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Spicy Rice Balls

Part of being a vegetarian in a non-vegetarian family is making everyone happy with vegetarian meals. In some cases, that means a lot of processed fake meats. In fact, in college, that was often what it meant for me. Pre-packaged “meats” are relatively cheap and easy to cook in a tiny dorm or apartment kitchen. But, now that I’m a grown-up, I try to make my own “meat” or just use vegetables and beans instead of meat in our family favorite recipes. These spicy rice “meat” balls are a great meat substitute for family pasta. In the old days, I would make a set of these and a set of real meatballs to make everyone happy. Now that there are two kids in the family, I don’t have that kind of time or energy and my omnivore husband actually loves these spicy rice balls, too.

Spicy Rice Balls


Kristi @ onceamonthmeals.com


  • 2   cups    cooked white rice
  • 0.5    cups    quick-cooking oats
  • 1.25    cups    onion, chopped
  • 0.25    cups    bread crumbs
  • 0.25    cups    milk
  • 1    teaspoon    dried basil leaves
  • 0.5    tsp.    dried oregano
  • 0.25    tsp.    ground red pepper (cayenne)
  • 1    large    egg, beaten (vegan, sub egg replacer)
  • 0.5    cups    wheat germ
  • 1    Tbsp.    vegetable oil
  • 2    cups    spaghetti sauce
  • 1    tsp.    Spike seasoning


In large bowl, mix rice, oats, onion, bread crumbs, milk, basil, oregano, Spike red pepper and egg. If your rice is relatively dry, or you have trouble with the mixture sticking together, add one additional egg. Shape into equal balls (approximately 12). Roll balls in wheat germ. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook balls in oil about 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown.

Alternate slow cooker directions: I absolutely hate frying. I literally set my kitchen on fire once trying to fry some breaded okra. So, if you’re like me, try this method. After rice balls are rolled in wheat germ, pour 1-2 Tbsp. of olive oil into the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Place each ball inside crock, rolling it in oil to coat outside. Cook on high for 3-5 hours, or until golden brown (mine usually takes about 3.5 hours).

Freezing Directions:

Divide rice balls and spaghetti sauce among gallon freezer bags. To serve: Thaw. Reheat in microwave, on stovetop or in oven at 350 for 15-20 minutes. Serve sauce and rice balls over spaghetti noodles. Sprinkle with cheese.

Servings: 4

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20 Responses to “Spicy Rice Balls”

  1. Miriam says:

    Ooo, those do look wonderful, I love all of the spices! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  2. Jacqui says:

    Those look and sounds great. New follower =]

  3. Shu Han says:

    that sounds really yummy, in fact i may just do this the enxt time i have leftover rice! (:

  4. We are going meatless for dinner this month so I need to make these!

  5. From a decidedly non-vegetarian, I can say, that looks DELISH!

  6. Melody says:

    Is there anything I would need to change if using brown rice? Cooking time might be the only thing?

    • kristi says:

      The only thing I change when I make these with Brown rice is the cooking time of the rice itself (which starts out cooked before this recipe begins). I don’t recall making any changes to the rice balls themselves. If they’re too dry or not sticky enough (brown tends to be less sticky than white rice) add an egg or a bit more milk. The “baking” or frying time is about the same, in my experience, with white vs. brown rice.

  7. Sam says:

    I made these tonight via the frying method cause I forgot about the crock method! It wasn’t horrible, but I’ll deff do the crock method next time! These were a total hit here. We’re a half veggie family anyways (we all eat meat, but also love vegetarian too), and this was certainly cheaper than meat balls too! I love that they weren’t greasy like meatballs either. YUM!

    • kristi says:

      I’m so glad you liked them! They are super good either way, but I’m such a terrible fryer that I much prefer the crock method. It’s a bonus that it uses less oil that way, too.

      • Sam says:

        My crock pot was in use so I made these in the oven. 15 minutes at 350 and they were perfect! I didn’t use any oil, just some cooking spray on the pan. Made a triple batch to freeze :)

  8. Amy says:

    I’ve not heard of ‘Spike’ seasoning – will I find it with spices in the baking section? Can you give me any idea of what it is similar to (flavoring?)? Thanks so much!

    • kristi says:

      It’s a spice blend that includes cayenne, garlic, salt, pepper, celery and the like. Certain cajun blends would be similar or you could just add a dash of cayenne. You can usually find Spike in health sections of larger grocery stores or stocked at Whole Foods or health markets.

  9. [...] Spicy Rice Balls Like spaghetti with meat balls? Try this simple rice balls recipe to use up leftover rice and [...]

  10. shira says:

    Wow! Thank you posting this. I have been a vegetarian for 20 years and for some strange reason never thought to try a combo like this. I’m really enjoying your vegetarian menus and appreciate you adding it to your repertoire.

    The balls for very tasty, I wasn’t sure I had it right because my rice was really dry so I added an extra egg and some flour to help hold it together which did the trick nicely. Great flavor, crunchy outside and soft inside. Can’t wait to try it with spaghetti sauce! Kids ate them plain and loved them!! Will try to bake next time.

  11. Nada says:

    Any suggestions for gluten free breadcrumbs that could still be frozen?

    • Lisa says:

      Nada – You can sub almond flour for bread crumbs. Or I tend to make my own with left over GF breads/buns/rolls. I believe that you can also purchase them as well.

  12. Mariah says:

    What can be subbed for the vital wheat gluten?? We are GF/DF/PF and some vegetarians in the house… OAMM makes meals for us soooo much easier!

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