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Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs in tomato sauce make a delicious and economical family meal. This recipe has been popular since the Great Depression when it was developed to make ground beef go further. Serve as is or over rice or mashed potatoes for a filling dinner.

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs


Uncooked rice is mixed with ground beef to make Porcupine Meatballs. The rice kind of pops out of the cooked meatballs like porcupine quills, hence the name.

This particular recipe for Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs is completely cooked in the oven. No need to do any cooking on the stove. The prep for these meatballs is super easy and the sauce only has 3 ingredients.

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs


To make Porcupine Meatballs, one pound of ground beef is mixed with 1/2 cup of uncooked rice, water, onion, and seasonings. The mixture is shaped into large meatballs which are then placed in a baking dish. The tomato sauce is a simple mixture of canned tomato sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs


The sauce gets poured over the meatballs. The baking dish is covered with foil and baked for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes.

Tips for making Porcupine Meatballs

Don’t use ground beef that is too high in fat. I use 10%.

You can use uncooked long grain rice or Minute rice. The baking time is plenty long for uncooked rice to get fully cooked and the water added to the meatball mixture along with the tomato sauce is all the liquid the rice needs to get soft.

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

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Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs in tomato sauce make a delicious and economical family meal. This recipe has been popular since the Great Depression when it was developed to make ground beef go further. Serve as is or over rice or mashed potatoes for a filling dinner.
PREP: 5 minutes
COOK: 55 minutes
TOTAL: 1 hour


  • 1 pound ground beef, I use 10%
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 (28-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce


  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, rice, water, onion, seasoned salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and celery salt. Mix well and shape into 9 meatballs.
  • Place in a lightly greased baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a bowl, stir together tomato sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over meatballs. Cover baking dish with foil.
  • Bake covered for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 more minutes.


Calories: 356kcal
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: retro recipe

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Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs #retro #easyrecipe #groundbeef

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27 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs”

  1. Judith Calhoun

    I made this dish last night, and followed your recipe, with half cup rice.
    Unfortunately it was not cooked and we were eating a raw meal.
    I won’t be making again, or if I did cook for a much longer time, in Australia.

  2. Liked the sauce, but rice was uncooked. Not undercooked – raw. Another comment stated it should be this way, being the ‘quills’ of the porcupine. Nope. They should be al dente, not raw. I’ll make again with parboiled rice.

  3. Patti L York

    Best sauce ever for meatloaf. Never enough. For mashed potatoes. Family eats every bite!

  4. This was good. The rice was fluffy and cooked . I do think I will spice the sauce up more next time since it was a bit bland. My picky husband liked it enough to say I should make it again.

  5. Made this for my son and his family. I made night before following exact directions through where it says to keep covered. Took from oven, let cool a bit then refrigerated overnight(didn’t know what time they would arrive). Next day, I put in oven and turned heat on. When temperature was reached, removed foil and baked the remaining 15 minutes. It was delicious. Everything cooked and seasoned perfectly! My granddaughter went back for seconds. She is pickiest eater in our family and loved it!

  6. Deidra Ann Plooy

    Excellent. No problem with the rice being cooked. I used regular rice, not minute rice. I cooked it the time for this recipe. Came out perfect.

  7. Rice totally uncooked and the sauce was “meh”. Tasted like tomato sauce as the sugar snd Worcestershire sauce didnt really do anything. Has potential but will use cooked rice…

    1. Kathie Corbett

      I just read your comment about the porcupine meatballs and I never use anything but tomato soup. A can on the bottom and a can to pour over them. I hope you have been able to achieve the great taste. I have never put mine in the oven but I’m sure they would be good.

  8. I shred a small head of cabbage to line my baking dish with and then I put the meatballs and sauce on top. Nice version of “stuffed cabbage”. I usually serve it with mashed potatoes, corn or green been, buttered bread and apple sauce. I also use an egg in the meat mixture as a binder and I use minute rice to be sure its fully cooked. I do not add any water at all. I like to use a little but more sauce than what this calls for. This dish is always a hit at my house!

  9. My daughter and I are going to try this for dinner tonight. Great and easy recipe for teaching my 12 year old daughter how to cook.

  10. Elise Chartrand

    Used semi cooked rice and added thick slices of carrots served with mashed potatoes..delicious.

  11. I cooked the rice half way done before adding it to the meat mixture. Allowing for the rice to cool a bit first. The fam all really liked the dish which is a difficult thing to accomplish. Cooked it covered for an hour. Uncovered for fifteen minutes. I did double the recipe and cook in two dishes so I have leftovers Will definitely make again

  12. The rice was completely uncooked. We even threw it in the oven for an extra 20min once we saw the rice was still uncooked, STILL uncooked rice. Clearly this recipe needs to use either already cooked rice or minute rice only. I ended up having to pull all the uncooked rice out of our young baby’s meatball so he could eat. Very disappointed.

  13. Christy Alexander

    I have baked this for 25 years, but I use a can of tomato soup and a can of golden mushroom. I do not use water, tomato sauce or brown sugar. My family loves it. We have mashed potatoes green beans and rolls. This is a hit at our house!!

  14. Sadly, this recipe did not work for me. I used long grain rice and baked an extra five minutes. Most of the rice was still hard. I only used a 15-ounce can of tomato sauce and that was too much. The sauce tasted of nothing but tomato and covered the meatballs. If I had used a 28-ounce can, the sauce would have overflowed the 3.5 quart dish I used to bake. Perhaps the leftovers will be better tomorrow after the rice has had time to soak some of the liquid from the sauce. We will see.

    1. Kathie Corbett

      I only use tomato soup. One on the bottom and one to pour over the them. No brown sugar needed with this.

  15. Puppy had surgery, afterwards doc said hamburger and rice for a few days. My grandson came over one day and saw the mixture in fridge and was thrilled, nana are you making porcupine meatballs tonight. After I explained it’s only ground beef for puppyi knew next days dinner was porcupine meatballs and this recipe was delicious! Will make these more often, yum!!!!!

  16. FloridaJannette

    Love this recipe. The sauce is perfect and the the taste of the porcupines really are much more
    Flavorful then my old recipe using tomato soup. Thank you for sharing

  17. These always bring back memories of having them as a child. So good but I remember thinking that they must be so much work to make. Thanks for posting this delicious recipe!

    1. Absolutely delicious! I had forgotten about these meatballs, & was delighted when I ran across this recipe. It’s now back in my meal rotation!
      For those of you who complained that the rice wasn’t cooked all the way, it’s not supposed to be that way…..the al dente rice are the quills from the porcupine!

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