This homemade Arancini recipe will let you enjoy the taste of classic Sicilian street food with a vegan twist – Bite into these crunchy golden risotto rice balls with a delicious meaty and cheesy mushroom filling in the center. They are perfect as snacks or party appetizers but are hearty enough as a side or main dish for lunch or dinner.
What is Arancini?
These are traditional Italian stuffed rice balls made of risotto coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried to golden perfection. The word ‘arancini’ means “little oranges” which is what they look like after they are cooked. There are different types of stuffing used when making them. A classic version of this dish, called Arancini al ragù, uses a meat-based tomato sauce with cheese and peas. Another popular variation is Arancini al burro, which uses ham in a bechamel white sauce. However, there are also many vegetarian and vegan options!
The Best Vegan Arancini Recipe
Turning this beloved classic into a vegan dish requires a few simple ingredient swaps while maintaining all of its deliciousness. I love risotto! It is one of my favorite meals to cook because it is super creamy, versatile, and can easily be veganized! Next time you make risotto, double it up and turn your leftovers into these yummy Italian snacks! I used plant milk to help the breadcrumbs stick to the balls, making this totally eggless.
I also wanted to make the dish as near to the classics as possible, so I used mushrooms because of their meaty texture and flavored them with aromatics, spices, and tamari! For that cheesy flavor, I added dairy-free parmesan too. The result is super delicious vegan Arancini with a crunchy outer layer, melty risotto, and a savory mushroom filling inside! Yum!
How to make Arancini Rice Balls
As always, I recommend checking out the recipe video and these step-by-step instructions first. Then you’ll the full recipe with exact measurements in the recipe card below!
Step 1: Cook risotto and mushroom filling
The day before, cook the risotto according to this recipe for 4 servings. Then allow to cool and refrigerate overnight.
For the filling, sauté the mushrooms, onions and garlic. Deglaze the pan with tamari and cook until the liquid has reduced. Season with thyme, salt and pepper, and blend into a paste. Add some vegan parmesan or other dairy-free cheese if you like and refrigerate overnight as well.
Step 2: Shape and stuff Arancini
The next day, scoop out some portions of risotto, fill them with the mushroom mixture and shape into balls as shown in the step-by-step photo or in the recipe video.
Step 3: Coat and cook Arancini
The next day, scoop out some portions of risotto, fill them with the mushroom mixture and shape into balls as shown in the step-by-step photos or in the recipe video. Dip the rice balls first in flour, then in plant milk, and finally in breadcrumbs. Then fry in batches until golden brown and crispy.
Once the Arancini are cooked, I usually serve them garnished with parsley and tomato sauce on the side. I used the same tomato sauce from my Stuffed Shells and Baked Gnocchi recipe. Pair them with a lovely green salad to complement all the savory and cheesy flavors. These Vegan Arancini also go well with soups or other finger food snacks.
Arancini Recipe Variations
- Use your favorite vegan risotto recipe to make these rice balls like my Creamy Tomato Risotto, Mushroom Risotto, Pumpkin Risotto, Asparagus Risotto Spinach Risotto or Zucchini Corn Risotto recipes.
- Instead of stuffing the rice balls with the mushroom filling, you can also mix it directly into the risotto or leave it out completely. Your rice balls will still be delicious.
- You can also make a different filling using other vegetables or Vegan Pesto or Creamy Spinach. Make it “sushi style” with avocado and peanuts, like my Onigiri recipe. If you want to do a south-meets-north variation, why not use vegan Swedish meatballs instead? Or make them cheesy and stuff your rice balls with vegan mozzarella cheese.
- Instead of deep-frying, you can also use your oven or air fryer instead. Just spray the rice balls with oil or cooking spray and bake until they are golden brown and crunchy.
- Cook your risotto a day or two in advance so it has enough time to cool and you can easily shape it into balls.
- The oil should be sufficiently hot to ensure that your vegan Arancini turn out perfectly. If the oil is not hot enough, the rice balls will become soggy, or if it’s too hot, they might overcook. To test the oil temperature, just dip a wooden stick into it. If you see bubbles forming, it should be good to go.
- The cooking time will depend on how big your rice balls are. Mine are about 60 grams a piece and were fully cooked in about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Cook in batches. Do not overfill your pan or pot with too many rice balls at once. This may result in the oil temperature dropping. You might also struggle with turning them one by one, resulting in uneven cooking.
- Place the deep-fried Arancini in a strainer or on a paper towel-lined plate to eliminate the excess oil and keep it from becoming soggy.
- Leftover filling can be used for other recipes such as Stuffed Potato Dumplings, Pierogi, and Ravioli, or simply eat it on bread, as pesto with pasta, or use in a Vegetable Stir-fry as seasoning paste to add more flavor.
How to store Arancini?
- How to Make Ahead. Simply place the assembled Arancini in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- How to Freeze. Wrap the rice balls in plastic foil or parchment paper and place them in a freezer bag. They can remain frozen for up to 3 months.
- How to Reheat. You can reheat cooked Arancini using your microwave or oven. If you are using a microwave, do it in 20-second intervals. Do not heat them too long, or the balls might explode. If you are using your oven, preheat it to 350 degrees F. Place the arancini on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let them warm for 3 to 5 minutes.
This mushroom stuffed Arancini recipe is:
- Vegan, Vegetarian
- Gluten-free possible
- Crispy on the outside
- Creamy inside
- Loaded with nutrition
- As delicious as the original from Italy
- Ideal for meal prep
- Perfect as a side dish for lunch or dinner or for snacking with your favorite dip!
If you try this Arancini recipe, feel free to leave me a comment and a star rating! And if you take a photo of your Sicilian rice balls and share it on Instagram or Facebook, please tag me @biancazapatka and use the hashtag #biancazapatka so I don’t miss your post! Enjoy cooking! 🙂
Arancini - Sicilian Rice Balls with Mushroom Filling (Vegan)Author:
- 1 risotto recipe *see notes for variations
Mushroom filling (see notes for alternatives)
- ½ tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil for frying
- 7 oz (200 g) mushrooms chopped
- 1 onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- some fresh thyme or other herbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2-3 tbsp vegan parmesan or finely shredded vegan cheese, optional*
- ⅔ cup (75 g) flour all-purpose or gluten-free flour blend
- ½ cup (120 ml) plant milk
- ⅔ cup (75 g) breadcrumbs
- 1 litre vegetable oil for frying
- tomato sauce see gnocchi bake recipe or use store-bought sauce
- fresh parsley or other herbs
*Note: Check out the recipe video and step-by-step pictures above!
- Cook the risotto according to this recipe. Then spread it out on a large plate (or leave it in the pot if it's a large shallow pot or pan) and let it cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate overnight (or up to 2 days).
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. Next, add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Then add the garlic and sauté for a minute, stirring occasionally. Deglaze the pan with tamari and cook until the liquid has reduced. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper to taste.
- Transfer the mushroom and onion mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse into an almost smooth paste, leaving some texture. Optionally, stir in some vegan parmesan or other dairy-free cheese until the mixture holds together. Then refrigerate overnight as well.
- The next day, spoon out a portion of risotto (about 2.1 oz / 60 g, depending on the desired size) and form it into a ball. Using your thumb, press a hollow in the center. Add in some mushroom filling and close it with another piece of risotto, as shown in the step-by-step photos or in the recipe video above.
- Continue this process with the remaining risotto and filling until all rice balls are formed.
- Dip the rice balls first in the flour, then in the plant milk, and finally in the breadcrumbs, until fully coated.
- Heat enough oil in a deep pan or large pot or deep fryer. Once bubbles form when you insert a wooden stick, it is hot enough.
- Put the arancini in batches into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes, turning occasionally with a slotted spoon. Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Arrange on plates and serve with tomato sauce or other dips and sauces of your choice. Enjoy your meal!
- You can also make arancini with other risotto recipes like Creamy Tomato Risotto, Mushroom Risotto, Pumpkin Risotto, Asparagus Risotto Spinach Risotto or Zucchini Corn Risotto.
- Leftover filling can be used for other recipes such as Stuffed Potato Dumplings, Pierogi, and Ravioli, or simply eat it on bread, as pesto with pasta, or use in a Vegetable Stir-fry as seasoning paste.
- The filling can also be mixed directly into the risotto or left out completely. You can also make a different filling with other vegetables or pesto or "sushi style" with avocado and peanuts (see Onigiri recipe) or spinach (see Ravioli recipe).
- More information and helpful tips for making perfect Arancini, including instructions for storing, freezing, and reheating, are mentioned in the blog post above!
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