Photo by Sonia Mendez Garcia

Cheesy Mexican Rice Balls

Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 15-18 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Turn your rice leftovers into a delicious appetizer with this Cheesy Mexican Rice Balls recipe.

Do you ever find yourself with too much leftover rice? You eat it for three days, then you don’t want to eat rice again for a whole month! This is what happened to me just this past weekend, so I decided to get a little creative and take a simple bowl of Mexican red rice and transform it. I have several friends who are Italian, and I often hear them talk about these fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, so a light went off in my head! I had all the ingredients already, so it was worth a try. This recipe is a keeper and I cannot wait to make it for my friends.


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  1. In a large bowl, mix the rice, grated cotija cheese, 2 eggs, and chipotle powder. Stir well to combine and chill in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Set up your breading station: whisk the remaining 3 eggs, and mix the breadcrumbs in another bowl. Add enough canola oil in a small pot to create a depth of about 3 inches on the side. Heat over medium/high heat.
  3. While the oil is getting hot, prepare the rice balls. Take about 1/4 cup of rice mixture in the palm of your hand and make an indentation with your thumb. Take a 1-inch piece of cheese and place it in the hole. Form the rice around the cheese, pressing in place. Form the rest of the rice balls and transfer onto plate. You should have 12 rice balls.
  4. When ready, line a clean plate with paper towels and set it near frying station. Dip the rice ball into the chilled egg mixture, then carefully roll it in the breadcrumbs. Using a metal, slotted spoon, carefully drop cheese ball into hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes, turning once, until golden brown. When adding the rice balls to the oil, try to shake off excess breadcrumbs from spoon. Transfer fried rice balls to plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Serve with your favorite salsa.

Chef Notes

You can also use plain white rice for this recipe. I used homemade spicy bread crumbs, seasoned with oregano, garlic and jalapeño.

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