Arancini, deep-fried risotto, is true Italian comfort food. This version swaps cauliflower for rice and crisps it in the oven or air fryer instead of in oil. This “healthified” cheesy cauliflower mixture is flavorful and texturally on point. For a smoky kick, add some crispy pancetta into the mix!

Prep Time: 40 minutes | Makes 8–12 servings


2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp olive oil
2 cups riced cauliflower (uncooked)
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more to garnish
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 eggs, divided
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Calabrian (or regular) honey, to garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare 2 small bowls—1 with the panko and the other with 1 beaten egg.

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and stir to cook, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add riced cauliflower and stir to cook through, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in cheeses, salt, and pepper until cheese begins to melt.

Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, add in a second egg and stir to combine.

Scoop out approximately 2-tablespoon portions of cauliflower mixture and squeeze between the palms of your hands to release excess liquid. Carefully shape into a ball, then roll in egg followed by panko. Place the ball on the baking sheet. Repeat with remaining cauliflower mixture.

Coat arancini balls with cooking spray to ensure a golden crust. Bake for 15 minutes; then, turn up the oven to 425 degrees and bake 8–10 minutes more until golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle with honey and dust with parmesan. Serve hot!

Air fryer method: Once arancini balls are formed, place in air fryer basket and coat with cooking spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Then, check the basket and cook for 5 minutes more at 400 degrees until golden brown and crispy.

Cara Greenstein celebrates intentional and exceptional cuisine in her award-winning food and lifestyle blog, Caramelized, which offers recipes and restaurant reviews, food-focused travel itineraries, and endless tablescape tips. Follow @cara_melized on Instagram for daily inspiration and bookmark her recipes at