This recipe for Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs makes the most tender meatballs ever! Best of all, they work for low-carb, ketogenic, Atkins, gluten-free, grain-free, diabetic, and Banting diets.

 Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs

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These Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs are a low-carb version of the porcupine meatballs I grew up with. Do any of you remember porcupine meatballs? Don’t worry, they weren’t made out of porcupine meat, but named instead from their appearance. 

Porcupine meatballs have rice mixed in with the ground beef. This rice gives them a spiky, porcupine-like appearance. I don’t hear of them as much today, but when I was a kid, they were a popular dinner. It’s no wonder they were so popular. Porcupine meatballs are budget friendly, quick and easy to make, and everyone loves them!

I decided to try to make a low-carb version of porcupine meatballs using cauliflower rice. Instead of using raw cauliflower, I used some frozen riced cauliflower. Using the frozen riced cauliflower makes this recipe easy and prevents waste.. Just measure out what you need, then keep the rest frozen for future use. I didn’t even bother to defrost cauliflower and it worked absolutely fine. 

Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs

I wasn’t sure how these meatballs would turn out, but I was thrilled when I tasted my first one. I like these meatballs even more than the high-carb version! When I tasted one, it was everything a meatball should be–tender, juicy and full of flavor with notes of garlic and oregano.  

While the cauliflower rice makes these meatballs super tender and juicy, there is no flavor of cauliflower whatsoever. I’m not just saying that either. I had company over when I made my first batch and nobody thought they tasted cauliflower. In fact, these meatballs could be an easy way to slip a few more veggies into the kids (or picky husbands).

These Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs are cooked in a thick Italian style tomato sauce with hints of garlic, oregano, and basil. They can be served by themselves, with a salad or vegetable, or over cauliflower rice or zucchini noodles to make a complete meal. Enjoy!


 Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs

No, these Porcupine Meatballs don’t contain porcupine! These tender meatballs have riced cauliflower “quills” and an herbed tomato sauce. Low-Carb and keto-friendly.

Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs
5 from 7 votes

Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs

This recipe for Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs makes the most tender meatballs ever! Best of all, they work for low-carb, ketogenic, Atkins, gluten-free, grain-free, diabetic, and Banting diets.

Course Appetizer, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine American, Italian, low-carb
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4
Author Annissa Slusher


For the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup cauliflower riced (frozen-doesn't need to be defrosted)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
  • 1/4 cup onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground

For the sauce:

  • 1/2 cup yellow onion minced
  • 1 clove garlic crushed
  • 1 15 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce gluten-free, if you are sensitive to gluten
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon parsley chopped


For the meatballs:

  1. Mix ground beef, cauliflower, egg, parsley, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, sea salt, and black pepper in a medium bowl until completely combined.

    Low-Carb Secret Ingredient Meatballs
  2.  Shape into balls about 1 1/2 inch to 2 inches in diameter.

    Low-Carb Porcupine Meatballs
  3. Heat a heavy skillet that has a fitting lid, over medium high heat, uncovered. If using lower fat meat or your skillet tends to stick, add a teaspoon of butter or coconut oil. When skillet is hot, add meatballs, making sure they do not touch each other. 

  4. Cook meatballs, uncovered until brown on the first side, then turn and brown the other side. Repeat for all sides. Remove to a plate using a slotted spoon and set aside.

For the sauce:

  1. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of pan drippings. If there are no pan drippings, add 1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil. Place pan over medium heat. When pan is heated, add the onions. 

  2. Saute onions until edges begin to brown and they appear translucent. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Stir in tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and water. 

  3. Add the meatballs and any accumulated drippings into the sauce. Stir to cover the meatballs. Bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low. Cover skillet and simmer about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  4. Uncover the skillet and simmer until sauce is the desired consistency-5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

Recipe Notes

Serving size: About 4 ounces

Per serving:

Calories: 279

Fat (g): 15 

Carbs (g): 10

Fiber (g):3

Protein (g): 28

Net carbs (g): 10