Arancini – Rice Balls ( better for you version )

30 Aug

My Grandma is a chocolate addict, it’s pretty much the only thing she enjoys eating and will leave meals untouched to live off jumbo Hershey bars instead. At any point in the day you can visit her and she’ll complain she hasn’t had any in days, meanwhile there are visible chocolate stains on her shirt where some crumbs have melted. There have even been times where she has fallen and not called anyone for days because she doesn’t want to bother us, yet I have received many “emergency” calls concerning a lack of chocolate in the house. All though I share Grandma’s love of chocolate, and often sneak her some wheneverI can, I would like her to eat some real food too. I have recently discovered that she LOVES Arancini or rice balls. Normally a rice ball is nothing more than a ball of white rice, some meat and cheese perhaps, that has been breaded and deep-fried. Since this isn’t the nutritious meal I’m looking for Grandma, or me for that matter, I decided to try my hand at making  a home-made healthier version. She loved it, so did everyone else in my house, and I can sleep well knowing there is something besides a candy bar in Grandma’s belly.  

Arancini – Rice Balls original recipe

Rice mixture:

  • 6-8 cups cooked organic brown rice
  • 1/2 -1 cup  pecorino romano or parmesan cheese – grated
  • 1/2  – 1 cup part skim organic mozzarella cheese – shredded
  • 1-2 cups homemade marinara sauce, plus additional sauce for serving
  • 1 egg – beaten

Filling : (cooked ground meat can also be added )

  • 3/4 cup part skim organic mozzarella cheese – cubed
  • 1 cup organic peas – defrosted

For Breading:

  • 4 eggs – beaten
  • 1-2 cups dry breadcrumbs
  • 1-2 cups all-purpose flour
  • olive oil cooking spray


Combine warm rice and about 1 cup of  sauce and the shredded and grated cheese in a bowl.  Taste mixture and adjust the flavor to your liking with salt and pepper and more cheese/ sauce if necessary. If it’s not delicious at this point it’s not going to get any better in the oven so make it taste great! When you are satisfied with the flavor add in 1 beaten egg and mix all together. 

Set up a breading station with a bowl for the  flour,  eggs and breadcrumbs. Season each with salt and pepper. Get you peas and cubed mozzarella ready. 


To form the rice balls pick up about a handful of rice in your palm and make an indention in the center. Sneak in a few peas and a cube of mozzarella. Seal up the ball with rice around the center filling. Continue making rice balls with remaining mixture.  Yield will depend on the size you make them, I had about 15.  


Breading these gets messy, I have found that the following procedure works best. 

First flour all of the rice balls and line them up. 

With one hand, dip them into the egg and drop them into the breadcrumbs.   

With the other dry clean hand, roll and press the breadcrumbs into the rice ball and remove. 

Place breaded rice balls onto a greased baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour. 


Spray each rice ball completely with olive oil spray.  

Remember: We are not deep-frying these so it is important that they be coated with oil in order to brown in the oven.  

Bake at 350 degrees until deep golden brown. Serve with remaining marinara sauce.  


6 Responses to “Arancini – Rice Balls ( better for you version )”

  1. Karen August 30, 2010 at 2:40 am #

    Hi–What a coincidence, I had a rice ball today at a picnic at the lake. They weren’t the greatest–too salty. I bet yours are better! : )

  2. Erin from Long Island August 30, 2010 at 3:14 am #

    These look great ! I love how easy and clean they are compared to the normal version and how versatile they can be since I am not one to worry about being traditional. If I use leftover rice, should I warm it up first? Maybe with a touch of water?

    • lemreg August 30, 2010 at 10:15 am #

      I think it would be good to heat it up, with a little water perhaps, so its nice and moist and holds together. You know how rice tends to get hard and separate in the refrigerator, and that would make making them into balls even harder. Also the egg helps. Good luck – come back and tell us if you do any interesting variations!

  3. annblam August 30, 2010 at 5:34 pm #

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU….finally a really good way to make something not so good for you great tasting…
    loved this recipe

    • lemreg August 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm #

      Thought of while making this actually – are you doing brown rice? BTW obsessed with your almond butter and raspberry sandwiches! I also bought organic raspberry spread sweetened with grape juice from traders joes, it was great with that too. Glad you like the recipe – I made a whole bunch thinking I would freeze them but they went to quick! Gotta make another batch!

  4. Loretta August 31, 2010 at 9:27 pm #

    These were great, took them on a camping trip and heated them in a pan with a little olive oil, browned on each side and covered the pot, lowered the flame and just heated them for a while. Served with tomato sauce. They were delicious. Thought I would be saving some as left overs but there were none, they all went.
    Another good one!

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