Delicious Arancini Balls with the best Marinara Sauce (vegan)

Who knew that arancini balls were so easy to make! I’ve always loved these deliciously crispy balls of gooey rice and assumed they were tricky to make – not at all!

Of course you need to make the risotto first which is a little time consuming but if you have any leftovers when you’re next making your favourite risotto then make these. In fact it’s absolutely worth either saving some or making a little extra to roll into these beauties.

I made this batch out of some leftovers from my squash risotto, so that’s what I’ve included in the recipe. But you can of course make them with your favourite flavour – here’s a few of mine;

Seasonal Veg Risotto

Beetroot Risotto 

Mushroom Pearl Barely Risotto 

Once you have your cold Risotto then all you need to do is create a lovely crunchy, cheesy crumb with breadcrumbs, sesame seeds and nutritional yeast – then roll, fry in a little oil and bake for 10 minutes. Voila – gooey, cheesy, crispy balls of deliciousness!

I served mine in a simple but delicious marinara sauce. If you don’t have your own favourite recipe already then I think you’ll love this – a rich yet fresh tomato sauce with a hint of oregano and chilli. Also amazing on pasta or pizza!

I'd love to know if you made this recipe.

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  4 servings
  30 minutes preparation time
  1 hr cook time


For the Risotto (this enough for two portions of risotto & aprox 8 arancini balls – depending on the size)

  • 1/2 medium organic butternut squash or pumpkin peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 2 medium onions chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced
  • Small sprig Rosemary
  • 1 litre organic veg stock
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Zest 1 organic lemon
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • Good pinch pink Himalayan salt
  • Black pepper
  • 4 tsp nutritional yeast.

For the marinara sauce;

  • 2 tbsp good quality olive oil
  • 1 onion – Finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 10 very ripe fresh tomatoes chopped or 2 cans organic plumb tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Big twist black pepper
  • Pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 tbsp coconot sugar (optional)
  • Fresh basil

For the arancini balls;

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs – I used a few days old sourdough. Just break up a little and add to your food processor and blitz until you get a fine crumb.
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Big pinch Chilli flakes


To make the risotto;

  1. Add your oil and onion to a wide bottom pan and fry gently on a low heat for around 10 minutes until soft and browning.
  2. Peel and deseed the rest of the squash and chop into small cubes. Add to the pan with the garlic and fry for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rice, rosemary and a splash of white wine to the pan and stir thoroughly to combine. Pour in about 400ml of the stock.
  4. Turn up the heat a little and then keep adding more stock when the rice has absorbed the liquid. Repeat until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite and the squash is tender. Or for soft gooey rice cover the pan and allow to sit in the pan with the heat off for a further 5 minutes or so.
  5. Add in the zest and juice of your lemon, salt, pepper, chilli flakes and nutritional yeast and stir to combine.

To make the marinara sauce;

  1. Add your oil and onion to a wide bottom pan and fry gently on a low heat for around 10 minutes until soft and browning. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds more.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and oregano to the pan and cook on a low heat for 25 minutes.
  3. Add the salt, black pepper and optional chilli flakes and coconut sugar to the pan and simmer for a further 5 minutes.

To make the arancini;

  1. Scoop up and squish together a small amount of the Risotto in your hands then roll the into balls – not too big or they may break up. Place the balls on a plate ready for rolling.
  2. Add the bread crumbs, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, salt and chilli flakes to a bowl. Mix to combine thoroughly.
  3. Add each ball to the mix and roll around to coat. Repeat.
  4. Add the olive oil to a large flat bottom frying pan and then add the balls. Fry on a low to medium heat for a few minutes on each side until crispy. You may need to do this in batches, if so add a little more oil if needed.
  5. Remove from the pan and place on a large baking tray.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes on Gas mark 4

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  1. Deborah de Sousa on March 22, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    My family LOVE this dish! I usually make the risotto in large batches and we eat it, as it is, early in the week. A couple of nights later, I make arancini balls with the remainder of the risotto. The kids love it when I push a cube of vegan cheese into the centre of each rice ball. I can never make enough; This is such a popular meal! Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Niki on April 4, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Hi Deborah
      Aww I’m so happy! Its one of my favourites too. I love the idea of popping in some vegan cheese – yum!
      Much love, Niki xxx

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