Vegetarian Arancini With Aubergines and Chickpeas

Oven-Baked Italian Rice Balls

Crispy breadcrumbs coat a saffron-flavoured rice ball stuffed with aubergines, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Sounds delicious? Well, it is! These tasty oven-baked vegetarian risotto balls, also known as arancini, are a famous street-food that originates from the south of Italy. Make a big batch of them as they're perfect for a party or as picnic nibble.

Vegetarian Arancini Recipe


Nutrition per serving
Net Carbs37.7 g13.7%
of which Sugars2.5 g2.8%
Fibers3.1 g11%
Fats4.7 g7.2%
of which Saturates1.1 g5.6%
of which Omega 30.1 g5.2%
Proteins6.6 g14.2%
Calcium69 mg6.9%
Vitamin A23 mcg3.3%
Vitamin C2 mg3.1%
Iron2 mg13.2%
Potassium170 mg4.9%
Sodium221 mg9.6%
Cholesterol3.2 mg1.1%
Kcal219 11%
Macro split
  • net carbs 72%
  • sugars 5%
  • fats 9%
  • saturates 2%
  • proteins 13%
  • fibers 6%
*RDA based on a 2000 kcal diet;
**Nutritional data sources: USDA, food labels.
219 per serving
1h 30m

If you love this world-famous Italian street food but you don't eat meat, then our vegetarian arancini are definitely a must-try!

Arancini are risotto balls which are usually stuffed with bolognese sauce, coated with breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried.

As here at Foodaciously we like to try out tasty and healthy variations of the food you love, we have made these rice balls lower in fats and calories without giving up on taste.

What's so great about this recipe, is that the arancini are oven-baked instead of deep-fried and have no butter. Moreover, the vegetarian filling made with aubergines, tomatoes, and chickpeas replaces beef mince which is known for its high saturated fats. This way each arancino provides just 200kcal and 1/4 of the fats compared to other recipes.

These rice balls taste great both warm and cold, making a great recipe to prepare as a party snack, a dinner appetiser, or as a picnic idea. You can even make a meal out of it and pack them in your lunch box.

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Measuring System
For the Coating
White Flour80 g
Cold Water130 mL
Breadcrumbs120 g
Garlic Powder1 tsp
Dried Basil1 tbsp
For the Filling
Garlic Clove1
Aubergine180 g
Tinned Chopped Tomatoes100 g
Tinned Chickpeas120 g
Fresh Basil5 g
Fresh Parsley5 g
Paprika1 tsp
Lemon Zest1 tsp
For the Rice Balls
Extra Virgin Olive Oil2 tbsp
Onion50 g
Arborio Rice300 g
Vegetable Stock600 mL
Salt to taste
Black Pepper1/4 tsp
Saffron1 tsp
Parmesan45 g

Step 1

In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, add finely chopped onions and sizzle until soft.

Add the arborio rice and stir it for a few minutes.

In the meantime, bring the vegetable stock to the boil. Pour a ladle of broth in the pan with the rice and stir well. Allow each ladleful to become absorbed before adding the next and continue to do so until the rice is cooked through.

Arborio rice

Step 2

Season the risotto with salt, pepper, and saffron.

Add the grated parmesan and stir until well incorporated.

Remove the pan from the heat and spread the rice over a baking tray. Cover it with cling film and place it in the fridge while you prepare the filling.

Rice cooked and cooling down

Step 3

Sizzle the remaining 1 tbsp of olive oil with crushed garlic until fragrant.

Add diced aubergines, tinned chopped tomatoes, and chickpeas and cook for 10 minutes.

Stir in fresh basil and parsley, finely chopped. Season with salt, paprika, and lemon zest.

Transfer the cooked aubergine filling onto a plate or tray to cool down.

Rice ball filling cooking.

Step 4

To make one rice ball, scoop a portion of the rice into your hand and place one tablespoon of the aubergine mix in the centre. Then, seal it by wrapping the rice around the filling (1).

Dip the rice ball in a batter made with flour and water and then in a mix of breadcrumbs, garlic powder, and dried basil (2).

Filling the rice balls with chickpeas and aubergines.
Coating the arancini with flour and breadcrumbs.

Step 5

Place the arancini over a non-stick baking tray and brush them with a bit of extra virgin olive oil.

Cook them in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C (355°F) or 160°C (320°F) for fan ovens.

Enjoy these delicious oven-baked vegetarian arancini while still warm with a sprinkle of grated parmesan and fresh basil.

Arancini baked in the oven.


  • Make sure both the rice and the filling are cool and dry before making these vegetarian rice balls or they won't hold together.

  • If you prefer a cheesy filling, just add some parmesan or smoked cheese.

  • You can also cook these Italian rice balls in an air fryer and they will get even crispier.

  • For a vegan version of these rice balls, just swap parmesan with nutritional yeast or a 'flax egg' (1 tbsp of flaxseeds mixed with 3 tbsp of water).

  • If you don’t have time to make the full recipe in one day, then simply prepare the rice and filling the night before, store them in the fridge and then bake these vegetarian rice balls when you need them. Easy!