Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini (Balls!)

Oh, look! I'm on a quinoa roll! Should I actually make quinoa rolls next?

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Arancini, in case you've never heard of them, are little balls of rice that are stuffed with cheese, dipped in a whisked egg, rolled in breadcrumbs and then deep fried. I had heard of them before, but I had never actually made them. Actually, I still haven't made them because mine were made with quinoa instead of rice, they were rolled in breadcrumbs but not dipped in egg, and they were pan-fried instead of deep-fried. If you want to see how they are supposed to be made, here is a video of Gennaro Contaldo hard at work making a more authentic Arancini di Riso.

Like I said, these are supposed to be deep fried, but I am not to be trusted near a large pot full of hot oil. Or even a small pot. These were pan-fried in a little bit of oil instead, and I did not have to be rushed to the ER with third-degree burns! That's a successful day in the kitchen right there.

If you do coat them properly and deep-fry them, you will end up with a more rounded, uniformly shaped arancini. If you do pan-fry or bake them like I did, yours will be more free-form and "have a really nice personality."

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Now, some of you will ask me if these can be baked. Glad you asked. Being the anticipating anticipator that I am, I went ahead and baked two of them in my little toaster oven at 425 degrees F (218 C) for ten minutes, flipping them twice along the way. They still need some oil to brown nicely in the oven. A little drizzle on the (metal) baking dish and a little drizzle or spray over each arancini will do.

OK, let's do it!

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini
Makes 12 arancini

1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup vegetable broth, or even better vegan chicken-style broth
1/4 tsp salt, only if your broth is unsalted

2 tbsp chickpea flour
2 tbsp vegetable or vegan chicken-style broth
1 tbsp vegan mayo
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/4 tsp salt
fresh black pepper to taste

1 tbsp fresh minced parsley
2 tbsp seasoned breadcrumbs

your favorite vegan cheese (I used Daiya Gouda)

1/4 cup extra seasoned breadcrumbs for rolling
2-3 tbsp olive oil extra for pan-frying

1. First we're going to cook the onion. Preheat a small frying pan or sauce pan over medium heat, add the oil and the onion and cook until golden and softened. This will take 10 to 15 minutes, and you will probably need to add a splash of broth here and there if the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently! If you use a non-stick pan, you can use the same pan later to cook the arancini.

2. Meanwhile, we're going to cook the quinoa. Combine the quinoa with the broth (and salt if you need it) in a medium sized saucepan, cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed.

3. To prepare the eggy chickpea mix, in a small bowl combine the chickpea flour, broth, mayo, thyme, salt, and black pepper. Whisk or mix vigorously with a spoon until well combined and smooth.

4. Pour the chickpea mix over the cooked quinoa, throw in the parsley and the two tablespoons of breadcrumbs and stir well. If your quinoa mix looks too dry and not workable, add a bit more broth. If it looks too soupy add a few more breadcrumbs. It won't taste very good at this point with the raw chickpea flour, but it wouldn't hurt to give a quick taste to adjust the seasonings.

5.  Now let's make some balls! Use a medium-sized cookie scoop or a spoon to scoop out some of the quinoa mix and flatten it on the palm of your hand. Place a little bit of the onion and a little chunk of cheese right in the middle, pinch the ball shut and seal it well.

6. Roll the quinoa on the 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs and coat them thoroughly. Repeat until you are out of quinoa mix.

7. Heat two or three tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan (if you're reusing the same pan in which you cooked the onions, give it a quick rinse first). You want to coat the bottom of the pan so that the arancini have plenty of oil to get nice and brown. If you're using a wide frying pan or a large saucepan you will need to use more oil to cover the bottom.

8. Carefully place the arancini in the preheated pan and cook over medium-high heat for about eight minutes, flipping the balls every few minutes to get every side nice and brown.


If you want to dip them in some sort of egg-like goo before rolling in the breadcrumbs, go for it. I just couldn't be bothered. More of the chickpea-mayo concoction will do the trick.

They should cook quickly at a fairly high heat to keep them from drying out. I cooked a test ball over medium heat and it was a bit too dry. Cranking the heat up a bit to medium-high did the trick.

Care for a quick step-by-stepper of the ball-making process? Let's start with the eggy chickpea thing.

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Cheese and Onion Stuffed Quinoa Arancini

Sad parsley sprig photobomb. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Alrighty then. I've done my damage here today. How's the weather where you are? Are you happy with the temperature? Our neighbor, Mr. Robin McFluffer, clearly isn't happy. At all.

(Here he also demonstrates how an authentic deep-fried arancino is supposed to look, minus the beak and tail.)

Mr. Robin McFlufferson
Oh, balls!


  1. OOOH, delicious, fun way to enjoy quinoa - especially in the cold weather :)

    That bird... HAHAHA! Priceless.

    1. Our backyard birds are an endless source of amusement! :)

  2. Oh whoa, I've never seen a robin look all poofy like that! The parsley is completely overshadowed by how delicious looking the quinoa ball is... I can't stop looking at that robin! He's so floofy :)

    1. Isn't he the floofiest? He sat there for quite a long time looking disgruntled and cold. I took a few pictures of him, but most of them were blurry because I didn't want to open the door to go back inside to get the tripod (birds are so easily spooked) and my hands were cold and shaky. Eventually he squawked, gave us a dirty look and left.

  3. Okay, this looks good — and doable. I was recently reading about rice balls and was going to make some, but I like quinoa better (less arsenic). I'm with you on deep-frying. I'll eat what other people deep fry, but I can't have a vat of boiling oil on my own stove.

    1. Same here. I will eat deep-fried foods, but I cannot do the frying myself. I'm just too clumsy!

      Quinoa and I have recently rekindled our romance, so I think I will cook weekly quinoa meals and share them here. Until we decide to start seeing other grains again (or pseudocereals).

  4. I love the sound of these! I have made them with left over risotto and I too either pan fry or bake them because large pots of oil are terrifying.
    Actually I did try deep frying once with a small pot of oil, which apparently is not the way to do it, and anyway it ended up kind of gross.

    1. Someone should sell deep-frying overalls, like hazmat suits but for deep frying. I'd totally buy one of those! Imagine the infomercials! :D

  5. Mmmm....cheese balls. This basically sounds like my dream food!!

    1. Remember the days when our only vegan cheese choice was VeganRella? Now we're spoiled for choice! :)

  6. What a cool recipe and lovely meal to come from school to.


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