Appetizers/ Rice and Grains

Arancini Bites with Fontina Cheese

Arancini bites are mini rice balls filled with Fontina cheese, green onions, eggs, Parmesan cheese, and long grain rice. Then they are lightly coated in breadcrumbs and baked until golden and tender.

I saw these little arancini bites in the freezer section at Trader Joes, and since my family loves rice balls as their favorite snack food, I decided to buy them and try to duplicate the recipe as good as I can. 

I decided to add in some green onions for extra punch of flavor and baked them in the oven instead of frying. Yeah.. No frying! This can be a life saver at times.

The outcome was really good, crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside with a delicious surprise of Fontina cheese melted in the center. The Fontina cheese and the green onion really adds a lot of flavor and a different dimension to this timeless Italian classic. 

And, if you roll these rice balls with corn crumbs instead of the breadcrumbs, they become gluten-free!

They’re easy enough to prep the day before and then throw them into the oven just before guests arrive. Serve these bites as little appetizers with some marinara sauce on the side for dipping. They are so festive and a definite crowd pleaser at parties.

The normal size of Sicilian “arancini” are rice balls (the size of an orange) filled with tomato sauce, meat, peas and cheese, then fried.  We love them too, but prefer to making them to our easier version of the arancini in our rice ball casserole, which is baked.

These arancini bites can be expensive to buy frozen (about $4.50 for 12 bites).  And, most frozen foods are packed with high levels of sodium as well as some other additives and processed junk. When you make them yourself, they’re definitely fresher and more cost effective.

I love them because they’re baked not fried, and they’re loaded with all natural ingredients, plus I’m giving my family a healthier snack.  Enjoy!

Arancini Bites with Fontina Cheese

  • 3 +1/2 cups water
  • 1 +1/2 cups long grain rice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. salted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 scallion (green onion)- minced
  • dash of organic cayenne pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 5 ounces Fontina cheese- cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs or corn crumbs or GF bread crumbs
  • olive oil cooking spray

In a medium sauce pan, bring water to boil and add rice, salt and butter.
Cover, on low heat, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off heat.
Let stand for 5 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl to cool down.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Lightly spray one large cookie sheet with cooking oil spray.

In the bowl with rice, add eggs, scallion onion, cayenne pepper, and Parmesan cheese.
Mix until well blended.  Stir in olive oil.  Taste the rice mixture.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Place breadcrumbs into a small bowl.
With a small ice cream scooper or a teaspoon, scoop up a small amount of rice mixture into your hand. Take one cube of Fontina Cheese and lightly push the cube into the center of the rice. Close the rice ball, working with the rice the best you can.
Then roll rice ball into breadcrumbs until coated.

Transfer to a cooking sheet. Continue making the balls until all rice mixture is completely gone.  Lightly spray the balls on top with extra-virgin olive oil.
Bake for 18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Yields: 30 arancini bites

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  • Reply
    Roz Corieri Paige
    February 9, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Oh Anna and Liz, I'm so glad that you've shared your Arancini recipe! I can't get enough of recipes with my favorite Italian cheese, Fontina (well, I also do adore Asiago too!). I can't wait to make your arancini! I hope that you're having a beautiful day in Charleston! xo to you both, Roz

    • Reply
      February 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Hey Roz! So glad to hear from you! I bet you are in heaven with the new baby! Have a wonderful week!

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving room for dessert
    February 10, 2014 at 12:23 am

    I've never tried anything like this before – but they look sooooo goood! Cheese and rice and baked – perfect!

    • Reply
      February 10, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      HI Tricia! Thank you and they are so easy to make! enjoy!

  • Reply
    SavoringTime in the Kitchen
    February 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    I have wanted to try to make arancici for quite some time! Yours sound perfectly delicious!

    BTW, if you've tried to come to my blog recently, it's been locked by Blogger. Someone has been trying to embed malicious codes in blogs and mine was one of a few dozen hacked in the past couple of months. Hopefully, Blogger will clear my site soon and my friends will be able to join me once again! Sad people out there ūüôĀ

    • Reply
      February 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Thank you for the lovely comment! Yes, Sue! We too have been hacked last year and again a few weeks ago, so we totally understand. It's been very difficult to stop them, they keep coming back. I think I will contact Blogger for some help as well. Hope they will correct your site soon! xxoo Anna and Liz

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