Arancini Casserole

This easy Arancini Casserole features all the delicious flavors of traditional Sicilian Arancini rice balls but in a comforting rice casserole. It combines flavorful ground chicken, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan for a quick and comforting weeknight meal or meal prep option.

by Ioana

Published :

Arancini Casserole section on a plate

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There’s something comforting about quick and easy oven-baked casseroles, just like my favorite oven-baked chicken and rice. They’re a lifesaver for busy nights and great for meal prep. It’s like having a culinary ace up your sleeve, making delicious homemade meals a breeze.

If you’ve ever savored Arancini (Italian rice balls) as an appetizer at your favorite Italian restaurant, you’re in for a treat because this casserole version captures those same mouthwatering flavors right at home.

Making dinner for the entire family has never been easier: just cook the rice (or use leftovers) and ground chicken, then assemble them in a baking dish and let the oven do the rest of the work. This simple casserole recipe is incredibly delicious, and you can customize the ingredients to suit your preferences.

arancini casserole recipe sicilian rice ball thefoodieblogger

Why You Love This Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole

  • Delicious. The combination of seasoned ground chicken, tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and spices creates a flavorful and filling meal.
  • Comfort Food. This dish is like a warm hug with rice and hearty chicken, making it satisfying and cozy.
  • Easy To Make. The recipe involves a few simple steps that are super easy to follow. 
  • Budget-friendly. You will need only a few simple ingredients like ground chicken, rice, tomato sauce, cheese, and a few spices.
  • Baked, Not Fried. While traditional arancini are deep-fried, this casserole offers a baked alternative. Some people appreciate the healthier cooking method while still enjoying the essence of Sicilian rice balls.
  • Crowd-pleaser. Both kids and grown-ups love it, making it a perfect dinner for the whole family.

Ingredients and Substitutions

Now, let’s take a look at the key ingredients that we need to create this delicious Sicilian Arancini. Here is a list of everything we’ll need:

Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole Ingredients

For The Rice Layer

  • Uncooked Grain Rice – Go for short-grain rice if you can; it gets sticky and helps hold everything together. Regular rice, arborio rice, or brown rice can work too.
  • Chicken Bouillon – It’s like a magic touch that gives your rice a great chicken flavor.
  • Onion – Chop it finely for a bit of sweetness and extra flavor.
  • Eggs –  Eggs act as a binding agent, helping to hold the rice together. They also provide moisture and contribute to the overall structure of the rice mixture.
  • Tomato Sauce – This adds a touch of sweetness and color.
  • Chopped Parsley – It’s for a fresh, herby taste.

Chicken Layer Ingredients

  • Ground Chicken – You can use regular ground chicken or ground chicken breast, depending on what you have on hand. For even more flavor, replace it with Italian sausage link or breakfast sausage.
  • Frozen Peas – Peas add a burst of sweetness and vibrant color to the dish. Sometimes, I add onions or bell peppers for more nutrition and flavor.
  • Tomato Sauce – It creates a luscious sauce that combines perfectly with the rest of the ingredients. Use a jar of marinara sauce instead.
  • Salt and Pepper – Just to make everything taste even better.
  • Italian Seasoning – This blend of dried herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme gives a classic Italian flavor to the chicken mixture.
  • Garlic Powder – It adds extra savory goodness.
  • Paprika – adds a subtle smokiness and a touch of color to the chicken mixture.

For Assembling The Casserole

  • Mozzarella Cheese & Parmesan Cheese: They make it cheesy and delicious! You can also use shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Breadcrumbs: These give the top a crispy, golden finish.

How To Make Italian Rice Casserole?

Cooking the Rice: Cook 2 cups of rice following the instructions on the package. Enhance the flavor by adding 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon while cooking. You can even use leftover risotto or rice if you have it. Let the rice cool.

Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C) to get it ready for baking the casserole.

Making the meat sauce: Brown 1 lb of ground chicken in a large skillet over medium-heat until fully cooked. Add chopped onions and cook until they’re translucent.

Seasoning the Meat: Season the chicken with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and paprika. Mix well.

Simmer the Chicken Mixture: Add frozen peas and tomato sauce to the chicken. Simmer for about 15 minutes.

Prepare The Rice: In a large bowl, combine the cooled rice (or leftover rice), chopped parsley, parmesan cheese, and tomato sauce. Mix in beaten eggs until well combined.

making the silician rice casserole rice and meat sauce

Assembling the Casserole:

  • Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of breadcrumbs as a base.
  • Spread half of the rice mixture evenly in the dish, add the chicken and pea mixture, and top it with shredded mozzarella.
  • Finish with the remaining rice mixture, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs.
assembling the silician rice casserole

Bake the Casserole: Transfer the casserole to the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges are bubbling. Enjoy your meal!

easy arancini casserole

Can You Prepare Arancini Casserole Ahead of Time?

Absolutely! You can assemble the casserole and keep it covered in the refrigerator before baking.

Can You Freeze Arancini Casserole?

Absolutely! After assembling the casserole and letting it cool completely, cover the dish with plastic wrap and aluminum foil, then pop it in the freezer. When you’re ready to bake, simply thaw the casserole and follow the baking instructions.

Recipe Variations

  • Vegan Option: Replace ground chicken with plant-based ground meat or crumbled tofu for a vegetarian version.
  • Spicy Kick: Add some heat with diced jalapeños or red pepper flakes to the chicken mixture.
  • Mediterranean: Add a layer of diced olives and feta cheese.
  • Cheesy Lover’s Dream: Go extra cheesy by adding a layer of cheese in the middle of the casserole, creating a gooey cheese surprise when you cut into it.

How to Serve?

  • Simple Green Salad: Have it with a fresh green salad with a simple dressing. It balances the richness of the casserole.
  • Garlic Bread or Breadsticks: Get some garlic bread or breadsticks. They’re perfect for soaking up the delicious sauce.
  • Roasted Veggies: Try roasted vegetables like carrots, zucchini, or peppers. They add more flavor to your meal.
  • Grilled Asparagus or Broccoli: Grilled asparagus or broccoli is a tasty option. .

Arancini Casserole

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This easy Arancini Casserole features all the delicious flavors of traditional Sicilian Arancini rice balls but in a comforting rice casserole. It combines flavorful ground chicken, tomato sauce, mozzarella, and parmesan for a quick and comforting weeknight meal or meal prep option.
Author: Ioana
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 1 hour
10 servings


  • 2 cups uncooked rice
  • 3-4 cups water
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

For The Chicken Mixture

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups tomato sauce or Marinara sauce
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika

For Assembling The Casserole

  • 1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs


  1. Cook the rice according to the package instructions. To enhance the flavor, add 1 tablespoon of chicken bouillon ( or bouillon cube) to the water when you start cooking. After the rice is cooked, remove it from the heat and let it cool down.
    2 cups uncooked rice, 3-4 cups water, 1 cube chicken bouillon, 1 tsp salt
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and the ground chicken and cook it until no longer pink, breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks.
    1 lb ground chicken, 1 tbsp olive oil
  4. Add the finely chopped onions to the skillet with the chicken. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent.
    1 small onion
  5. To the skillet, add the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir everything well to make sure the meat is evenly seasoned.
    2 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning, 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp paprika
  6. Add the frozen peas and pour in 2 cups of tomato sauce. Let the mixture simmer for about 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend together. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
    1 cup frozen peas, 2 cups tomato sauce
  7. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked and slightly cooled rice with fresh parsley, grated parmesan cheese, and 1/2 cup of tomato sauce. Beat 2 eggs and mix them into the rice, ensuring everything is evenly coated.
    1 cup parmesan cheese, 2 large eggs, 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  8. Grease a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish with butter or cooking oil spray. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs evenly across the bottom of the dish.
    1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  9. Spread half of the rice mixture in the dish, pressing down to form a compact layer.
  10. Spoon the chicken mixture over the rice layer, spreading it evenly.
  11. Sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese over the chicken layer.
    1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
  12. Top with the remaining rice mixture, spreading it out to cover the chicken layer evenly.
  13. Sprinkle the top with the remaining grated parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs.
    1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  14. Place the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. The casserole is done when the top is golden brown and the edges are bubbling.
  15. Once baked, let the casserole sit for a few minutes before serving. This allows it to set and makes it easier to cut into portions.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 serving, Calories: 373 kcal, Carbohydrates: 42 g, Protein: 22 g, Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 6 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5 g, Trans Fat: 0.03 g, Cholesterol: 91 mg, Sodium: 1574 mg, Potassium: 578 mg, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 4 g, Vitamin A: 723 IU, Vitamin C: 11 mg, Calcium: 274 mg, Iron: 2 mg

The nutritional information provided on this website is intended to be a helpful reference and convenience for our users. It is offered as a courtesy and is based on data primarily sourced from the USDA Food Composition Database.

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best ever arancini casserole

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