by Olena

Porcupine Meatballs

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Olena Osipov
5 from 7 votes

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Porcupine Meatballs made easy with uncooked rice, ground turkey, eggs and without tomato sauce. Then bake, cook in slow cooker or Instant Pot, or freeze for later.

Once cooked, serve the meatballs with your favorite side of choice; mashed potatoes, cauliflower mash, or green beans!

Porcupine Meatballs

Mom’s Porcupine Meatballs Recipe

I grew up eating porcupine meatballs in Ukraine. My mom always made porcupine meatballs in a clear sauce made out of broth and spices. Also she made meatballs large, so you eat only one or two meatballs.

This porcupine meatballs recipe is amazing! Meatballs hold their shape while being flavourful and tender. And so juicy, saucy and filling because of brown rice and turkey high fiber and protein content. I can’t decide which I love better; these, my Thai meatballs, or even Mexican meatballs.

Porcupine Meatballs

Ingredients for Porcupine Meatballs

  • Ground turkey: I use extra lean ground turkey because it is healthier. You can use any meat like extra lean pork, beef or chicken.
  • Rice: We cook everything with brown rice because it contains bran and fiber. You can use white rice. The key is to use long grain rice so it sticks out. But you can use any, to be honest.
  • Eggs: Eggs act as a binder although you can skip them. I tried and meatballs do not fall apart.
  • Broth: Meatballs actually cook in a broth as we use uncooked rice. You can use homemade, from a carton or organic bouillon cubes. I love buying the cubes because then I can have as much stock as I want whenever I want.
  • Simple seasonings like dried herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Cornstarch: For the slurry to thicken the sauce.

How to Make Porcupine Meatballs in Slow Cooker

This recipe yields 10 large porcupine balls. You can make 20 small ones.

I decided to make slow cooker porcupine meatballs because I thought they make a perfect candidate for a no pre-cooking crockpot recipe. Even brown rice is uncooked.

  • Shape the meatballs: In a mixing bowl, combine ground meat, rice, eggs, salt, Italian seasoning and pepper. Using your hands, mix very well.
  • Cook: The liquid and steam during 4 hours on High or 8 hours on Low should be plenty to cook the rice. Plus while rice is slowly expanding it acts as a binder along with eggs to keep ground turkey shaped into meatballs.
  • Thicken the sauce: At the end, whisk cold water with cornstarch, add to the slow cooker, cover and cook on High for 10-20 minutes or until thickened.

How to Make Porcupine Meatballs in Instant Pot

I am absolutely in love with my Instant Pot! No surprise, I cook meatballs in it as well. You can check out all of my healthy Instant Pot recipes.

To cook porcupine meatballs in Instant Pot:

  • Follow the recipe to form meatballs.
  • Pressure cook on High pressure for 15 minutes (8 quart Instant Pot) or 20 minutes (6 quart Instant Pot).
  • You can release pressure using Quick Release method.
  • Open the lid and separate meatballs from each other, if necessary.
  • Press Saute, whisk in a slurry and cook until sauce has thickened a bit.
  • It helps to remove a few meatballs and then add them back.

How to Bake Porcupine Meatballs

Bake porcupine meatballs in a baking dish covered in preheated oven to 375 degrees F for 45 minutes. Check for doneness and if rice is ready, uncover and pour the slurry in the liquid spots. Bake for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Serving, Storing and Freezing

Serving: Porcupine meatballs are a meal on their own with the addition of the meat and rice- however, if you’re super hungry you could serve it with extra starch too. I usually make super simple cucumber tomato salad, or lemon kale salad to go with it, or sauteed greens (spinach/kale). They also go really well with cabbage like this braised cabbage with apples. On lazy days, it is a green smoothie or just some crusty brad for mopping up sauce!

Storing: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Freezing cooked: Fully cook, cool completely, and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a microwave or in the oven at 375 F for 10 minutes.

Or freeze uncooked: Form, place on a baking sheet and freeze for up to 2 hours. Then transfer to a zip top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, I would recommend to bake from frozen with extra 10 minutes. Instant Pot – no changes. And for slow cooker, you have to thaw meatballs first and then cook as per recipe.

More Meatballs Recipes

You may also like some other turkey recipes including Mexican stuffed peppers, roasted turkey breast, ground turkey meatloaf, or turkey stuffed acorn squash. Alternatively, check out my full list of turkey recipes!

Porcupine meatballs recipe garnished with green onion
Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine Meatballs made easy with uncooked rice, ground turkey, eggs and without tomato sauce. Then bake, cook in slow cooker or Instant Pot, or freeze for later.
5 from 7 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Ukrainian
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: 10 meatballs
Calories: 193kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs extra lean ground turkey chicken, beef or pork
  • 1 cup brown rice rinsed & drained*
  • 2 eggs large
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning or 1/2 tsp dried basil + 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth low sodium
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • Green onions parsley or dill, finely chopped (for serving)

Instructions

In Slow Cooker

  • In a large mixing bowl, add turkey, rice, eggs, salt, Italian seasoning and pepper. Using your hands, mix very well.
  • Form 10 large meatballs a size just a bit shy of a tennis ball’s size. Or you can make 20 or so smaller meatballs.
  • Place in a single layer on a bottom of large slow cooker. Meatballs will fit snuggly. Just pack them gently and tight.
  • Pour broth gently over the meatballs.
  • Cover slow cooker and cook on Low for 7-8 hours or on High for 3-4 hours.
  • Open the lid. In a small bowl, whisk cold water with cornstarch.
  • Pour slurry over the meatballs, cover and cook on High for 10-20 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

In Instant Pot

To cook porcupine meatballs in Instant Pot:

  • Follow the recipe to form meatballs.
  • Pressure cook on High pressure for 15 minutes (8 quart Instant Pot) or 20 minutes (6 quart Instant Pot).
  • You can release pressure using Quick Release method.
  • Open the lid and separate meatballs from each other, if necessary.
  • Press Saute, whisk in a slurry and cook until sauce has thickened a bit.
  • It helps to remove a few meatballs and then add them back.

In the Oven

  • Bake porcupine meatballs in a baking dish covered in preheated oven to 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
  • Check for doneness and if rice is ready, uncover and pour the slurry in the liquid spots.
  • Bake for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened.
  • Serving meatballs: Porcupine meatballs are a meal on their own. All we need is veggies. I usually make super simple cucumber tomato salad or lemon kale salad to go with it. On lazy days, it is a green smoothie. 🙂
  • Storing meatballs: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
  • Freezing meatballs: Fully cook, cool completely, and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw in a refrigerator overnight. Reheat in a microwave or in the oven at 375 F for 10 minutes.
  • Or freeze uncooked meatballs. Form, place on a baking sheet and freeze for up to 2 hours. Then transfer to a zip top bag and freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to cook, I would recommend to bake from frozen with extra 10 minutes. Instant Pot – no changes (see, Instant Pot is amazing!). And for slow cooker, you have to thaw meatballs first and then cook as per recipe. Safety thing. 🙂

Notes

*Rice is not cooked or pre-cooked. White rice is OK too, just less healthy but I won’t judge you. 🙂

Nutrition

Serving: 1meatball | Calories: 193kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 331mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 70IU | Calcium: 17mg | Iron: 1mg
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olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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