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.

beef meatballs with rice and peas on a big metal spoon.
Table of Contents
  1. You’ll love this Meatball and Rice Recipe
  2. Meatball with Rice Recipe Ingredients
  3. How to make Meatballs and Rice
  4. Meatballs with Rice and Peas: Substitutions and Variations
  5. How to serve Rice and Meatballs
  6. Storing Meatballs with Rice
  7. Meatballs and Rice Recipe FAQs
  8. Meatballs and Rice Recipe

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.

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meatballs with rice and peas in a white bowl.

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.

homemade meatballs with rice and peas garnished with fresh parsley in a white bowl.

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!

  • 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.

mixing rice, meatballs, and peas in a big metal skillet.

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!

  1. Thaw the meatballs if they are frozen (not necessary if you made homemade meatballs).
  2. Heat oil and saute the garlic for one minute.
  3. Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the beef broth, rice, garlic powder, pepper and salt; stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer with the lid on for 15-20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed. 
  6. Remove from the heat and season to taste.
  7. Stir in the peas, then add the green onions and parsley. Cover until the peas are warm, just a few minutes.
mixing rice, beef broth, seasonings, and meatballs in a skillet.

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

What is the trick to keeping meatballs together?

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. 

What is the secret to good meatballs?

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. 

What should meatballs be cooked to?

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

4.82 from 11 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Total: 40 minutes
Servings: 5 Servings
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! 


  • 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.


*As always, I used water and 3 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon.
Source: adapted from Mary Younkin’s book The Weeknight Dinner Cookbook


Serving: 1cup | Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 828mg | Potassium: 564mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 692IU | Vitamin C: 24mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 3mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Calories: 509
Keyword: Beef, meatballs, peas, rice
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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  1. I know this recipe was posted a long time ago, but I’ve been using it at least once a month forever…I just started sautéing white onions with the garlic at the beginning and it has amped this one up even further!! Great dinner!! Kids love it too!!

  2. 5 stars
    This recipe was a great inspiration!  I did alter it a bit because I needed to use up some items in the fridge.  I sautéed half a sweet yellow onion (chopped) and some sliced mushrooms while I was  searing the meatballs (I had mild Italian sausage meatballs fresh on hand).   I used mushroom flavoured better than bullion.  The boys LOVED IT.  

    1. Okay whaaat I did not even know they made mushroom flavored better than bouillon! That is awesome I need to check that out. Thanks so much for coming back to review Dawn, you are awesome! So glad you all enjoyed it :)

  3. I made this tonight and it is absolutely delicious ! It was easy to make and as someone said in another review – it tastes like fried rice with meatballs but with half the fuss. 
    I made your homemade meatballs recipe, so easy and so delicious.
    The one reviewer who said it sounds rather plain tasting – you really should try it, it is not at all plain, at all, it is truly yummy!!  I also read someone added sriracha sauce to it , not for me but I mentioned to my husband who likes some heat – he added sweet chili sauce on the side as we we don’t have sriracha at the moment – he loved it with or without .
    Deeeelicioua, Thankyou!

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