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Porcupine Meatballs with Secret Ingredient Sauce

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These meatballs have a secret and it’s in the sauce! Porcupine meatballs are great for sandwiches and sliders, they are perfect over pasta and right at home on a bed of rice.

Bowl of rice topped with porcupine meatballs and secret ingredient sauce.

These tasty meatballs have rice cooked right inside. That’s what gives them their porcupine name.

They are delicious cooked in this simple homemade sauce. We love them for dinner, but you could easily make them in a slow cooker for a game day snack as well!

Can you keep a secret?  I mean something that is just between you and me, nobody else can know?

Are you ready?  These meatballs are cooked in a  sauerkraut sauce.

SHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! Not so loud!  My husband might hear you!

cast iron braiser filled with tomato sauce and sauerkraut.

Why is it such a secret?  Because he HATES sauerkraut.

I mean hates it.  And these little gems are cooked right in it.

And he ate them!!  No, really, he did!

And he has. Several times now!

Do you want to know the best part?  A couple of nights later we were having a dinner with bean sprouts in it.

sheet pan filled with meatballs, half browned half raw.

He quizzically poked at one before he took another bite.  “What are these stringy things?” he asked.

“Bean sprouts?” (of course!) “Is that the same thing that was in the meatballs the other night?”

 “No.” (Ahem, excuse me as I quickly change the subject.)

 Yep, he really didn’t know!  And you and I are certainly not going to be the ones to tell him, are we?

Why ruin a perfectly good thing?

enameled cast iron pan filled with meatballs and homemade sauce.

My good friend Diane gave me this recipe a while back and I finally got around to giving it a try back in 2017.  I thought now would be a great time to update the recipe card and share some new pictures with you.

Before I made them the first time I already knew they would be good. Everything she has ever shared with me has been, but to tell you the truth the kraut caught me a bit off guard too.

She says her son love the meatballs, but hates sauerkraut.  So you know what she does?

She chops it real fine and throws it in anyway.  He gobbles them up!

Potato roll with porcupine meatballs and sauerkraut sauce.

I don’t blame him, they are really good!  She serves them on her soft Buttery Potato Rolls, so I do the same sometimes.

I highly recommend the combination! But if you aren’t in the mood for a sandwich, they are also great on pasta, rice or even mashed potatoes.

You really can’t taste the sauerkraut at all.  It just gives the sauce that little something extra both in flavor and texture.

If you need to hide it a little better though, go ahead and chop it up!  Whatever it takes to get the job done, you know how it is.

serving of meatballs over rice in bowl with pan of meatballs in background.

If you are really concerned about the kraut hater in your family detecting it, give it a quick rinse and drain it well. Otherwise make the meatballs and cook them in your favorite sauce.

If your family loves flavorful sandwiches, you may also like maid rites or loose meat sandwiches. Or maybe you’d like slow cooker chicken parmesan sandwiches or Italian beef in the instant pot.

You may also like Marlene’s meatballs, they use oatmeal instead of rice as a binder. Or try Swiss steak meatballs that start with frozen meatballs and are made quickly in the instant pot.

Have you have tried any of those? You should!

Bowl of rice topped with porcupine meatballs and secret ingredient sauce.

Porcupine Meatballs with Secret Ingredient Sauce

Servings: 10 Servings
Author: Carlee
These tasty meatballs have rice cooked right inside. That's what gives them their porcupine name. They are delicious cooked in this simple homemade sauce. We love them for dinner, but you could easily make them in a slow cooker for a game day snack as well!
4.93 from 13 ratings
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes


  • 2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • ½ cup dehydrated minced onion
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cups uncooked instant rice
  • salt and pepper
  • 16 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 24 oz jar sauerkraut drained (and rinsed if desired)
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning


  • Mix together onion, beef, garlic, eggs, rice, salt and pepper in a big mixing bowl until just combined. You don’t want to overwork the meat.
    ½ cup dehydrated minced onion, 2 pounds ground beef, 3 cloves garlic, 2 large eggs, ¾ cups uncooked instant rice, salt and pepper
  • Gently roll into golf ball sized balls and place on a cooking sheet.
  • In a oven safe skillet, heat the cooking oil over medium heat. Working in batches, brown all sides of the meatballs then remove from the pan.
    2 Tablespoons cooking oil
  • Once all of the meatballs have been browned, drain the grease. Add the tomatoes and tomato sauce, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
    16 oz canned tomato sauce, 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • Stir in the drained sauerkraut and Italian seasoning. Gently nestle the meatballs in the sauce. It is ok if there doesn’t seem to be enough sauce at this point, it will all come together.
    24 oz jar sauerkraut, 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • Cover and cook over medium low for about 25 minute or until the meatballs are cooked through.


If you are concerned about the sauerkraut flavor, you can rinse the kraut a bit and chop it up finer.


Serving: 1ServingCalories: 340kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 28gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 858mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5g

Nutritional Disclaimer

“Cooking With Carlee” is not a dietitian or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories and other nutritional values can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.

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Recipe Rating

Andrea Nine

Friday 8th of May 2020

My husband will just love these with the sauerkraut in there! Sounds like a winner but then again all your recipes are winners! I hope you have a beautiful Mother’s Day!


Saturday 9th of May 2020

It sounds kind of strange, but it really works. Thanks, Andrea!


Monday 13th of February 2017

This looks good! Thank you for sharing this with us @FuntasticFriday!


Saturday 11th of February 2017

Wow...sounds tasty!!


Sunday 12th of February 2017

Thank you!


Saturday 11th of February 2017

I'm not a huge fan of meatballs, it has to do with the sauce I think. Not flavorful enough. Odd since I love meatloaf. But I think that the sauerkraut might be what I'm missing, would give the sauce a bit of vinegar flavor, which I love on meat! Thank Di for me, I think this is a winner!


Sunday 12th of February 2017

There is definitely a lot of flavor in these! I know what you're saying though, some meatballs can be a bit bland. You'll have to let me know what you think!

Melissa @ Melclaire

Wednesday 8th of February 2017

My husband loves sauerkraut, me not so much. I will try this though, I just won't have the benefit of "not knowing" like your husband did. I bet it's delicious! Thanks for sharing at the Family Joy Blog Link Party this week! Please join us again next week.


Thursday 9th of February 2017

It is easier if you aren't trying to pull one over on yourself! ;-) I was surprised how eagerly he ate them and definitely giggle to myself when he honestly didn't know what he had eaten a few days later. I hope you love them!