Baked arancini is not only a tasty appetiser for adults, but it's also a fantastic finger food for babies and toddlers.
Serving rice in a finger food format can make it easier and more appealing for little ones to eat, while also reducing the mess. If you are interested in other kid-friendly finger foods, be sure to check out this recipe for cheese and tomato quinoa balls or curried lentil bake, which offers other delicious options for making messy foods more manageable for little ones.
More reasons to LOVE Baked Arancini
- Healthier: This baked version is a healthier alternative to deep-fried arancini.
- Great Way to Use Leftovers: I love creating a completely different meal with leftovers.
- Kids in the Kitchen: This is a great recipe to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Little kids can have a go at forming the balls and older kids can coat and dip them.
Step By Step Instructions
Baked risotto balls are relatively quick and easy to put together (if you have already made and chilled the risotto). I would usually make this recipe with leftover risotto rather than making the risotto, cooling it and then preparing the balls on the same day.
- TOAST BREADCRUMBS: This is an optional step. Spray your breadcrumbs with oil and pop them in the oven for 5-10 mins before you coat your balls. Although not necessary for taste, doing this will give your breadcrumbs a head start in the browning process and will make your arancini more visually like the fried version.
- ROLL LEFTOVER RISOTTO INTO BALLS: I used roughly one and a half tablespoons of rice to form each ball. You can make the balls bigger or smaller but the cooking time will change, as will the amount of coating needed.
- ROLL BALL IN FLOUR & DIP IN EGG: Roll each ball in the flour and then dip in the egg mixture
- ROLL BALL IN TOASTED BREADCRUMBS: Finally coat with the breadcrumbs
- BAKE: Place each ball on a prepared baking tray, lightly spray with oil and cook until golden and heated throughout (around 20 mins)
- RISOTTO RECIPE - Any risotto recipe can be used so if you have a recipe you love, then use that one. Just make sure your risotto is made with an Italian variety of rice that has the correct starches to produce a creamy texture when cooked. Arborio, Vialone Nano and Carnaroli are the most common varieties. Also, if you are serving babies/toddlers use a low-sodium recipe.
- RISOTTO TEXTURE - If you find your risotto is a little wet, and you are worried that your balls won't hold their shape when baked, simply make a test ball and let it sit for a couple of minutes to see if it starts to flatten. If this is the case add some breadcrumbs, a little at a time, until the right consistency.
- GOLDEN ARANCINI - Baking can result in pale-looking arancini. To combat this, pre-toast your breadcrumbs. This will give them a head start in browning and will result in your balls looking more like the fried version.
- PANKO BREADCRUMBS: I have made baked arancini with a range of breadcrumbs. Fresh, dried and panko. My personal favourite, although not very Italian, is Panko breadcrumbs. It is hard to achieve the same delicious crunchy shell, that frying achieves when you are baking but panko gives the best results.
- ADD CHEESE - I didn't include a cheese centre in these arancini balls because I wanted to make them a little more baby / toddler-friendly (less added sodium).
However, you can easily add cheese to yours if you like. Add a small cube of mozzarella, or your desired cheese, into the centre of each risotto ball. Make sure to fully cover the rice around the cheese to stop it from oozing out while baking.
- ADD SEASONINGS - No salt was added to the breadcrumbs, again to reduce sodium levels for little kids. If making for adults then you may wish to add around ½ teaspoon of salt to the breadcrumbs. Alternatively, you could mix in some complimentary spices (depending on what risotto recipe you use)
Arancini are risotto balls coated in breadcrumbs and deep-fried, they are usually stuffed with ragu, mozzarella and peas. This adaptation is baked, instead of fried, and has no extra stuffing.
You can make these risotto balls ahead of time. Form the balls and return them to the refrigerator until you are ready to bake that day. Once cooked they should not be stored or re-heated as the rice will have already been re-heated once
Yes, these can be introduced from around 6 months +. However, it is important to note that rice has low levels of arsenic and infants are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of arsenic exposure. Thus, limiting their consumption of rice and rice products to 2-3 times a week is important.
Many risotto recipes can be high in sodium so use a baby-friendly risotto recipe that is made with homemade/low-sodium stock.
This recipe also contains egg and wheat which are both common allergens. They should be safely introduced separately before offering these balls.
More Rice Recipes
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- 600g (3 cups) Cooked and Chilled Risotto *SEE NOTE 1
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 35g (¼ cup) Flour
- 80g (1½ cups) Panko Breadcrumbs *SEE NOTE 2
- Pre heat oven to 180c / 350F and line baking tray with baking paper / silicon mat.
- OPTIONAL (to achieve a more golden look to your balls) Place breadcrumbs on a baking tray, spray with oil and bake on the top shelf for around 5 - 10 mins (until golden)
- Place flour in a dish, beaten egg in another and the breadcrumbs on a flat plate.
- Roll risotto into balls (mine were approx. 1 ½ tablespoon each)
- Roll each ball into the flour then dip into the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumbs.
- Place on baking tray, lightly spray with olive oil and cook until golden and heated though out. (Approx. 20 mins)