These Baked Cauliflower Rice Balls (Arancini) swap cauliflower instead of rice to deliver a veggie-packed, healthy alternative to traditional Italian rice balls. Enjoy this baked version of classic Italian Arancini for lunch, dinner, or as an appetizer.
If you’re lucky enough to enjoy my Nonna’s rice ball recipe, you’ll never forget it. Her traditional version is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, stuffed with mozzarella and ground meat.
My Nonna was sweet enough to make a gluten-free, plant-based version with Jimmy and I (using Miyoko’s mozzarella + Beyond Burger) and it was life-changing. Like, I would eat them every day if possible. Unfortunately, they’re fried sooo both my stomach and skin said otherwise.
But that’s okay, because we love a good food challenge here. This meant creating a delicious, oil-free alternative, but I didn’t stop there: I also cut out the rice and substituted it for cauliflower! The result is a delicious, healthy cauliflower rice ball that you can enjoy as often as you’d like.
this recipe is:
- vegan + vegetarian
- refined sugar-free
Recipe Ingredients + Tools
- Parchment paper
- Riced cauliflower
- Chia seeds
- Gluten-free breadcrumbs (I also like Trader Joe’s GF Crumbs)
- Paleo flour or gluten free flour
- Tomato purée or tomato sauce
- Vegan mozzarella cheese shreds
How to make healthy baked Italian cauliflower rice balls:
These Italian Cauliflower Rice Balls are simple and delicious! To make them, combine the riced cauliflower, chia egg, breadcrumbs, paleo flour, tomato purée, vegan mozzarella, garlic, basil, sea salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, then refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.
Make the rice ball coating by mixing breadcrumbs, sea salt, pepper, basil, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Begin forming the rice balls by scooping ~4 tablespoons of the base, then roll the rice balls in the small bowl to evenly coat.
Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for 25-30 minutes (until golden) at 400º. Serve with warm tomato sauce, and top with fresh basil and vegan mozzarella or parmesan.
Yes, use paleo flour and paleo breadcrumbs.
Yes! I recommend storing the rice balls in a separate container than the tomato sauce. If you heat them in the microwave they’ll be soft, and if you heat them in the oven or toaster oven they’ll be crispy. Pour warm tomato sauce over right before eating.
Yes, I recommend using a food processor to rice the cauliflower, then squeeze the excess moisture out with a paper towel or cheesecloth.
Yes, reduce the time to 15-20 minutes and check on them halfway through.
If you try this Cauliflower Rice Ball recipe, please leave a comment and rate it below. Would love to hear what you think!
Baked Italian Cauliflower Rice Balls Arancini
Rice Ball Base
- 4 cups riced cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 3 tablespoons water for chia egg
- 1 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
- 3 tablespoons paleo flour or 1:1 gluten-free flour
- ¼ cup tomato purée or sauce
- ½ cup vegan mozzarella cheese shreds
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 5 leaves basil minced
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
Rice Ball Coating
- ⅓ cup gluten-free breadcrumbs or rice crumbs
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried basil
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Prep chia egg by combining chia seeds with water, set aside for 5 min to thicken. Combine all rice ball base ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Begin forming balls by scooping ~4 tablespoon of the base.
- Mix the coating ingredients in a small bowl. Roll the rice balls in the small bowl to evenly coat.
- Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then bake for 25-30 min until golden.
- Serve with drizzled warm tomato sauce, and top with fresh basil and vegan mozzarella or parmesan.
- Option to grind up the chia seeds in a coffee or herb grinder before making the chia egg.
- To make this paleo and grain-free, use paleo breadcrumbs and flour.
- If you have leftovers, store them in the fridge in an airtight container. To reheat, bake in the oven at 350º for 5-8 minutes or warm in the microwave.