by Olena

Porcupine Meatballs

Olena's image
Olena Osipov
5 from 7 votes

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.

25 comments on “Porcupine Meatballs

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  1. 5 stars
    I have never heard of the name porcupine meat ball before but it sounds good
    i am going to make some very soon what do you eat with them?

    1. Porcupine meatballs are a meal on their own. Or you can serve with rice or potatoes. I usually make a super simple cucumber tomato salad or lemon kale salad to go with it.

  2. I often ma ki e these little balls of Delishiousess. Quick simple and tasty. Thanks for high lighting this versatile reciep ?….

  3. 5 stars
    I’ve made these meatballs about a dozen times in the last year and a half. They are very good and super simple to put together. Sometimes I play around with the spices, but they always turn out delicious.

    1. So happy to hear, Amy! They are truly forgiving. That’s what I love to hear how people make recipes their own without a fear of experimenting.:)

  4. 5 stars
    I made these today and they were amazing! So flavorful! Thanks for sharing! I admit I always ate porcupine balls with tomato sauce and was unsure how I would like it it chicken stock. LOVED IT. My husband agrees! Thank you for the slow cooker recipe it’s going in with my collection!!

    1. You are welcome, Lauren. My mom never made them in a tomato sauce but now I want to try. I think she didn’t because simply we didn’t have it!

    2. 5 stars
      These far exceeded my expectations. They are CRAZY good. I had a busy Saturday lined up and being lazy about preparing separate veggies and no salad greens in the house. I threw in some chopped carrots I needed to use and some whole frozen spinach. AMAZING. Thanks for the tip about no eggs as I realized belatedly I was out and they held together fine. I cooked these in the instant pot. I can also see adding more broth, making the meatballs smaller and eating it like a soup ( I didn’t thicken the broth). Or thickening the broth and stirring in some beaten egg at the end to make a killer egg drop soup. My mind is going in many directions about future meals with these! My only regret is that I only made half the recipe because I only had a pound of ground chicken. 🙁
      Thanks, Olena for all you do to create these healthy AND delicious recipes!

      1. Hi Kimberly! Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know how these meatballs turned out for you! I am so happy that these were a hit!

  5. Olena, I just discovered your blog and I love it! I’ve already made one of your recipes (last night,) and I’m going to make this one tonight. Love your writing, your photos, and everything you cook! Thank you so much!!!! xoxo

    1. Hi Sosae. Awe, you made my day! I have been feeling blah all day re: winter blues but now I’m excited to go wash my car, do homework and deal with a lost school pizza order lol.

  6. Haha, I got so excited when I read “Porcupine Meatballs” when I got to your page! My mom made them quite frequently as I was growing up (usually with beef or lamb), and I haven’t seen them around forever. Thanks for reminding me about them 😉 These look great.

    1. Hi Hannah. I have never heard anyone mentioning porcupine meatballs here in Canada that is why I was confused when they came up in the search haha. I mean I’m not dumb-dumb but I don’t hear of porcupine often and there are so many wild meats people cook with here so for a second I had a thought this is some delicacy meatballs LOL. It must be a very old recipe that is not super popular right now. In Ukraine it is an ancient recipe so I was super stoked to see someone might recognize my meatballs here. My mom always made meatballs with pork or beef. All we had. Ground chicken was expensive. No turkey.

  7. Considering I think ground turkey is delicious on its own with just salt and pepper, I have a hard time to believe these meatballs are flavourful. There is a category of people who think chicken and turkey have no flavour. We eat clean so to me poultry has a ton of flavour on its own.
    I have to say this but you haven’t been hungry enough in your life that is why calling this recipe a waste of turkey. If things are that bad on your end, go buy a jar of pasta sauce, mix with “a soggy mess” and serve with quinoa or pasta. What is a big freaking deal? Seriously.

  8. Hi Erin. You know, this is one of my first recipes I ever posted 3 years ago and it had ben on my re-test list. I you like the flavour you can just let the meatballs cook longer.

  9. You know, I have 2 different crock pots and in one of them it took me 3 – 4 hours. However, the new one I got would take longer. Believe it or not, I was surprised. I would say on High for 2.5 – 3 hours they should be fine. I would peek inside and see when rice is done and “prickly” sticking out, the meatballs are done. Ground meat cooks pretty fast too. Hope they turned out well for you!

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