Pan Fried Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Rice Balls are crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and stuffed with lots of melted cheese! What’s not to love?
For my last birthday, we went out to dinner at an adorably quaint Italian restaurant called Tony Spavone’s. Since the owner (Tony himself) likes to croon Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin songs to his patrons as they casually enjoy the Italian delicacies that come out of his traditional Italian kitchen, you can only imagine that the atmosphere is as fun and inviting, as the food is incredibly delicious.
We chose the arancini as our appetizer the night we visited Tony’s restaurant. Tony’s arancini made such an impression on me that I needed to recreate those wonderful fried rice balls as soon as possible in my Kudos Kitchen, and then bring them to you. Since I didn’t have Tony’s recipe to follow, I improvised as best I could. And since everyone loves melted cheese, I decided that adding a tiny bit of mozzarella cheese to the center of each crunchy, creamy rice ball would not be a bad thing. Because after all, who doesn’t love melted cheese?
While my recipe for Pan Fried Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Rice Balls (Arancini di Riso) with Marinara may not be authentically Italian, they are 100% authentically delicious! So much so that I would put them up against Tony’s arancini any day of the week. Ha! Ha! I can safely say that because I know it will never happen. LOL But, I’m ready if it ever does!
Here are the easy to follow step-by-step photo instructions for making Pan Fried Mozzarella Cheese Stuffed Rice Balls with Marinara. If you should have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them for you if you contact me, or leave a comment in comment section.
Rinse 1 cup of arborio rice several times under running water. Add 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock to a medium sauce pan and bring to a low simmer. Add the rinsed rice, cover, and continue simmering until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender (approximately 22-25 minutes)
Spread the cooked rice out onto a sheet tray to cool completely. If not making the arancini immediately, place the cooked and cooled rice into a container and refrigerate. Cut mozzarella cheese into fifteen 1″ cubes. Use water to keep hands wet (so the rice won’t stick to your hands and fingers) and place approximately 1½ tablespoons of cooled rice in the palm of your hand. Place a mozzarella cube in the center of the rice…
…and then gently encase the cheese into the rice by making a ball. Roll each ball into a panko breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the rice if necessary. Set the panko crumbed rice balls aside while you heat the oil for pan frying.
Heat approximately 1 cup canola oil (until the handle of a wooden spoon releases small bubbles when placed in the oil) in a large, high sided skillet. Carefully add the coated rice balls to the hot oil, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Pan fry the rice balls, turning as needed until they’re nicely golden brown. Remove the fried rice balls to paper towels to drain, and season with a sprinkling of salt. Serve hot with marinara sauce, grated Parmesan cheese (not shown) and freshly chopped basil, if desired.
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- 1 cup arborio rice
- 2 cups chicken or turkey stock beef or vegetable will work as well
- 1 teaspoon salt plus additional for seasoning after frying (if desired)
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 mozzarella string cheese cut into 1" pieces
- 1½ cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 cup canola oil or other light colored oil
- Parmesan cheese for garnish optional
- fresh basil leaves for garnish optional
- water to keep rice balls from being too sticky
Use a strainer to rinse the rice under running water several times before cooking.
Place the stock in a medium sauce pan along with the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer.
Add the rinsed rice and stir well. Cover and simmer an additional 20-25 minutes or until all the liquid has cooked away.
Spread the cooked rice on a baking sheet and allow to cool completely. Place the cooled rice in a covered container and refrigerate until ready to make the rice balls.
Heat the oil in a medium, high sided skillet until the oil shimmers and tiny bubbles form on the handle of a wooden spoon when placed in the oil.
Place the panko crumbs in a medium bowl.
Keep hands wet with water as you take approximately 1½ tablespoons of cooled rice in the palm of hand and flatten it.
Add a cheese cube to the center of the rice and then form the rice over the cheese to form a ball.
Add the rice balls to the panko crumbs and roll and press until the ball is covered in the crumbs.
Carefully add the panko coated balls to the hot oil and pan fry on all sides until golden (approximately 2-3 minutes).
Remove the fried rice balls to paper towels to drain and immediately sprinkle with additional salt, if desired.
Serve warm with Parmesan cheese, chopped fresh basil (optional) and marinara sauce for dipping.
Tools and equipment:
medium, high sided skillet
2 serving bowls, 1 medium and 1 small
These Arancini di Riso (a.k.a. Pan Fried Mozzarella Stuffed Rice Balls with Marinara) would make an amazing appetizer (as we had them the night we went out to dinner), or as a delicious side dish for almost any entrée. But, whichever way you choose to serve them, I know you’ll enjoy them as much as we do!
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Until we eat again, I hope you have a delicious day!
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