Baked Mozzarella-Stuffed Arancini for Sunday Night Dinners

This recipe for baked arancini where leftover risotto is stuffed with fresh mozzarella balls, herbs, and bacon, breaded and baked is a meal you’ll be happy to invite your family over to enjoy with you.

Sunday dinners worked like clockwork when I was growing up. They were spent at my grandparents’ home, wrestling on the floor with my uncle, eating black olives off our fingers, and for me, silently sitting in the kitchen watching my grandma fuss over the meal. Her hair would be pulled back under a triangle cloth; my babushka wearing her babushka. Smells of roasting meats and simmering sauces would float around the house, catching under our nose and promising we’d all be stuffed soon enough.

I can close my eyes and instantly be filled with the memories of Sunday dinners at grandma’s house, but these days there are none for my own children to imprint in their heads, so I must create them myself.

It starts, you see, with an invitation. Generally our requests are rather last-minute. A simple text, a random phone call to see what they’re doing, dropping by their house unannounced to invite them over just hours before dinner will be served. My house is generally still in disarray, as it seems to be the new norm around here, but the patio is presentable, and I figure I’ll just blindfold my guests before I send them through the house to use the WC.

Once the invitation is extended and accepted, then we add random things to the meal to make it stretch, like gnocchi and pasta because I just invited my brother, sister, and her boyfriend over for dinner in 50 minutes. Ahem.

Here’s the thing. No one cares about my crazy, or that I made a random mix of carbs to stretch the meal, and my kids smiled and laughed and spent time with some of their favorite adults, whom they then coerced into giving them piggyback rides up and down the hill in our backyard, one right after the other. (We did carb load, after all.)

It doesn’t hurt to have a bunch of leftover risotto to turn into arancini and a garden full of heirloom tomatoes that make the most delectable homemade sauce to serve them on. Arancini is a wonderful way to use up leftover risotto, but it’s also a great excuse to just make an extra large batch of it. Stuffed with tiny balls of fresh mozzarella, peppered bacon from the farmers market, and fresh basil and oregano from the garden, it’s hard to say no to seconds of these baked beauties.

Facts and Tips for Making Arancini:

  • The word “arancini” comes from the Italian word for orange, and the fried balls of rice do sort of resemble an orange. (I realize mine are baked and not fried. Keep reading.)
  • On baking: To get the outside crisp I used a Misto filled with extra virgin olive oil and generously sprayed the bread crumbs. You could also melt a bit of butter and coat the crumbs with it before you cover the rice balls. Both are acceptable and necessary if you want a crisp little ball.
  • You could fill these with things other than mozzarella balls. I liked the idea of a fresh mozzarella core, though. I’ve seen them filled with meat mixtures, vegetables, whatever. (Cheese is where it’s at.)
  • Bread crumbs: I used tradition here, but panko makes them a bit more crisp and crunchy. Use whatever makes you smile (or whatever you happen to have in your pantry).
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, minced or 2 tablespoons finely minced onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
1/4 cup crumbled bacon/pancetta (optional)
16-20 small fresh mozzarella balls (about 6 ounces)
2-3 cups cold risotto
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko or traditional bread crumbs
olive oil for misting

Preheat the oven to 375º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. In a medium saute pan, head the olive oil. Add in the onion and cook for 3-5 minutes until softened. Add in the oregano and basil and stir until herbs are wilted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add the herb mixture to the mozzarella balls (and bacon/pancetta if using) and stir to mix.

Take approximately 2 tablespoons of cold risotto in your palm and flatten slightly. Add one mozzarella ball covered in the herb mix to the center. Cover the cheese with the rice and roll into a ball form. Dip the ball into flour, shaking lightly to remove any clumps, then into the beaten eggs, and finally, roll the ball in the bread crumbs. Place the coated ball onto the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining risotto until all of the risotto and/or cheese balls are used.

Spray the arancini with olive oil to coat. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with marinara sauce.

Makes 16-20 arancini.
Copyright © Food for My Family.


  1. Those arancini look so incredibly delicious, love the cheesy filling!

  2. I have never eaten arancini. Ever. This is a travesty we must rectify, Shaina! But I suck at making risotto.. soooo… can I invite myself to dinner again?

  3. I just finished off a box of these from Trader Joe’s last night. They were delicious, but YOURS, oh my goodness…they look BEYOND delicious!

    PS…don’t you want to move to my neighborhood? I’m available for dinner most any night. 😉

  4. Ohhhhh arancini is my faaaaavoooorrrriiiiitteeeeeeee. So much that I needed to add like a zillion letters to this sentence.

    LOVE IT.

  5. I like that you bake your arancini instead of frying them.

  6. I want to come to your house for dinner!! these look delicious Shaina!

  7. I once had to roll like, 1000, arancini for a catering gig and I STILL like them. Yours look just as good – if not better – than any I have ever had.

  8. Shaina, I have honestly never heard of arancini. What a revelation! Headed to the kitchen to look for risotto…

  9. Perfect way to use leftover risotto!

  10. These look so delicious!!! Fabulous!

  11. Love the family diner shot, so cute! Love the using of a leftover!

  12. These sound so amazing and I love the tradition of getting together with family for Sunday dinner. I wish my extended family lived closer so we could do this more often!

  13. Beautiful dish, Shaina!!

  14. Oh yes!!! I love the cheese in the middle too. But I love the other possibilities. I love that you baked them as well!

  15. These are gorgeous, Shaina. Definitely my kind of Sunday dinner. I am a big fan of arancini but I have never thought about stuffing them with anything. Love the presentation too!

  16. I’m so sheltered. I’ve never had arancini… I know, I know. Now I just need to figure out how to make them gluten-free and we can change that 🙂

  17. So gorgeous!

  18. Oh how I love arancini. But your look better than any I’ve ever had before. I will definitely be making this! Have a great weekend!

  19. Shaina – who could resist these little cheesy balls. Gorgeous!

  20. I’ve never made arancini with my leftover risotto before, can you believe it? I simply cannot wait to try your recipe, Shaina!

  21. Arancini. Swoon. I usually try to save a little risotto JUST to make arancini.

  22. I love rice balls! These look amazing. I just found your blog to. Love it!


  23. Mmmmm…haven’t had these before. Looks delicious!!

  24. I’ve always wanted to try arancini but haven’t ever made it. This looks amazing!

  25. Wow, I have no words. This looks utterly amazing, Shaina!

  26. Seriously amazing and would go perfect with the new sauces I received.

  27. Arancini remind me of my dad, he always made them for us! They are total comfort food. Looks absolutely delicious, and I have total cravings for them right now! (after eating a big bowl of pasta, lol)

  28. Sounds Yummy! I am ready for dinner. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Cyn Brown says:

    Hi, Shaina! I’m wondering about a hybrid recipe which would substitute “arancini” for lasagna noodles. I was going to make lasagna, but now have leftover rice. What do you think?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Are you talking about using rice instead of lasagna noodles or arancini for lasagna itself?Arancini stick together because they’re made with risotto, so there’s already a creaminess and a stick factor at play. Regular rice isn’t going to behave the same way.

  30. Ione Coe says:

    Your baked arancini recipe looks amazing! I want to make them tomorrow but don’t have a misto and was wondering if a canola spray would work? Or does it really have to be olive oil taste-wise?
    Thanks. I realise this is an old post so hopefully you reply 🙂

    • I definitely think that would work. I like the Misto because it doesn’t have fillers, but any type of oil spray will do the job. You can also stir in some oil with the bread crumbs before coating the rice balls, and that will have the same effect.

      • Ione Coe says:

        Thanks so much for responding. I just found olive oil spray at home so I’ll go with that & look to buy a misto (don’t think I have seen one in the shops in Australia) I might try both methods & see which one I prefer. The risotto is cooling in the fridge as we speak 🙂
        Thanks again

        • Ione Coe says:

          Just a follow up as I maded the arancini on the weekend! They turned out phenomenal! Definitely perfect for entertaining. They were crispy on the outside & gooey in the middle & much easier baking them than frying over a hot stove.
          Thanks so much for an excellent recipe! 🙂

  31. Sunny skies says:

    Thanks for the recipe. We made them last night. What a hit! Delicious! I know what we’re going to do with that leftover risotto or plain rice from now on…. Will try with Pecorino or sheep cheese for something different, too.


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