A typical meatball with a fun twist, these classic porcupine meatballs are laced with tender white rice and cooked on a bed of easy homemade red sauce.

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Homemade porcupine meatballs in a baking dish with red sauce.

About Porcupine Meatballs

It’s always fun serving foods that are a bit unique, and porcupine meatballs certainly fit that bill.

But don’t let the name (or the look) fool you. They’re just like normal meatballs, but with a surprise inside: a helping of long grain white rice, which helps give these meatballs their trademark look.

So not only are they fun to serve (and eat!) but each bite also counts as a serving of meat and grains.

Talk about delicious efficiency!

What are classic porcupine meatballs?

This recipe has a pretty unique name, and it’s a fitting choice to match the unique look of these meatballs.

Essentially, porcupine meatballs are typical meatballs with rice inside. Uncooked rice is used to form the meatballs, so when they bake and the rice expands, it gives the meatballs a spiny look. So while they make look a little bit odd, fans of beef and rice are bound to love the taste.

You can serve porcupine meatballs however you like, but traditionally, they’re baked or served on a bed of simple homemade red sauce.

Porcupine meatballs baked in red sauce.

What tools you’ll need

Meatballs are easier to make than you’d think, and only require six tools from your kitchen.

So before getting started, just make sure you have:

  • Two mixing bowls, at least one of them on the larger side.
  • A spatula.
  • A whisk (optional, but helps).
  • A spoon.
  • A 9×13 baking dish.

How to freeze this porcupine meatball recipe

One of the best things about porcupine meatballs is that they freeze well. And better yet, whether you’re freezing them cooked or uncooked, the process is the same:

  • Place room-temperature meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Note: this means that if you’ve already cooked the meatballs, they should first be cooled to room temperature.)
  • Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer until meatballs are frozen.
  • Remove baking sheet from freezer, then move the frozen meatballs to a ziplock bag.
  • Seal bag and store in the freezer for up to three to four months.

When you’re ready to use the meatballs, let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Then you can cook or use them like normal.

Meatballs baked with rice and coated with pasta sauce.

Is it best to freeze cooked meatballs or raw?

This really comes down to personal preference, because freezing works just as well for both raw or cooked.

If you’re having trouble deciding, there are some benefits:

Freezing raw: Since you don’t need to wait for cooking or cooling, this method means there’s less upfront work. So you can make the meatballs, freeze them, and then move on to something else.

Freezing cooked: While you do have to spend time cooking the meatballs and waiting for them to cool, the cooked meatballs will be tougher and more likely to keep their shape. Plus, if you cook the porcupine meatballs first, you can freeze the sauce right along with the meatballs.

Can you double this recipe? Can you half this recipe?

Yes, you totally can (to both questions).

This recipe already makes a decent sized batch of meatballs (about 30), but that might seem a little short for a party or a little big for dinner. I’ve adjusted the serving size of this recipe multiple times with great results, so feel free to make as many (or as little!) as you need.

Baked meatballs with marinara sauce and garnished with herbs.

What to serve with porcupine meatballs

Although they look a tad different, you can treat these meatballs just like you would any “normal” meatball. So when picking foods to accompany them, any of the following classics would be great:

  • Garlic bread, whether it be cheesy or extra buttery
  • Steamed or grilled veggies (green beans, zucchini, tomatoes, etc)
  • Sweet or savory salads
  • On a bed of your favorite pasta

Recipe Details

Homemade porcupine meatballs in a baking dish with red sauce.
5 from 2 votes

Porcupine Meatballs

15 mins prep + 1 hr cook
65 kcal
Yields: 30 meatballs
A typical meatball with a fun twist, these classic porcupine meatballs are laced with tender white rice and cooked on a bed of easy homemade red sauce.



  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce until sugar has dissolved. Set bowl aside.
  • In a large bowl, add rice, 1/2 cup water, onion, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, and paprika. Use a spatula to toss the ingredients together until mixed.
  • Add grown beef and canola oil to rice mixture, then mix thoroughly until beef has broken down and ingredients are incorporated throughout.
  • Use a spoon to scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of the meat mixture, then roll and mold it into a ball. Place formed meatball in a 9×13 baking dish. Repeat this step until all the meatballs have been formed, spacing each meatball about 1 inch apart.
  • Pour the prepared red cause over the meatballs. Give the baking dish a gentle shake to distribute the sauce throughout the dish.
  • Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 30-35 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through.
  • Serve porcupine meatballs immediately with chopped parsley as garnish (optional).


Calories: 65kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 166mg | Potassium: 97mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 75IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 7mg | Iron: 0.5mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy

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Recipe Rating



    Followed recipe. Meatbalks took well over hiur and a half to cook. rice was still hard Disappointing dinner

    • Lola Osinkolu | Chef Lola’s Kitchen
    • 5 stars

    My children love meatballs, can’t wait to make these!

    • Kathy

    When I make Porcupine Meatballs, I use my same recipe for making meatloaf, which is : lean ground beef (7% lean), ketchup, mustard, garlic, diced sweet onion, fresh basil, fresh rosemary, diced celery, crushed Ritz crackers, form meatballs, put them in a glass baking dish, pour Chicken and Wild Rice Condensed Soup over the meatballs. Bake at 350F for about 30 to 35 minutes. I cover it with foil for the first 15 minutes. I have served this over mashed potatoes or cooked rice.