These chorizo arancini are classic Italian risotto balls with a little added Spanish flair from chorizo and saffron. These cheesy rice balls encased with a crunchy golden crumb coating are slightly addictive too.

  • Full of flavour – both Italian and Spanish.
  • Cheesy, gooey and delicious.
  • Fun to make.
  • Perfect for appetisers, finger food and potlucks.
  • You can even use leftover risotto.

We were invited to a potluck some years ago and, tasked with creating a recipe that could be easily warmed and totally delicious, I set out to create my own arancini balls. With thanks to those genius Italians and a little Spanish inspiration, these chorizo arancini were the result and heartily devoured by all.

Make the most of summer corn with these vegetarian corn arancini too.

A plate with 6 arancini and 2 forks.

What is arancini?

Arancini are Italian fried rice balls. More accurately they’re risotto, rolled into balls, coated in bread crumbs and fried until golden brown. Often stuffed with ragu or even just cheese, these ones have chunks of chorizo throughout them for a little Spanish influence.

While you could eat them cold, they’re typically eaten hot so the filling is hot and gooey and the rice is nice and a softer texture.

Two small dishes filled with arancini and a small pot of marinara sauce.

Ingredients in chorizo arancini

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  • Chorizo: Well it’s in the name, right? You’ll need an uncooked chorizo, though an already cooked version will work. Don’t feel like chorizo? Just swap it for some Italian sausage (mild or spicy is up to you.
  • Arborio rice: The traditional rice for risotto is arborio and since arancini are risotto rice balls, this is what we’ll use here too. Of course you can use leftover risotto that you may have made the day before and add the chorizo and saffron to it.
  • Onion and garlic: Classic ingredients for flavouring many dishes, just use a brown onion and fresh garlic is a must.
  • Celery: Celery is another vegetable very common in the base of Italian dishes.
  • Saffron: Like the chorizo, the saffron is a little Spanish kick of flavour in these cheesy rice balls.
  • Chicken stock: You can use chicken stock (chicken broth) or vegetable stock (vegetable broth). I like to use a low salt version so that I can season to taste.
  • Cheese: There are two types of cheese in these arancini balls – mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. Mozzarella gives us ultimate gooeyness and parmesan is loaded with flavour.
  • Parsley: Fresh parsley adds a wonderful freshness with all the bold flavours. You could also use a little lemon zest instead or alongside it.
  • For Breading: The rice balls are breaded using the flour, egg and breadcrumbs method. Any bread crumbs will work – you can use homemade breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs or fine dried breadcrumbs.

You can serve your chorizo arancini balls with an Italian pasta sauce / marinara sauce. Even on their own though, they’re incredible.

How to make arancini?

Admittedly, before making my own, I hadn’t been a huge fan of arancini. I often found them bland or stodgy but, when seasoned correctly and with perfectly cooked risotto, they’re so, so right. I mean, cheesy, creamy rice, in handy little ball. deep fried to crunchy yet tender perfection! Sure they take a little effort but they are WORTH every single moment!

A collage showing how to assemble chorizo arancini.

Detailed quantities and instructions in the recipe card below.

  1. You’ll start by frying the chorizo until it’s getting golden and crispy. This adds so much flavour.
  2. Now make your risotto (or you can leave this step and use some leftover risotto). To make it, Fry onions, celery and garlic together until softened. Now add the rice and cook until it’s getting glassy before adding salt, pepper and saffron.
  3. Now you’ll begin adding hot stock, a ladle at a time and stirring the risotto until it’s absorbed each time. This stirring motion is what gives risotto it’s gorgeous creamy texture.
  4. Stir in parmesan and the cooked chorizo then let it cool.
  5. Once cool, you’ll add shredded mozzarella, parsley and 1 egg to bind the mixture.
  6. Now it’s time to turn it into arancini balls. Roll the mixture into balls, then dredge – flour, whisked egg, then bread crumbs – and it’s time to fry.
  7. Heat some oil in a medium or large sauce pan or dutch oven to 180C / 350F and carefully place a few balls in at a time, frying until golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove them and transfer to a wire rack over a baking tray to rest.

Tips and tricks

  • Grated mozzarella: I like to use grated / shredded mozzarella (as opposed to hiding a big chunk of it in the middle). You still get the stringiness of the mozzarella and the cheesy flavour but the rice seems to stay a better texture when reheating them by having the mozzarella dispersed throughout the whole ball. With the mozzarella in the middle which is a little more traditional, I find the rice can have a drier texture if you reheat them.
  • How much oil to use? The amount of oil will depend on the size of your pan but you’ll basically need enough oil to cover the balls by at least 1-2cm.
  • Which oil to use: You’ll want an oil with a high smoke point. Vegetable oil or canola oil is your best bet. Olive oil is not suitable and it’s flavour will just be wasted here.
  • Can I reuse the oil? You can reuse the oil again, since the breading on these rice balls is not spiced and will not taint the flavour of the oil. Let it cool completely then strain it before pouring into it’s own container – don’t add it to a container with unused oil.

A group of arancini balls on a plate with forks.

Storage

You can store any leftover arancini balls in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days. They reheat well in the oven at about 180C / 350F for 10 minutes.

The risotto portion can be made a day ahead of making the arancini and the arancini can be made a day or two before serving (though the fresher the better).

Arancini rice balls in a small dish with one broken open.

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These Chorizo Arancini are little handfuls of spanish inspired risotto, that are then coated in breadcrumbs and deep fried to golden perfection.

Chorizo Arancini

4.6 from 9 ratings
Delicious golden fried risotto balls filled with cheese, chorizo and saffron.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup chorizo chopped finely
  • ½ tablespoon oil (note 1)
  • ¾ cups arborio rice
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 Pinch saffron (about 10 threads)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups (625ml) chicken stock
  • 20 g parmesan finely grated
  • 60 g mozzarella, grated
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (note 1)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup plain flour (all purpose flour)
  • Vegetable or rice bran oil for deep frying (not olive oil)

Instructions
 

  • Lightly fry the chorizo until just cooked through
  • Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Keep the lid on so that it doesn’t evaporate but always keep it warm to add to the rice.
  • Add the oil to a frypan and cook onion, garlic and celery over low-medium heat until softened. Try not to let it colour.
  • Add the rice to the onion mixture and cook, stirring for about a minute. The rice should look a little glassy. Add the saffron and  season with a little salt & pepper. 
  • Add a ladleful (about 125ml / ½ cup) of the simmering stock to the rice mixture and stir constantly until the rice has absorbed all the stock. Continue to add the stock, 1 ladleful at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the stock to be absorbed before adding the next ladleful, for about 15 minutes or until the rice is just tender – but firm (al dente), not mushy. The risotto should look creamy. If it is still too firm, add a little water at a time, allowing it to absorb before testing again.
  • Stir in the parmesan & chorizo. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours until completely cool Once cooled add 1 egg, the parsley and the mozzarella and stir until well combined.
  • Place the breadcrumbs and flour in separate bowls. Whisk the remaining egg in a third bowl. Shape 3 tablespoons of the risotto mixture into a ball (I found a medium sized ice cream scoop to be perfect). Repeat with the remaining risotto mixture and mozzarella to make 12 balls.
  • Roll the risotto balls in the flour, then the egg, then lastly the breadcrumbs. Sit the balls on a lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to chill for half and hour. This is so they don't fall apart as soon as you put them in the oil.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan to about 5cm depth. Heat the oil to 190C over medium-high heat.Place 4-5 arancini balls in the hot oil and cook for about 4 minutes, until they are deep golden in colour. Transfer to a wire rack over some paper towel to drain. Repeat until all arancini balls are done.
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Notes

  1. I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon
  2. This recipe can be easily doubled to make 24 arancini for a party.
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