Appetizers Leftovers Side Dishes

Leftover Risotto Arancini

Posted by Shaun on September 22, 2020
Plated arancini with sauce
Just Show Me the Recipe

Say it with me now: arancini. Air-uhn-chee-knee. Maybe you’ve heard of it, maybe you haven’t. If you haven’t, let me tell you now, you are seriously missing out. Call it the Italian version of fried macaroni and cheese balls, these bad boys are breaded and fried balls of cheesy risotto with a surprise mozzarella center. Well, ours has a mozzarella center, at least.

Listen, leftovers don’t have to suck, and these are some gold medal leftovers right here. Appetizer, entrée, midnight snack. I don’t care however the hell you serve them, these guys are absolutely phenomenal.

Annie and I detest food waste. Yes, we’re cheap sometimes, but we just don’t like the idea of being wasteful with something perfectly edible while there are many who don’t have that luxury. So needless to say, we eat leftovers a lot.

Annie and me eyeing the leftovers in the fridge
Closeup photo of arancini

Before Birdie was born it was standard operating procedure for us to make a large meal on Sunday nights and stretch that into Wednesday or even Thursday. We used to joke when Annie was pregnant that Birdie would grow up never having had a fresh meal. Funny, sure, but kids aren’t exactly jazzed when they ask “what’s for dinner” and you respond with “exactly the same thing you wouldn’t eat last night or the night before”.

Closeup photo of arancini

The day before we made these, Annie and I had our regularly scheduled “empty the cheese drawer” risotto night. Making our risotto always yields leftovers, which, to be honest, are perfectly delicious in their own right when reheated.

I get that lots of people despise leftovers, but hear me out: a little bit of effort and creativity can transform last night’s dinner into something completely new. Do that enough and you’ll never look at leftover night the same way.

That’s basically what this arancini recipe is: a truly delicious way to re-imagine that leftover risotto just vibing in the plastic container in the fridge.

Closeup photo of arancini

What’s really great about these is that they are shockingly easy to make and don’t require a lot of ingredients (all of which are ingredients we always keep on hand) or prep work. Some eggs, breadcrumbs, mozzarella, and some oil for frying is all you need. Oh, and a healthy appetite because holy mackerel these are good.

Closeup photo of breadcrumbs

Leftover Risotto Arancini

Servings: 4 or 6, depending on amount of risotto
Overhead photo of leftover risotto, eggs, and breadcrumbs


  • 3 cups leftover risotto (or whatever you have)
  • diced mozzarella, enough for filling (roughly the size of a blueberry)
  • 2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • vegetable oil
  • grated parmesan, for garnish


  • In a high-walled sautée pan, add enough oil to have about 1 inch in the bottom of the pan. Heat oil to about 300-325 degrees.
  • Place beaten eggs into a baking dish and breadcrumbs into another baking dish.
  • Scoop about 1 to 1½ tablespoons leftover risotto and form into a ball around a piece of the diced mozzarella. When stuffed with cheese, you want them to be a little larger than a golf ball.
  • Roll the risotto ball in beaten eggs then place in the breadcrumbs and cover to ensure the outside is fully coated. Set aside and repeat until all are breaded and you are ready to fry.
  • Working in small batches (don't overcrowd the pan, I did three at a time), gently place breaded risotto balls into the hot oil. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes or until the exterior is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oil and set aside on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Repeat until all are cooked.
  • Serve garnished with grated parmesan cheese.

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