These Mushroom Arancini are baked instead of fried to create a flavorful, healthier version of the traditional Italian appetizer!
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Date night is always such a fun night! I'm a big fan of going out and checking out new restaurants. The list of places I want to try seems to get longer instead of shorter despite my best efforts - especially in late 2020, which is when I just updated this post. One of my favorite options for date night is actually to stay in a cook. It's a great way for me to test new recipes and it can be a lot of fun to cook together.
I recently made these baked mushroom arancini as an appetizer for part of a date night menu. The main course was a butternut squash gnocchi with sage brown butter sauce - Yum!!
One thing I love to do when cooking is to create recipes where you can basically cook once and eat multiple times. It's a great way to give new life to leftovers! In this case, the "leftovers" are this tasty Mushroom Risotto. If I know I'm planning to make the arancini I'll often make a double batch of risotto just to be sure I have enough for both recipes.
Making baked arancini
This is a fun recipe for either date night or a small cocktail party. It's also a great recipe to make for yourself on a chilly Sunday!
As much as I love the crispiness of traditional arancini, for a variety of reasons I really try to avoid fried food, and I know a lot of other people do too. While you can never quite get the same crunch from baking as you do from frying, with high heat and the right ingredients you can really achieve some amazing results!
There are a couple of key steps to achieving crisp, baked arancini balls:
Use your favorite veggie risotto recipe: If you just want to make arancini, the risotto recipe is enough to have a small portion of risotto and then make the arancini the next day. You can also use your favorite risotto recipe for these. You'll need about 3 cups of risotto, so likely about half of most recipes that serve 4 to 6 people. I recommend something that is either plain or veggie-based.
Use day-old risotto: You want the risotto to cold and sticky before you start forming the balls, so something that just came out of the pan won't work for this recipe.
Use a scoop to form the balls: This makes it much easier than forming them by hand and also ensures that they are a uniform size. Using the scoops makes it easy to push the mozzarella cube into the ball without smashing it. You can also use a ¼ cup cookie scoop like the one I've noted below.
Chill the balls before baking: You'll want to clear enough room in your refrigerator for the baking tray before you form the risotto into balls. They need to chill for about 30 minutes before baking and it's much easier to just keep them on the same tray and then pop the entire thing into the oven.
Spray with olive oil before baking: Be generous when spraying the arancini with olive oil. This is what helps them to get nice and crispy when baking.
How to serve Baked Mushroom Arancini
These are a great starter for a nice date night dinner or Sunday supper. I'd pair them with:
- Air Fryer Crab Cakes or Artichoke Pesto Shrimp Linguine
- Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries or Espresso Pot de Creme
More appetizer recipes
things you may want for this recipe
Dough or Ice Cream Scoop – Using a scoop for these ensures a consistent size and it makes it easier to reform the risotto into a ball after you add the mozzarella cube. A plain ice cream scoop works well, though I like the dough scoop as it's the perfect size for this and you can use it for large cookies, muffins, etc.
Olive Oil Mister – This essential kitchen tool has so many uses! You can use it to spray things you are going to bake to crisp them up. It also works well to give salad or veggies a very light coating of oil. Since you fill it yourself, you can use flavored olive oils or even add herbs or garlic to the bottle for extra flavoring.
Baked Mushroom Arancini
- 3 cups leftover mushroom risotto, or other leftover risotto
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 ½ ounces mozzarella, cut into 12 cubes
- ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- olive oil cooking spray
- tomato sauce, for dipping (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Make the risotto balls. Mix the risotto and egg in a medium mixing bowl. Using an ice cream scoop or large dough scoop, form the risotto into a ball. While the risotto is still in the scoop carefully push a mozzarella cube into the middle of the ball. Remove the ball from the scoop and place on the lined baking sheet. Repeat until you have formed 12 balls.
- Chill. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill for 15 -30 minutes.
- Coat the arancini. While the arancini are chilling mix the panko, basil and olive oil in a shallow dish. Remove the arancini from the refrigerator and carefully roll each ball in the panko mix, being sure to coat all sides. Return to the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the risotto balls are coated.
- Bake. Spray the arancini with olive oil spray, coating well. Bake 10-15 minutes until arancini are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve immediately.
This post was originally published in January 2017. It was updated in November 2020 with some new information and photos. No changes were made to the original recipe.