Say hello to your new favorite 30-minute-meal! This easy one-pot dish is great for nights when you forget about dinner until everyone is starving. The meatballs make it nice and hearty. Use store bought meatballs to speed things up even more! Originally published October 11, 2016.
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Today after Charlotte’s dance class, a little girl walked up to me, her wide eyes on my 8-month-pregnant belly. She said wisely, “I see you have an EGG in there!” Ha! Well something like that, kid.
Later I was in the grocery store getting stuff to make dinner, when it was already past dinnertime. My kids were definitely letting me know that I had made a bad parenting choice: maniacal laughing, “fall-down hugs,” running up and down the aisles, randomly grabbing merchandise. Crazy hyper children is always preferable to the alternative (crazy tantrum children), but still enough to drive any mom insane. Especially one who waddles as much as I do.
We were in the meat department and I was walking fast while they lagged, hoping that passers-by wouldn’t know the screaming-laughing kids were with me. A lady with an indulgent smile said to me as I passed, “They just have the BEST laughs!” And I said, “You know what you’re right, but right now I still want to strangle them. You basically just saved both of their lives, congratulations.” Thank you, indulgent smile lady. My children owe you one.
You’ll love this Meatball and Rice Recipe
Who’s ready for some meatballs?? This recipe is adapted from a recipe in my friend Mary’s cookbook. Mary has a fabulous blog over at Barefeet in the Kitchen, and she just released her first cookbook The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook. I did a review for the book here, and shared her recipe for Chinese Beef and Broccoli Soup, which was absolutely fabulous I must say.
She has a recipe for Kielbasa with rice and peas. It looks really delicious, but I haven’t tried it as written yet. The only prepped meat I had in the freezer on the night I needed to make a quick dinner was meatballs, so I changed up the recipe to work with meatballs. It worked out great! Someday I will try the kielbasa version. Maybe. These are good meatballs.
Meatball with Rice Recipe Ingredients
I made this twice, once with frozen Costco meatballs, and once with my Homemade Easy Baked Meatballs. I liked it both ways but of course fresh homemade meatballs are always going to be better than the frozen ones. But sometimes you just have to git er done, and frozen store bought meatballs totally got it done.
Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!
- Olive oil
- 1 pound homemade meatballs (or frozen meatballs)
- Beef broth
- Rice (medium grain or jasmine)
- Garlic powder
- Frozen peas
- Green onions
- Parsley (optional, to garnish)
My kids loved this. Are your kids as obsessed with rice as mine are? This meal is basically perfect for them.
How to make Meatballs and Rice
Here’s a quick overview of how to make this recipe. Scroll down to the recipe card below for complete instructions before you get started!
- Thaw the meatballs if they are frozen (not necessary if you made homemade meatballs).
- Heat oil and saute the garlic for one minute.
- Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beef broth, rice, garlic powder, pepper and salt; stir and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove from the heat and season to taste.
- Stir in the peas, then add the green onions and parsley. Cover until the peas are warm, just a few minutes.
Meatballs with Rice and Peas: Substitutions and Variations
One of the best things about a last-minute, clean-out-the-fridge recipe like this one is that you can easily substitute what you have on hand. Here are some ideas!
- Instead of meatballs, use 14 oz. of kielbasa or smoked sausage.
- Grab a rotisserie chicken at the store, cut it up into bite size pieces, and add it in place of the meatballs. Or use leftover grilled chicken from the fridge!
- If you have a bag of frozen peas and carrots, use those instead of frozen peas alone.
- Only have chicken broth, or veggie broth? They’re perfectly fine to use if you don’t have beef broth.
- Want extra greens? Add in a couple generous handfuls of spinach in step 7 when you turn the rice and meatballs down to a simmer.
How to serve Rice and Meatballs
This Meatballs and Rice recipe is kind of a meal all by itself. It’s perfect for when you kinda forgot dinner was a thing (I do this all the time). It’s even got peas so you can check the “I served a veggie today” box. If you do want to add something more, a simple green salad or some steamed broccoli are great, or for bonus points you can make some fast bread. My favorite is this easy, no-fail One Hour French Bread.
Storing Meatballs with Rice
This Meatballs and Rice dish can be stored in a tupperware in the fridge for 3-4 days. When you reheat it, I recommend sprinkling just a tiny bit of water (like 1-2 teaspoons) on the rice to make sure it stays nice and moist as you reheat it.
You can also freeze this dish! It will all defrost and reheat wonderfully later, so feel free to make a double batch and treat Future You to a worry-free evening. It’s also a great meal to take to someone who’s been sick or had a new baby. The only thing you’ll want to omit is the green onions, since they’re best fresh.
Meatballs and Rice Recipe FAQs
Add eggs! Eggs act as a binder to keep the meat, breadcrumbs, and any other ingredients together. Since these meatballs are baked, they also stay together a little more easily than pan-fried ones, since you’re not messing with them by turning them.
The best meatballs are NOT just made of meat. They’re combined with moist, tender ingredients like breadcrumbs, milk, and eggs. In this recipe, you can use either panko bread crumbs or quick oats. Don’t skip these! They’re essential to the perfect meatball texture. I also add onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper for flavor.
Meatballs should be cooked to 160 degrees. You can use an instant read thermometer pushed into the center of a meatball to check.
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Meatballs and Rice
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 pound homemade meatballs, or store-bought meatballs
- 3 cups beef broth*
- 1 & 1/2 cups uncooked rice, rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 & 1/2 cups frozen peas, or however much looks good to you
- 1/2 cup green onions, chopped
- 1/4 cup parsley, fresh, chopped (optional)
- Thaw the meatballs if they are frozen. I just stuck them in the microwave for a couple minutes. They don’t have to be completely thaw, just enough that they will finish thawing and warm up while cooking the rice.
- Heat a high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil.
- When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and saute 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the beef broth, rice, garlic powder, pepper and salt. Scrape up any browned bits.
- Stir and bring the heat up to high so that it comes to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to low to maintain a simmer. Cover with a lid.
- Continue to simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. Stir at 15 minutes to make sure it isn’t sticking.
- When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and season to taste, adding more salt and pepper if you want.
- Stir in the peas. Add as much as looks good to you.
- Add the green onions and parsley, if using. Cover until the peas are warm, just a few minutes.
- This is great with a big green salad. I actually ate mine right on top of a bed of spinach. If you wanted you could stir fresh spinach into the meal and let it wilt while it’s still on the stove.
I made this tonight and everyone went back in for seconds! I used minute rice (1/2 cup more than the recipe calls for) and didn’t add it until 10 minutes through the simmering, then let it continue to simmer for 5.
So glad it was a hit Heather! Thanks for all the details on using minute rice!
hmmm sounds rather plain tasting
Check out the other reviews Dave! Most of my readers who have made this recipe have really enjoyed it :)
Made this tonight for supper, used mixed veggies instead of just peas and it was a hit! Will definitely make it again!
Great idea using the mixed veggies Kacy! Thanks for the idea! So glad you enjoyed it.
Realised too late that I didn’t have enough chicken for the recipe I had planned on tonight so was scrambling to find a recipe with ingredients I had on hand. OH! MY! GOSH!!!! This was amazing. Really tasted like fried rice with meatballs and my entire family gobbled it up. It’s going into my rotation. THANK YOU!
Fried rice with meatballs! That’s a pretty good description, haha! So glad the recipe was a hit and that meatballs could save the day. Thanks so much for reviewing!!
Your meatballs are the best . Did a triple batch for the freezer. The beef meatballs and rice and peas are amazing!! Gonna be a family favourite for sure!!!
Woohoo! So glad you are enjoying the recipe! This is a family favorite over here too :)
The Beef Meatball and Rice dish is the bomb dot com!!! I accidentally picked up frozen Turkey meatballs instead of Beef meatballs, but I didn’t want to go back to the store and exchange it. I had to add an extra cup and a half of water since the rice was a bit on the crunchy side, and to my portion of the dish, I added some Sriacha for a little kick. My sister would like to make this dish for her lunch. I will be making this again, but I will make my own meatballs from scratch. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe Miss Lady!!
Ooh love the Sriracha addition! Great idea! I think this would be good with turkey meatballs too, it’s a good idea if you want to cut back on fat. Or if you accidentally pick up the wrong kind at the store ;) haha. Thanks so much for reviewing Shawnae
Could I use ground beef and chicken broth if I don’t have beef broth?
Ground beef instead of meatballs? Sure but it will be a little more tough. My meatball recipe calls for pork because pork has more fat, making the meatballs tender. Chicken broth will be fine, it won’t be quite as “beefy” but i think it will still be okay.
I was out of beef broth so I had to run to the store. I decided to try the Better Than Bouillon on your recommend and wow, it is so much more flavorful than beef broth! This recipe is delicious and will be added to my rotation of meals. Thank you!
It’s kind of life changing, right?? Love that stuff. So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thanks for coming back to comment!
Can you use Minute rice for this great recipe?
Hi Cindy! I’m sure you could, but you would have to drastically change the cooking times. Let me know how it goes if you try it out!
My family loves this dish. I add soy sauce to the the servings.
Ooh great idea for a flavor boost Stacy!!
Im looking for a healthier alternative to rice. How do you think this would taste if I substituted plain or black quinoa for the rice?
Hey Rhonda! I haven’t tried it but I’m sure it would be great! Any grain served this way would be tasty. Let me know how it goes!
Not a review but a question please. I want to try the meatball, peas and rice recipe but want to be sure about the meatballs. Are they to be fully cooked before adding to the rice and peas or will they cook enough while simmering? It was not quite clear to me. Thank you.
Hi Louise! The meatballs should be fully cooked. Buy store bought meatballs or make this recipe for homemade meatballs.
Thank You so much for your recipes and I made the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies this morning & I’m telling you that After I had them thawed util they were soft enough To Scoop Into A Cookie Scoop.
My Husband and I Loved them.
Made your fabulous buttermilk biscuits. Everybody consumed them without hesitation. I found them too salty, could they have had too much baking powder. Please let me know how to adjust the salty taste
Hi Mary-Jane! If they were too salty for your tastes, I would use unsalted butter next time, or just decrease the salt called for in the recipe. Don’t change the amount of baking powder!
I made this post church (read : starving). It turned out great! I doubled the recipe and cooked it in a 6 quart pot with vegetable stock and without the green onions (used onion powder).
What is it about church that makes you SO HUNGRY afterward?? haha! It’s the same story around here! I’m glad you liked the recipe!