Healthy Porcupine Balls Recipe

Lisa Owen turned in the request for a healthy makeover on Porcupine Balls saying:

One of my family’s favorite recipes is Oven Porcupine Balls. We know they are not healthy but love them.

The Old Oven Porcupine Ball Recipe

This is the old recipe:

1 lb hamburger
½ c uncooked long grain rice
½ c water
1/3 c chopped onions
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp pepper
1 can cream of Mushroom soup
½ C water
Combine first 7 ingredients, shape into 12 balls. Place balls in square baking dish, combine remaining ingredients and pour over balls, cover w/ foil and bake 1 hr at 350. Uncover and bake 15 minutes.

What Are Porcupine Balls?

While I had heard of them, I had never eaten porcupine balls. The request came across my Facebook Wall and generated quite the humorous line of discussion. It appears that some people did not know what porcupine balls are.

It went something like this…

(The names have been abbreviated to protect the innocent.)

  • Lisa: I would love a recipe makeover on Oven Porcupine Balls!
  • Louri: OH gross – real ones?
  • Lisa; They are really yummy!! Can’t wait to see what you have for me!!
  • Deb: LOL – yeah right, Louri!
  • Deb: I never knew porcupines even had balls… right, Louri?!
  • Louri: Laughing so hard!
  • Jim: OMG Louri… I can’t stop laughing!
  • Angela: They are wonderful. My mom makes them.
  • Jim: This just keeps getting better!!!
  • Lisa: Made them often.
  • Louri: LOL!
  • Darryl: You kids and your slang terms. What does porcupine balls mean anyway?
  • Jim: The cooking part is easy… harvesting is the tough part.
  • Mill: Love porcupines!
  • Louri: – LOL – found porcupine balls on Pinterest.
  • Angela: Thanks for the link. We use a pressure cooker to make ours.
  • Deb: LOL- – – well Darryl, Porcupine balls are meat balls with rice
  • Deb: Mine didn’t look anything like that pinterest picture….. I am thinking that I prefer Porcupine Balls grilled though!!
  • Claudia: PB was one of my fav dishes when I was a kid. I didn’t know about your fan page. Just liked it!
  • Deb: I wish I could get this many comments on my fan page as quickly as this happened!!
  • Nathalie: put cookies on your fan page-they will come- Deb lol

Healthy Porcupine Balls Makeover Recipe

  • Pamela: I have not eaten the P ball since elementary school cafeteria
  • Candina: Love porcupines!!! I make them all the time (recipe from my mom) love them!!!
  • Lisa: I use beef rice a roni when I make mine. Seasoning packet is in the box of rice a roni and then I just make a gravy out of it and simmer on the stove. They are really good.
  • Michele: I haven’t had those in at least 30 years! Can’t wait for the recipe !!
  • Joyce: this can’t be for real
  • Daisy: whats next, Deb, cows nuts?
  • Pamela: the elementary school had porcupine balls on the menu—it is not that odd–you guys talk like my husband
  • Deb: Daisy, if you have a recipe for Cows Nuts that you want healthier, just send it over and I will get started!!
  • Pamela: Well you ladies do what you want–I am not making either!!!
  • Pamela: You know people around here do eat bulls balls–excuse me to say it–and they are called mountain oysters–market used to have them–and some old redneck bar up Dover way had them in a jar on the bar–this is why I am afraid of northern york and southern YOrk etc–no I WAS NOT at the bar but my uncle told me–he had them already–and yes that makes it so….
  • Deb:  Actually, I thought that was pigs balls, Pam?!
  • Pamela: maybe is is –I remember bulls balls–either way –count me out
  • Pamela: Well according to wikepedia rocky mountain oysters are bull calves testicles used for human consumption–it says that sometimes pig or lamb testicles are used -so we are both correct Deb–it shows a picture of them deep fried with cocktail sauce– you can see pics of them….
  • Deb: I don’t think I need to look at them!!

New Recipe For Porcupine Balls – Try Them If You Dare!

When making something healthier you should always define your goal so you know the path to follow.
porcupine balls
This recipe has a lot of options to make it healthier.

  • Lower Sodium
  • Less Chemicals
  • More Whole Foods
  • More Nutrients
  • Better Protein Source

You may want to transition into the healthier recipe gradually, Lisa, so that your family does not freak out!!

This is the makeover recipe:

1 lb ground turkey
½ cup uncooked brown minute rice
½ cup chopped onions
1 tsp. dry oregano
½ salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
½ cup water

1 ½ cup mushrooms – coarse chopped
1 tsp. dry oregano
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. black pepper
1 cup cream
3 c stock

  1. Combine first 7 ingredients
  2. Shape into 12 balls by hand or using a #20 scoop.
  3. Place balls in baking dish.
  4. Chop mushrooms and put over meat balls.
  5. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over balls
  6. Cover and bake 40 minutes at 350*.
  7. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

 Make Healthy Changes Gradually

This recipe has a lot of changes. When you are making a family favorite recipe healthier it is a good idea to do so gradually. If you are worried about your family balking at a healthy recipe, only change one thing at a time, then another the next time.

In this case, maybe make the original recipe using the ground turkey once but still use the sodium-laden mushroom soup before switching to the chemical free cream sauce.

When making a recipe healthier it is important not to make it too complicated. If a recipe is harder to make than the original then people may say it is too hard and keep on eating the unhealthy version.

I believe that this recipe is not much harder than the old one, so give it a try.


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    Shared by: Deb Bixler:

    Sorry, Karen – half cup. Thanks for pointing that out. I will fix it!

    Shared by: karen:

    What is the measurement on the water? The recipe list ½ water is it a teaspoon, cup or X?

    Shared by: Deb, The Healthy Chef:

    Quinoa – I would say yes, do it. Only, I think I would cook the quinoa ahead as the meat balls do not take that long to cook. Just cook it firm then go from there. Let me know how it turns out!

    Shared by: Tracey:

    I wonder if Quina ( not sure I spelled that correctly 🙂 could be used in place of the rice?
    I might just give this a try!

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