Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

By Anne-Marie Nichols

Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

Do you love Porcupine Meatballs? They’re a classic comfort food many of us have grown up with.

If you’ve never had them, they’re meatballs filled with rice simmered in a zesty tomato sauce. Since the rice sticks out of the meatballs as they cook, the meatballs look like little porcupines!

And what kid – or kid at heart – doesn’t like meatballs? I know I do!

There are two ways to make porcupine meatballs – simmered on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Since I know how busy we all are this time of year, I’ve combined the two methods as a crock-pot dish to make it as simple as possible.

These Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs are broiled briefly in the oven to give that fried in the pan, yummy crusty outer crust.

Then you slow cook the porcupine meatballs in the spicy tomato sauce to cook them thoroughly without having to watch over a simmering pan. Less messy, too!

Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs are a classic comfort food with a Cajun flavored twist.

Making a different kind of porcupine meatballs

Inspired by Vigo’s line of flavored rice products, I wanted to create a porcupine meatballs recipe with a twist and a Cajun flair.

That’s why I went with Vigo Red Beans & Rice, an authentic version of the New Orleans classic, as a meatball ingredient.

What I love about using Vigo’s rice product in my Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs recipe is that it’s already seasoned and full of flavor.

That way you don’t have to add much more seasoning to your dish, a bit of a time saver.

This porcupine meatballs recipe is gluten free and can be doubled and frozen for another night's dinner.

Using Vigo Rice in porcupine meatballs – or any night!

Vigo Red Beans & Rice is easy to prepare, low in fat, and high in taste – perfect for porcupine meatballs or an everyday dinner.

Besides this porcupine meatballs recipe, Vigo Rice is ideal for those evenings when you have little time to prepare a meal, but still want to cook up something delicious and wholesome.

Vigo also makes other products like Vigo Saffron and Vigo Italian Style Seasoned Bread Crumbs, which is perfect to use on my Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu recipe!

This easy to make porcupine meatballs recipe are cooked in the crockpot.

This Mama’s tips for making porcupine meatballs in a crockpot

To avoid hard rice and beans in the porcupine meatballs (in case it doesn’t quite cook all the way through), put the Vigo Red Beans & Rice in a bowl and cover with 2 cups of water.

Then, let it sit for at least 10 minutes while you get things ready. That will soften things up and make it cook up better.

Remember to save the soaking water for the sauce as some of the seasoning from the Vigo Red Beans & Rice will remain in the water. You don’t want to lose any of that good flavor!

I love using a food chopper to finely chop the onion and parsley. So much faster and easier than using a knife.

The ground beef you use shouldn’t be too lean, otherwise, it’ll fall apart in your slow cooker. If you’re concerned about fat, don’t worry.

When you broil up the porcupine meatballs, you’ll find a lot of the fat will cook off and drip on to the tray. You can blot the meatballs with a paper towel before placing them in the slow cooker too, if you like.

Double the porcupine meatballs recipe and freeze half for another time.

The best way to measure out the porcupine meat mixture is to use a medium spring-loaded ice cream scoop. This way all your porcupine meatballs are about the same size and it helps get the meatball making job done quickly!

Try Vigo Black Beans & Rice in your next batch of porcupine meatballs. Omit the cayenne and use Cuban type spices such as 1 teaspoon each of garlic powder, cumin, and oregano. Instead of the parsley, use finely chopped cilantro. Delish!

Since this porcupine meatball recipe makes such large amount, you can freeze half the leftover meatballs and sauce for another night’s dinner.

Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight and heat them up in the microwave for a few minutes. Or reheat on low in the slow cooker for a few hours. Super easy!

These Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs are served up on steamed vegetables.

How to serve up Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

Serve your porcupine meatballs recipe over steamed veggies of your choice. The optional finely chopped parsley makes the dinner even prettier with minimum fuss.

Plus, it’s a great way to get your family to eat their veggies!

To go with the meatball theme, look for frozen zucchini and squash “zoodles” at your grocery store. Zoodles are spiralized veggie ribbons that are sort of like strands of pasta.

They’re usually available as “steam in the bag” frozen vegetables and easily microwaved and ready to be served in a few minutes.

These porcupine balls will soon become a family favorite. Best of all, they're naturally gluten free!

I also like the “riced” squash and cauliflower that you can find in the freezer section. Super quick to microwave up and another pretty way to serve the meatballs.

Plus, it’s a way to include some wholesome vegetables in your family’s diet without them noticing!

Other ideas are steam in the bag French cut string beans, peas and carrots, or another vegetable mix like Normandy or California.

All of these easy to serve frozen vegetables have encouraged me to serve veggies more often since I no longer have to wash, peel, and chop.

Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

Serves: 6-12


  • 1 8-ounce package Vigo Red Beans & Rice (uncooked)
  • 2 cups water
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 15-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 packages frozen vegetables, cooked, for serving
  • Finely chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Pour bag of Vigo Red Beans & Rice package into a bowl. Break up any clumps of seasoning and mix ingredients so rice and beans are thoroughly distributed. Remove half the beans and rice and save for another time.
  2. Presoak the beans, rice and seasonings in 2 cups of water for 10 minutes. Drain and save the water for the sauce. Set aside the beans and rice.
  3. Place top rack in upper third of oven. Preheat the oven to broil (550 degrees F.) Line two large trays with aluminum foil. Spray generously with cooking spray and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, softened Vigo Red Beans & Rice, chopped onion, and eggs. Mix until just combined.
  5. Shape mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs. Place all of the formed meatballs on the tray. Broil the porcupine meatballs in the oven for 3 minutes per side. (This way they firm up and won’t fall apart in the slow cooker.) Remove from oven.
  6. Spray a 6-quart slow cooker with nonstick spray or use a crock-pot liner. Add in tomato sauce, water saved from soaking the beans and rice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir until combined.
  7. Place the porcupine meatballs in the tomato mixture. Stir the meatballs gently so they are well coated with the sauce.
  8. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  9. Remove porcupine meatballs from the slow cooker and serve over steamed vegetables.
  10. Garnish with chopped parsley before serving, if you like.
Prep Time: 1 Hour 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Total Time: 7 Hours
Servings: Makes 40 meatballs
  • Serving size: 3-5 meatballs
Love Porcupine Meatballs? Then you\'ll love this Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs recipe. Double the porcupine balls recipe, defrost overnight, and cook up in your crock-pot for an easy dinner! These Cajun flavored meatballs are gluten free and made with ground beef. #recipe #easy #recipeoftheday #healthyrecipes #glutenfree #easyrecipes #dinner #easydinner #slowcooker #crockpot #meatballs #groundbeef #comfortfood

94 thoughts on “Zesty Slow Cooker Porcupine Meatballs

  1. Kylie P

    I think the Red Beans & Rice sound delicious. My family would like the lime & cilantro but those pesky green leaves taste like soap to me!

  2. Jennifer Reed

    I would most like to try the Vigo Mexican Rice, a yellow rice and corn with a taco like taste. I think my family would enjoy it.


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