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4.47 from 13 votes

Vegan Arancini with Pesto

Crispy breadcrumbed risotto balls, filled with fresh basil pesto and vegan mozzarella!
Cook Time1 hr 45 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cheesy arancini, vegan arancini, vegan pesto
Servings: 15
Calories: 164kcal


  • High Speed Blender


For the Risotto

  • 1 l water (boiling)
  • 1.5 tbsp bouillon powder (make sure it's a vegan variety)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion (finely diced)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely diced or crushed)
  • 215 g arborio rice
  • 65 ml white wine (vegan stuff obvi)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

For the Pesto

  • 30 g fresh basil (stalks and leaves)
  • 30 g pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan)
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 2.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1.5 tbsp water

For the Vegan Mozzarella

  • 110 g silken tofu
  • 70 ml oat milk
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 25 g odourless coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 3 tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the Coating

  • 3 tbsp gram flour
  • 1 tbsp plain white flour
  • 10 tbsp plant milk
  • 80 g breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • vegetable oil (for frying)


To Make the Risotto

  • Mix together the boiling water and bouillon in a medium saucepan and set over a low heat to simmer. Place a second medium saucepan over a medium heat and add the olive oil and bring to temperature.
  • Once your oil is hot, add the diced onion and cook for two minutes or until turning translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the rice and stir to combine with the onion and garlic. Allow the rice to heat lightly for around a minute before adding your wine and stirring again.
  • Once almost all of the wine has evaporated, us a ladle to spoon some hot bouillon (which should be still simmering) and pour over the rice while stirring constantly. Allow the rice to cook off most of the moisture and then add another ladle full of bouillon. Repeat until you have no bouillon remaining (around 10-15 minutes).
  • After all the bouillon is gone, check the rice is done by tasting a small amount. If it feels gritty in the centre it's not done, but if it feels smooth but very slightly firm, then you're done. If the rice is not cooked, add a few more ladles of boiling water and continue to cook until it is.
  • Once the rice is fully cooked, remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and nutritional yeast. Spread the risotto out on a baking tray to allow it to cool for at least an hour in the fridge, or, if you're not in a rush, cover it up and allow to cool overnight.

To Make the Pesto

  • While your risotto is cooling, make the pesto. Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blitz until combined but still slightly chunky. Cover and place in the fridge to chill.

To Make the Vegan Mozzarella

  • Place all the ingredients in a high speed blender and blitz until completely smooth.
  • Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisking constantly, allow the mixture to thicken. Once bubbles start to rise, the mixture should be super thick and stringy and stretchy. Remove from the heat.
  • Place all your cooled rice in a large bowl and add the vegan mozzarella. Stir well to combine until the mozzarella is evenly distributed. Set aside while you prepare your coatings.

To Make the Coating and Assemble

  • In one medium bowl whisk together the flours and plant milk. In another medium bowl place the breadcrumbs.
  • Cover the palm of your hand with a sheet of cling film or greaseproof paper. Holding your hand flat, spread out a circle of the cooked risotto rice around 5-6cm in diameter. Gently cup your hand and make a well in the centre of the rice with your other thumb. Place a half tsp of chilled pesto into the well then top with some more rice (don't worry if some pesto is showing through the sides, just do your best to seal up the gaps with more rice.
  • Gather up the sides of the cling film to make a ball of rice. You can twist the top of the cling film gently to make sure the rice is gently compressed. Remove the cling film and set aside.
  • Very gently, roll the rice ball first in the gram flour mixture and then the breadcrumbs. Set aside gently on a baking tray. Repeat this process until you've used up all your risotto.

To Fry

  • Place a medium saucepan over medium/low heat and add around 2-3 inches of vegetable oil. Using a probe or candy thermometer, bring the oil to 170c. If you don't have a thermometer, drop small square of bread into the oil. If it bubbles straight away and browns gently, then you're at temperature.
  • Reduce the heat to low and using a spider or slotted spoon, lower one arancini into the oil. It should bubble immediately (if not, your oil is too cold) and should brown in around 2 minutes on each side.
  • Remove the arancini once cooked and place on a couple of sheets of kitchen towel to help drain. Repeat with all your arancini.
  • I serve my arancini with another small portion of pesto or a side of marinara sauce for dipping!


Calories: 164kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 298mg | Potassium: 128mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 40mg | Iron: 1mg