Crispy risotto cakes are a tasty and fulfilling main dish you can make with leftover risotto and a few other simple ingredients.

We coat them in breadcrumbs, pan-fry or air-fry until perfectly golden brown and crisp, and serve them on a simple side salad with a homemade marinara sauce.

risotto cakes served on a side salad

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Did you make risotto last night and have some leftover in the ridge? Then you are going to love our risotto cakes recipe!

While resting in the refrigerator overnight, the rice absorbs all the flavor from its condiment, and it becomes more compact and tasty, making it perfect for shaping into small cakes.

This recipe is easy and quick, and in less than 30 minutes, you’ll have the tastiest leftover dinner you’ve ever made.

We shape the risotto into small patties that we then coat in a tasty breading. The best way to cook risotto cakes is by frying them in oil or cooking them in the air fryer. Oven baking them is also possible.

To make a complete meal, serve them on our simple salad as a side dish, with a small bowl of our marinara sauce next to them as a dip to make one of the best dinners ever. I mean it; kids will go nuts over this recipe (and so do we).

cut open risotto cake served with marinara sauce

Ingredients

ingredients for risotto cakes
Ingredients for risotto cakes: leftover risotto, breadcrumbs, unsweetened plant milk, oil for frying, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano.

Risotto Leftovers

To make crispy risotto cakes, you’ll need leftover risotto sitting in the fridge for at least a few hours and up to three days.

It’s easier to shape leftover risotto than freshly made risotto, so if you are planning to make this recipe from scratch, our tip is to make the risotto at least half a day in advance so that it has time to rest in the fridge and get more compact and easy to shape.

You can use most types of risotto, from mushroom risotto to asparagus risotto, from zucchini risotto to pumpkin risotto. Today we are using leftover tomato risotto and eggplant risotto.

If you are interested in making risotto here’s a simple tomato risotto recipe. You’ll need olive oil, onion, garlic, risotto rice, vegetable broth, tomato passata, dried oregano, basil, butter (or vegan butter), and parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan).

Generally, risotto you made with some cheese, such as parmesan or a vegan cheese substitute, works well the next day because the cheese acts as a binder.

Risotto with large pieces of condiments might not stick together as well, so you might want to remove those pieces before shaping the cakes or push them deep inside the rice cake.

Bread Crumbs

You can use homemade breadcrumbs, stale bread blended in a food processor, or store-bought breadcrumbs. You can also go for panko bread crumbs if you prefer; they make a light coating with a crispy texture.

Plant Milk

We dip the risotto cakes in unsweetened plant milk before dredging them in the breadcrumbs mixture so that the latter sticks better. You can use unsweetened soy, almond, oat, rice, or other unsweetened milk.

Plant milk is an excellent substitute for a beaten egg to make this recipe lighter and healthier with less cholesterol and saturated fats.

Condiments

To make a tasty coating, we add sea salt or kosher salt, pepper, garlic powder, and oregano to the breadcrumbs. There are no complex rules here; you can change the spices and herbs based on what you have.

Oil for Frying

You can use olive oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, or other vegetable frying oil with a high smoke point.

If you decide to air-fry or bake the risotto cakes in the oven, you can lightly drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil before cooking them.

air fried risotto cakes
Air fried risotto cakes with marinara sauce served on a bed of arugula and lemon wedges.

Instructions

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients

Prepare your ingredients first. Take the risotto out of the fridge. Add the plant milk to a shallow bowl, then to a container with low edges, and mix the breadcrumbs with salt, black pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.

risotto, plant milk, and breadcrumb mixture

Step 2: Shape Risotto Cakes

Take about two tablespoons of leftover risotto in your hands, and press it together into a rice patty.

Dip the risotto patty in the milk first, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, compacting well with your hands until completely covered.

shaping the risotto cakes with hands

Arrange the risotto cakes on a platter and set them aside while you prep the oil for frying.

rice patties before cooking

Step 3: Cook the Cakes

To a large skillet that can fit three to four patties, add 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch oil (1.5 to 2 cm).

The rule of thumb is that you want enough oil to reach halfway up the rice cake.

Heat oil on medium-high heat to 320°F or 160°C, preferably checking with a kitchen thermometer.

At this temperature, the oil is hot enough so that the cakes won’t absorb much of it and not too hot to burn the breadcrumbs before the rice is warm throughout.

shallow frying risotto cakes in a large pan

Cook 3 to 4 risotto cakes at a time on medium heat, for about 5 minutes on each side and 10 minutes in total, or until golden brown and crispy.

If the oil gets too hot, turn the heat down to medium-low.

Transfer cakes to a tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil before serving them.

tomato and eggplant risotto cakes shallow frying in a pan

Serving Suggestions

Serve the crispy risotto cakes as a main dish on top of a simple side salad, with a bowl of homemade marinara sauce or a delicious pesto on the side to dip risotto cakes.

You can add a few lemon wedges to squeeze on the right before eating, fresh chives or parsley, and a pinch of salt flakes.

risotto cakes on side salad served with marinara sauce

Check out our best vegetable side recipes and these 25 sides to eat with risotto for more ideas.

From sauté asparagus to grilled zucchini, we are sure you’ll find the perfect side dish for these crispy risotto cakes.

Variations

Air-fried risotto cakes

Preheat the air fryer to 390°F or 200°C for 3 minutes. Arrange the risotto cakes into the air fryer basket on a single layer, without overlapping, and drizzle with olive oil.

Cook in batches, depending on how large your air fryer is.

risotto cakes in a air fryer basket

Air fry for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp.

Tip: if your air fryer has good airflow, there’s no need to turn the cakes around. If not, then turn them gently halfway through.

air fried risotto cakes

Oven-baked risotto cakes

Preheat the oven to 390°F or 200°C. Arrange the rice cakes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes; flip them around until golden brown (another 10 minutes).

Oven-baked risotto cakes are a little drier than fried ones, so you might want to add a squeeze of lemon juice on top and plenty of marinara sauce.

oven baked risotto cakes

Rice Balls

Another great way to use leftover risotto is to shape it into small rice balls. Same process and ingredients, except that you’ll shape the rice into small balls that you can serve as a cute and tasty appetizer.

Italian rice balls dipped in marinara sauce

Storage

Risotto cakes are best eaten straight out of the frying pan while still warm and crispy. Store them in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Reheat in the microwave.

Questions

What is a risotto cake made of?

A risotto cake is made of leftover risotto of any kind, coated in breadcrumb mixture and shallow fried in oil.

How do you reheat risotto cakes?

Risotto cakes are best eaten fresh, right after frying them. You can reheat risotto cakes in the microwave (although they won’t be crispy), or in the air fryer at 390°F or 200C for 5 to 10 minutes.

Can I fry risotto?

Yes, leftover risotto is delicious when fried. There are many Italian recipes that use leftover risotto. Some of them are Roman Supplì (Italian rice balls), riso al salto (Italian fried rice), and arancini (Italian rice balls).

Can I freeze risotto cakes?

No, we would not recommend freezing risotto cakes as they will lose their crunch and texture.

Risotto Recipes

If you’re curious about more risotto recipes, check out these creamy favorites that will please everyone around your table:

For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.

crispy risotto cakes on a side salad

Risotto Cakes

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 1 vote
Crispy risotto cakes are a tasty and fulfilling main dish you can make with leftover risotto and a few other simple ingredients.
We coat them in breadcrumbs, pan-fry or air-fry until perfectly golden brown and crisp, and serve them on a simple side salad with a homemade marinara sauce.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 cups tomato risotto leftover, or freshly made and left to sit in the fridge for at least 8 hours
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup unsweetened plant milk soy, almond, oat, rice, or other
  • 4 cups frying oil olive oil, canola oil, or other vegetable oil made for frying

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

Instructions 

STEP 1: PREP THE INGREDIENTS

  • Take the risotto out of the fridge. Add the plant milk to a shallow bowl, then to a container with low edges mix the breadcrumbs with saltblack pepper, oregano, and garlic powder.
    risotto, plant milk, and breadcrumb mixture

STEP 2: SHAPE RISOTTO CAKES

  • Take about two tablespoons of leftover risotto in your hands, and press it together into a rice patty.
    Dip the risotto patty in the milk first, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture, compacting well with your hands until completely covered.
    shaping the risotto cakes with hands
  • Arrange the risotto cakes on a platter and set them aside while you prep the oil for frying.
    rice patties before cooking

STEP 3: COOK THE CAKES

  • To a large skillet that can fit three to four patties, add ½-inch to ¾-inch oil (1.5 to 2 cm).
    The rule of thumb is that you add enough oil to reach halfway up the rice cake.
    Heat oil on medium-high heat to 320°F or 160°C, preferably checking with a kitchen thermometer.
    shallow frying risotto cakes in a large pan
  • Cook 3 to 4 risotto cakes at a time for about 5 minutes on each side and 10 minutes in total, or until golden brown and crispy.
    If the oil gets too hot, turn the heat down.
    Transfer cakes to a tray with paper towels to absorb excess oil before serving them.
    tomato and eggplant risotto cakes shallow frying in a pan

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  • Serve the crispy risotto cakes as a main dish on top of a simple side salad, with a bowl of homemade marinara sauce or a delicious pesto on the side to dip risotto cakes.
    You can add a few lemon wedges to squeeze on the right before eating, fresh chives or parsley, and a pinch of salt flakes.
    risotto cakes on side salad served with marinara sauce

Notes

Note that only about 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil will be absorbed by the risotto cakes.
Nutrition information is a very rough estimate for about 1.5 risotto cakes per serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 367kcal, Carbohydrates: 56g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 12g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0.04g, Cholesterol: 3mg, Potassium: 136mg, Dietary Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 68IU, Vitamin B6: 0.04mg, Vitamin C: 0.01mg, Vitamin E: 1mg, Vitamin K: 14µg, Calcium: 70mg, Folate: 17µg, Iron: 1mg, Manganese: 0.2mg, Magnesium: 12mg, Zinc: 0.2mg
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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