Chicken Pesto Arancini

By Erika on November 9th, 2012 / / 5 Comments

Arancini means “little oranges” in Italian. My mother grew up in Europe and spent 6 years as a child in Italy so she speaks fluent Italian and definitely has her opinion about how I pronounce these cute little crispy risotto balls. I say “are-an-CHEE-nee” but she says it with SO MUCH gusto and accent that it puts me to shame…No matter how you pronounce them,  stuff them with all kinds of things and you have a great appetizer– these are so easy to make and wonderfully crispy and flavorful! The chicken, pesto and mozzarella makes them hearty and filling, so you can decide how big you want to make them if you’re making this as an appetizer along with other items.

Yield: Serves 4-6

Chicken Pesto Arancini

Chicken Pesto Arancini


  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry cup wine
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken stock, HOT
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 chicken breast, pounded to 1/2" thin
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, shredded
  • oil for frying

For Pesto:

  • 2 cups basil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup toasted pinenuts
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • fresh lemon juice to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Dredging station (in 3 separate dishes):

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs


  1. In sauté pan or skillet, heat butter over medium heat and sauté shallots until they begin to turn translucent. Add garlic and sauté about 2 minutes longer, being careful not to burn garlic. Add Arborio and toss until coated with the mixture. Deglaze with white wine and stir until it's absorbed. Slowly start adding stock, about 3/4 cup at a time and stir until it's absorbed. Repeat until all stock is added. Risotto should be slightly al dente', and NOT be mushy. Cover and let cool for about 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
  2. While risotto is cooling, heat oil to 350-375 degrees in a fryer or pan deep enough to hold the arancini.
  3. Heat grill or grill pan to medium/medium -high. Season the chicken breast with salt and pepper. Brush grill with oil or spray with grill spray. Grill chicken for about 3 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked though. Remove, cover with foil and let sit for about 2-3 minutes. Chop into small bite-sized pieces.
  4. Prepare pesto. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
  5. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove risotto from refrigerator and make into 1- 1/2" balls. With your thumb, press a nice big pocket in the risotto so it almost looks like a catcher's mitt. Place a layer of cheese, pesto and chicken, then cover with cheese. Put enough risotto over the cheese to form a ball.
  6. Dip arancini in egg, then in roll panko bread crumbs. Repeat until all balls are finished. Place arancini in hot oil for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towel until all arancini are finished. When finished frying all arancini, place on baking sheet and put in oven for about 5-7 minutes so the cheese can melt. Remove from oven and serve with the remaining pesto sauce.

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show comments 5 responses

  • emily says:

    oh my!!!! This looks amazing! I think this is my first time to your site…. love it! WOuld love to have you come over and link up to my Tasteful Tuesday party!

    • Erika Erika says:

      Thanlk you, Emily!! Naptime Creations is AMAZING, what a great job you’ve done!! I really appreciate your sweet comments!!

  • Lisa says:

    Erika, I featured your recipe for Mangia Mondays/January – thank you for sharing! It looks amazing and I’m so glad to find your blog!

  • emily says:

    wow, that looks awesome. I’ve made something similar and it was great!!!

  • Wanderson says:

    Yummy, yummy, yummy! I’m a vanilla gal and these are right up my alley. Love the sweet arncniai too made some vanilla bean arncniai for the DK risotto challenge a few months back. Bookmarking this for sure and love the photos!

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