Skillet Porcupine Dinner
Porcupine Skillet - easy ground beef meal with rice. Fast & quick down home cooking

Ok, I love to cook. “Obs” as some of my young friends would say. Or I wouldn’t have a food blog. But sometimes you want something you can toss together with your eyes closed. Something simple and fast and easy – and maybe nostalgic? That’s where this Porcupine Skillet Dinner comes in.

Skillet Porcupine Dinner
Skillet Porcupine Dinner =so fast, so easy and fun to tinker with

This Porcupine Skillet Dinner has all the flavors of the old-fashioned Porcupine Balls (Meatballs with rice so named because when cooked the rice will swell & stick out of the meatballs like quills) and none of the hassle. It’s like five or six ingredients, super fast to make and a great “have to get dinner on the table” recipe.

It’s just good old-fashioned plain cooking in a way that so many people seem to forget about. In our quest for more flavors from far-flung lands, sometimes down-home simple can be overlooked.

Skillet Porcupine Dinner
Skillet Porcupine Dinner

I did doctor a bit, though, for the best flavor. First, I used my home-made Lipton Onion Soup Mix and then added a few dashes of Tabasco & a little Worcestershire. Change it up how you like. 🙂 This practically cries out for garlic, diced onions and bell peppers or mushrooms. I could even see dumping some corn in it if you go for that kind of thing. Just sayin…

Ground Beef goes on special all the time in big packs. Buy it at a low, and break down and freeze in quantities your family uses. I often buy large cans of tomatoes (29 ounce) and use half, then freeze the rest for later – it seems that the deals are often better on the big cans. And rice? Why not go large – and buy in bags (check the Asian or Mexican food aisles.)?

Skillet Porcupine Dinner
Super Simple Porcupine Skillet Dinner

Porcupine Skillet Dinner

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix or my home-made onion soup mix
  • 1 16 ounce can of tomatoes with juice (crush them)
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 3/4 cups raw rice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheese, optional

In a large skillet with a lid, brown hamburger and drain. Add in the onion soup mix, tomatoes and juice, water, salt & pepper and stir. Add in the rice and gently stir an absolute minimum. (You want to be careful with any stirring once the rice is in so it doesn’t turn to mush.)

Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer very, very gently for 22-24 minutes, or until rice is just cooked. If possible, don’t lift the lid until ready to check for doneness.

When rice is cooked, very gently, with a spatula, working from the bottom turn the ground beef and rice over.

Remove from heat, add cheese if using, cover and let sit for five minutes.


  • Doctor up with some tabasco or Worcestershire.
  • Think about sautéing garlic, diced onion, bell peppers or mushrooms along with the ground beef or adding corn in to warm through before serving.

adapted from Aunt Bee’s Recipes.


I’ll be sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday 190, hosted by Shinta @ Caramel Tinted Life and Diann @ Of Goats and Greens.


34 Comments on “Porcupine Skillet Dinner

  1. Super fast to make and a great “have to get dinner on the table” recipe. After reading, it’s true 🙂 Thank you

  2. This is a nostalgic meal Mollie!! We didn’t have this but my mom made “porcupine meatballs” with pretty much the same ingredients! This is a great recipe for a winter night when you want a cozy meal quick! You come up with such a variety of good food Mollie! Love your amazing blog! xox

    • Hi Rhonda, and thanks. I’m only just getting back into the swing of things in MN. Mostly just going through cupboards, tossing and cleaning, looking for mice (they were having a house party while I was in SD) and enjoying the fall days. 🙂

      • yikes! I had mice in my room at school one year and it totally creeped me out. (and I’m not afraid of spiders or bugs etc. Sounds like you are in real organizing mode between the 2 houses! Good luck!! hugs Mollie!

  3. Ha ha, the title scared me! Looks like a delicious weeknight meal! I hope you’ve been doing well Mollie!

  4. Hmmmm, this caught my eye Mollie. But where’s the porcupine bits and bobs? 🙂 Clever gal making up your own lipton soup mix, and what a great idea too, as the real stuff is just laden with sodium. This looks like a well put together meal 🙂

    • Thanks Loretta! No porcupines were harmed in the making of this skillet dinner, lol! 🙂 I think the home-made tastes a little brighter, too, or that might just be my imagination.

  5. Hmmm, I was waiting to see porcupine listed in the ingredients…. but the ground beef sounds like the safer bet (grin). I’m wondering if this could be adapted to a rice cooker? Sounds very tasty and essentially a complete meal here. Thanks for sharing at Fiesta Friday!

    • I was wondering the same thing – or maybe the Instant Pot. Thanks for hosting for us! 🙂 Oh, and the name comes from the way the rice will poke out when making porcupine meatballs.

  6. Pingback: Porcupine Skillet Dinner | My Meals are on Wheels

    • Thanks for linking me up! And to anyone who hasn’t clicked on My Meals are on Wheels, do so – you’ll find a wonderful array of recipes!

  7. Love a quick and easy recipe like this and I have never heard of Porcupine Balls I feel deprived. Super simple and flavorful, this is a really great meal.

    • Thanks, Suzanne. You should feel deprived! I didn’t know anyone hadn’t heard of Porcupine Balls (called that because the rice sticks out of the meatballs like a porcupine’s quills.) Maybe this is more of a Midwestern dish.

      Staples when I was growing up in the Midwest in the 60’s: porcupine balls, goulash (made with ground beef and macaroni), Swiss steak, burgers & frozen fries. Oh, and Shake and Bake Pork Chops and that Chicken dish that’s baked over a mixture of minute rice and cream of ? soup along with Tuna Casserole during lent!

    • Hi Liz, thanks! I was thinking perfect for a cool fall day and/or a quick back to school meal, but it has actually been horribly warm here!

  8. Sounds delicious. Kind of like cabbage rolls stuffing without the cabbage roll or chili with rice instead of beans.

  9. That sounds really good, and like one of those comfort meals we remember from childhood. Although the porcupine balls did make me snarf some coffee out my nose from laughing! My grandmother used to make us macaroni and tomato, and it sounds very much like your method (except the rice, of course.) Yum!

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