Arancini is a truly wonderful concept: leftover risotto balled around a savory filling and fried into an oozy and indulgent finger food makes for undoubtedly one of the best leftover makeovers of all time. Arancini originated in the Southern Italian island region of Sicily, which—on top of being the birthplace of such a wonderful dish—is also something of an Italian dessert capital. This recipe reconciles these two aspects of Sicilian heritage by attempting a sweet adaptation of the classic savory dish. 

The idea for this recipe came to me after I noticed the profound textural similarity of steel-cut oatmeal to risotto. This similarity makes steel-cut oats the perfect sweet substitution for the risotto layer of this dessert-ified arancini. To replace the smooth cheese or ragu center of the traditional savory recipe, I opted for a cooled ganache, which brings a similar velvety richness to this sweet version of the dish. And finally, instead of traditional bread crumbs, these oatmeal arancini are breaded with graham cracker crumbs, giving the crispy fried exterior a uniquely sweet character.

Oatmeal Arancini

  • Prep Time:30 mins
  • Cook Time:10 mins
  • Total Time:40 mins
  • Servings:6
  • Hard


  • 1 cup steel-cut oats quick cooking if you can find them
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter separated
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar {or equivalent amount maple syrup/agave/other sweetener}
  • Optional spices {e.g. cinnamon nutmeg milk powder etc.}
  • 4 oz quality dark chocolate {If substituting semi-sweet or other less-dark chocolate reduce amount cream by a few tbsp for correct consistency}
  • 2 oz heavy cream
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil {or other neutral oil}
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 additional cup milk
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
Remi Tateishi
  • Step 1

    Gather your ingredients.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 2

    Melt 1 tbsp butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until foamy, about 1-2 minutes.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 3

    Add oats and toast briefly until aromatic, about 1 minute.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 4

    Add water, milk, salt, brown sugar, and any other desired flavorings—cinnamon, cocoa powder, milk powder, etc. Stir, then bring to a boil.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 5

    Reduce temperature to low or medium-low and simmer until thickened. If using quick-cook steel-cut oats, this will take around 8-10 minutes, but if using traditional steel-cut oats, it will be closer to 20 or 30 minutes. You'll know its reached the right consistency if a spoon dragged quickly across the bottom of the pan leaves a distinct trail.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 6

    Once the mixture has thickened and the oats are cooked through—they should be al dente, still a little bitier than regular rolled/old-fashioned oats—remove from heat and stir in the remaining tbsp of butter.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 7

    Transfer oats to a heat-resistant, refrigerator-safe container and allow to cool completely before transferring to the fridge for at least 4 hours, ideally more than 8 hours or overnight.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 8

    While the oats are chilling, we'll make the ganache that will serve as the filling: start by adding the chocolate to a heatproof mixing bowl.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 9

    Add heavy cream to a saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-low heat, watching carefully so that it doesn't spill over (which cream tends to do very rapidly once it's boiling).

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 10

    As soon as the cream has come to a boil, pour it carefully into the chocolate.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 11

    Allow to rest for 1 minute, then stir vigorously until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is homogenous. Allow the ganache to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 12

    After the oatmeal has been chilled, it will have developed a thicker, more malleable consistency. Using your hands, shape the oatmeal into balls roughly 2 inches in diameter, about a 1/4 cup each.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 13

    Next, create a pocket in each ball using a small spoon or another rigid instrument, reserving the scooped-out oatmeal for the next step.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 14

    Use a spoon to portion about a 1/2 tbsp of the cooled ganache into each ball.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 15

    Use the reserved scooped-out rice to close the pocket. Adjust shape as needed to re-center the ganache.

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  • Step 16

    Heat vegetable oil in a tall-rimmed skillet or wide saucepan. While oil is preheating, pour flour, 1/2 cup milk, and graham cracker crumbs into separate shallow dishes.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 17

    Bread the oatmeal balls by first rolling in flour, then dipping in milk, and finally rolling to coat in the graham cracker crumbs.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 18

    Once breaded, fry the oatmeal balls until golden brown on all sides, turning frequently. This should take about 10 minutes total.

    Remi Tateishi
  • Step 19

    Remove the finished oat arancini from the pan and drain on a wire rack before serving alongside optional fresh fruit and/or additional ganache.

    Remi Tateishi

While certainly not traditional, if you're a fan of the classic savory antipasto that is arancini, you should definitely give this sweet variation a try. Whether you're in the market for a high-concept dessert to impress your friends or you're looking to infuriate your Italian relatives by bastardizing a beloved classic, this is the recipe for you! Buon appetito!

Remi Tateishi