Butternut Squash Arancini, a fantastic Italian appetizer for every party or celebration. Filled with creamy butternut squash risotto and mozzarella, and deep fried to perfection, these golden bites make the perfect finger food. So easy to make, and pretty quick too, these risotto balls taste of Fall.
It's what l call the 2 in 1 food, comfort food at its best, risotto, which gets shaped into balls and coated into golden crispy breadcrumbs. You can either enjoy it as a butternut squash risotto or take it to the very next level as deep-fried risotto balls.
Creamy risotto is a dish many people love. It's fairly simple to make, unlike the popular belief that it's such a hassle making it. Yes and no, l would say. Indeed, the risotto is meant to have a certain creamy texture, which can be achieved by using the right cooking technique, but it's nothing even a beginner can't do.
It certainly uses more liquid than you usually use when boiling plain rice, for example. It's a rather 1 part rice, 4 parts liquid, and arborio rice is the best for making risotto.
What are arancini or risotto balls?
Risotto balls, or the popular Italian arancini are rice balls that are deep-fried until golden and crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. The risotto is first cooked, then let to cool down before it's shaped into balls, coated in flour, beaten egg, and breadcrumbs, then fried.
Ingredients needed to make butternut squash arancini
- leftover roasted butternut squash risotto - you can check my recipes for roasted butternut squash halves and roasted butternut squash risotto as the 3 recipes are interlinked
- mozzarella cheese - to stuff the risotto balls
- flour - simple plain flour for coating the balls
- breadcrumbs - I used golden breadcrumbs, but panko breadcrumbs will also work
- eggs - beaten eggs will help stick the flour and breadcrumbs to the rice balls
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying - vegetable oil is the best
Step-by-step photos and instructions
- take a tablespoon of risotto in your hands, then shape into a patty
- place a cube of mozzarella cheese and place it in the middle, then close the patty to be shaped into a ball
The rice will be pretty sticky, so have a bowl of water around to wet your hands before shaping another ball, it really does the trick.
- dip the rice ball into flour, beaten egg, then breadcrumbs
- repeat with the rest of the risotto
- heat up the oil in a deep pan, and deep fry the arancini in batches until they are golden and the mozzarella is gooey
- remove the balls from the pan and transfer them to a plate lined with kitchen towel to absorb the excess oil
- serve hot
You get some delicious arancini that are super nice and crispy, and sinfully hot.
Can the rice balls be baked?
Yes, absolutely. Once they are coated in breadcrumbs, grease a baking tray, arrange the risotto balls, then either drizzle some oil over, or spray some cooking oil over.
Bake at 200 degrees Celsius (390 Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes or until golden. Do make sure you shake the tray now and again to ensure even baking.
Can I use make the arancini without butternut squash
Absolutely! Just check my post about making butternut squash risotto, and omit the step at the end when the butternut squash is added. In this way you have a plain risotto.
I do recommend using mozzarella though, as it makes the arancini so much nicer! Look at that gorgeous rice ball!
What to serve with arancini
I would definitely add these risotto balls to my Thanksgiving dinner menu as they are absolutely gorgeous, and perfect for this occasion.
And while they will be served as an appetizer, they can also be served with a nice green salad on the side for a touch of freshness.
I like eating them just like that, but you can also add them to a nice tomato sauce to turn this dish into a main meal.
If you’ve tried my BUTTERNUT SQUASH ARANCINI or any other recipe on the blog then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK, and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.
Butternut Squash Arancini
- 2 cups leftover butternut squash risotto (click on the link "leftover butternut squash risotto" for the recipe on how to make roasted butternut squash risotto)
- 1 mozzarella ball, cut into cubes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- a pinch of black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups breadcrumbs
- enough vegetable oil for deep frying the arancini
- Have 3 bowls ready to prepare the arancini: one with flour, one with beaten eggs seasoned with salt and pepper, and one with breadcrumbs.
- Use your hands to shape the risotto into balls, coat them with the egg mixture, then coat in breadcrumbs.
- Refrigerate the balls for at least 30 minutes, then deep-fry.
- Dip the ball into flour, shaking off the excess flour, then dip into egg to coat well, then breadcrumbs.
- Repeat with the rest of the rice.
- Heat up the oil into a deep pan, and add the arancini in batches - fry until golden.
- Remove the balls from the pan and transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.
- Serve warm or cold.