A quick and easy recipe perfect to be served as a snack, quick bite, or a complete meal on its own, these Arancini Rice Balls are kicked up a notch with fantastic seasonings and stuffed with smoked mozzarella. And the homemade pesto ranch dipping sauce gives it an added boost of creaminess.
What is Arancini?
Arancini originated in the 10th century from a food culture born of Sicilian roots with an Arabian influence. In English, Arancini means “little orange,” derived mainly because of its shape and color once fried. Traditionally, they are made by taking a palm-sized amount of risotto (rice cooked in broth and other ingredients), stuffing it with mozzetta, rolling it into a small ball, coating it in breadcrumbs, deep-frying, and serving them with a side of tomato/marinara sauce.
Although I kept my rice balls recipe fairly simple by adding just a few herbs, this recipe is quite versatile. Stuffing your rice balls with other veggies (like peas) and even meat can quickly turn this into a completely new dish.
Ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:
- I have used both long grain and Jasmin rice in this recipe. This texture is fluffy and tender yet combines well with the other ingredients to ensure your rice balls don’t fall apart. The rice is combined with chicken stock and parmesan, giving it that creamy “risotto” texture along with eggs.
- The seasonings are a huge part of this recipe. Because the ingredient list is simple, this is where the recipe shines. Combining paprika, sage, basil flakes, oregano, ground nutmeg, ground ginger, salt, and black pepper, along with fresh cilantro, adds tons of flavor and a nice fragrant aroma.
- The core of this recipe, literally and figuratively — is the smoked mozzarella. I chose smoked mozzarella because of its texture and flavor. It has a soft, silky, and natural milky flavor that will have you eating these rice balls non-stop. The added smokiness seals the deal.
- The rice balls are rolled in a mixture of Italian breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese. You get a slight crunch and a hint of sharp cheesy flavor right before hitting the extra cheesy center.
- Normally, Arancini is paired with a marinara dipping sauce. I wanted to try something a little different so I whipped up a Ranch Pesto dipping sauce instead. The sauce is made by combining ranch dressing, basil pesto (pre-made), lemon juice, oregano, and black pepper. This is very easy to put together, and once you dip your rice ball into this sauce, you will understand why my family loves it.
A few tips when making Arancini:
Tips & Tricks
- Once your rice balls are stuffed and rolled, you’ll want to allow them to cool in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This gives the balls time to set before coating them in the breadcrumbs and makes it easier to maintain their shape.
- Chicken stock is the most versatile for arancini, but you can also use vegetable stock.
- Add a little extra water to the palm of your hand as you prepare to roll each ball of rice. Note: The rice mixture itself should be “wet” and not dry. If you find your rice is dry, add a little more chicken stock to reach the desired consistency.
- Combing two types of breadcrumbs or solely using panko bread crumbs results in a lighter crunch since panko absorbs less oil. I combine the two for the best of both worlds, but if you can only choose one, go with panko bread crumbs.
- When deep-frying your arancini, the oil should cover most (if not all) of the rice ball. You want to rice ball to be submerged enough, so they are cooked evenly on all sides.
Can I make Arancini ahead of time?
You sure can! Arancini can be made up to 3 days in advance. However, I would wait to fry and reheat them later. I would prepare them (uncooked) and store them in the fridge. When you are ready to serve them, fry them at that time so they are fresh and crispy. If you have leftovers, you can follow the same method, but instead of re-frying them, you would put them in the oven for 15 minutes.
When you want to create something unique for your next game night, family gathering, or just dinner with the family, give these stuffed rice balls a spot on your dinner table!
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