Last Updated on 20th July 2022 by Pauline Loughlin
What are porcupine meatballs? They are similar to regular meatballs, except that they are made with rice as well as traditional meatball ingredients.
When the porcupine meatballs are cooked, sometimes the rice grains can stick out of the meatballs, making them look kind of like spines on a porcupine.
You don’t have to worry about shaping the meatballs just right so that the rice grains are angled to stick out. They can still be porcupine meatballs without a spiny appearance.
The taste is what really matters for this dish, and you will be able to tell the difference between this and regular meatballs with the first bite.
What I like about these meatballs is that they are really simple to put together. By incorporating rice into the dish, you can make a more filling meatballs and one that has greater nutritional value.
It’s also a decent way to get kids to eat foods they may not be thrilled with, because what kid doesn’t love meatballs? Make sure you follow our easy guide on what temperature should meatballs be cooked to?
How to Make Porcupine Meatballs
When you make this, you can use raw or cooked rice. The recipe I’ll give you for porcupine meatballs uses rice that is already cooked, and that means you can make up the rice ahead of time and save yourself some time and effort on the day you make the meatballs.
Feel free to cook these up with raw rice, though, if you wish. Just make sure you cook everything at a lower temperature and cook it for longer so that the rice is fully cooked by the time the meatballs come out of the oven.
For the meatballs:
- 1 pound of ground beef (how to season ground beef)
- ½ cup of long grain rice, already cooked
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ¼ cup of diced onion
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
For the sauce:
- ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- Salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1 cup of vegetable juice
- 1 can of undiluted, condensed tomato soup
- Prepare the oven by heating it up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Mix together rice, onion, parsley, garlic powder, salt, pepper, egg, Worcestershire sauce, and ground beef in a bowl. Mix lightly and avoid overmixing.
- Take your mixture and form it into about 20 balls.
- Place the meatballs into a baking dish with a little space between each meatball.
- Combine your sauce ingredients and mix together, and then pour that over the meatballs.
- Bake for 1 hour in the oven and then garnish with salt, pepper, and parsley.
This method for how to make porcupine meatballs in the oven works with any kind of rice. You can use whichever rice type suits you, including white rice, long grain rice, jasmine rice, basmati rice, etc.
Just make sure to cook the rice up first according to the packaging directions, and that saves you from having to take extra steps to cook it fully with the meatballs.
I like to garnish my meatballs with a little parsley for color, but there are other things you can use as well. Parmesan cheese or shredded cheese of any kind is a great garnish.
For something a bit different, try adding breadcrumbs onto the top of the meatballs, particularly before they go into the oven to bake.
What to Serve with Porcupine Meatballs
These meatballs are a superb dish on their own, but they could use some accompaniment to fill out your meal. What is a good side dish to serve with porcupine meatballs?
The more common side dishes you will see served alongside them are rice or mashed potatoes. You could serve garlic bread or pasta of some kind as well, but I am always wary of serving too much starch in my meal at once.
For an alternative to starch-heavy meals with porcupine meatballs, I like to serve up a light salad or some steamed vegetables. I find that corn, green beans, and baby carrots are all good sidekicks for this dish.
If I am serving up rice with porcupine meatballs, I know I don’t have to do anything fancy to it if I don’t want to. The meatballs and sauce can be poured over the rice to give it plenty of flavor, and the rice acts as a bland base to absorb all of that goodness.
If I want to do something with the rice, I may make a rice pilaf, Spanish rice, or a rice and beans combo.
Keep in mind that these meatballs contain some rice but not a lot. You may feel it is redundant to serve up rice in addition to the porcupine meatballs, but don’t feel too bad if that is all you come up with as a side. There isn’t enough rice in the meatballs to warrant keeping a rice side off the menu.
These meatballs can be a great comfort food and can be served on a submarine sandwich, along with some provolone or mozzarella cheese. You could also serve them up with cheese fries for a decadent meal, and this makes for a great lunch to try sometime.
Storing Porcupine Meatballs
Meatballs of any kind should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge, and they can be kept there for 3-4 days. The ground beef is likely what will go bad first, and that has a relatively short shelf life. You want to be careful of food poisoning, so toss out the meatballs if they start to smell or taste bad.
You can store them for longer if you put them into the freezer. Just store them in a freezer safe bag or container and you can keep them there for up to two months. Then, thaw them out in the fridge overnight if you want to use them again, or you can even heat them up in the microwave from frozen.
Keep in mind that any cream-based pasta sauces might not be safe in the freezer, but tomato-based ones will be.