basic recipe to start with!
I am making these tonight for my “new” boyfriend. I am 52 and these meatballs were ALWAYS my request for my birthday dinner with mashed potatoes. It is a wonderful memory of my mom making these for me. I cannot wait to have them tonight!
I hope you both enjoy them!