Cheesy Italian Arancini Rice Balls - Sensational for making ahead!
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5 from 29 votes

Cheesy Italian Arancini Rice Balls

A classic Italian dish, I've made these bite size to be finger food but they are typically made larger to serve as a meal or appetiser! This makes 25 mini Arancini balls about the size of a golf ball. :) Great for making ahead - they keep in the fridge for 3 days, then just reheat at 350F/180C for 10 minutes!
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 25
Author: Nagi | RecipeTin Eats


Baked Risotto

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • 1 small onion , finely diced (white, yellow, brown)
  • 1 1/2 cups risotto rice (arborio)
  • 1/2 cup white wine (or substitute with broth/stock or water)
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 1 cup milk

Rice Mixture

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley , or 1 1/2 tbsp dried parsley (Note 1)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pepper


  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Cooking oil (I used vegetable oil)


  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F.
  • Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
  • Add rice and stir until grains turn translucent. Add wine and turn up the heat to medium high. Cook until liquid is mostly absorbed/evaporated.
  • Add chicken broth and milk. Stir, bring to simmer, cover, then transfer to oven. Baked, covered, for 30 to 40 minutes until all liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add Rice Mixture Ingredients and mix to combine. Cover and transfer to refrigerator for at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.


  • Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl, eggs in another (lightly beaten) and panko in a third shallow bowl.
  • Measure out a level (packed) ice cream scoop of rice mixture (about 2 1/2 tbsp) and roll into a ball. (Note 2)
  • Roll in flour, then dredge in egg mixture, then coat in panko, pressing to coat. (Note 3) Repeat with remaining mixture.


  • In a medium saucepan, pour in 1"/2.5cm depth of oil and heat over medium high heat.
  • Toss in a breadcrumb and if it starts sizzling immediately, the oil is hot enough.
  • Carefully transfer a few balls into the hot oil, using a spoon. Turn frequently so they cook golden evenly, and when they are a deep golden brown, remove onto a paper towel lined plate to drain.
  • Repeat with remaining balls.

To Serve

  • Serve with Marinara Sauce (optional) (Note 4) sprinkled with finely chopped fresh parsley if desired.


1. You can substitute with any other Italian-esque herbs or combination you want e.g. basil, thyme, oregano.
2. When the rice is refrigerated, it should become sticky and firm enough to roll into firm balls. If not, just add a wee bit of panko breadcrumbs (2 tbsp at a time) which will help absorb excess moisture and hold together.
3. I find the fastest way to do this is to measure the scoops out first into a baking tray, then roll them, then coat them in batches.
4. Quick Marinara Dipping Sauce - Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small saucepan with 1/4 cup of very finely chopped onion and 1 garlic clove, crushed. Cook over medium heat for 2 minutes, then add 1 cup of tomato passata (pureed canned tomatoes, also known as tomato sauce in America), 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp mixed Italian herbs (or sub with other herbs), pinch of chili flakes (optional), salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes until thick, remove from heat and allow to cool.
5. These can be baked, but the crumb is not quite the same deep golden brown, but it's still delicious! To bake, after rolling the balls, place them in the fridge for 20 minutes to firm them up again. Then coat in panko as per recipe, drizzle with oil OR generously spray with olive oil and baking in a 200C/390F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
6. I know some people like to stuff a cube of cheese in the middle. I used to but I don't anymore, ever since the hot cheese scorched my chin!
7. Make Ahead: Refrigerate overnight raw or freeze in airtight container. Then defrost and cook per recipe. Or cook per recipe then cool, then refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze and thaw, then reheat in a hot oven 200C/390F for 12 to 15 minutes until heated through and crunchy again.