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Cheesy Italian Arancini Balls

Gooey, cheesy rice enclosed in golden crunchy crumb. Need we say anymore? Except try this delicious recipe for Cheesy Italian Arancini Balls!


Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Yield: 25 balls


Ingredients – Baked Risotto

  • ¼ cup hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (white, yellow, brown)
  • 1½ cups risotto rice (arborio)
  • ½ cup white wine (or substitute with broth/stock or water)
  • 3½ cups vegetable broth/stock
  • 1 cup milk


Ingredients – Rice Mixture

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 2½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, or 1½ tablespoons dried parsley (See Note 1)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pepper


Ingredients – Coating

  • ½ cup plain flour
  • ½ teaspoons salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil



  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F.
  2. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and onion and cook for five minutes until soft.
  3. 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.
  4. Add vegetable 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.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add rice mixture ingredients and mix to combine. Cover and transfer to refrigerator for at least three hours or preferably overnight.



  1. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl, eggs in another (lightly beaten) and panko in a third shallow bowl.
  2. Measure out a level (packed) ice cream scoop of rice mixture (about 2½ tablespoons) and roll into a ball (See Note 2).
  3. Roll in flour, then dredge in egg mixture, then coat in panko, pressing to coat (See Note 3). Repeat with remaining mixture.



  1. In a medium saucepan, pour in 1-inch / 2.5cm depth of oil and heat over medium high heat.
  2. Toss in a breadcrumb and if it starts sizzling immediately, the oil is hot enough.
  3. 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.
  4. Repeat with remaining balls.

To Serve

  1. Serve with Marinara Sauce (Optional – see Note 4) sprinkled with finely chopped fresh parsley if desired.

Recipe Notes

  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 tablespoons at a time) which will help absorb excess moisture and hold together.
  3. 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 tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan with ¼ cup of very finely chopped onion and one garlic clove, crushed. Cook over medium heat for two minutes, then add one cup of tomato passata (pureed canned tomatoes, also known as tomato sauce in America), ½ teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs (or sub with other herbs), pinch of chili flakes (optional), salt and pepper. Cook for ffive 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 200°C / 390°F oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  6. Some people like to stuff a cube of cheese in the middle.
  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 three days or freeze and thaw, then reheat in a hot oven 200°C / 390°F for 12 to 15 minutes until heated through and crunchy again.