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Cheese-stuffed arancini with spicy marinara sauce

Creamy rice is stuffed with mozzarella cubes and fried to crispy perfection in this pure comfort food appetizer.

Arancini with spicy marinara sauce°

When you grow up in the suburbs of New York City, there seemed to be an Italian deli on every corner. Sausages hanging in the window, fresh mozzarella on the counter and bread baked that morning straight from Little Italy in the Bronx. Then, of course, you had the prepared antipasto behind the glass display. My parents never bought the prepared foods (we did that ourselves at home) and so I never actually got to taste one of the enormous fried rice balls calling my name behind the glass.

Arancini with spicy marinara sauce

Twenty-something years later, and I decided it was time I made my own. The Italians got it right with these. Creamy rice, stuffed with fresh mozzarella, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried to perfection. They’re crispy on the outside, warm and gooey on the inside and worth every splatter of oil on your counter.

Cheese-stuffed arancini with spicy marinara sauce recipe

Yields 10


For the arancini

  • 2 cup cooked “sushi” rice (the extra gluten in sushi rice helps the rice stick together in these balls)
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 (1/2 inch) cubes fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
  • Canola oil for frying

For the marinara sauce

  • 1/2 cup favorite jarred marinara sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley


  1. In a medium saucepot, pour enough canola oil so that it’s about 4-5 inches high in the pot. Heat over medium heat.
  2. While the oil heats up, combine the rice, 1 egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix together until fully incorporated.
  3. Whisk together the remaining egg with the milk in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley and more salt and pepper to taste in a shallow dish. Mix together with your fingers.
  5. With wet hands, roll about 1/4 cup of the rice mixture into a ball in your hands. Insert 1 mozzarella cube into the middle and reshape the rice around the mozzarella so it’s fully encapsulated.
  6. Dip the rice ball into the egg mixture, coating the entire surface.
  7. Shake off any excess egg and roll in the breadcrumb mixture. Set aside and repeat with the remaining rice.
  8. Once the oil is hot (about 350 degrees F), place 2-3 rice balls into the oil at a time, frying about 2 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy.
  9. Transfer the fried balls to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with the remaining rice balls.
  10. To make the sauce, simply stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl.
  11. Serve the arancini warm, fresh out of the frying oil, with the marinara.

More rice recipes

Quinoa veggie “fried” rice
Chorizo rice with tomatoes
Rustic rice pilaf

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