Baked Rice Balls

Saturday, February 8, 2020
These delicious baked meatless rice balls are the perfect appetizer or side dish any day of the week especially served with my favorite marinara sauce to dip them in!

We loved them baked or air fried but Grandma and Mom always fried these in oil.

Whenever Mom and Grandma had rice leftover from a previous meal during the week, they always turned the rice into fried rice balls!

We love rice and often had leftover Beans and Rice, Italian Sauce Rice and even Fried Rice.

Often she added leftover meats also, which I also include in this recipe card below.

Arancini is a classic Italian dish we all love!

Scroll down to the printable recipe card and don't forget to read the options you can add to your rice balls!

These are baked rice balls and Italian classic appetizer or side dish. They are on a glass plate sprinkled with freshly chopped parsley

Cooking Rice Balls

First of all, these rice balls were always fried in our home, I decided to adjust the recipe with air frying and baking them for a healthier version.

If you would like to fry them, just whip out a cast-iron skillet and fry in around 1 inch of oil.

My grandmother, Victoria who lived with us also did this basic recipe with mashed potatoes!

In an Italian family that went through depression years, you would have to go to confession for throwing out or wasting food, it was a Catholic sin.

These little rice balls ended up being one of the tastiest anytime appetizers we ever had.

this is baked arancini balls which are rice balls

The Differences between Mom's and Grandma's Rice Balls

Mom's always added the sauce to hers, Grandma didn't, we loved both, but Dad spent a lot of time recreating his mom's version.

After Grandma passed away at 94, my dad spent hours trying to remaster her recipe, trying all kinds of ingredients.

Then trying the simplest ingredients worked, it was perfect.

This is one of the recipes I am so glad I watched him make and now finally getting around to writing it down to share.

these are rice balls on a baking sheet ready to be baked drizzled with olive oil

Ingredients You Will Need To Make Baked Rice Balls

scroll down to the recipe card for exact measurements

  • cooked white rice or use risotto (I always use leftover rice arborio )
  • freshly chopped parsley
  • grated cheese
  • shredded mozzarella or Italian blended shredded cheese
  • egg
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs to hold together
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for rolling or use Panko
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  • garlic granulated
  • fresh garlic
  • olive oil
  • Optional: diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Garnish:
  • marinara sauce for dipping

This is the mixture for making rice balls and shaping them into balls on an oil sprayed cookie sheet

Suggestions and Additions

  • Any kinds cooked white rice
  • Use any leftover chopped meats
  • Add tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
  • Add any kind of cheese you like
  • Use Italian flavored bread crumbs or Panko
  • Add hot chopped peppers
  • Season with dried or fresh herbs
  • Sprinkle the tops before baking with more granulated garlic powder
  • Diabetics substitutions for rice: quinoa.farro,wheat berries,barley,beans,lentils,peas.

this is white rice in a black dish

Tips Making Rice Balls

  1. Always use cooked rice
  2. Use rice that is cold
  3. Add more bread crumbs if the mixture is runny, it should be the consistency of a meatball mixture
  4. Fry, baked or air fry
  5. For baking always oil spray parchment paper or foil
  6. If using an air fryer, place on oil sprayed foil for easy flipping

these are rice balls all baked on a cookie sheet

Pin for later Baked Rice Balls

this is a pin for later for making rice balls and the recipe

More Recipes We Love

Baked Parmesan Potato Wedges
Rice and Beans 
Panzanella Salad
Almondine Rice

baked rice balls on an oil piece of foil cookie sheet

Baked Rice Balls

Whichever way you make rice balls, they are a healthier alternative for snacking on baked.

We love them baked and air fried, of course, we grew up on fried rice balls, just pick the method you prefer, they are all in the recipe card below.

Let me know how you like Grandma's and Mom's recipe in the comments, thanks for stopping by today.

baked meatless rice balls, rice balls baked, arancini balls baked, Italian rice balls baked, rice balls baked with cheese and meat
rice recipes, Italian recipes, baked vegetables, Italian appetizers
Yield: 12

Baked Rice Balls

Baked Rice Balls

prep time: 15 Mcook time: 11 Mtotal time: 26 M
A favorite recipe for rice balls made with leftover rice, garlic-flavored oil, and some optional additions then baked or air fried until the bread crumbs are crispy. A delightful side dish or appetizer from What's Cookin Italian Style


  • 2 cups cooked white rice or use risotto (I always use leftover rice arborio )
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella or Italian blended shredded cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs to hold together
  • Italian seasoned breadcrumbs for rolling or use Panko
  • salt, pepper, cayenne to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic granulated
  • fresh garlic 1 clove
  • olive oil
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons diced tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • Optional Meat Version:  add 1 cup cooked seasoned ground sirloin or any chopped leftover meat you have from previous meals ( sauteed the ground sirloin  first with 1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley, 2 tablespoons freshly chopped garlic salt, and pepper)
  • Garnish:
  • 1 cup marinara sauce for dipping


How to cook Baked Rice Balls

  1. In a small fry pan saute the garlic in 3 tablespoons of oil till light brown, around 2 minutes. Add meat is using. 
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the rice, parsley, egg, sauce, cheeses, garlic, salt, pepper, tomato sauce or diced tomatoes and cayenne if using.
  3. Pour in the flavored garlic oil with the garlic to that mixture.
  4. Mold into meatballs and roll into Italian seasoned bread crumbs ( I also like to add around another tablespoon of grated cheese into the bread crumbs). 
  5. I use an ice cream medium size scoop to drop them on the baking sheet.
  6. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil sprayed with oil.
  7. Drizzle tops lightly with a good grade olive oil.
  8. Bake in 400 degrees preheated hot oven for 15 minutes and turn them.
  9. Cook until browned and crispy on top around 35 minutes or how you like them.
  10. Air Fryer Version:
  11. Place these on an oil sprayed piece of foil laying on top of the basket part of your air fryer.
  12. Set to 400 degrees for 10 minutes, check them to see if they are crispy.
  13. Continue to cook every 5 minutes checking to see if they are browned and crispy.
  14. Fried Version:
  15. Heat 1 inch of oil in a heavy style fry pan like cast iron.
  16. When the oil is heated, fry each flipping once, drain on paper towels.
  17. Serve with marinara sauce.
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Pin for later Baked Rice Balls

a pin for making baked rice balls

Don't Forget To Try Some Of Our Other Favorite Recipes:

Cheesy Potato Croquettes Baked
Antipasto Salad Sandwich
Panzerotti (fried pizza recipe)
Panko Roasted Eggplant
Zucchini Pizza
Zucchini Cupcake Appetizer

Check Out My Youtube Channel Here is Bake Rice Balls

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2015. It was edited and re-published in 2020.

1 comment

  1. These rice balls look terrific! I could pop quite a few of these in my mouth in one sitting :)


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