Sicilian Rice Balls with Mushrooms and Peas

Rice balls, or arancini, are a popular Sicilian snack of leftover cooked rice mixed with other flavorful ingredients (usually meat sauce), breaded, and deep-fried. This version is filled with a savory mixture of mushrooms, peas, and onion and then baked to crispy perfection. Dip these scrumptious finger foods into a side of tangy marinara sauce to get the full Italian experience. Perfect as a dinner party appetizer or an afternoon snack!  For more healthy meals inspiration, check out our best vegan recipes.

By Darshana Thacker Wendel,


  • 4 cups cubed Yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 2 cups oil-free store-bought or homemade marinara sauce
  • ¼ cup unsweetened, unflavored plant-based milk
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups fresh cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 450°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place potatoes in a steamer basket in a large saucepan. Add water to saucepan to just below basket. Bring to boiling. Steam, covered, about 15 minutes or until tender. Transfer potatoes to a large bowl; mash with a fork.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine rice, 1 cup of the marinara sauce, the milk, the ¼ cup nutritional yeast (if using), and 2 of the minced garlic cloves. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, 7 to 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the rice mixture to potatoes; stir to combine.
  • For filling, in a large skillet cook mushrooms, onion, and the remaining 1 clove minced garlic over medium about 10 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently and adding water, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, as needed to prevent sticking. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (if using), 1 tablespoon of the bread crumbs, the peas, basil, thyme, crushed red pepper (if using), and salt to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes or until heated through. Remove from heat. Let stand about 5 minutes or until mixture is cool enough to handle.
  • Place the remaining bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Shape ¼ cup rice mixture into a 2- to 2½ -inch patty, dusting your hands with bread crumbs if the mixture sticks to them. Spoon 1 tablespoon of filling onto center of the patty; fold edges of patty over filling to cover and roll into a ball. Roll each ball in bread crumbs to coat; place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining rice mixture, filling, and bread crumbs.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Heat up the remaining 1 cup marinara sauce. Serve with rice balls.

Comments (45)

(5 from 15 votes)

Recipe Rating

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If zero stars were possible, that’d be my vote. Wa-ay too much prep, and you really have to want starch in your diet. I was already suspicious of combining mashed potatoes and brown rice then coating it all with bread crumbs, but I thought I’d give it a try. Then why in the world would you add peas to this??? It was too awful to eat, and we wound up throwing it all away. What a waste of time and ingredients.


Awful. Took WAY too much prep work, way too many pots, pans and utensils and the instructions were all over the place. Ended up improvising and ended up with food that was halfway decent.


Delicious and easier than expected. I used millet and kale instead of rice and peas. I added the mushroom mixture to the millet and potatoes instead of putting the mushroom mixture in the middle. It was easy to coat the balls with breadcrumbs and they browned nicely in the oven. I made half of the recipe as there are only two of us here. I served two arancini with two lentil meatballs with marinara and a little cheese less cheese sauce. A very filling dinner!


As an experienced cook, I see no reason why these can't be frozen for a couple of months.


Has anyone tried to freeze these? Did you have good results?

Val Burmester

Can you use different rice? Sushi white? Arborio?


Really good but made way too much for the 2 of us! Can I freeze the leftovers?


Thank you

Lucie Gagnon

It's looked very I'm happy that we can have italian recipe without chezze


Made this today. A little labor intensive but did a little bit throughout the afternoon. Made the rice, potatoes and mixture early. Let it cool, then made the filling and let it cool. Definitely worth the effort. Served with the additional sauce and some orzo pasta with salad. Plenty leftover for another day. Will definitely make again. Very good!

lisa buchanan

Loved this recipe. It's a bit sticky putting together, but is excellent. The leftovers reheated well in the microwave.Thanks for another great recipe.


Taste: delicious- I did add more garlic and more basil. Actual outcome: hilarious. The ‘dough’ was too wet- I think it really is better if you cook the rice in the tomato mixture- this is how Mexican rice is made- the whole ‘recook cooked rice in tomato’ didn’t seem to really work, so I may try again the other way around and see… Because the dough wasn’t going to work too well in terms of holding stuff in it, I figured might as well just mix it all up and hope for the best- they definitely didn’t turn out as intended, but it also wasn’t terrible. And the taste was great. I’ll definitely try again w a firmer dough.


For anyone who had made “mistakes” during the making of these rice balls. First rule of following a recipe, is reading the recipe in its entirety before you start.


Sounds good but you need to clean up the instructions and separate mixing the rice with the potatoes from the tomato sauce step. It makes it a bit confusing.


There is nothing confusing about how this recipe is written. All one has to do is follow the directions.

Jessica B

Just finished up two batches for thanksgiving! We added some tamari and spices to the mushroom mixture for added flavor. Adding some extra firm tofu to the filling would probably be great, too! I only had about a cup of bread crumbs, but this stretched to both batches. I just used Ezekiel bread, dried out, and pulverized. They are very tasty and very filling!

Etha Behrmann

Fabulous recipe. Great fingerfood! Correct as written, I added some more herbs to it and it worked out perfectly.

Deb Sell

Very tasty and easier than expected to make! I made coconut cucumber Tzatziki instead of the marinara for dipping.


Scrumptious n easy to make


Needs a video, please.


Thats what I was thinking too




Hello Just wanted to know what kind of bread crumbs are correct for me to keep losing weight for this recipe. Or do I omit the bread crumbs? Thanks


Use whole wheat bread crumbs.


Is one supposed to peel the potatoes before cubing them? Yes/No/Doesn’t matter? Thank you


No response…so I ended up following my “cook-y” senses and peeled potatoes, steamed, cooked on counter and put the potatoes through the ricer. I’m happy with both choices.

Deb Sell

I didn't peel them and it was just fine :)

Mary Slinskey

I haven't made this yet, however, looking at the ingredients I began to prep, starting with the cooking the rice, because the second ingredient calls for 2 CUPS COOKED BROWN RICE. And I have cooked rice now cooling in the fridge. Upon further reading, I see the rice is to be cooked with some of the marinara, "milk", etc. Please change the recipe to read 1 CUP RAW BROWN RICE. Second issue is the very first instruction is to preheat the oven. Then proceed with the recipe which will take at least an hour. I work as a professional chef. An oven will take no more than 8-10 minutes to heat. Please list the instruction to preheat closer to cooking time. Our planet will appreciate it. Thanks. Looking forward to trying these.


I actually think the recipe is correct as written. Cook the rice first then cook it some more in 1 cup of sauce and 1/4 cup plant milk and help it get softer, soak up the flavor of the sauce, and easier to mix with the steamed mashed potatoes to make a 'dough' to fill with the mushroom mixture. 1 cup of sauce and 1/4 cup plant milk is not enough liquid to properly cook 1 cup of raw brown rice. Traditionally arancini are made with cooked then cooled risotto so over cooking the brown rice will help mimic that texture.


i did the same now i have all this cooked rice not very happy about it to be honest


Has anyone made this using gluten free bread for bread crumbs?

Johnnie Hollaway

Absolutely the Best!!


Does anyone know, can these go in an air fryer? What temp and how long? Thanks.

Ali Gaylord

What can you substitute for mushrooms? This look delicious, but I’m allergic to mushrooms S


I’d suggest peeled eggplant. I often use that as a sub for my friend who is allergic to mushrooms.


Arinola here’s the link to the contact page

Ginger Conrad

Ooooo...I'm going to try this one soon. Yummy!


Really enjoyed these with a variety of sauces.

Deborah Weisblatt

Do you think these would work with sweet potatoes?


Brilliant idea - I bet that would be delicious!


Also good with sweet chili sauce


I screwed this up from the beginning, when I added all the sauce to the rice. I am used to recipes that say “divided” in the ingredient list when the whole amount is not used at once. Then came the garlic, yeast and breadcrumbs all of which were divided, and of course I didn’t. I ended up just throwing all the ingredients plus extra rice into the pot and scooping it up and rolling in bread crumbs. It’s in the oven now. Just went to the pantry and I have no more sauce, so maybe we will dip them in salsa or ketchup. Not my day in the kitchen, but as a good Sicilian grandmother would do, we will not let it go to waste.


How can I speak to someone please


I was just sitting here thinking - what if I just tossed all these ingredients together and made them that way? I think you actually won in the kitchen - so much less work!


How did it turn out when you accidentally put it all in together? I am intrigued on if steps can be skipped a little lol

About the Author

Headshot of Darshana Thacker

About the Author

Darshana Thacker Wendel

Darshana Thacker Wendel is a whole-food, plant-based chef and former culinary projects manager for Forks Over Knives. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute, she is the author of Forks Over Knives: Flavor! She created the recipes for Forks Over Knives Family and was a lead recipe contributor to the New York Times bestseller The Forks Over Knives Plan. Her recipes have been published in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook, Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook, Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, and LA Yoga magazine online. Visit and follow her on Instagram for more.
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