Apr 282015

Meatball Skillet

This recipe has been around since the 1960’s. It expands 1-pound of raw ground beef with 1/2-cup of uncooked rice. Modern variations of this recipe often use minute rice, and condensed tomato soup as the sauce. This is the original version that used uncooked dry white rice and canned tomato sauce. The seasonings are mild so it’s great for kids who object to spicy dishes.

Since the ground beef cooks in the sauce, the sauce is pretty fatty when the dish is done cooking. If you find lean ground beef on sale, this is one of those recipes that may improve with it’s use. I’ve made it plenty of times with regular, fatty ground beef, but I avoid eating too much sauce because of all the extra beef fat. When I find ground round or leaner beef on sale, I save it for this recipe, because then I can eat as much of the sauce as I like.

Porcupine Meatballs


  • 1 pound regular ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup dry, uncooked, long-grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon dry minced onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4-teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce, or 2 (8-ounce) cans
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


First prepare your pan. Find an 8 or 9-inch square pan and coat it generously with no-stick spray or rub it generously with solid vegetable shortening. If you want to save on clean-up, you can line the pan with aluminum foil first, and then grease the foil.

In the prepared pan combine the tomato sauce, water and Worcestershire sauce. Stir it about with a fork until it’s well mixed. Set the pan aside.

Combine the ground meat, rice, water, onion, salt, garlic and pepper in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Use clean hands to mix and mash it all together until the seasonings and rice and evenly distributed. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs. Roll them between the palms of your hands to make them round. Drop the meatballs into the sauce in your prepared pan. Continue until all of the meatball mixture is used. You’ll get about 20 to 24 meatballs. They can all be touching one another in the pan.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake at 350° for an hour. Remove the foil for the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking, so the meatballs can brown a bit. Serve with baked potatoes that baked in the oven at the same time as the meatballs. Add peas and carrots or broccoli for a vegetable. Canned mixed fruit, or sliced oranges are a nice go-with.

  5 Responses to “Porcupine Meatballs”

  1. I have tried porcupine meatballs before, and been disappointed to find the rice in the meatballs did not become tender, and even stayed crunchy. I have made them with cooked rice, with some success, but now I wonder if the secret might be the longer cooking time in your recipe. I have always based my porcupines off of a recipe that only simmers the dish for 30 minutes!

  2. Oh wow, 30 minutes would not be enough to make the rice soft. Maybe instant rice, but not regular rice. When baking rice, it takes about an hour to soften. Brown rice takes 2 hours of baking to soften and cook completely. I have also made this recipe with 1/3-cup rice, instead of 1/2-cup and it turns out well too. My family prefers them with more rice, than less, so I’ve written it up that way. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It means so much to me that people are reading and enjoying my work. 🙂

  3. Made this a couple of times using tomato soup and left the salt out of the meatballs. An a can of water.
    Came out good.

  4. Maggie, if I believed in such clap-trap, I’d say you had to be psychic. I’ve been thinking about “Porcupine Meat Balls” lately, in anticipation of cooler weather and heartier suppers. Used to make them a lot when my boys were little. Boy-howdy, were they ever popular with the little guys. And economical too.

    I liked potatoes baked with the meat, but once in a while I’d make “paddy cakes”. Left over mashed potatoes from last night’s supper (needs to be a rather stiff batch because it needs some “body” to cook without tearing apart).

    I used 1/3 to 1/2 individual cup measures to portion and shape the paddies. Pat them out flat (make them a little on the thick side) and sprinkle lightly with onion and garlic powder. Then coat them with all purpose flour and put them (don’t crowd in skillet) into about 2 tbsp. hot bacon grease. Fry until crusty on first side, turn (very carefully) and brown on other side. After the first batch, wipe out pan with paper towel, spray with olive oil spray, and put 2 teaspoons of bacon grease into skillet and repeat until your potatoes are gone.

    Doesn’t sound all that up-town, but is it ever good! And for a hearty breakfast when you don’t have bacon, sausage, or ham, these will bulk up the breakfast beautifully. And the taste when you put a forkful of paddies and egg in your mouth…pure ecstasy!

    Hope someone tries this and reports on it—good or bad.

    And I’ve never had success using prepared instant potatoes, no matter how thick I prepared them. If you’re successful with instant mashed potatoes, please let me know what you did so I can try it.


  5. What an excellent idea Frankie. Next time I have leftover mashed potatoes I’ll give it a try. I would think that instant potatoes would work if you used less water than called for on the package. Maybe just leave out the milk all together and only use water to prepare the potatoes, then the thick paste that you’re left with could be mixed with ground sausage or ground beef. I will definitely give these a try, although it may be a few weeks until I get to it. Thanks so much for sharing Frankie. I always look forward to your comments 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: