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Air Fryer Arancini Stuffed Rice Balls

Air fryer arancini balls are a take on the classic Italian risotto rice balls, mine are stuffed with mozzarella cheese & have a tomato sauce.

It is a dish that can all be prepared in advance and even frozen and then popped in the air fryer to cook later.

Air fryer cooked arancini with an easy tomato sauce and fresh basil..

Air Fryer Risotto Balls

I love risotto, my site is littered with recipes as diverse as smoked haddock risotto and black pudding risotto to tomato risotto and pea and ham risotto.

Arancini is a recipe that originally used up leftover risotto, now I’m not sure about you but the concept of leftover risotto does not compute to me!

Asa result I make up a batch of risotto the night before and then form my rice balls when I am ready to cook them, I even cook my arancini in the air fryer.

They are traditionally fried, and frying does result in a better rice ball, but with a little care, the air fryer does a fantastic job.

I like to stuff mine with a little mozzarella cheese and serve them as a main course with a simple tomato sauce.

Apart from cooking and cooling the risotto, this dish takes around 30 minutes to cook and prepare.

Overhead air fryer cooked arancini with an easy tomato sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to use cooled rice?

Yes, it is vitally important that the rice is completely cooled before forming the arancini balls. Failing to do this will result in them collapsing and falling apart.

Can I stuff them with anything else?

Yes, absolutely. Get creative, everything from cooked diced ham to black pudding and even leftover bolognese sauce or ragu.

Can I fry them?

Of course, either deep fry or shallow fry in around 1-2cm of oil at a temperature of 170°C or 340°F.

if you are shallow frying you need to roll them around.

Deep frying produces the best result because it firms up the ball immediately meaning they have a much better structure.

If you are frying the arancini do not toast the breadcrumbs.

Can I bake them in the oven?

Yes, but they are much more likely to split when baked in the oven. Cook them at 200°C or 400°F for 25 minutes.

Why do you toast the breadcrumbs in butter?

This adds both colour and flavour to the breadcrumbs, air frying them without toasting them leaves the outside of the rice balls very pale and quite bland.

I use exactly the same process in my air fryer chicken cordon bleu recipe.

Close-up air fryer cooked arancini with an easy tomato sauce and fresh basil.

Serving Suggestions

These air fryer arancini balls are deceptively filling and as a result, I am happy to serve them with a simple tomato sauce and a nice green side salad.

If you wanted some greens these rice balls then dishes like roasted tenderstem broccoli, green bean amandine or air fryer asparagus would work well.

You could even add some garlic bread if you wanted carbs with your carbs!

Air fryer arancini with an easy tomato sauce cut open to show filling.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

Risotto Equipment:

  • Stovetop.
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Small saucepan to keep the stock hot.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Ladle.
  • Stirring spoon.
  • Large bowl to allow the risotto to cool.

Arancini Equipment:

  • Stovetop to toast the breadcrumbs.
  • Air Fryer.
  • Small 24cm or 10″ frying pan.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Bowls to panne the rice balls.
  • Kitchen paper.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.

Tomato Sauce Equipment:

  • Stovetop.
  • Small 24cm or 10″ frying pan.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
Air fryer cooked mozzarella stuffed arancini rice balls with tomato sauce.
Yield: 2 Servings

Air Fryer Stuffed Arancini Balls Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Cooling Time (Minimum): 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes

An air fryer adaptation of classic stuffed arancini balls, gooey risotto rice cooked to perfection then cooled, stuffed with mozzarella cheese and coated in golden bread crumbs. Then served with a wonderful and easy tomato sauce!


For the Risotto:

  • 2 (70g Total) Banana Shallots
  • 4 Garlic Cloves
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 100g (½-⅔ Cup) Risotto Rice
  • ½ Tsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tsp Dried Oregano
  • 125ml (½ Cup) White Wine
  • 450-500ml (2 Cups) Hot Vegetable Stock
  • 50g (½ Cup) Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

For the Bread Crumb Coating:

  • 75g (¾ Cup) Fine Bread Crumbs
  • 30g (2 Tbsp) Butter
  • 75g Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 2-3 Tbsp Flour

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves
  • 200g (¾ Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 75ml (⅓ Cup) White Wine
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Dried Chilli Flakes (Optional)
  • Lots of Fresh Basil


Making the Risotto:

  1. Cut the shallots in half, peel them and then cut them into a dice as finely as you can.
  2. Peel the garlic and then dice it as finely as you can.
  3. Keep the vegetable stock hot on a low heat and stir through the oregano and basil.
  4. Heat a 30cm or 12" frying pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil.
  5. Throw in the shallots and cook them for 2 minutes to soften, if they begin to colour reduce the temperature.
  6. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  7. Pour in the risotto rice and cook for 3-5 minutes stirring constantly.
  8. Pour in the white wine and cook, stirring regularly, until almost dry, you want a little "starchy" residue left in the pan. This will take 2-3 minutes.
  9. Add the stock a ladle at a time (75-100ml or ⅓-½ Cup) and cook until almost dry (as above) before adding the next ladle. For the first 2 or 3 ladles stir very regularly, after that you can add a little more stock and stir less regularly.
  10. Cook until the risotto is creamy and is cooked almost all of the way through, the rice should have the tiniest of "bites" in the centre. This should take 25-30 minutes. You may need to add salt depending on how salty your stock is, have a taste as you are cooking and remember you are adding parmesan cheese.
  11. Remove from the heat and add the grated parmesan cheese, then set aside to cool completely (overnight is best). This will yield 450-500g of risotto.

Preparing and Cooking the Stuffed Arancini:

  1. Heat a 24cm or 10" frying pan over a medium high heat and add the butter.
  2. When the butter begins to foam throw in the bread crumbs and cook until golden, then transfer to a plate with kitchen paper to absorb any excess butter.
  3. Cut the mozzarella cheese into 2cm chunks.
  4. Lightly beat the egg in a bowl.
  5. Place the toasted bread crumbs in another bowl
  6. Dust the risotto balls lightly with flour, then dip them into the egg draining off any excess egg, then coat in breadcrumbs and set them aside.
  7. Place the balls in the air fryer and cook for 12-15 minutes at 170°C or 340°F.

Cooking the Tomato Sauce:

  1. Heat a small 24cm or 10" frying pan over a medium high heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Bash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and add them to the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Pour in the white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add the tomato passata, a pinch of salt and a pinch of chilli flakes, then stir to combine, reduce the heat to low when the sauce begins to bubble and cook until the risotto balls are cooked.
  5. Serve the balls on a bed of the sauce (discard the garlic) and sprinkle with lots of finely shredded basil.


The timing for this recipe includes the time to make and cool the risotto!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 957Total Fat: 53gSaturated Fat: 21gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 176mgSodium: 1812mgCarbohydrates: 76gFiber: 5gSugar: 14gProtein: 29g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Just Jo

Sunday 9th of July 2017

I made these tonight and they were sublime. I used a mushroom risotto I managed not to eat last night and made a roasted pepper tomato sauce to serve them with so really, I winged it all the way but I used your method as my inspiration Brian! I've never made arancini before and whilst they were involved, they could be made easier by doing the sauce ahead of time. In fact, my folks are coming to stay soon so I may have to trot these out again then! :D

Brian Jones

Tuesday 11th of July 2017

Glad you like em Jo, I love em... Sadly left over risotto is a lie, no matter how much I make we still manage to eat it all ;) They are great to make up in advance though so you can prepare your sauce and even the arancini in advance and then breadcrumb before cooking :)

Mary (The Godmother @ Goodie Godmother)

Thursday 21st of April 2016

Beautiful! But only 2 cloves of garlic??? Brian, I'm disappointed haha.

Brian Jones

Thursday 28th of April 2016

Hehehe, I keep trying to explain that moderation is always the answer (apart from beer), some dishes need 40 cloves of garlic and some one is enough :p

Hillary Reeves

Tuesday 19th of April 2016

i'm seriously so impressed by how GORGEOUS these are! mine are always ooey, cheesy, messy things that I gobble down in seconds flat. your patience in plating these astounds me. ;)

Brian Jones

Tuesday 19th of April 2016

Hehe, the plating was easy to be honest a bit of disorganised organisation ;) I used to struggle with Arancini being a bit fragile but the sealing in really hot oil before baking and not making them too large seemed to resolve the problem.


Monday 18th of April 2016

These look PERFECT, Brian! I know the tomato sauce is the perfect complement, and love that you made it from scratch. Wish I could have 'em all in front of me right now! haha

Brian Jones

Tuesday 19th of April 2016

Thanks Whitney, glad you like em, sorry there are none left... I'll see if I can set some aside on the next batch, no promises though.

Paige @ Where Latin Meets Lagniappe

Monday 18th of April 2016

Your posts crack me up Brian! I also love to cook with music -- it just makes cooking even more fun than it already is :) And the arancini looks amazing -- love the new presentation :):)

Brian Jones

Tuesday 19th of April 2016

Cheers Paige, if I don't cook with music my wife can here me swear when I inevitably burn myself ;)

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