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This is probably the best leftover rice makeover you’ll ever come across: AIR-FRIED VEGAN ARANCINI WITH MARINARA DIPPING SAUCE.

This is the best recipe to use up your leftover rice. It is SO GOOD, I wouldn’t be surprised if you cooked some rice just to make it!

I also love this recipe because it gives me the chance to eat this delicious treat that is typically not vegan. Plus, it is made using a few good-for-you ingredients and it is air-fried, which makes them healthier than the original version.

They are quite simple to make, which makes them perfect for a lazy weekend snack. And, they go together perfectly with a no-fuss homemade marinara dipping sauce.

I mean, what’s not to love?

That’s enough talk… it’s time to mangia!

Let’s get cooking!



For the Cheesy Rice Filling:

  • 2 Cups leftover cooked white rice

  • 4 Tbsp walnuts, powdered

  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 2 Tbsp vegan butter

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 tsp pepper

  • Shredded vegan parmesan cheese to taste (optional, but recommended)

For the Bread Crumb Mixture:

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1/2 Tbsp dried chives (or other dried herb)

  • 1/2 Tbsp dried parsley

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

  • pinch black pepper

For the Marinara Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil

  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed

  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. Warm up the leftover rice with the butter in a large bowl. Add the powdered walnuts, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and cheese, if using. Mix and adjust ingredients until you reach a sticky, risotto-like consistency, adding more butter if too dry, or more powder if too wet. Cover and allow to cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

  2. Prepare the bread crumb mixture by stirring together all of the bread crumb ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

  3. Once the rice has cooled, place a sheet of parchment paper on a flat surface. Use a spoon to scoop rice mixture onto the paper. You should end up with about 12 balls on the baking sheet, depending on how big you scooped them.

  4. Now you’ll need to use your hands to roll each scoop of the rice mixture into round balls. Pour some cold water into a small bowl to dampen your hands slightly before rolling the rice balls. This will help the breadcrumbs stick to the rice balls and not stick to your hands. Once you roll each ball, dip them in the breadcrumbs to cover completely. Then, place them back on the parchment paper. Make sure all are evenly round and coated with the breadcrumb mixture.

  5. Preheat your air fryer to 370° and then place the rice balls in the basket to air fry for 10-12 minutes or until crispy and brown. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook them in batches. Remember, you want to leave some space around them when cooking.

  6. While the rice balls are cooking, prepare the marinara sauce.

  7. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the smashed garlic cloves and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally for about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove garlic and discard.

  8. Pour in the tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes. Keep warm until ready to serve.

  9. When the arancini are done, allow them to cool for 10 minutes before eating - they will be hot!

  10. Serve with the marinara sauce.

  11. Enjoy!

Let me know if you make this! Tag me by using @mindfulgrub or the hashtag #mindfulgrub when you share your creations on social media. I‘d love to hear how it went for you!

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This post may contain affiliate links, which may or may not mean that I received some kind of compensation for doing so. Sometimes I just share links and products that I love. Rest assured, I will never recommend anything that I don’t use or like myself.

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