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Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

These well-seasoned 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, Phelps, Wisconsin
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 20 min. Cook: 1 hour YIELD:4-6 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


  • 1. 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. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1 each: 284 calories, 14g fat (4g saturated fat), 50mg cholesterol, 900mg sodium, 21g carbohydrate (6g sugars, 1g fiber), 17g protein.

Reviews for Porcupine Meatballs

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Johnna User ID: 9206778 268587
Reviewed Jun. 27, 2017

"I make this all the time but I use parboiled rice instead of the raw long grain rice that may help those of you that your rice is not getting done."

Andrea User ID: 8977203 257511
Reviewed Nov. 30, 2016

"This is a fantastic recipe. I'd been craving porcupine meatballs, a memory from childhood. I also babysit my great-grandson once a week and wanted something for lunch that might appeal to a 2 1/2 year old. I followed the instructions to the letter except for the celery salt. I had some, but I couldn't remember how old it was so I omitted that ingredient. The meatballs were perfect...the rice perfectly cooked and the sauce was thick and savory. I only meant to sample them as they are to be our lunch tomorrow. I put three on a saucer and ended up going back for three more. (I'm actually tempted to go back a 3rd time.) I've copied the recipe and added it to my notebook of favorites. Someone suggested that the ones who complained of undercooked rice might have made the meatballs too big. I simmered mine exactly an hour and the rice was just right."

KimWaite User ID: 7760349 257344
Reviewed Nov. 27, 2016

"This recipe is so good. I have finally found one from my childhood. My go to meatball recipe now. Thanks so much for sharing."

dsm User ID: 3208899 251984
Reviewed Jul. 28, 2016

"The sauce is thick and very tasty. The only negative I have is that, as others mentioned, the rice was not fully tender even after cooking longer than called for. Next time I make these (and we definitely liked them enough to make again), I will either try minute rice or else use precooked regular rice. I got 19 one and a half inch meatballs from a pound of ground beef."

[email protected] User ID: 3144492 248008
Reviewed May. 9, 2016

"Very good easy pleasy recipe. I'm thinking for the people that the rice didn't get done the meatballs were probably to big, Will make this again."

mwalters67 User ID: 8838290 247248
Reviewed Apr. 18, 2016

"I was so disappointed! The long grain rice did not get cooked inside of the meatballs even after an hour. My family tried to eat them but no one was able to finish or enjoy them since the texture was crunchy rice:( I did not see one other comment with the same problem. What did I do wrong?"

angela32 User ID: 3084463 243710
Reviewed Feb. 12, 2016

"My family loves these meatballs. We have them once a month, at least!"

oobs7765 User ID: 8763667 243408
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2016

"Fabulous!!! I followed your recipe exactly, except doubled and added a can of rotel and one can of tomato sauce. Soooo delicious, and easy! Thank you!!"

2newknees User ID: 49386 238145
Reviewed Nov. 26, 2015

"Good recipe. Followed it exactly. Mixture was not holding together like I wanted so I did add an egg and some bread crumbs. That did the trick."

Judahl User ID: 664700 238140
Reviewed Nov. 26, 2015

"I make these with milk instead of water, and omit the brown sugar. I brown them and put them in pressure cooker for 20 minutes. I got a pressure cooker 49 yrs ago so I could make these for my husband."

Gloria H User ID: 4846781 238093
Reviewed Nov. 25, 2015

"Very similar to recipe from WWII using the rice to stretch the scarce meat."

cindiak User ID: 221828 237553
Reviewed Nov. 17, 2015

"My mom used to make these back in the 70's. They are just as good as I remember."

Kialono User ID: 2007079 237477
Reviewed Nov. 16, 2015

"This is a family favorite for us, has been since it was published in the cookbook many moons ago! My teen kids and in-laws (when visiting) request it often. The only thing I do different is omit the brown sugar, sometimes. Thanks for the recipe!"

Shoes58 User ID: 2519954 235718
Reviewed Oct. 27, 2015

"these took me back to my childhood! Tasty and warm/cozy feeling to eat. Scary/fascinating to look at. Even though i used marinara instead of homemade sauce they were great. also as leftovers."

lauripobanz User ID: 33298 234904
Reviewed Oct. 13, 2015

"My family likes these meatballs a lot. I serve them with more rice (which they think is funny, but hey, you gotta fill up those boys somehow) I put them in the oven for about 20 min. instead of browning them in a skillet, then continue as the recipe says."

chrissellscandles User ID: 2752798 233788
Reviewed Sep. 30, 2015

"These are soooo yummy!"

weathersali User ID: 8394319 227129
Reviewed May. 29, 2015

"I have attempted porcupine meatballs before and they always fall apart and or the rice doesn't cook I used this recipe and it worked like a charm. I opted to bake the meatballs- followed recipe but instead of using a pot, placed in un greased baking dish and then covered in sauce. Baked at 350 for 30 minutes COVERED. Then uncovered and baked 35 more minutes. Flipped balls to other side and splashed some sauce on top after 15 minutes uncovered. Served with mashed potatoes and "butter peas". My one year old and husband loved this meal. Keeper!"

KobyAngie User ID: 8342593 225052
Reviewed Apr. 19, 2015

"Very good and so easy!!! Just like my mom used to make!!!"

l.r.anderson User ID: 8275127 221672
Reviewed Mar. 1, 2015

"awesome been looking for this one"

MrsDuke1 User ID: 8256884 220358
Reviewed Feb. 12, 2015

"I live in AK and I made these with MOOSE meat and OH MY GOODNESS it was so delicious. The moose meat just absorbs all the flavors, I will definitely be keeping and recommending this recipe."

dowitcher User ID: 1209489 3062
Reviewed Aug. 20, 2014

"My husband says this is a keeper! easy to make and delicious."

norskbente User ID: 5940711 11218
Reviewed Jun. 4, 2014

"I used this same recipe back in the 70's to stuff green peppers. The extra meat became smaller "porcupine meatballs". It's been years since I've made them...maybe tonight!! Thanks for the reminder. This is a great meal!"

Traine68 User ID: 7718922 9543
Reviewed Mar. 16, 2014

"Actually I had never heard of these before I made them today. My husbands mother used to make them when he was little so I used this recipe and he loved it! Will definitely make again."

mltdebbie User ID: 6422011 6253
Reviewed Feb. 28, 2014

"I've loved these since my grandma made them for me when I was a little girl...45 years ago! I've made them often in my life but usually make the sauce from Cream of Mushroom soup with about 1/2 can of milk or water and a couple drops of Worcestershire added. To make it even easier (and the way my grandma did it), is to not brown the meatballs. Mix the meatball ingredients, shape into meatballs and put in an even layer in a casserole dish and pour the soup mixture over. Cook at 350, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove cover and cook for 30 more minutes. Then I put them on top of mashed potatoes, spoon sauce over all and enjoy! It's fun to watch people's faces when you tell them you're serving Porcupines too ;-) Now I'm hungry for these and have to go make them for dinner."

dvierzen User ID: 7402990 200246
Reviewed Feb. 25, 2014

"Delicious and easy to make!"

memryskr10 User ID: 7211420 3061
Reviewed Dec. 12, 2013 Edited Mar. 24, 2015

"I love these, I have been making them for my family for years. I use celery seed instead of celery salt, when I double the recipe, I only use the 1 tsp of salt. I also bake the meatballs, drain ,then pour the sauce over the meatballs, bake 20 minutes more."

doddstir User ID: 4812196 6962
Reviewed Nov. 5, 2013

"I make these all the time for my family and they always turn out great! I like to serve them with mashed potatoes and corn."

Mkleinschmit User ID: 7171999 7916
Reviewed Aug. 28, 2013

"Very Good. I doubled the recipe and will finely dice the onion next time. My 5 yr old son loved them!"

lisa53202 User ID: 1079567 6251
Reviewed Aug. 23, 2013

"We enjoyed these tasty meatballs. easy to make, and I like the fact that you can fix the rest of the meal while they are simmering."

nanajl User ID: 3677572 11143
Reviewed Aug. 7, 2013

"made these for years but use tomato soup intead of tomatoe sauce"

lacyrp User ID: 3127075 9541
Reviewed Jun. 13, 2013

"These were great meatballs in a tangy sweet sauce. I'll definitely make them again!"

bingoqueen63 User ID: 750220 3059
Reviewed Jun. 5, 2013

"I have been making these for at least 15 years or more. They are Really delicious. I think they were in an old TOH magazine."

Badhoopty User ID: 7151904 7830
Reviewed Feb. 26, 2013

"Sorry about the long review. I need to stop drinking before posting. Use 4 Tsp of Worcestershire sauce ( not 4 Tbsp ). And after I returned the meatballs to the pan and covered with sauce, I also put a lid over my pan while it simmered in the sauce."

Badhoopty User ID: 7151904 6917
Reviewed Feb. 25, 2013

"<p>We made this tonight following the recipe basically word for word. I simply doubled the ingredients because I just couldn't see 1 pound of hamburger filling up three people. We used white instant rice for the recipe and it worked great in my opinion.</p><p>Two adults and our 16 year old daughter. She ate five of the twenty meatballs that I was able to make for the 2 pounds of burger. I browned in olive oil on medium high heat and basically just browned both sides because the 12" skillet was a little crowded. I removed the browned meatballs to a plate while I disposed of the grease from the pan. I also rinsed the pan with hot water once the grease was gone. I returned the meatballs to the pan and covered with the sauce (2x recipe for me).</p><p>Simmered on a low bubble for 45 minutes (turning the meatballs a couple times). They were just great. I couldn't believe my daughter ate five of the twenty I made. My only suggestion is to take the time to make the meatballs evenly sized, and to be sure and mix the ingredients thoroughly before turning into meatballs. I suppose the only thing I changed was that I mixed only 3/4 cup of water to the ground beef and added two eggs. In the sauce I did not add the water at all, just the two 15 oz cans of tomato sauce, 4Tsp of Worchestershire sauce, and 4 Tbsp of brown sugar.</p><p>15 of the 20 meatballs were eaten. Only due to stomach capacity of 3 satisfied Kansan's. We will make this more often. So easy!</p>"

nierika23 User ID: 7040338 6247
Reviewed Feb. 20, 2013

"I love this recipe! It reminds me of the meatballs my mom used to make when I was little. The only change I made to it was I added 3 tbsp of Worcestershire instead of 2 tsp and reduced the brown sugar to 1 tbsp - I really prefer a tangier sauce. you can also add a little cayenne to give it a little kick. Otherwise this recipe is perfect!"

Michele.Hester User ID: 4255551 9454
Reviewed Feb. 10, 2013

"My children loved making these meatballs - I loved eating them! No hard to slip brown rice into this one either."

TWeddle User ID: 6864463 3058
Reviewed Dec. 30, 2012

"When my youngest son was three (1996) he exclaimed, "I'll have more delicious please!" It has been a requested birthday meal favorite of his ever since."

galinthewoods User ID: 3317961 6916
Reviewed Dec. 20, 2012

"These were really good. They turned out much more spikey and porcupine-looking than the picture shows."

raysen User ID: 6791688 7861
Reviewed Jul. 27, 2012

"Made this last night and the kids loved it. My son kept asking for more and normally you have to beg him to just take one more bite. I did make one change in the recipe, my husband does not like his food to be sweet so instead of the brown sugar I added about 1/2- 1 teaspoon of ginger, roughly, I did not measure. And I also made them in the pressure cooker without browning to save on time. Only had to cook them for 15-20 min. at 15 lbs of pressure."

s_bar_f User ID: 4705243 11629
Reviewed Jun. 19, 2012


Cherie Hill User ID: 1488797 16575
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2012

"I have been making this ever since it appeared in your magazine years ago. This is one of our most favorite meatball recipe. The only thing I do different is add a little onion powder to the meatballs and I usually add a 8oz. can of tomato sauce because we like extra sauce. We love it withashed potatoes or potatoes I put through my river. DELICIOUS!!! We love the leftovers too :-)"

mrs.mark User ID: 5436322 7829
Reviewed Dec. 13, 2011

"Yum! My aunt makes something very similer to these, and I've always loved her's. These are good too."

knofflerrocks User ID: 5328853 3057
Reviewed Oct. 1, 2011

"An easy to fix favorite with great flavor. Usually have all the ingredients in the pantry so it's a good, quick, and easy workday meal at our house."

Sunny1978 User ID: 3946676 7860
Reviewed Sep. 1, 2011

"While I think these would be fun for kids as the meatballs do take on a fun "spiky" porcupine look as you cook them, I only found them "ok" in taste. I think next time I would still make the meatballs with the rice but try a different recipe for the sauce."

lvstocook User ID: 5650921 4658
Reviewed Apr. 21, 2011

"I liked the recipe because I had everything on hand; it did not take special ingredients. My family loved it!"

Selene K User ID: 2103818 7859
Reviewed Feb. 18, 2011

"This is tops in comfort food. I have to admit ,that the first time in my married life, I did not have tomato sauce on hand, so I used petite diced tomatoes I already had on hand. Ran them through the blender and it worked very well. These were even better (as many tomatoey recipes are) the next day as leftovers. Thanks so much. This is just what I was looking for."

senzascusa User ID: 2756822 16481
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2011

"I can't quite figure out what all the excitement is about this recipe. It was just okay. I would prefer meatballs without rice anyday and the sauce wasn't great. I would far prefer spaghetti sauce or sweet and sour or mushroom or just about anything else. Won't make this again, but glad I tried it."

marshelle User ID: 204090 8800
Reviewed Jan. 12, 2011

"Have made these many times. Inexpensive, easy, and delicious! Usually serve them over mashed potatoes. I also usually double the sauce, but I like the sauce to be a little less sweet, so I don't double the brown sugar. It's a winner every time I serve it. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!"

vickinboys User ID: 5748355 16480
Reviewed Jan. 9, 2011

"This is a very good recipe. The only change I made was to add cut up green peppers to the sauce and, since I was out of onions, I replaced them with 3 tablespoons of dried, minced onion. The dried onion added very nice flavor. This recipe will make an excellent stuffed peppers recipe as well."

togood User ID: 5436031 9433
Reviewed Jan. 7, 2011

"A good recipe. I didn't change a thing. These would even be good as a meatball sub with hot peppers and cheese. This is a keeper."

Stacey4 User ID: 2823471 7816
Reviewed Jan. 5, 2011

"These were great meatballs. With the rice in the meatballs and the tomato sauce, it kind of reminded me of cabbage rolls without the cabbage. I doubled the entire recipe and had just enough to feed two adolescent boys, their father, and myself"

lightedway User ID: 4228023 200245
Reviewed Nov. 20, 2010

"These are good. After reading the reviews I decided to double the sauce. I had only one can of tomato sauce so I used that and one can of petite cut tomatoes. I omitted the water since the canned tomatoes have a lot of water in them. It turned out great. My husband loved them and I usually don't get good reviews for "my meatballs" :)"

Sweet Peaxyz User ID: 5595300 9429
Reviewed Nov. 12, 2010

"I doubled the sauce ingredients. This is a great freezer meal; I make extra meatballs which can be frozen, then thawed and browned."

stayathomemomma15 User ID: 1696372 11142
Reviewed Nov. 7, 2010

"This is by far the best recipe I have ever gotten from Taste of Home. This is my six year olds favorite meal...and that says a lot since she is such a picky eater. This would be a great dish for a potluck or for a meal to impress your friends, family or co-workers!"

angelbaby52585 User ID: 5418432 11134
Reviewed Sep. 28, 2010

"My husband, who usually doesn't like meatballs, went back for seconds with these!!! They are great!"

Toni Anderson User ID: 3311959 16478
Reviewed Sep. 24, 2010

"This recipe, served with the baked mashed potatoes, has been a number 1 favorite with my family and friends since it first appeard in the magazine in 1995.I always double or triple it and make twice as much sauce as called for per batch, yet there is never anything left!! The more I make, the more they eat!!!I use it for a new mommy gift, housewarming, welcome back, etc. It is always a hit! Thanks!!"

Njfallon User ID: 5462361 8618
Reviewed Sep. 24, 2010

"Delicious! I like to forego the tomato sauce occasionally and use a mushroom gravy instead."

jaxons1gma User ID: 4483617 8478
Reviewed Aug. 3, 2010

"Just like the ones my mom use to make. The whole family loves them, and there is never any leftovers."

LadybugDiva User ID: 4790754 11626
Reviewed Jun. 27, 2010

"My mother-in-law use to make this for my hubby and I when we first got together and I just loved it. Over the years I have been trying different recipes so I could make it myself. I finally found a keeper. My picky child ate every bit of it with no complaints.

I took a few of the reviews and doubled the tomato sauce, worcstershire sauce and brown sugar. It was excellent. Served with rice and green beans. Since I doubled the sauce I served it over the rice. Very yummy and will make it again. : )"

mcdance User ID: 577882 9095
Reviewed Feb. 11, 2010

"I've been making this recipe since it first appeared in your magazine. THERE IS NOTHING FINER IN THE PORCUPINE RECIPE area!"

needsomezzzs User ID: 4392298 9335
Reviewed Feb. 6, 2010

"Delicious, I didn't have celery salt so used seasoning salt. Did double the sauce as well. Everyone cleaned their plates!"

Summy User ID: 1386846 6915
Reviewed Jul. 20, 2009

"Oops..I meant Spinach Apple salad."

Summy User ID: 1386846 16461
Reviewed Jul. 20, 2009

"This has been a family favorite for years. I make mine with lean ground turkey. And, I also make the Baked Mashed Potatos, which are delicious too. This recipe was in a TOH magazine that also include Emily's Spinach salad as a side (with apple and raisens)...a very refreshing accompaniment to this meal. YUMMY!!!"

poohpal User ID: 3331189 4656
Reviewed Jun. 20, 2009

"This recipe rocks!!! easy to make. I double the sauce though, doesn't seem to be enough."

casi1 User ID: 3657427 8449
Reviewed Apr. 1, 2009

"The whole family loved these. I made extra and sent them to my sister-in-law and my brother-in-law said I could cook for him anytime. A big hit with everyone. Definitely a keeper!"

Jellybean User ID: 119091 7855
Reviewed Jan. 24, 2009

"These meatballs are wonderful! Very easy to prepare too. I served them with another TOH recipe for Baked Mashed Potatoes. Great meal!"

partot User ID: 1036604 9540
Reviewed Jul. 31, 2008

"These meatballs are great... our family loves them! We do substitute quick-cooking oats for the long grain rice, as oats are always in our cabinet, but they're perfect every time we make them. Truly... a wonderful recipe to have!"

whitstep User ID: 1945373 8799
Reviewed May. 29, 2008

"My husband loves these hearty meatballs! One time, I accidently doubled the Worcestershire sauce and it made them taste even better!"

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