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Porcupine Meatballs are hearty and well-seasoned meatballs with rice that simmer in a rich tomato sauce. This is a family recipe passed down from my grandma and I know that your family will love it too!

Another great way of making these famous porcupine meatballs is in the slow cooker recipe. Enjoy both ways depending on what is best for your family!

Porcupine Meatballs in a skillet garnished with chives.

Porcupine Meatballs

Oh porcupine meatballs. How I love you.

This was a recipe that my grandmother used to cook for my mom. My mom would make it for us all of the time and now I make it for my family! These kind of “tried and true” recipes that are passed down are the very best. So many memories come back to me when I make these for my family. I remember how excited we would all get when my mom was making porcupine meatballs for dinner. I loved to help her in the kitchen and make the little meatballs. As soon as they were done, they were devoured by our family in a matter of minutes.

I love using McCormick spices because they are such high quality and add such amazing flavor to your dish. McCormick has been around since 1889. I remember looking in my grandmothers cabinets and seeing the red caps in her cupboards. My mom uses them in her cooking and now I use them in mine. It is a company that I can stand behind and know and love.

Meatball Ingredients:

Now is the time to keep your cupboards stocked with all of your favorite McCormick spices. We are entering in the cozy comfort food season full of casseroles, soups, and slow cooker meals.

I am always using garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and tons of cinnamon throughout the year. And McCormick has so many other amazing quality spices that I love to use as well.

  • Ground Beef: Ground Chuck is the best for meatballs
  • Long grain rice: This type of rice includes American long-grain white and brown rice, Basmati rice, and Jasmine rice, and produces distinct firm grains that stay fluffy
  • Egg: This will be the binding agent that holds everything in shape
  • Parsley: Adds balance to this savory dish and brightens the flavor
  • Onion: The onion gives the meatballs a cleaner taste
  • Garlic Powder: This powder has a slightly sweeter taste than fresh garlic
  • Paprika: Colorful Spice derived from ground peppers gives these meatballs their stand out flavor
  • Pepper: Add to taste
  • Salt – Adding salt to your food will enhance the other flavors
  • Condensed tomato soup: Using this in both the meatball and the sauce gives the tomato texture consistency
  • Water: Used to thin out the sauce
  • Worcestershire sauce: Made from a base of vinegar, which gives it a bit of a tangy flavor, this sauce adds both sweet and savory tastes to the sauce

How to Make Porcupine Meatballs:

These porcupine meatballs are well seasoned with McCormick spices to bring out amazing flavor. The rice in the meatball which give it the porcupine name add such a delicious texture. They simmer in a rich tomato sauce and cook to perfection.

These are some of the best little meatballs that you are going to eat. They are a family favorite of ours and I know that they will become a family favorite at your house as well!

  1. Combine ingredients: In a medium sized bowl combine meat, rice, egg, parsley, onion, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, salt and 1/4 cup tomato soup. Mix thoroughly and shape into about 20 meatballs and place in a skillet.
  2. Mix Sauce: Mix together remaining soup, water and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over meatballs.
  3. Bring to a boil: Once the sauce is bubbling reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 35-40 minutes stirring often.

Making homemade meatballs but adding all of the ingredients together and mixing it until well combined then rolling into 1 in balls and cooking on a skillet until cooked through then adding a sauce over top of the meatballs.


This is the perfect recipe to sneak in some extra nutrition in for your kids (or your husband) by adding in or swapping out some ingredients.  It doesn’t take away from the flavor at all and no one will have any clue they are getting some extra vitamins or an extra lean meat.  Mix around the ingredients and try something new! You can’t mess up this tried and true favorite!

  • Cheese: Use some of your favorite shredded cheese for an extra ooey gooey texture and flavor.
  • Protein: Swap out the ground beef for ground chicken, pork, sausage, or turkey.
  • Vegetables: Chop up small pieces of mushroom, carrot, or zucchini or bell peppers to add into your meatball.

Porcupine Meatballs in a skillet cooking with a wooden spoon picking up a meatball.

What to Serve with Your Meatballs:

Make a complete meal with a simple side dish! To compliment these delicious meatballs I suggest trying mashed cauliflower or mashed potatoes

How to Store Dinner Time Porcupine Meatballs:

  • Make meatballs ahead of time: Keeping a stock of frozen meatballs on hand means you can easily prepare a quick satisfying meal for you family.  Busy weeknights, late practices, unexpected guests? No problem when you have these insanely delicious meatballs on hand.
  • Storing leftover meatballs: Wrap tightly in heavy duty aluminum foil or freezer wrap.  They will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
  • Can you freeze meatballs? Yes! Store in airtight freezer containers or heavy duty freezer bags. Properly stored they will be at their best quality for 2-3 months if cooked and 3-4 months if stored uncooked, but will remain safe beyond that if kept at 0 degrees.
  • Reheating meatballs: These meatballs can be re-heated easily from frozen or thawed.  To thaw meatballs, simply place in the refrigerator overnight.  Re-heat on a greased baking pan in the oven at 350 degrees until heated through.  Frozen meatballs will take 50% longer to re-heat.  Cook time is 20-25 minutes if cooking from frozen.

Porcupine Meatballs laying on a bed of rice garnished with chives and mccormick seasoning in the background.

More Meatball Recipes To Try:

Porcupine meatballs in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

This post was sponsored by McCormick®. I love working with brands that I am passionate about and use in the kitchen for myself. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Porcupine Meatballs

3.93 from 14 votes
By: Alyssa Rivers
Hearty and well seasoned meatballs with rice that simmer in a rich tomato sauce.  This is a family recipe passed down from my grandma and I know that your family will love it too! 
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings


  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1/4 cup long grain rice uncooked
  • 1 egg slightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon McCormick® Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon McCormick® paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon McCormick® Pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup 10 3/4 oz, divided
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


  • In a medium sized bowl combine meat, rice, egg, parsley, onion, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, salt and 1/4 cup tomato soup. Mix thoroughly and shape into about 20 meatballs and place in a skillet.
  • Mix remaining soup, water and worchestershire sauce. Pour over meatballs. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for about 35-40 minutes stirring often.



Updated on April 3, 2020
Original Post on October 8, 2015


Calories: 269kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 15gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 461mgPotassium: 524mgFiber: 1gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 329IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!

About Alyssa Rivers

Alyssa Rivers is the author of 'The Tried and True Cookbook', a professional food photographer and experienced recipe-developer. Having a passion for cooking, her tried and true recipes have been featured on Good Morning America, Today Food, Buzzfeed and more.

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  1. Can I use parboiled rice? Would the cooking time change? Looks so yummy. Great comfort food during these trying times. Thank you!

    1. It would speed up the process and may not cook the meat at the same time. It sounds like a great way to help with this recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

  2. 5 stars
    I remember learning to make them in Girl Scouts. My mother also made them fairly often, and I liked them enough to continue making. It sounds like LOTS of people’s families across America made them too.

  3. I use tomato sauce and make the oblong balls. I have mashed potatoes and corn for the sides. I love this dish. It’s great for the fall.

  4. My mom made this recipe in the 50’s…without the Worcestershire sauce, garlic power and paprika. She also didn’t add any soup to the balls but rather saved it all for the sauce. To keep her meatballs together, she rolled them in flour before putting them in the pot. Will try your recipe tonight…adding the spices but not the soup. I also add extra soup to the sauce, because my family likes the “gravy” for the mashed potatoes.

  5. What are some good sides that go well with these?? My mom also used to make these when I was young and im trying your recipe out for the first time making them myself!

    1. Oh bummer! You are welcome to use one more egg or less rice to help make it more moist. Hope that helps! XOXO

      1. 5 stars
        I don’t think thses have to be fried firat. They get cooked in the sauce in covered skillet. Good luck.

  6. I would like to freeze these but I’m wondering if I would do that before or after cooking? My mother used to make these years ago and I thought I would make them for her as a surprise. It’s been years since I’ve had porcupines. Thank you for the memory 🙂

    1. Oh that is so sweet of you! She will love that! I would recommend cooking them first then reheating them but you are welcome to freeze it before cooking them too. It is usually easy to reheat frozen meals. Hope she enjoys this special surprise! XOXO

  7. This recipe looks good. Can’t wait to make this.

    Can I use brown rice instead? If so, do you know how many more minutes should I cook the meatballs for?

  8. I’ve made these many times in the past. I don’t use canned soup, so I’m gonna put a little ketchup in the meatballs and I have a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes that I’ll use for the sauce. I’ll jazz it up a bit with some olive oil and apple cider vinegar, and dried basil. Making these in a little while. Gonna be soooo good! My mom used to make these when I was a kid.

  9. I have been making Porcupine meatballs since the late 1970’s! Little bit of a variation, instead of tomato soup, I use tomato sauce (definitely Worcestershire sauce).

    The difference is that I put it all in a casserole dish, cover it with aluminum foil for 45 minutes, then 15 minutes with the foil off. I usually bake potatoes at the same time since the oven is going.

    Now, since hubby and I are retired, and kids are gone. I make up a batch, separate into smaller portions and Vaccuum Seal them and store in freezer until I need them.

      1. Yes, regular rice will work. My mom even used instant rice back in the day! However, I would never use instant rice today because something about it just ”ain’t” right! Not normal!

  10. My mother used to make porcupine balls as well. Such a comfort food on a cold Fall or winter day. She has been gone for many years now, but when I do make them, it brings back such comforting memories for me. She actually did hers in her pressure cooker and would add potatoes in among the porcupine balls and dumplings on the top! Thanks for th memory and the recipe!