Pancetta and Smoked Mozzarella Arancini

I LOVE arancini. Truly, madly, deeply. Love. 

I love it so much that it’s my appetizer of choice right now, for any and everything! (And I’m purposely forgetting that it’s not the healthiest thing ever…)

Risotto is something I could easily eat all.the.time. It’s a meal that (when done right!) is out of this world. So obviously that love carries over into arancini.

Best use of leftovers, ever? Especially since risotto is one thing that I don’t LOVE the next day – I just think it’s definitely served right on the spot after it’s made.

But why waste leftovers when you can turn that risotto into deliciously cheese and bacon filled fried balls?

With the football season coming to a close, it’s time to start thinking about Big Game parties and inevitably, the recipes you will make and bring to yours!

Out of the eight people you watch the game with, I’d say two of them are actually focusing on the game/outcome, and the rest of you are there for the food.

I’ll admit that I am usually there for the food and the halftime show. And maybe to yell about an unfair play or two. Since the odds that the Browns will take a trip to any playoff game soon, I’m not too invested.

There ain’t no shame in my game.

So In preparation, I’ve teamed up with my football blogger friends one final time to bring you some brilliant Big Game recipe ideas. We like to get your brains thinking about the importance of food for the game a few weeks early.

We’ve made appetizers, entrees, desserts and even drinks. Prepare to be inspired, and be sure to check out their links below! (And as a refresher – you can check out this, and this post for our past collaborations.)

Arancini may not be the first appetizer that comes to mind – but it’s cheesy, filled with bacon and lots of love, and it’s coated in breadcrumbs. So chances are, the success rate should be a good one, yeah?

Yes. A really good one. Definitely one that is more important than the actual game.


Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans — and we want to share our love for our teams, the game and the food that brings us all together on game day.

Pancetta and Smoked Mozzarella Arancini
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 16-20 balls
  • 1½ cups cooked risotto
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper
  • A pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 6 ounces fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, cubed*
  • ¼ cup Oil (you can use grapeseed, vegetable or even olive oil)
  • Optional: fresh chopped basil or parsley, a sprinkle of parmesan, and marinara sauce for dipping
  1. [Note: risotto can be made ahead of time and cooled overnight in the fridge. Or you can make the risotto, and spread it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper until it's cooled and dry.
  2. Cook the pancetta in a small skillet over medium high heat. Remove the pancetta from the pan with a slotted spoon, pat dry with a paper towel, then and add the pancetta to a large bowl.
  3. Once cooled, add the risotto to the bowl with the pancetta. Stir in the egg, parmesan cheese, ½ of he breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
  4. Use your hands to form the mixture into about 1-inch round balls. Push a cube (or two, if they're super small!) of the smoked mozzarella cheese into the center of the ball, making sure to seal it tight.
  5. Add the remaining breadcrumbs to a shallow dish, and roll each risotto ball into the bread crumbs and place it on a baking sheet. Repeat the process until the risotto mixture is gone. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  6. When there is about 5 minutes left of freezing, heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. The oil should be between 325 and 350 degrees F. Once the oil is hot enough, carefully drop 3-4 risotto balls into the oil, frying until all sides are golden brown (3-4 minutes per side). Carefully remove the balls (1 at a time) with a slotted spoon, and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to remove any excess liquid. Repeat with the remaining balls.
  7. Sprinkle a little bit of parmesan cheese, and fresh chopped basil or parsley over the balls. Serve immediately with marinara sauce (I served mine with a sun-dried tomato sauce!)
*If you can't find fresh smoked mozzarella, you can use regular fresh mozzarella too!

Classic Potato Salad by Celebrating Family
Chili Cheese Burritos by Love Bakes Good Cakes
Fruit Spring Rolls with Key Lime Cheesecake Dip by Body Rebooted
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sliders by Dash of Herbs
Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip by The Culinary Compass
Chicks in a Blanket with Apricot Sauce by Mom’s Messy Miracles
Jalapeno Pale Ale Chili by Beer Girl Cooks
Jalapeno Popper Pull Apart Bread by The Life Jolie
Sausage Pepperoni Pizza Dip by Feast + West
Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls by Family Food on the Table
Mini Bacon Ranch Cheese Balls by Honey & Birch
Cookie Dough Cheese Ball by Bread Booze Bacon
Hawaiian Pizza Jalapeno Poppers by Love & Flour
Meatloaf Sliders by Foodtastic Mom
Wonton Taco Cups by A Mind Full Mom
Pancetta and Smoked Mozzarella Arancini by The Secret Ingredient Is
Bean and Cheese Taco Bites by The BakerMama
Monte Cristo Poppers by See Aimee Cook
Chile Beer Sangria by Cake ‘n Knife
Low Carb Stuffed Crust Pizza by Sustaining the Powers
Puff Pastry Pizza Bites by The Mexitalian
No Churn Pistachio Baklava Ice Cream by Club Narwhal
Roasted Jalapeno Poppers by Off the Eaten Path
Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese by Hello Little Home
Jalapeno Popper Chicken Wings by Around My Family Table
Gluten Free Bread Sticks by What A Girl Eats
Cheesy Beef Dip by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs by The Crumby Cupcake
Greek Meatballs by Two Places at Once
Baked Taco Empanadas by Simplify, Live, Love
Cheese Sticks by Coffee Love Travel
Bacon Wrapped Blue Cheese Meatballs by West via Midwest
Puff Pastry Bacon Pizza Twists by 2 Cookin Mamas
Skillet Chicken Queso Dip by foodbyjonister
Spicy Sausage Rolls by Peanut Blossom
Protein Dark Chocolate Truffles by The Creative Bite
Chickpea Pepper Cheese Poppers by Bucket List Tummy
Maple Cranberry Apple Sangria by Order in the Kitchen
Meyer Lemon Shandies by The Speckled Palate
Game Day Fried Deviled Eggs with Chow Chow Relish by For the Love of Food
Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls by Simple and Savory
Pimento Mac and Cheese Squares by Lauren’s Kitchen
Pastrami Nachos by A Little Gathering
Shrimp Ceviche Dip by Glisten and Grace
Football Bourbon Balls + Boozy Lemonade by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Apple Cider Mimosas With A Sparkly Sugar Rim by And She Cooks
Pulled Pork Stuffed Corn Dogs by Nik Snacks
Easy Pepperoni Rolls by Me and My Pink Mixer
Real Boneless Chicken Wings by Macheesmo
Califlower Tater Tots by Living Well Kitchen
Cheeseburger Naan Pizza by Shaws Simple Swaps
Red Velvet Ginger Rum Balls by Cafe Terra
Crab Rangoon by Brunch-n-Bites
Sweet n’ Spicy BBQ Popcorn by Life’s Ambrosia
Buffalo Chicken Rolls by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
Crowd Pleasing Steak Fajita Dip by Lizzy is Dizzy
Sriracha Hummus Pinwheel Sandwiches by Casa de Crews
Simlple Meatball Sub Sliders by Loaves & Dishes
Maple-Mustard Bacon Chicken Bites by An Oregon Cottage
Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese & Honey Mustard Dipping Sauces by A Simpler Grace
Ricotta Stuffed Sausage Meatballs by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

5 thoughts on “Pancetta and Smoked Mozzarella Arancini

  1. Arancini is my jam too! Love it….a little too much!! I regularly make and it takes a lot for me to share, lol 😀 How could anyone resist little carby balls of cheese that is fried?? No one! P.S. Love your polish….it’s gorgeous, girl!!

  2. I thought this was literally something that was impossible to make and something I’d only ever order in a restaurant, and you make it look so easy! I might have to make this for Pats game Saturday! Also, definitely the first time I got a peek at that ring. YOU DID GOOD E. YOU DID GOOD.

  3. Yes, Michelle. You have done it again- taking a food I never thought possible to make at home and breaking it down for us beginners. Sure to impress my next visitors and perfect for next Sunday’s dinner. (And that RING!)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Rate this recipe: