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Adjust Servings:
Yellow Onions – 1
Garlic – 2 cloves
Parsley – ¼ cup Fresh leaves
Ground Beef – 1 lb (450 g) Lean
Long-Grain Rice – ½ cup Uncooked
Water – ½ cup
Kosher Salt – 1 ½ tsp
Ground Black Pepper – 1 tsp
Tomato Sauce – 1 ⅔ lb (800 g)
Worcestershire Sauce – 2 tsp

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Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

Old-Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

  • 50 min
  • Serves 4
  • Medium




Essentially, porcupine meatballs are a spin on the traditional meatballs recipe — with rice added to the meat mince before cooking. Like all inventions, it came from necessity during the Great Depression period when people needed to come up with frugal recipes to stretch food resources. Adding the affordable and accessible rice to meatballs yielded more meatballs for less money. When cooked, the long-grain rice protrudes the meatballs, resembling quills, hence the name of the dish.

The best thing about porcupine meatballs is that there’s no need to pre-cook the rice. Thus, they literally take minutes to whip together before handing them over to your oven to do its magic. You can make the dish with leftover cooked rice, too — for this recipe, use one cup and omit the water.



Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.


Finely chop the onion and fresh parsley leaves, mince garlic. Combine in a bowl.


Add ground beef, rice, water, a teaspoon of kosher salt, and half a teaspoon of black pepper. Stir until combined.


Using about two tablespoons of ground beef for each, form the mixture into balls with wet hands.


Transfer the meatballs into the prepared baking dish.


Pour tomato sauce and Worcestershire sauce over the meatballs before sprinkling them with the kosher salt and ground black pepper. Cover with aluminum foil.


Bake for 35 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the tops of the meatballs are lightly browned (approximately a quarter of an hour). Garnish with parsley leaves.

Serve the fall-apart-tender, flavorsome meatballs over potatoes, roasted vegetables, or a bed of cooked rice for a comforting, filling, and well-rounded weeknight dinner.


I am an English major with a love of languages and fiction, and with an incurable travel bug. In my free time, I read fantasy, drink copious amounts of coffee, and like to go see movies. Culinary art means everything to me. My main hypostasis is the taster, though. The music school has taught me to appreciate the symphony of airy meringues, to create harmonious overtures of light snacks, hard rock of meat, fish, and vegetables on the grill. Choir classes have accustomed me to hear and feel the people nearby and create perfect harmonies of sounds.

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