Let the Good Times, and Rice Balls, Roll

Get your favorite fat pants on and pull up a chair; it’s almost time for Fat Tuesday! You never need an excuse to indulge, but Mardi Gras is the best excuse to splurge on rich Cajun and Creole fare. No need to repent with fasting and self-denial for Lent, as per the Catholic tradition, though. When you’re eating plant-based, even the most lavish feast can be rationalized as a “healthier” choice. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself when I reach for a third, fourth, and maybe fifth round of fried jambalaya.

Italians would call them arancini, but it just hits different when you say it with a southern twang. Plump, sticky sushi rice is slowly simmered with the holy trinity, tomatoes, garlic, and a powerful punch of savory spices. Morsels of meatless sausage meld with the mixture for a substantial, satisfying bite. It’s a complete meal in one convenient, crispy package.

Dip, dunk, or plate the sizzling hot spheres with creamy remoulade sauce, tangy and punchy, spiked with vinegar and hot sauce to really get the party started. Go all out with a dollop of scallion pesto on top, or for a simpler finishing touch, sprinkle on plain scallions generously and call it a day.

With such bold flavors condensed into these tiny packages, you couldn’t ask for anything else… Except, maybe, one more helping.

Yield: Makes 20 - 24 Rice Balls

Fried Jambalaya Rice Balls (Arancini)

Fried Jambalaya Rice Balls (Arancini)

In this southern twist on arancini, sticky rice is slowly simmered Cajun flavors and meatless sausage. Crispy on the outside and creamy inside, these deep-fried bites are absolutely irresistible. Creamy remoulade sauce and bright scallion pesto take it to the next level.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 1 hour
Total Time 2 hours


Fried Jambalaya:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, Finely Diced
  • 1 Stalk Celery, Finely Diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 8 Ounces Roughly Chopped Meatless Sausage or Beefy Crumbles
  • 1 (14-Ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 4 Cups Vegetable Stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sushi Rice
  • 2 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 Tablespoons Cajun Seasoning
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Pound Firm Tofu, Thoroughly Drained and Crumbled
  • 2 Cups Fine Bread Crumbs
  • Neutral Oil, for Frying

Scallion Pesto:

  • 4 Cups Roughly Chopped Scallions
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Creamy Remoulade:

  • 1 Cup Vegan Mayonnaise
  • 3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
  • 2 Teaspoons Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 Teaspoon Prepared Horseradish or Wasabi
  • 1 Teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Tabasco Hot Sauce
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder


    1. To prepare the jambalaya, heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring periodically, until golden brown and aromatic; about 6 - 8 minutes. Add the meat alternative of your choice and saute until lightly browned all over. Use your spatula to break it up into small pieces if necessary.
    2. Add the tomatoes and deglaze with the vegetable stock. Scrape the bottom of the pan with you spatula to loosen any of the crispy bits that might be sticking. Incorporate the rice, nutritional yeast, Cajun seasoning, and salt, stirring to combine. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 - 20 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed.
    3. Stir in the crumbled tofu and transfer the mixture to a large baking pan. Place it in the fridge to cool and let rest for at least one hour to firm up before proceeding. If you don't want to fry it, you can simply eat it hot right now!
    4. Meanwhile, for the scallion pesto, place all the ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse to combine. Once coarsely pureed, transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to use, or up to 1 week.
    5. For the creamy remoulade sauce, whisk everything together in a small dish until smooth. Let sit for 1 hour for flavors to combine, or transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
    6. When the rice has fully cooled, use two spoons or a 3 - 4 tablespoon ice cream scoop to portion out rounds about the size of golf balls. Use lightly moistened hands to gently round the rice balls out. Toss each ball gently in bread crumbs to fully coat the exteriors.
    7. Heat about 2 inches of neutral oil in a high-sided sauce pan or skillet to about 350 – 375 degrees, and add in 3 – 4 rice balls at a time, depending on the size of the cooking vessel. Fry for about 1 minute on all sides, until evenly golden brown all over.
    8. Carefully remove finished rice balls and let drain on wire racks briefly, until cool enough to handle. Repeat with the remaining rice balls. Enjoy as soon as possible, with scallion pesto and remoulade sauce applied as desired, or served alongside.


To reheat, place leftover fried rice balls on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 - 15 minutes, until crispy on the outside and hot all the way through.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 839mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 5g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

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