Spinach and Sausage Arancini
These mini baked Italian rice balls are made with brown rice, chicken sausage, spinach and mozzarella cheese. Served with some warm marinara sauce, they make the perfect finger foods for the Holiday season or any time you want to serve appetizers.
The Holidays are right around the corner, so this week I am sharing Holiday recipes to get you in the spirit. I don’t know about you, but I love Italian rice balls. They are often deep fried and high in calories so I typically stay away unless I’m making this Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole which turns rice balls into a meal!
I came across a recipe from the Baby&Toddler on the Go Cookbook (which btw is such a great book for feeding young kids) for mini baked brown rice aranci, and adapted them with adult palates in mind and more of the flavors I typically like in a rice ball. This recipe cuts a substantial amount of fat by baking instead of frying and replaces the white rice with brown – but you still get plenty of flavor from the sausage and Pecorino Romano cheese.
You can make the filling ahead of time, roll them into balls and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them. I would bread them just before baking.
More arancini recipes you may enjoy:
Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini
- 1 Italian chicken, or turkey sausage link, removed from casing
- cooking spray
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1 large egg and 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, hot
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1/4 cup chopped spinach
- 1 large egg white
- 3 tbsp Pecorino Romano
- 2 tbsp quick marinara sauce, plus more for serving
- Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Place the flour, beaten egg and egg white, and bread crumbs in separate bowls.
- Cook the sausage in a small saute pan, breaking it up as it cooks until cooked through.
- Set aside to cool then place in a small chopper to mince.
- In a medium bowl, combine the rice, sausage, mozzarella, spinach, egg white, pecorino romano cheese, and 2 tbsp marinara sauce mixing well.
- Roll about 1 heaping tablespoon of the rice mixture into a round ball. Roll the ball in the flour, then the egg, and then the bread crumbs, shaking off any excess at each step.
- Place the breaded rice ball on the prepared baking sheet.
- Repeat with the remaining rice mixture until it has all been used up.
- Bake the balls for 8 minutes, turn over, and bake for another 8 minutes, until they are a crisp golden brown.
- Let the rice balls cool before serving, and serve with hot marinara sauce for dipping.
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Makes 22 balls.
69 comments on “Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini”
Can these be air_fried?
What would be the best settings or cook time to do Arancini in an airfryer?
Do you use fresh spinach or frozen?
Could I do these in the air fryer?!?
I made these according to the directions, but had a lot of trouble rolling the balls. They’re just not holding together. I’m about to put them in the oven, so fingers crossed.
Is the spinach frozen or fresh?
I made these recently and they were delicious and a BIG hit!!! Thanks for all the amazing recipes!!
Made these when I had family over. They were delicious! I doubled the recipe and not a single one was leftover.
Made this for my family Christmas party as a healthier appetizer alternative. I recommend chilling the mixture before rolling it out – it was super-sticky and challenging to roll, especially when the rice was warm. I baked mine more like 10-11 minutes per side. They have wonderful texture and nice flavor. Note that I only got about 14 from the recipe using a tablespoon to measure . A zippy sauce is the perfect accompaniment.
I just made these and I had the same trouble with them falling apart. But I was determined to make them! I did a little Googling and saw that arancini are most often made with risotto, which is wetter/stickier. So… I added a tiny bit of moisture (I used vegetable broth as I had it on had.) Then, I sort of mashed the whole mixture up using my hands, so it was sticking together better. I was then able to form the balls, not by "rolling" them but by sort of squishing and shaping them in my hand. They were still a bit delicate, but manageable. They're in the oven now – can't wait to taste one! 🙂
Just wanted to add…. they came out great and are very tasty! 🙂
Works best if your rice is a little sticky
We made these for a holiday brunch this weekend and it they were so yummy! Quite filling too! Will definitely be making this again.
As someone who LOVES arancini, I had to try them… and so glad to have a healthier version to enjoy!!!
Would you be able to do the prep the night before and then bread and cook the next day?
Yes, I am doing this tonight…this is from her comments in the recipe
"You can make the filling ahead of time, roll them into balls and refrigerate until you are ready to bake them. I would bread them just before baking."
I substituted sweet peas for the spinach and it turned out well. Next time, I think I'll make and freeze the balls in advance, because mine were falling apart throughout the prep process. The cooked balls held together nicely. But getting them formed & onto the baking sheet was really hard.
Made these this afternoon. Wow, really good! I wish it wasn't such a pain to bread them. Any tricks so I don't have to rinse my hands after breading each one?