Italian Rice Balls

Italian Rice Balls

Serve up these Italian Rice Balls for a fun and tasty appetizer this holiday season. The rice ball recipe can be made using the Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven or in your convection oven.  They are simple to prepare ahead of time and will be a hit with guests. The outside of each ball gets crunchy from the breadcrumbs and fryer, while the inside stays soft and cheesy. You can serve them plain, with a marinara sauce, or even a creamy dip. 


  • 1 cup medium-grain white rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten well
  • 3 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 ounce mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch x ¼-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup Italian-Style breadcrumbs
  • olive oil, for spraying
  • 1 cup prepared marinara sauce, for dipping, optional


  1. Put the rice, water and salt into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once rice comes to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 10 minutes. Cool fully before adding the following egg and cheese mixture; cooling the rice will help prevent the egg from cooking.

  2. In a small bowl, combine the egg, Pecorino, ricotta, basil, and pepper. While mixing and ung the rice with a spoon, mix in the egg and cheese mixture. Spread the rice onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate to chill, at least 30 minutes. 

  3. Once the rice has chilled, use slightly wet hands to scoop 3 tablespoons of rice and form into a ball. Repeat with remaining rice. Stuff each ball with one piece of the mozzarella and re-form if necessary. 

  4. Place the AirFryer Basket onto the Baking Pan. Put the breadcrumbs into a small bowl. Gently toss each rice ball into the breadcrumbs and transfer to the basket. Spray all sides with oil.

  5. Put the assembled pan into Rack Position 2.  Set to AirFry at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cook rice balls until evenly golden. Serve immediately, with marinara sauce on the side if desired.

Contest Rules:

Contest Rules:
  • There is a maximum of one extra entry per person. The extra entry will be based upon a comment left on this post. Duplicate comments are not tallied.
  • The winner will be selected at random from the comments on this page and the entries on the contest page.
  • The winner will be contacted on the morning of November 19th, 2018.
  • Email Address provided in their account (please do NOT leave your email address in the comments--you already provided it when you created your account)
  • You have until November 18th, 2018 at 11:59pm EST to leave your comment on this post. Comments posted after that will not be counted.
  • Contest open to anyone 18+ in US and/or Canada. Excludes Quebec and Puerto Rico.

Which fried food would you like to "health-ify" in the air fryer?
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Extra crispy onion rings.

Can't wait to try these! I would like to healthify onion rings!

Fried chicken, and French fries too!

French Fries

French fries!

Fried chicken. It's so greasy, but tasty. Baking is ok, but dry.

There are so many foods I can think to try in the air fryer. How about pizza, wings and fries, just to name a few? I am really curious how these would turn out.

So easy but made such a hit with family

I had never heard of rice balls until my son-in-law made them for me to try. What a surprise! They were so good! Can't wait to get an air fryer to I can make my own healthier fried foods!

I hope, hope, hope I win so I can try this awesome recipe! Would love to try chicken wings and fries as well. I'm 60 years old and would be thrilled to cook fried foods healthier!

I love Italian rice balls, my sister made then for me and they were great.

This sounds wonderful.

I would like to "health-ify" french fries and/or donuts in an air fryer

I would love to make french fries that are both healthy and delicious. This is a challenge!

Just added the Rice Balls recipe to my "Must try soon" list. What I would most like to try in an air fryer would be onion rings. Yum!

chicken fingers

onion rings

Crispy, fragrant blooming onions-- now off the menu because of the high fat content of preparations!

I like to "health-ify" onion rings in the air fryer

Absolutely french fries!

Ok, I'm not a pro in the kitchen but I do know my way around and thought I knew most of the lingo that goes on while cooking...but what in the world is ung, and how exactly do you ung rice with a spoon? Maybe it's a typo but I'd really like to know. This recipe would be a great snack for kids if you shape them like tots or even little nuggets, who am I kidding... it would be yummy for me too. lol

I like to place mixed nuts and fresh fruits out for my guests to munch on.

Amazing looking recipe, if I had that amazing air fryer, I make this first!

looks delicious!

These look very similar to an Arancini appetizer I have ordered from a fancy Italian restaurant before, but a lot less greasy and fattening! You don't have to feel guilty if you eat more than a couple. I have a favorite recipe for sweet and sour meatballs made with a combination of lean ground beef and pork, with pineapple, and green and red bell peppers. I always make it around the holidays, as the colors of the peppers are very festive for the Christmas season.

I am hoping to get an air fryer for Christmas. These look delicious!

Sweet, Salty Spiced Party Nuts! Pecand, dry roasted almonds and cashews. Mixture water, salt, pepper, cumin and cayenne pepper. Boil mixture in water, with sugar (splenda) Pour over nuts and bake. Delicious.

Sausage Balls

Around our place, nobody needed appetizers-they already had insatiable appetites! Mom would put out carrot and celery sticks, hoping to slow down the inroads on the expensive foods that came later.

My family always love to have a shrimp ring for appetizer. I also like to make my own guacamole. I add lots of onions, garlic, lime juice and chopped tomatoes for garnish.

A must try - delish!

I love serving meatballs! They're so quick and simple to make.


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