Arancini: Italian Rice Balls
You all may remember back when I made pizzelles earlier this summer that I had found the recipe in a book, Always on Sunday, written about Italian family traditions. As it turns out, the author’s daughter came across her mom’s recipe here on Brown Eyed Baker, shared it with her mom, who then emailed me to see if she could send me a copy of her book and the new accompanying cookbook that she just had printed. I was so excited to hear from her and imagine my surprise when we realized that we lived ten minutes from each other! Instead of shipping the books we decided to meet at a local Starbucks to chit chat. Marcia is such a lovely woman who is passionate about cooking and wanting to share her heritage with others. She was so kind in giving me signed copies of her books and we enjoyed a great visit about cooking, baking, and Italian families.
These rice balls are from her new cookbook (not yet for sale), which I served with leftover sauce from the Eggplant Lasagna Tart. While Arancini are traditionally deep fried, I decided to go a healthier route and bake these at a high temperature instead of frying them. If you prefer frying, just fill a deep skillet with about 2 inches of oil, heat to 350 degrees, and fry in batches until golden brown. I thought these rice balls turned out fabulous, and the bit of cheese inside melts for a fabulous surprise when you bite into them. And because no Italian meal that includes sauce is complete without a great piece of fresh Italian bread to sop up the leftovers, I’ll give another local plug – Mazziotti’s Bread (from Arnold, PA) is back making bread again, so if you’re in the Pittsburgh area check to see if your local grocery store is stocking it! I’ve been sopping up a lot of sauce, eating bread and butter, and bologna sandwiches with it. Mmmm…
One year ago: Black-and-White Banana Loaf
Two years ago: Chicken Spread
Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups (316 g) cooked rice
- 4 oz. (113.4 g) mozzarella cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
- ¾ cup (90 g) seasoned bread crumbs
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- 2. Beat eggs lightly with fork. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly.
- 3. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle and then top with another tablespoon of rice. Shape into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice mixture.
- 4. Refrigerate pan of rice balls for at least 30 minutes.
- 5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over rice balls.
- 6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
Did you make this recipe?
Leave a review below, then snap a picture and tag @thebrowneyedbaker on Instagram so I can see it!
i used already cooked bsmati rice. i don’t know if it was too dry, but it was like putting a haystack on the cookie sheet also i weighed 4 oz of cheese, meticulously cut up in l/2 in blocks, and ended up with about 40 blocks, but not enough rice to cover them. so i just stuffed them in with the others all in all i think this is going to be a tasty disaster. they are in the oven now. maybe i’ll just mash them all down into a sheet and cut them up. i think the rice being too dry is a factor. burt the amount of cheese cubes was not. stay tuned
I just made these for lunch today and they were great! I added some finely chopped broccoli to the rice and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. Instead of using regular mozzarella, I cut up two sticks of low fat mozzarella string cheese into bite sized pieces. They came out so lovely, I didn’t even dip them in the marinara sauce! I’ll definitely be making this recipe again! Thanks!
Made these today. They are delicious. Planning to make them for Thanksgiving also!
Yum! I’m planning on making a big batch of these, but want to make them in advance for a birthday party. Does anyone know/has tried cooking, freezing then re-heating? Thank you. Becky
Hi Becky, I haven’t tried freezing these; hopefully another reader can give you an idea of how well they hold up!
Well that’s appetizing! I like the history of the recipe too!
Once again I am trying one of your Italian recipes, I don’t know if maybe rice here in Ecuador is different, but just like Brian from one of the last posts, I was unable to shape the rice into a ball, it just fell apart and when rolling in the breadcumbs it was even worse… I had to kind of throw the rice “ball” on the pan and try to give it a shape.
Do you think maybe I should put one less egg in the mixture? I’m thinking maybe it was too liquid and that’s why it did not hold together.
Anyway I ended up just putting the whole mixture in an oven plate and making one whole dish out of it because it was just impossible the other way! For next time, do you have a tip????
Hi Maria, Next time, if the rice is too soft, I would decrease the egg.
Just made these, came out awesome. A tip…. we put on gloves and sprayed them with cooking spray so the rice wouldn’t stick. You may not need to wear the gloves, but definitely spray your hands.
Not so sure about the “roll in breadcrumbs” part, there was no rolling happening for me…more like “slop them into the general form of a ball in one hand and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top using the other hand and then slop them into more of a ball and quickly drop them onto the pan before they fall apart” :) But as soon as they’re refrigerated and then baked, they’re balls alright…
But they were delicious. I made a few variations, in some I put raw cheddar and cream cheese and in others I put feta and and cream cheese…you could put just about any kind of cheese in there
I also didn’t have seasoned breadcrumbs so I made my own and just put italian spices, garlic powder, pink himalayan salt into panko breadcrumbs and it was fantastic
Next time, I use Risotto. I used white jasmine rice.
Thanks! Big fan of your site.
Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe!! My Italian grandmother used to make rice balls all the time, but I never got her recipe before she passed away. My mom doesn’t have it either. I just made some last night but I used leftover risotto instead. Total yumminess!!! Thanks again, and I’ve put that book on my wish list! :)
I just made these. The making was a bit goopy, but totally manageable. That said, they turned out beautifully-even with my using my leftover brown rice with peas/onions.
I haven’t seen any other post-making-them reviews on here, so I thought I’d leave one!
~M in Austin
this recipe sounds fantastic, and imagine my surprise when I read your local plug for Mazziotti’s in Arnold, PA! I have been eating their bread my whole life!
I can’t wait to try this recipe out, as well as using some local italian bread to sop up the sauce.
Thank you for this non-fried version!
i’m bringing these little morsels to a NYE party and I need it to be easy for the host to know what to do with it haha!
I think i’m going to add parmesan cheese to my rice mixture but this is incredible thank you so much!
(the pizzaria i worked at for 8 years used to add peas to theirs… i don’t know if that’s needed.)
Love! Love! Love! They look fabulous. The best part of the post is about the recipe history. How cool is that! I say it all the time. The best thing about food blogging is the people that you get to meet!
I really dont understand why everyone keppts saying “awesome, gluten free!” it not gluten free.. calls for bread crumbs. duh read the recipe!
My take is that since they are gluten free household, they must have gluten free bread to get bread crumbs from.
Marcia, you’re famous already. I want one of your books. They look so very good.
This looks delicious! I’m definitely making it this week, despite the summer heat.
This looks fantastic! I think I will have to try these at my boyfriend’s birthday party. Thanks!
Gosh, we cook a lot alike..lol…I love “rice balls” my kids love them more..we put pea’s in the center with a touch of sauce…these are incredible the second day!! Thanks for sharing such great recipes, I really enjoy your posts!!
I am always looking for gluten free recipes for my husband and I hope to try this, this week. I have a feeling, it will become a regular on our menu, if it tastes even half as good as it looks.
Those look AMAZING!
Marcia – Thanks so much for the suggestion! A creamy mushroom sauce sounds like it would be fabulous with these!
BTW…these are great served with the traditional tomato sauce, but are exceptional served with a creamy porcini mushroom sauce.
Ooooh the wonders of Arancini, delicious and so good! I also love the idea of baking in a hot oven instead of frying.
oh wow…does that look good!
I love making these in the winter. I think I would sweat to death if I made them now. Yours are absolutely perfect.
My mom makes something similar called suplee. She would make her “rice in the oven” recipe, arboria rice combined with red meat sauce, pour it into a lasagna pan and mix in shredded mozzarella then bake it in the oven. That alone is delicous but we would look forward to what she did with the leftovers! She would make rice balls out of the leftover rice and add a cube of mozzarella in the middle, roll the rice balls in bread crumbs then lightly fry them. One word…HEAVEN!!
When I was in college I had a friend that would make these Suplees. His rice was also made with a tomato base, and he put a square of mozzarella in the middle. This is the first recipe I’ve found for anything similar. I’m so excited to try them!
These look fabulous! I emailed this post to my husband and hopefully we’ll be having these soon! :)
I saw a recipe for Arancini in a magazine and have been lusting after them ever since. Yours look absolutely perfect and even better than what I saw :)
sounds like my type of dish!!!
So simple and hearty! I’ve never heard of this Italian dish so thanks for showing me something new.
These look so good! Easy too!
Those look so yummy, and lucky you getting to meet the author and recieve signed books!!
What a great story of getting to meet this lady. These look delicious!
Yum – love this! I could eat way, way to many cheesy rice balls.
Wow, these look incredible!
And it’s so cool that you two live so close!
Food has a way of bringing people together :0)
Now I’m wishing I was back in Italy enjoying one of these tasty treats from the many street vendors…
Arancini are pretty much my dream food… I haven’t had them since I lived in NYC years ago. Glad to see a non-fried version, I’m adding this to my to-do list! Aren’t blog/small-world coincidences the best? I had something very similar happen to me recently with my wedding dress. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy :)
Oh, I like this recipe. It’s different from what I usually make. I’ll give these a try!
Tara – I actually used brown rice because I had a bunch leftover, but I think white rice would be standard, and risotto even better!
looks great! did you use just standard white rice? i love the idea of using leftover risotto, i usually just use my leftovers to make riso al salto but this looks also delish!
Mmm, they look fabulous and I loved that you baked them!
That’s = thanks. Sorry about that.
That’s for the baking tip. I’ll have to try it. I love making Arancini but I use left over risotto. The risotto and little cube of mozzarella cheese makes the balls incredibly creamy. If you haven’t tried Arancini with risotto, you must make it. You’ll love it.
Ooo – These look amazingly delicious! Not to mention simple, and easily gluten free, awesome =D.
This is sooo cool! I’m definitely going to try the rice balls and get a copy of the book. How awesome that she found you!