Leftover Rice? Make Arancini, Little Crispy Rice Balls From Heaven

Note: This article may contain commentary or the author's opinion.

Just the other day we found ourselves with a surplus of rice as my husband asked the Chinese restaurant for two containers of rice, not realizing that the entrees he had selected for take-out each came with rice. In researching “what to do with a bumper crop of cooked rice” I stumbled across a recipe for arancini, the crispy stuffed fried rice balls that feature in Sicilian cuisine, and found I had all of the necessary ingredients to make them that night.

As I was preparing the rice balls I found I had to wet my hands to help the rice and eggs adhere together. And I was a little low on cooking oil (I used soybean oil) so next time I will be sure to buy the larger container because you need at least 3 inches of oil for the balls to fry evenly. But I made do by keeping an eye on the balls in the hot oil, and using a pair of tongs to turn them over so all surfaces were fried.

And boy were they delicious! And such a hit! I served the arancini with some heated jarred marina sauce and sprinkled some fresh basil on top and beamed as my husband sang my culinary praises.

There is not much adaption to The Nerdy Gourmet’s recipe below, other than I used 3 eggs instead of 2 in the breading step and I felt that two would not be enough eggs to cover the 14 balls.


  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Mixing bowls
  • Fork
  • Cooking thermometer
  • Pan with high side for frying
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Paper towels
  • Large Plate


  • 2 cups rice leftover, chilled
  • 1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup parmesan, grated
  • 3 oz fresh mozzarella cheese cut into 1/2″ cubes

For the breading:

  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tbsp water
  • vegetable oil for frying

Optional ingredients for serving:

  • marinara sauce
  • basil leaves, ribboned


  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment and setting it close to your workstation.
  2. In a bowl mix together the rice, 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, egg, and parmesan.
  3. Using 1/4 cup of the rice mixture, roll into a rough ball then poke your finger in to make a depression. Place a cube of mozzarella cheese in the hole, then close the rice around the cheese then roll into a ball again, cupping your hands. Wetting your hands will help the balls come together.
  4. Place balls on the prepared baking sheet and repeat until all the rice mixture has been used.
  5. Freeze the rice balls for 10 minutes. This will help them set before you add the breading.
  6. Fill a medium-sized saucepan with 3 inches of oil. Insert the cooking thermometer and begin to heat over a medium temperature.
  7. While the oil is heating prepare the breading. You will need three medium-sized bowls.
  8. In the first bowl, mix the flour and salt and pepper.
  9. In the second bowl, mix the eggs and 1 tablespoon of water.
  10. Place the breadcrumbs in the third bowl.
  11. Remove the rice balls from the freezer.
  12. Take a rice ball, roll it in the flour bowl then tap it to remove any excess flour. Proceed to dip it into the egg bowl making sure the entire surface is covered. Remove with a fork, letting any extra egg drip off before placing it in the breadcrumb bowl. Roll the ball making sure it is completely covered in breadcrumbs then gently pat the ball. This will prevent the breadcrumbs from being loose and falling off. Place the breaded rice ball back onto the baking sheet and repeat with the rest.
  13. Line a large plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it aside.
  14. Once the oil reaches 350°F you can begin to cook. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower each rice ball into the oil, 5 at a time. Fry until dark golden brown.
  15. Remove the rice balls with a slotted spoon and set them on the paper towel-lined plate. Repeat.
  16. Serve immediately with marinara sauce on the side and a sprinkle of ribboned basil on top.

You can watch a video on how to make arancini here.


If you are serving two people you will most likely have leftovers. The arancini can be reheated in a 400°F oven. Simply place the balls on a baking sheet and reheat for 5-10 minutes.

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