Cheesy Rice Balls with Peas are Italian rice balls loaded with tender rice, two kinds of cheeses, and baby peas. Then they are coated with bread crumbs and quickly fried to a golden crisp finish on the outside. Deliciously gooey and oh-so-YUMMY! Make-ahead or make them in minutes just before serving, we guarantee these rice balls will be a favorite dish in your home too!
My family has always adored these delicious Italian rice balls as a fun appetizer. Everyone goes bonkers over them every time we serve them at family gatherings.
They are that GOOD!
We have a few recipes for rice balls, some of our faves are Italian Rice Balls with Eggs and Cheese, and Arancini Bites with Fontina Cheese, just to name a few.
You can either serve them alone or serve them with our mom’s quick marinara sauce for dipping. They are fantastic!!
In our family, rice balls were one of our favorite staple dishes, and still today, a very popular dish!
These were common foods because they were inexpensive to make in all of Southern Italy. Different regions will add different ingredients including stuffing them with meat, salami, and various vegetables.
But I prefer to make it easier like these with peas and shredded mozzarella.
You may want to try our mom’s most popular recipe, Best Rice Balls Stuffed with Meat and Peas. It’s made in an easy casserole version.
Both recipes are wonderful!
COOK’S NOTES and TIPS for Cheesy Rice Balls with Peas:
This is a 2 step process to prepare. One is the rice mixture to make into balls and the other is to fry them up.
What Kind of Rice to Use? You will need sticky rice. It’s best to use white long-grain rice, or Arborio rice. “Instant rice” will not work.
Frozen baby peas are best. I only used 1/2 cup for this recipe and it was perfect. No need to wait to defrost them, just give them a quick rinse and drain.
If you find the rice mixture is still too soft and too mushy to roll into balls, place the entire bowl, uncovered, into the refrigerator and chill for 15 minutes or more. This will do the trick!
Make ahead! You can prepare them, and refrigerate them up to one day ahead. When you are ready to fry them, just remove them from the fridge, heat up your skillet with some oil, and fry them up until the golden crispy finish.
Keep in mind, the rice mixture will get sticky as it cools down.
*Follow along with our Step-by-Step directions, or jump down to the bottom for our full recipe card.
HOW TO MAKE CHEESY RICE BALLS with PEAS:
1. The first step is to cook the rice. Following the directions on the package, for 1.5 cups of rice. The time needed is about 15 to 17 minutes to cook the rice, and all the water has been absorbed.
2. Combine all the main ingredients in the mixing bowl, then set the rice mixture aside for cooling. Butter, grated Parmesan cheese, and eggs are an absolute must to making this rice mixture sticky.
Next, once the mixture is cool enough to handle, you can start making the balls. It’s a good idea to place all the parts next to one other to easily assemble.
3. Grab a spoonful of rice mixture. Place some rice in your hand and flatten (like a small pancake, as shown in the photo) into your hand or into your cupped hand, but don’t make it too thin, or the filling will ooze out. Place a small amount of shredded mozzarella cheese, about a small sprinkle on top in the center.
4. Next, grab another spoonful of the rice mixture to cover, and close the rice around the filling, shaping it into a ball. Try to tuck in any of the shredded cheese peeking out of the ball.
5. Next, coat with plain bread crumbs. Using both hands to coat, lightly patting the bread crumbs evenly around each ball. Transfer the rice ball to a platter or a bowl. Repeat and continue until all the rice mixture is gone.
(Note: here is where you can chill them and fry them up at a later time, or the next day).
6. READY TO FRY THEM UP! In a small or medium-size skillet, pour oil and heat on medium heat for about 1 minute. When the oil is hot, gently add rice balls, one at a time into the skillet, and fry them until golden on all sides. Turning them using a slotted spoon and a fork to assist.
I prefer to use this Blue Ceramic Non-Stick 8-inch Frypan and it’s perfect, no need to use a ton of oil to fry them up.
Plus, it also helps to use a slotted spoon to remove the rice balls from the hot oil.
Remove and drain on paper towels. And serve!
TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE:
You can prepare the rice balls before frying. Place them into a bowl or platter.
Then lightly cover ( if you feel the need to, I prefer uncovered) and chill in the fridge up for a few hours before frying, or keep chilled up to one day ahead.
Finally, More Tasty Appetizers and Finger-Food!
- 1 + 1/2 cups of Carolina long grain rice
- 3 cups of water
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 3 medium eggs (or 2 large eggs)
- 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- dash of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup frozen baby peas - rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1 cup plain bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup canola oil, and extra for frying
- In a medium-size saucepan, bring cups of water to a boil, add the rice, lower the heat and cover with a lid. Cook the rice for 15 to 17 minutes, until tender. The water should be completely absorbed.
- Transfer the rice to a large mixing bowl and stir in 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir until the butter completely melts into the rice. Then set it aside to cool down, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- When the mixture is slightly cooled, stir in 3 whole eggs, then add the seasonings and grated cheese. Stirring to combine.
- Finally, add the frozen peas, and stir to combine. The rice mixture should be sticky as it continues cooling.
To Make the Rice Balls:
- On a small plate, add the shredded mozzarella.
- In a small bowl, add the plain bread crumbs. Now you are ready to begin to make balls.
- Using a tablespoon to work with, grab some rice mixture, and transfer to the palm of your hand.
- Press to make a small pancake. Add a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella in the center. Then grab a little rice mixture to cover the pancake. And shape it into a ball using both hands.
- Then toss it into the bread crumbs and press lightly around the ball to coat all sides.
- Transfer the ball to a bowl. Continue making rice balls, until the mixture is gone. This is where you can place the balls into the refrigerator, keep them chilled until ready to fry them.
TO FRY THEM UP:
- First, line a dinner plate with a few paper towels.
- Next, pour the oil into a medium-size skillet. Heat oil on medium heat. When the oil is hot, ( about 1 to 2 minutes) lower the oil to medium-low heat, then add a few rice balls at a time. Not too many or it will cool down the oil.
- Stay near the stove, they will fry up quickly. Use a fork and a slotted spoon to help turn each one as they turn golden.
- When rice balls are golden on both or all sides, carefully remove one by one, using the slotted spoon to help drain the oil. And transfer each one to the prepared plate to drain on the paper towels. Continue to add more rice balls into the skillet, fry them up and drain on paper towels. Allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
- Serve them warm.
- Yields: 13 to 15 rice balls
The prep time does not include the 10 or 15 minute extra time needed for the rice mixture to cool before making balls.
Serving Size:1 rice ball
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 121
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xo Anna and Liz
|Serving size: 1 servings
|Amount per serving
|% Daily Value*
|Total Fat 4.6g
|Saturated Fat 2.5g
|Total Carbohydrate 16g
|Dietary Fiber 0.7g
|Total Sugars 0.9g
|Vitamin D 5mcg
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
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