Mozzarella Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls) is a Sicilian delight. Homemade risotto balls are stuffed with mozzarella before being deep fried and served with warm tomato sauce. It’s the cheesy Italian appetizer you need in your life!Jump to Recipe
Mozzarella stuffed Sicilian rice balls
You can’t go wrong with Mozzarella Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls). Homemade risotto balls are stuffed with mozzarella cheese, covered in panko, then deep-fried to golden brown perfection. They’re a cheesy, crunchy, and delectable Italian appetizer you can serve for any special occasion!
Arancini, otherwise known as Sicilian rice balls, are made by rolling homemade chilled risotto into balls before being stuffed with cheese, meat, peas, or other vegetables. I chose to stuff this arancini recipe with mozzarella because it melts beautifully and is so crowd-pleasing. Once dredged in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs, deep fry the rice balls until they’re crispy and crunchy!
Serve this delicious cheese-stuffed snack with warm tomato sauce, like arrabbiata or marinara sauce, or Calabrian chili oil for dipping. Just like my air fryer artichoke hearts, mozzarella arancini is an irresistible snack that fits in at any occasion!
Tools you need for Arancini Balls Recipe
- Baking Sheet
- Parchement Paper
- Medium Pot
- Cutting Board
- Sharp Knife
- Measuring Spoons
- Measuring Cup
- Serving Dish
What is arancini made of?
- Risotto – The base of every arancini recipe comes from homemade risotto. Don’t be intimidated… making risotto from scratch is easier than you think! If you’d like to get some practice in before attempting this recipe, try my roasted butternut squash risotto or lemon risotto.
- Mozzarella – Once deep fried, the melted mozzarella stuffed in the middle of the rice balls becomes ooey gooey and gives the arancini its signature cheesy pull.
- Panko breadcrumbs – The rice balls are rolled in breadcrumbs before frying to help them turn out extra crunchy. If you don’t have panko, regular breadcrumbs work just as well.
- Vegetable oil – For frying.
- Arrabiata sauce – Serve this spicy tomato sauce on the side for dipping. Feel free to use warm marinara sauce or Calabrian chili oil instead.
How to make mozzarella arancini balls
These cheesy Italian arancini balls start with a homemade risotto and end in an ooey gooey deep fried snack. They’re a little more work than your average appetizer, but so worth the effort. Here’s how it’s done:
- Make the risotto.
Saute the shallots in a skillet with oil and butter. Toast the arborio rice in the pan before deglazing it with wine. Begin ladling the hot chicken stock into the pan ½ cup at a time until the rice has absorbed it all. To finish, take the risotto off of the heat and stir in the parmesan. Spread the finished risotto on a lined baking sheet and keep it in the fridge to cool.
- Stuff the arancini with mozzarella.
Cut the chilled risotto into squares and place a small piece of mozzarella on each one. Gently fold the rice over the cheese and place on a cookie sheet. Freeze the stuffed risotto balls for 10 minutes.
- Dredge in flour and panko.
Dip the frozen arancini balls in flour, whisked eggs, then the panko.
- Fry the rice balls.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pot until it reaches 350ºF. Deep fry each arancini ball until crisp and golden brown on all sides. Serve with warm arrabbiata sauce, sprinkle fresh basil on top, then enjoy!
How do you serve arancini?
Pass your cheesy arancini around the party when it’s hot out of the fryer. Don’t forget the warm tomato sauce on the side for dinner! If you’d rather enjoy them for dinner, serve the mozzarella stuffed rice balls next to a shaved zucchini salad and Caprese chicken.
Can you make arancini ahead of time?
Arancini is best served warm and freshly deep fried, which is why I don’t recommend making this recipe ahead of time. If you’d like to save some time, make the risotto 1 day ahead of time and keep it in an even layer on a baking sheet in the fridge.
Hungry for more Italian appetizers?
- Pizza Dough Focaccia Bread
- Cheesy Italian Meatball Sliders
- Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
- Peach Burrata Salad
Did you try this Mozzarella Arancini recipe? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below and giving this recipe a rating! Don’t forget to take a picture tag me on Instagram or use #lenaskitchenblog to be featured in my stories! I love seeing what you come up with!
Mozzarella Arancini (Fried Risotto Balls)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons shallots finely chopped
- 1 ½ cups arborio rice
- 4 cups low sodium chicken stock hot
- 2 ½ cups Parmesan cheese freshly grated
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 8 ounces fresh mozzarella log quartered if the log is sliced or cubed into 24 pieces
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs use regular or gluten-free
- 2 large eggs whisked
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup arrabbiata sauce (spicy marinara sauce) or regular marinara sauce warmed
- fresh basil chopped for serving
Make the Risotto
- Add the chicken stock to a medium saucepan and heat it up over medium-low heat. Keep it warm the whole time to add to the rice.
- In a skillet, add olive oil, butter, and chopped shallots. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Add the Arborio rice and cook for an additional 2 minutes, moving the rice to slightly toast and absorbing the fat.
- Deglaze the pan with the wine, if skipping wine, just add the same amount of stock instead. Stir the rice around to absorb the wine.
- Start adding ½ cup of hot stock at a time. Stir the rice the whole time until absorbed. Continue this until the stock is gone, ½ cup at a time. Should take about 18-20 minutes.
- Once the rice is cooked all the stock has been incorporated, remove from heat and add the parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and add the risotto. Spread it evenly on the sheet and cool for about 10 minutes before popping it on the fridge to completely cool? Should take about 45 minutes-1 hour to cook completely. (This can be done the night before.)
Make the Arancini Balls
- While the risotto is still on the baking sheet. Using a knife, cut the chilled risotto into 24 equal pieces.
- Add a piece of mozzarella cubes. If you buy a sliced mozzarella log, cut each slice into quarters.
- Gently fold to form and roll in your palms to form a round ball. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze for 10 minutes.
- Set up 3 stations for dredging. One bowl with flour mixed with 1 tablespoon of salt, one bowl with whisked eggs, one with panko crumbs.
- Add the Arancini balls into the flour, toss and shake off any excess flour, then add to the egg and gently move around to coat, lastly add to the panko and move around to coat. Add all the balls to a baking sheet to prepare to cook.
- Add enough oil to a medium-size pot or Dutch oven to reach at least 1-1 ½ inches up the side of the pan. Heat oil over medium heat until it reaches 350ºF (make sure it's not too hot or it will burn the panko really fast). Deep fry for 5-6 minutes. Gently flip them halfway to make sure they are cooked on all sides.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove to a paper towel lined plate to drain.
- Serve with warmed arrabiata or marinara sauce. Enjoy while warm.
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