Instant Pot Porcupine Meatballs

Porcupine meatballs are a classic retro dinner, made easier and quicker in the Instant Pot! Ground beef and rice meatballs are served in a simple tomato sauce. (No porcupines!) This is an easy 30 minute dinner.

Pressure cooker porcupine meatballs in a white dish

Simply Recipes / Coco Morante

Don’t worry—these meatballs aren’t actually made out of porcupines! The name refers to the grains of rice that get mixed in with the meatballs and poke out as they simmer, resembling spines on a porcupine.

With rice and meat all in one dish, you just need a vegetable side to complete the meal.

Meatballs with rice in a white dish.
Coco Morante

What Are Porcupine Meatballs?

This recipe is an update on a classic 1970s Betty Crocker dish, Oven Porcupines. The original version is baked in the oven for an hour, but my recipe is made in an Instant Pot (I've included stovetop instructions, too).

These pressure cooker meatballs are done in about half the time of the original, making it perfect for a midweek meal.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs
Coco Morante

What to Serve With Instant Pot Meatballs

My favorite way to serve these porcupine meatballs is with mixed steamed vegetables on the side. You know that classic frozen mix of carrots, corn, peas, green beans and lima beans? I microwave a big bowl of them while the meatballs are cooking, so everything is done at the same time.

I also like to serve these meatballs on top of spiralized zucchini noodles, or with riced cauliflower. For a retro dinner a la Betty Crocker, serve them with iceberg wedge salads and steamed green beans.

Pressure Cooker Porcupine Meatballs
Coco Morante

New to Pressure Cooking?

If you’re new to pressure cooking, an electric, programmable model is a great place to start. There are a few well-rated brands on the market. I use the 6-quart Instant Pot IP-DUO60 most of the time, which is a good size if you’re serving 4 to 6 people. We’re a household of two and we like having leftovers, so this size works out well for us.

How to Store and Freeze Porcupine Meatballs

These meatballs keep in the fridge for up to a week. They can be reheated gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.

They also freeze well! Once the meatballs are completely cooled, divide them into portion sized freezer containers and freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat on the stovetop over low heat.

Love Meatballs? Try These Recipes!

From the Editors Of Simply Recipes

Instant Pot Porcupine Meatballs

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 12 meatballs

Stovetop Instructions: Sauté half of the onions and garlic in oil in a thick-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the tomato sauce, water, and Worcestershire sauce, increasing the water to one full cup. While the sauce is coming up to a simmer, make the meatballs. Drop the meatballs into the simmering sauce, cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer until meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes.


  • 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped and divided

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided

  • 1(15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef (85% lean)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked long grain rice

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Sauté the onion and garlic:

    Select the “Sauté” program on your pressure cooker and add the oil to the pot. (If you are using a stovetop pressure cooker, heat the oil over medium heat.) Add half of the chopped onions and garlic. Sauté until the onions are softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.

    Onions sauteeing in an instant pot to make pressure cooker meatballs.
    Coco Morante
  2. Make the tomato sauce:

    Stir in the tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and water. Let this warm until it comes to a simmer.

    Sauce for meatballs instant pot mixed in the pot.
    Coco Morante
  3. Make the meatballs:

    While tomato sauce is coming up to a simmer, make the meatballs. In a mixing bowl, combine the beef, rice, salt, pepper, and the rest of the chopped onions and garlic. Roll into ping-pong ball-sized meatballs (1 1/2 inches or so).

    Instant pot meat balls raw and in a bowl.
    Coco Morante
  4. Cook the meatballs:

    Gently place the meatballs into the pot in a single layer. Spoon a little bit of sauce over the top of each one.

    Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Make sure the pressure regulator is set to the “Sealing” position. Select the “manual” or "pressure cook" program, then set the time to 15 minutes at high pressure. (For stovetop pressure cookers, cook at high pressure for 12 minutes.)

    It will take about 10 minutes for your pressure cooker to come up to pressure, and then the actual cooking will begin. Total time from the time you seal the pressure cooker to the finished dish is about 25 minutes.

    Porcupine meatballs in the pot with tomato sauce.
    Coco Morante
    Meatballs with rice in a pressure cooker.
    Coco Morante
    A person setting an Instant Pot for porcupine balls.
    Coco Morante
    Overhead view of the release valve on an Instant Pot for instant pot meat balls.
    Coco Morante
  5. To serve:

    You can either perform a quick pressure release by moving the vent from “sealing” to “venting,” or you can let the pot depressurize naturally (this takes about 20 minutes), then open it when you’re ready to serve the meatballs. (For stovetop pressure cookers, perform a quick pressure release.)

    Porcupine balls in an instant pot.
    Coco Morante
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
438 Calories
27g Fat
16g Carbs
33g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 438
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 27g 35%
Saturated Fat 8g 40%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 1220mg 53%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 33g
Vitamin C 10mg 51%
Calcium 65mg 5%
Iron 5mg 26%
Potassium 862mg 18%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.