Porcupine Meatballs

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CROCKPOT PORCUPINE MEATBALLS! Delicious and easy porcupine meatballs that take minutes to make and cook in your crockpot. Little prep and impressive results! via chelseasmessyapron.com

Delicious and easy Porcupine Meatballs take mere minutes to whip together and then slow cook until they’re fall-apart-tender!

Enjoy these savory meatballs over cooked rice, accompanied by roasted vegetables and a fresh garden salad, for a complete and satisfying meal.

Porcupine meatballs served over a bed of rice, garnished with fresh herbs.

The Best Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs offer a unique take on classic beef meatballs, packed with rice, seasonings, and onion, slow-cooked in tomato sauce. Named for their rice quills resembling porcupine quills, they’re easy to make and become incredibly flavorful and tender.


For easier meatball rolling, keep ingredients cold, use cooking spray or oil on your hands, utilize a cookie scoop for portioning, and roll all meat portions at once for quicker preparation.

Ingredients being mixed and rolled into meatballs before broiling and adding to a slow cooker to simmer in sauce.


  • Ground Beef: Provides the primary structure and rich, meaty flavor.
  • White Rice: Adds texture; expands during cooking to give the porcupine effect.
  • Grated Onion and Minced Garlic: Boost flavor with a subtle, delicious touch.
  • Egg: Acts as a binder, holding the meatball ingredients together.
  • Seasonings: Contribute to the overall flavor profile of the porcupine meatballs.

For the sauce:

  • Beef Stock/Broth: Adds depth to the sauce’s flavor.
  • Tomato Sauce: Forms the base of the sauce, offering a rich tomato flavor.
  • Brown Sugar: Balances the acidity of the tomatoes with sweetness.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a complex, delicious flavor.

Seasoned meat dish served over rice, freshly cooked and ready for enjoyment.

How To Make Porcupine Meatballs

  1. Combine: Mix beef, rice, onion, garlic, egg, and seasonings.
  2. Shape & Broil: Form into meatballs and broil for 6 minutes.
  3. Sauce Mix: Blend beef stock, tomato sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire in a slow cooker.
  4. Cook: Add meatballs to sauce; slow cook for 3-7 hours.
  5. Serve: On rice, optionally garnish with parsley.

Finished dish on a plate, perfectly cooked and ready to be eaten.


Store porcupine meatballs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating.

What To Serve With Porcupine Meatballs

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Porcupine Meatballs

5 from 9 votes
Delicious and easy Porcupine Meatballs take mere minutes to whip together and then slow cook until they're fall-apart-tender!
Porcupine meatballs served over a bed of rice, garnished with fresh herbs.
Print Recipe

Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine meatballs served over a bed of rice, garnished with fresh herbs.
5 from 9 votes
Delicious and easy Porcupine Meatballs take mere minutes to whip together and then slow cook until they're fall-apart-tender!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword porcupine meatballs
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Total Time 5 hours 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Chelsea Lords
Calories 367kcal
Cost $5.61


  • 6 quart slow cooker



  • 1 pound (16 oz.) lean (93/7) ground beef
  • 1/2 cup long grain white rice uncooked
  • 1/3 cup grated yellow onion (grate on a box grater)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: fine sea salt and Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Cooking spray


  • 1 cup beef stock (or broth)
  • 2 cans (15 oz. EACH) tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Optional: fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
  • Cooked white or brown rice for serving (See Note 1)


  • PREP: Preheat the oven to high broil (550 degrees F.) Line a large tray with foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
  • MEATBALLS: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, uncooked white rice, grated white onion, minced garlic, large egg, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper, and dried basil. Knead the mixture until just combined, avoiding overmixing (which makes the meatballs dense).
  • FORM MEATBALLS: Form meatballs by measuring out 1 and 1/2 tablespoons per meatball and tightly squishing the mixture together until a firm meatball is formed. Repeat until all of the mixture is used up. The mixture should make around 22-25 meatballs.
  • BROIL: Place all of the formed meatballs on the prepared tray, generously spritz with cooking spray, and then broil in the oven for 3 minutes per side (6 minutes total). This helps ensure they don't break apart in the slow cooker. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  • SLOW COOKER TOMATO SAUCE: Spray the slow cooker with nonstick spray. Add in the beef stock/broth, both cans of tomato sauce, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir.
  • ADD MEATBALLS: Layer the meatballs on top of the tomato mixture. Gently spoon the sauce over.
  • COOK: Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours, high for 3-5 hours or until rice is tender and meat is cooked through (165 degrees F.) I recommend cooking on low; my slow cooker takes 6 hours exactly. Avoid checking too often; when a slow cooker's lid is removed it takes a while for everything to get back to temperature.
  • SERVE: Taste meatballs and sauce and add any additional salt/pepper as needed. Gently spoon out meatballs and sauce from the slow cooker and serve over cooked white or brown rice (See Note 1). Garnish with fresh parsley if desired and enjoy!


Recipe Notes

Note 1: We love serving these meatballs over cooked basmati rice. Here's a quick breakdown of the process:
  • Measure the rice and rinse it in a fine-mesh sieve until the water runs clear.
  • Place that rice in a bowl and cover it with water to soak for about 5-10 minutes.
  • While the rice is soaking, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  • Once the water is at a rolling boil, drain the rice and add it to the pot.
  • Cook, without reducing the heat, for 5 minutes (taste and test to make sure it is tender, if not add another 1-2 minutes) and then drain and fluff with a fork.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 367kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 364mg | Potassium: 720mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 17g | Vitamin A: 68IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 4mg

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.


I love hearing from you when you've made one of my recipes! Tag me on Instagram at @ChelseasMessyApron or leave me a comment below.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve never heard of Porcupine meatballs and was very intrigued when I saw this title, haha. 🙂 These meatballs look awesome though! Fantastic idea to cook them in a slow cooker.

  2. 5 stars
    When I was a kid my aunt would make us similar porcupine meatballs and I was obsessed. Pretty sure back then it was the name that got me. Annnd somehow it still does. Can’t wait to try these out! Nom nom

  3. My mother made these but with a gravy style brown sauce, I had completely forgotten about them so glad to see this recipe!! One question cause I don’t remember how my mom did it but do you use instant rice, cooked white rice or raw/uncooked white rice in the meatballs?? TIA!!

  4. If I were to make this ahead and freeze for later, would I combine the meatballs and sauce together for freezing purposes?

  5. I have a question, it says tomato sauce? Do u mean tomato soup, tomato spaghetti sauce, or like a canned tomato puree? Tomato Sauce can mean many different things 🙁

      1. hi Chelsea. is it like a tomato puree/passata type sauce? when I click that google link it shows both a tomato puree and soup type options.

    1. I haven’t personally tried, it may be a little bit much for one slow cooker, but I’m not sure! Sorry wish I could be of more help!

  6. I made your meatball last night, they turned out soooo good. Thank you for sharing your recipe keep up those good recipes.

  7. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! The canned soup in other porcupine meatball recipes is always a downer – too acid for my liking. This sauce is easy and super tasty. Totally lifts this meal

  8. 5 stars
    I love porcupine meatballs. I remember my mother making these when I was about 5 years old. Yours are almost identical. Hers where cooked in a pressure cooker. But delicious is delicious. Thank you!!

  9. Could I make the meatballs and put them in the fridge overnight and cook the next day or will that mess up the rice? Should I broil them and then refrigerate them to cook the next day?

    1. I’d broil and refrigerate then add them in to cook the next day! You may need a little extra time cooking since they’ll be going in chilled

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