These easy porcupine meatballs are one of our favorite freezer meals to prep ahead of time! Bonus: they’re coated in a creamy tomato sauce for serving.
This post is sponsored by our sweet friends at Knorr, but all opinions are our own.
Easy Porcupine Meatballs Recipe
It’s happening… school is either already back in session or just starting depending on where you live, and if you’re anything like us, you’re in transition mode. Carrian and I both like change, but transitions can make everyone a little grouchy.
Or if I’m hungry, then I’m hangry for a moment. I think that’s why the after school hustle gets a little exhausting at times — kids are coming home worn out, antsy, and awful hangry. Carrian taught me that taking just a few minutes to prep things during the day or even a few days beforehand so that you can whip up dinner quickly is key to the success of a family.
I thought she was going a little control freak (love ya, Carrian!) on me, but I was very wrong. Something I’m beginning to embrace in marriage.
Carrian is right. When kids have school work, dance, and need to have time to use their imaginations and play with friends, there’s a lot of chaos in the home right before dinnertime. In order to be better at managing the family’s schedule, she decided to be prepared for back-to-school recipe ideas like this freezer porcupine meatballs recipe. I almost worried about her again when I heard the name of this one. Strike two.
What Are Porcupine Meatballs?
Carrian says I have to explain what porcupine meatballs are before someone leaves the page. Porcupine meatballs are basically just meatballs with rice inside. The rice gives a spiny look inside of the meat, hence the porcupine reference.
These porcupine balls so flavorful, but when we decided to do a freezer meatballs recipe I redeemed myself from saying she was crazy for eating porcupine meat by suggesting we add Knorr Selects Roasted Garlic Alfredo rice. It gives the meatballs so much flavor from the inside out.
We already can’t wait to mix these up with more Knorr Selects flavors, including Rustic Mexican Rice and Beans, and even a Spinach & Artichoke for the holiday season.
Knorr Selects are becoming my go-to when I cook for the family because I’m not as good as Carrian at adding extra flavors to rice. Since they come in six totally unique flavors, I’m always covered. They don’t have any artificial preservatives, which I know is a big deal to many of you out there. They are also gluten-free, which makes preparing dinner for family and friends even easier.
Pair these porcupine meatballs with a creamy tomato sauce to make it a full meal. It’s so delicious.
Porcupine Meatballs Ingredients
To make the best meatballs, you need surprisingly few ingredients. Here’s what we used in this easy meatball recipe:
- Ground beef
- Knorr Selects Roasted Garlic Alfredo Rice
- Olive oil
- Roasted Tomato Soup
- Tomato sauce
- Worcestershire sauce
- Brown sugar
How to Make Porcupine Meatballs
I’m telling you, this porcupine meatballs recipe couldn’t be any simpler! Here are the basic steps to making porcupine balls:
- Add all the beef meatball ingredients to a bowl and mix with your hands.
- Shape into meatballs.
- Once formed, either freeze the meatballs for later or cook in an oiled skillet.
- Add the creamy tomato sauce ingredients to the skillet with the meatballs and cook until heated through.
How Long to Cook Meatballs on the Stove Top
On a medium-high burner, add a drizzle of oil to a skillet and add the meatballs once the oil is shimmering and hot. Brown on each side for about 1-2 minutes and then turn to medium low and continue to cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through. This gives a beautiful color to the meatballs and caramelization that tastes fantastic. Contrary to popular belief, browning does NOT seal in the juices, it only provides caramelization.
How to Cook Meatballs in a Slow Cooker
We love to cook these porcupine meatballs in our slow cooker. The key is to cook them for no more than 4 hours, as the meat is small and cooks much faster. Add the creamy tomato sauce straight to the slow cooker before popping the lid on.
How to Freeze Meatballs
There are two options for freezing meatballs. You can freeze meatballs raw by placing them on a cookie sheet and covering with plastic wrap. Freeze the meatballs for a few hours and then store in ziploc bags in the freezer.
You can also freeze pre-cooked meatballs. Just make sure you allow them to cool before placing in gallon-sized Ziploc bags, pressing out the air, and then freezing in a single layer.
How to Cook Frozen Raw Meatballs
In order to cook frozen raw meatballs, many people will let them defrost in the fridge. That’s a great way to go, but please make sure you have them in the fridge and not defrosting on the counter as bacteria can grow that way.
To cook the meatballs, either defrost them and cook as normal or throw them in a pot on the stove or a slow cooker with the sauce and allow them to cook for 50% longer since they are frozen.
Tips for Making Porcupine Meatballs
Before measuring out the rice, give it a good shake in the bag to evenly distribute spices.
Note that we prefer using leftovers from our homemade tomato soup, but any pre-made soup is fine as long as you’ve made it and not just used it straight from the can (so if the canned soup asks you to add milk or water to it before cooking it, please do so before mixing it into the meatball sauce).
There’s a secret to keeping meatballs round. You may have baked or cooked your meatballs and wondered why your meatballs ended up flat instead of round. Meatballs that are left to sit will of course flatten out, but in order to help prevent that you can roll your meatballs in a little oil to help keep the meatballs tight.
More Homemade Meatball Recipes
- Sweet and Sour Meatballs for the Oven or Slow Cooker
- Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly Slow Cooker Meatballs
- Easy BBQ Meatball Sliders
- Cheesy Meatball Zucchini Skillet
- Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Pesto Meatball Panini
- Mozzarella-Stuffed Turkey Meatballs
Freezer Meal Porcupine Meatballs
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- 2 Pounds ground beef
- 1 Cup uncooked Knorr Selects Roasted Garlic Alfredo Rice * see note
- 1/3 Cup chopped onion
- 2 Teaspoons salt
- 2 large eggs , slightly whisked
- 1/4 Cup olive oil , for rolling
For the Sauce
- 1 1/2 Cups [Roasted Tomato Soup] *see note
- 1-15 ounce can tomato sauce
- 3/4 Cup water
- 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 Cup brown sugar
- In a very large bowl, add the ground beef, Knorr Selects Roasted Garlic Alfredo (with seasoning powder), onion, salt and eggs. Very gently mix the ingredients together until just combined.
- Pick up a cookie scoop of meat and drop it into your hands. Dip the bottom in the oil and roll into a ball in your hands, being sure to not handle the meat too much or it will be tough. *See note about oil
- Place each meatball on a cookie sheet, cover with saran wrap and freeze for a few hours or until frozen solid. See note below for reheating.
- To cook the meatballs, simply brown in a skillet over medium heat with a drizzle of oil, turning occasionally until cooked through, about 15 minutes depending on size.
- For the sauce, combine all of the ingredients in a sauce pan or skillet over medium heat until boiling, then turn to a simmer for 10 minutes. Add the meatballs and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Before measuring out the rice, give it a good shake in the bag to evenly distribute spices.
- We prefer to use leftovers from our homemade Roasted Tomato Soup, but any pre-made soup is fine as long as you've made it and not just used it straight from the can.
- The oil is not necessary but helps to create a perfectly round and sealed meatball. We dip in the oil and roll, then skip the oil on the next one since it remains on our hands enough for one more meatball. So one meatball dipped, one not, and then the third goes back in the oil and so on until you've finished.
- Meatballs can be defrosted or cooked from frozen, though I usually defrost if I'm not baking or using a slow cooker with sauce.
- Frozen meatballs are cooked 50% longer than a defrosted meatball. Alternatively you can cook all of the meatballs, cool and then freeze.
- Reheat just as you would any precooked meatball, place in the oven or skillet until warmed through.
- You can cook the meatballs in a slow cooker or crockpot for 3-4 hours on high or 6 hours on low. We add the sauce right in if we do that.
- The sauce can be prepared, cooled and frozen with the meatballs or separate in a Ziploc bag for up to 1 month.