by Olena

Porcupine Meatballs

by Olena

5 from 2 reviews

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.

Porcupine Meatballs

What Are Porcupine Meatballs?

I grew up eating porcupine meatballs in Ukraine. I never ever realized that America knows my favorite childhood meatballs with rice. My mom made “hedgehog” meatballs all the time. When I first googled to see what comes up for “meatballs rice” I saw porcupine meatballs recipes.

Honestly, at first I thought they were made with porcupine meat. Until I saw images of a spiky animal at the top of the page. 🙂

These turkey meatballs with brown rice are called “porcupine meatballs” because when rice is cooked it is sticking out from the meatballs like needles.

My mom always made porcupine meatballs in a clear sauce made out of broth and spices. Also she made meatballs large. Like you will be able to eat 1-2 meatballs only.

Porcupine Meatballs

Ingredients You Will Need

  • Ground turkey – I use extra lean ground turkey because it is healthier. You can use any meat like extra lean pork, beef or chicken.
  • Long grain brown 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 – I make slurry to thicken the sauce at the end.

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 crock pot 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. That’s when rings come off. 🙂
  • 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.

Porcupine Meatballs ingredientshow to make Porcupine Meatballs step by step

rolled Porcupine MeatballsPorcupine Meatballs in a crockpot with sauce

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.

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, Storing and Freezing

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. 🙂

More Meatballs Recipes

These porcupine meatballs came out amazing! I promise! They held their shape. They were flavourful and tender. And so juicy and a bit saucy. Not to mention how filling these rice meatballs are on their own because of brown rice + turkey.

Enjoy!

slow-cooker-porcupine-meatballs-brown-rice-recipe-7

Print

Porcupine Meatballs

5 from 2 reviews

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.

  • Author: Olena of ifoodreal.com
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 hours
  • Total Time: 3 hours 5 minutes
  • Yield: 10 meatballs 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Ukrainian
Scale

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

  1. In a large mixing bowl, add turkey, rice, eggs, salt, Italian seasoning and pepper. Using your hands, mix very well.
  2. 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.
  3. Place in a single layer on a bottom of large slow cooker. Meatballs will fit snuggly. Just pack them gently and tight.
  4. Pour broth gently over the meatballs.
  5. Cover slow cooker and cook on Low for 7-8 hours or on High for 3-4 hours.
  6. Open the lid. In a small bowl, whisk cold water with cornstarch.
  7. Pour slurry over the meatballs, cover and cook on High for 10-20 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

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:

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

In the Oven

  1. Bake porcupine meatballs in a baking dish covered in preheated oven to 375 degrees F for 45 minutes.
  2. Check for doneness and if rice is ready, uncover and pour the slurry in the liquid spots.
  3. 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. 🙂

 Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating in the comments.

olena osipov in the studio

Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys and a wife to Alex. And this is our healthy family recipes blog. I grew up in Ukraine on real food. As an adult, I tried many diets without results. Now for over 10 years, I cook quick and easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

What You Will Find Here

Healthy family recipes with simple ingredients. Many are inspired by my Ukrainian heritage. I share mostly dinner recipes because it just never ends... I’m obsessed with healthy freezer meals. And more than in love with my Instant Pot.

A Little More About Me

Originally from Ukraine, I now reside on magic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada with my family. I started this blog in 2012 when I ended up at home with 2 small kids unemployed and a wee bit chubby.

17 comments on “Porcupine Meatballs

Our “happiness” software deletes rude comments without publishing, so we can keep on happily cooking delicious recipes for you. Please see our full comment policy:).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

The information on this website is for educational purposes only. It has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease. You assume full responsibility and liability for your own actions.

This page may contain affiliate links. ifoodreal.com is a participant of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. It helps keep iFOODreal recipes free. Thanks for your support!