Old Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

With temperatures dipping to -8 degrees, a chilly -25 degrees below zero with the wind chill, we could think of only one thing to warm us up. Old Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs, is comfort food at it’s best. Serve these delicious meatballs for supper tonight with a loaf of crusty bread, a tossed salad or your favorite steamed vegetable. You’ll have a comforting meal the whole family will love.

old fashioned porcupine

Where Did They Originate?

Have you ever wondered where porcupine meatballs originate? I have. I looked online high and low but I only found a vague explanation that they came about during the depression. Which I don’t doubt, in fact that even makes sense. My theory goes something like this. Back in the day, when families were larger than they are now, it was a way for thrifty moms to stretch their food budget. Like meatloaf, porcupine meatballs was a way to turn inexpensive ground beef into something filling, satisfying and delicious. Instead of turning the meatloaf mixture into a “loaf,” rice was added then shaped into “balls” and porcupine meatballs were born.

old fashioned porcupine

Old Fashioned Porcupine Meatballs

An Old-Fashioned Favorite
3.40 from 10 votes
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  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup rice, uncooked
  • 2 tablespoons minced onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup or barbecue sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 14 saltine crackers, crushed
  • 2 cups tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder


  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Mix together ground round, rice, minced onion, chili powder, salt, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, beaten egg, ketchup or barbecue sauce, Dijon mustard, crushed saltine crackers. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls.
  • Place meatballs in a 2 quart casserole dish.
  • Make sauce: Mix together tomato juice, brown sugar and chili powder. Pour sauce over meatballs. Cover and bake for 90 minutes.


Serving: 1g, Calories: 328kcal, Carbohydrates: 27g, Protein: 17g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Cholesterol: 81mg, Sodium: 423mg, Potassium: 452mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 480IU, Vitamin C: 15.3mg, Calcium: 33mg, Iron: 2.5mg
Did you make this recipe?Tag @lynnturnips on Instagram with the hashtag #turnips2tangerines

Make another classic recipe tonight, Old Fashioned Meatloaf or make a batch of Swedish Meatballs.

For this recipe we used Sacramento Tomato Juice