Waste Not: Ham & Cheese Rice Balls

A few posts ago, we discussed my issue with wasting food. In short, I hate it. Who doesn’t, right? We all want to use up what we have because it’s the right thing to do for the environment and for our wallets. In the last post I told you how to save your aging tomatoes by roasting them and this week I want to talk about rice—leftover rice to be specific.

We’ve all been guilty of over-estimating just how much rice we need. Even though the package clearly states just how much rice to boil for the amount of people being served, somehow, I always overdo it. It must be the Italian in me. Somehow, whenever I try and cook for 2-4 people it ends up more like a meal for 15. Whatever the case, there’s always a way to use up leftover rice and my favorite way is by making an Italian favorite—Rice Balls or Arnacini if you’re fancy!

This recipe is a ham and cheese version but the great thing about rice balls is that you can fancy them up with any meat, cheese, herb or veggie you like—just be sure to chop them small.

Ham & Cheese Rice Balls

Makes 12

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes


Vegetable oil, for frying

3 large eggs, beaten

2 cups cooked and cooled short grain or risotto rice

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs

2 ounces mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4 -inch dice

1/2 cup ham, chopped small

1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt


1. Pour enough oil into a large heavy saucepan or dutch oven to reach 4-5 inches. Heat oil over medium heat. Tip: you can test to see if the oil is ready by dropping a small amount of breadcrumbs in. If it sizzles, the oil is ready.

2. In a large bowl, combine 2 eggs, rice, cheese, ham, 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, parsley and salt. Mix well with your hands. Place remaining egg and breadcrumbs into two separate shallow bowls for coating the rice balls. Using 1/4 cup rice mixture form into balls. Roll the balls into the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumbs to coat.

3. Working in batches, gently place the rice balls into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes each. Remove rice balls using a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Serve warm.

Looking for more rice recipes? Try these:

Chicken and rice pilaf skillet supper

Riso ala nizzarda

Cheesy rice cake stuffed with herbs and greens

Herbalicious rice meatballs

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