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Feb 25, 2024

Porcupine Meatballs

For a wonderful retro dinner, try these porcupine meatballs. They are super easy to make and your whole family will love them. 

Porcupine Meatballs with tomato sauce in two bowls.

Porcupine meatballs get their name from the rice in the meat mixture, which, once it cooks, sticks out like little spikes, or porcupine needles. The rice in the meatball mixture is used in the place of the traditional cracker or bread crumbs that are usually used to make meatballs. 

Rumor has it that a version of porcupine meatballs appeared in a Campbell's 1960s era cookbook, "Cooking with Soup" and used a can of condensed tomato soup for the sauce. A pressure cooker version evidently also appeared in a recipe pamphlet that came with a Presto stovetop pressure cooker. 

Porcupine Meatballs with tomato sauce in bowl.

Instead of tomato juice, the base for the sauce on these meatballs is plain tomato sauce. The ingredients in the meatballs help flavor the tomato sauce so you don't need to make a separate sauce. 

Mix the ground beef with chopped onions, raw rice, an egg, poultry seasoning, marjoram, oregano, salt, and pepper. Then, simmer the meatballs in the tomato sauce until they are fully cooked. 

This is a super easy recipe, perfect for a week night meal. I used to make this dish for dinner all of the time when my kids were little. Serve with steamed mixed vegetables and a side of more rice for a hearty meal. 

P.S. These meatballs also make great appetizers on their own. 

Porcupine Meatballs with tomato sauce in small bowl.

Ingredient Notes:

For the rice, I used uncooked Uncle Ben's Converted Rice. You can use any long grain white rice (except instant), but if you use a different brand, be sure to check the rice to see if it is fully cooked through before serving. 

For the tomato sauce, I use plain canned tomato sauce. You can use either regular or low sodium. If the sauce is too thick at the end of the cooking time or the next day, you can thin it a little with some beef or chicken broth. 


There is also another version of these meatballs I used to make all the time as well. 

Instead of using tomato sauce, substitute a can of cream of mushroom soup along with an equal amount of water along with a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. It is great over egg noodles. 

Porcupine Meatballs with tomato sauce in bowls.

The theme for this week's "From our Dinner Table" is retro recipes. Other retro recipes I've shared include a cheesy noodle ring, a meatloaf, and a chicken enchilada casserole

When the theme was announced, I took a look through my old recipe box and found my old well-worn recipe card. It was fun revisiting this easy and delicious classic. 

I love retro recipes, especially the ones that have words such as deluxe, a la, supreme, and gourmet in their names. You can usually find them in old community, church, and ladies' clubs fundraising cookbooks. They're my favorite cookbooks. 

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Retro Recipes

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Porcupine Meatballs in a bowl.

Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs
Yield: 4 servings
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 1 HourTotal time: 1 H & 10 M
For a wonderful retro dinner, try these porcupine meatballs. They are super easy to make and your whole family will love them.


  • 1 pound ground beef, about 80 to 85 percent lean
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 3/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 8-ounce cans tomato sauce


  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, rice, egg, and seasonings. Form the mixture into 1 1/4 -inch balls, about 36 total.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown them on all sides.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, cover, and simmer for approximately 45 minutes over low heat, stirring once or twice. Check the rice for doneness.
  4. Add more salt and pepper to tasted if necessary.

Nutrition Facts



Fat (grams)

10 g

Sat. Fat (grams)

3 g

Carbs (grams)

29 g

Fiber (grams)

3 g

Net carbs

26 g

Sugar (grams)

7 g

Protein (grams)

28 g

Cholesterol (grams)

70 mg
meatballs, retro
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Would you like to comment?

  1. I have to confess that I still use that can of condensed soup for this recipe. Those old habits are hard to break and Campbells did some great marketing with the recipes they provided for their soups.

    1. There's nothing wrong with using the soups. Actually, I'm planning on making a tuna noodle casserole for next weekend and you know what I'll be using!

  2. My mom always made these for me as a kid and I loved them! Can't wait to recreate them soon!

  3. Such a funny name but looks yummy!

  4. I've tried making these a few times but I never let them simmer long enough to let the rice cook. I thought of trying instant rice, but now I'll just make your recipe!


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