Porcupine Skillet Dinner

Porcupine Skillet Dinner

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 so easy you can practically toss it together with your eyes closed. Something simple and fast and easy like a one skillet dinner. And maybe something comforting, just a little nostalgic? That’s where this Porcupine Skillet Dinner comes in.

Porcupine Skillet Dinner

Skillet Porcupine Dinner


Porcupine Skillet Dinner is just good old-fashioned plain cooking, with the emphasis on good. Does it seem sometimes with all the different recipes available from just about every corner of the world that it’s easy to forget about some of the old standards?

About Porcupine Skillet Dinner:

Or maybe you’re reading this from one of those corners and wondering what the heck this Porcupine Skillet Dinner is? Porcupine Skillet dinner has all the flavors of the old-fashioned Porcupine Balls. Those Porcupine Balls are so named because they are meatballs made of ground beef mixed with rice. As the meatballs cook, the rice swells and sticks out of the meatballs. So that apparently reminded someone of the way the quills stick out of a porcupine, so hence the name. Who thinks of these names anyway, and even more importantly how does a name like that become so universal? At least if you live in the U. S.

So now you know, there are/were no porcupines harmed in the making of this Porcupine Skillet Dinner. And this quick skillet dinner has all the flavor of the traditional Porcupine Meatballs and none of the hassle. There’s no need to form the ground beef mixture into meatballs and then stand at the stove trying to brown evenly. And then there’s the simmering which can take a while, too, depending on the size of the meatball. Nope, just make Porcupine Skillet Dinner. It only has just five or six ingredients, an is a super fast and a great “have to get dinner on the table” recipe.

And while you might never think to add cheese to your porcupine balls, I gotta say it’s so good in your Porcupine Skillet Dinner! Cheddar is great, but you might have another favorite. Just a bit, sprinkled across the top to form a little ooey, gooey melty layer can’t be bad, can it?

Porcupine Skillet Dinner

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

Making Porcupine Skillet Dinner:

I adapted this Recipe for Porcupine Skillet Dinner from Aunt Bee’s Recipes. 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. Of course, you can buy your Lipton Soup Mix but it is easy to make and if you’re following a special diet (maybe low sodium or a clean eating plan) you might want to customize your own ingredients in the mix.

Change your Porcupine Skillet Dinner 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…

As long as you keep the liquid and rice ratios the same, you have a lot of room for tinkering if you’d like to change it up.

Saving Money on Porcupine Skillet Dinner:

Ground Beef goes on special all the time in bigger family packs. Know the highs and lows for your area and buy it at a low. Break those larger packages down and freeze in quantities your family can use.

I like to 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 freezing them right away keeps them from sitting in my fridge and spoiling along witih my good intentions. And rice? Why not go large – and buy in bags (check the Asian or Mexican food aisles.)? You’ll find the price per pound is usually a lot less when you buy the larger the bags and rice basically never goes bad.

If you like this easy skillet dinner, and are maybe looking for others, be sure to check the links and photos at the bottom of the page for my Easy Taco Skillet Dinner and my Unstuffed Egg Roll Skillet Dinner  – they’re both easy family faves and just like the Porcupine Skillet Dinner, they have all the flavor and none of the hassle! If you’re thinking of something along the lines of an Italian feast, you might want to check out my Skillet Lasange.


Porcupine Skillet 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 good fitting 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 to mix in the rice and cover with the liquid. (You want to be careful with any stirring once the rice is in so it doesn’t turn to mush.)

Bring the contents 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 thin 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 this up with some Tabasco or Worcestershire to taste.
  • Think about sautéing garlic, diced onion, bell peppers or mushrooms along with the ground beef or adding in corn in to warm through before serving for a complete dinner.

adapted from Aunt Bee’s Recipes.


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



A handful of ingredients, a skillet, & you have a quick easy, no fuss Porcupine Skillet Dinner. Gotta love these down-home favorites! #PorcupineSkillet #PorcupineSkilletDinner

Porcupine Skillet Dinner

38 thoughts on “Porcupine Skillet Dinner

  1. Jen

    I’ve made this before. Good stuff. Tonight I’m substituting 1 1/2 cans rotel for tomatoes, using taco cheese and adding a can of drained pintos for a Mexican version. Can’t wait to try it.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Paula, I’m so sorry I didn’t answer immediately. Your comment slipped under my radar. No, do not use minute rice and do not use converted, either. It just does not turn out well.

      If it’s a priority, like all you have and can’t get to the store, you can figure out how much liquid your minute rice needs for the amount and try it in a pinch by adjusting liquid and time, but I haven’t tested for that!

      Hope that helps,


  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. 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 🙂

  4. 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!

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

    • 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!

  6. 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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