Smoked Gouda Risotto Balls


Looking for Hanukkah ideas? Try this special version of my rice and cheese balls, which landed on the Jewish Food Experience’s “Top 10” List—the fried foods to explore after you’ve had your fill of latkes and sufganiyot. And although these Italian-inspired delicacies make a good fit for the deep-fried holiday, they are delicious anytime.

Smoked Gouda Risotto Balls

Deep-fried rice and cheese croquettes—the Italians had a great idea for Hanukkah without even knowing it. This specialty known as supplì (SOO-plee) or arancine (ah-rahn-CHEE-neh) is formed with tender risotto, stuffed with cheese (and sometimes meat and vegetables), and then coated and fried. If anything could replace the Friedman family latkes for me as a favored Hanukkah dish, this would be it. My special holiday version, adapted from my recipe in Meatballs and Matzah Balls, nods to the flames and little wisp of smoke of the Hanukkah candles by incorporating smoked Gouda cheese. The risotto balls are best served sizzling out of the pan, but you can keep them warm in a 250-degree oven if needed. Serve with a marinara sauce if you like, but we enjoy them as is.
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian, Jewish-Italian
Servings 20 balls


  • A deep-fry/candy thermometer to monitor oil temperature during frying


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cups Arborio (short-grained) rice
  • teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • ½ pound smoked Gouda cheese, cut into small pieces (about the size of an olive or blackberry)
  • cups Japanese panko crumbs or other bread crumbs
  • Canola or other neutral oil, about 2 quarts or enough to cover balls


  • Warm the oil and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and rice and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 to 3 minutes, until edges of rice turn slightly translucent and liquid is absorbed. Stir in salt, black pepper to taste, ground red pepper, and 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer without stirring for about 15 minutes, until rice is al dente and most liquid is absorbed (the mixture will be creamy).
  • Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Set aside until cool enough to handle comfortably, about 45 minutes.
  • To make the balls, moisten hands with water. Form about 2 heaping tablespoons of cooked rice into a ball, then press 1 piece of Gouda into the center. Reshape so that rice completely encloses the cheese and squeeze to make a compact ball. Set aside and repeat with remaining rice. Roll the balls in the panko crumbs.
  • Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed, deep-sided pan (such as a Dutch oven) to 355 to 360 degrees. Working in batches of 5 balls at a time so as not to crowd the pan, gently lower the balls into the oil and fry, turning once or twice, until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining balls, allowing the oil to return to 360 degrees before adding a new batch. Serve hot.
Keyword Hanukkah, risotto, risotto balls, smoked gouda


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