Gooey, mozzarella stuffed arancini are the PERFECT use for leftover risotto. Just form into balls, coat in breadcrumbs and fry until gorgeously golden and crispy. Fab for parties, the holidays or as a crowd-pleasing, kid-friendly appetizer.
Whenever I’m making risotto, I always make sure I make just a little more than I need. That’s because I want to make arancini the next day!
Arancini are a traditional Sicilian snack and they are unbelievably delicious. They’re essentially deep-fried rice balls and are the BEST thing to do with any leftover risotto you might have. I love stuffing them with a little bit of mozzarella for a cheesy surprise, but you can make them plain too.
Even if someone isn’t a fan of risotto, I bet they’ll be a fan of arancini. My boyfriend doesn’t like risotto (which is sad for me because it means I end up making it less than I’d like) but he LOVES arancini. Which makes no sense to me, but there we are.
The arancini pictured were made using leftovers of my creamy tomato and mascarpone risotto which I HIGHLY recommend giving a go. But, I’ve also included a simple risotto in the recipe below, in case you’re making your risotto fresh for your arancini. Or, for a fun festive twist, use this butternut squash risotto as your base and swap mozzarella for brie.
Why you’ll love them
- Zero waste – use up your risotto leftovers in a new, fun way.
- They’re easy to make, with minimal ingredients.
- They’re gooey, creamy and crunchy all in one bite!
- Perfect crowd-pleasing party food for the holidays or game day.
All you need is leftover risotto, plain flour, an egg, breadcrumbs, mozzarella and oil. I’ve given you a simple risotto recipe in the recipe card below if you’re starting from scratch with the arancini, otherwise, that’s it!
How to make them
If you’re making risotto, start there, making sure you’re spreading the cooked risotto out onto a lined oven tray once it’s finished. This will help it cool quickly and evenly.
PRO TIP: I like to pop this in the freezer for about 30 minutes to cool it quickly.
Once you’re ready with your cooled risotto, get three bowls out and put your flour, egg and breadcrumbs in each. Give the egg a quick mix with a fork. Get another plate ready to put your formed arancini on. Scoop up a couple of tablespoons of cooled risotto into your hands, then place a mozzarella piece in the middle of the risotto. Form the risotto around the mozzarella and shape it into a ball, about the size of a golf ball. Set aside on the plate and continue with the rest of the risotto and mozzarella.
Pick up an arancini ball and place it in the bowl with the flour. Give it a little toss through, so that every side is lightly coated. Dunk the floured ball in the egg mixture, again coating all sides. Finish by tossing the arancini ball in the breadcrumbs, making sure it’s completely coated. Set aside on your plate and continue with the rest.
PRO TIP: To keep this less messy – use one hand to toss the arancini in the flour and breadcrumbs, and the other to toss it in the wet egg mix (basically using one hand for the dry ingredients and one for the wet). Alternatively, you can use disposable gloves.
Heat your oil in a large pot (you want the oil to come at least 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pot). You want the oil to hit 180C/360F – this is the perfect temperature for the arancini to cook evenly. If it’s too cold, they won’t crisp up and will go soggy, and if it’s too hot, the coating will burn before the inside is heated and the cheese is melted.
If you have a thermometer, that’s your friend here, otherwise, you can do the wooden spoon test. Stick the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and if the oil bubbles up against it, it’s good to go.
Place a few arancini into the hot oil, carefully, and cook for about 5 minutes, turning with a spatula or wooden spot occasionally. You’re looking for them to be golden and crispy all over. At this point, scoop them out of the oil and place them on a wire rack while you continue with the rest of the arancini. Serve them while hot, oozy and crispy. I’m serving these with a little garlic aioli and basil pesto.
Got a question?
The best and most accurate way is to use a thermometer. You want the oil to be at 180C/360F when you add the arancini. If you don’t have a thermometer, use a wooden spoon. Place the handle upright in your oil-filled pot – if little bubbles start to pool around the handle, it’s good to go.
You can form and coat the arancini up to a day ahead of time. Just store them in an airtight container in the fridge until you want to fry them.
Fried arancini will keep well for 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge – you can reheat them in the oven at 180C/360F fan for 15 minutes.
You can! They won’t be quite as crispy but it will work. Heat your oven to 200C/390F fan and drizzle a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over the arancini on a lined oven tray, or on a wire rack set over an oven tray for a crispier result. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until they’re looking golden.
Yes, you can. Just like with the oven – drizzle with olive oil then pop in the air fryer for 10 minutes.
Make sure you’ve coated them really well in the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. If you see any rice sticking out, cover it! I also find it helps to pop them in the fridge for 10 minutes or so after you’ve coated them just so they firm up a little.