Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs With Tomatoes and Basil

meatballs with rice and tomatoes
Paul Williams - Funkystock / Getty Images
  • Total: 6 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 6 hrs
  • Yield: 6 Servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
499 Calories
22g Fat
26g Carbs
47g Protein
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Porcupine meatballs are delicious and this is a fun recipe that the entire family will enjoy. The beef and pork meatballs are cooked in a simple tomato sauce in the slow cooker, so they're a cinch to prepare.

What are porcupine meatballs? Quite simply, they're meatballs that include rice. It's a quick twist on traditional meatballs that gives them a little extra texture. It has long been a favorite meal for many households and you might even recall your mother or grandmother making porcupine meatballs when you were young.

This easy recipe cooks the meatballs in a tomato sauce seasoned with basil. Feel free to use chili powder, seasoned salt, or a salt-free herb blend if you like. Also, you can use tomato soup in place of the tomato sauce.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound lean ground pork (or use all beef)
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Sauce:
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water or chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or about 1 tablespoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1 bay leaf

Steps to Make It

  1. In a large bowl, combine the ground meats. Add the egg, milk, rice, and salt.

  2. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Brown them in a large skillet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or add a little oil to the skillet.

  3. In another bowl, combine the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water or broth, onion, salt, basil, and bay leaf.

  4. Drain excess grease from the meatballs and add them to the sauce mixture. Transfer to the slow cooker.

  5. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 hours on low or 3 to 4 hours on high.

Tips for Great Porcupine Meatballs

The Meat. It's important that you choose lean ground meats for this recipe because they're baked directly in the sauce. This reduces the amount of excess fat and 90 percent lean is a perfect choice.

The combination of pork and beef adds an interesting taste to these meatballs. If you do not have pork, feel free to use two pounds of beef.

The Rice.  Which rice should you choose? Unlike baked porcupine meatballs, you do not have to worry so much about the type of rice because these are cooked for so long. Many people prefer long-grain rice, though short-grain or instant rice will do just fine.

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