Trust me when I tell you that after trying this recipe for Easy 6 Minute Sweet Corn Risotto and Corny Vegan Arancini, you’ll never make, or even eat risotto the same way ever again. Knowing that you can perfectly cook risotto in just 6 minutes in your Instant Pot or multi-cooker will truly change the way you see and make risotto forever.
This video and recipe was created in collaboration with Gloriously Vegan, and their amazing Noochy Licious nutritional yeast. To learn more about this delicious, incredible product, click HERE.
The Old Way
Risotto was one of the first dishes that I ever mastered as a cook. I wanted desperately to get it right, so I spent years of my life perfecting my technique. However, as great as I may think I am at making risotto, and no matter how delicious the final dish is, I honestly never make it because of how labor intensive it is to prepare.
In the past, in order to make perfectly cooked risotto, you had to devote a half hour of your undivided attention to stirring a pot of perfectly simmering rice and stock. There was always the threat that if you stopped stirring (or stirred in the wrong direction!) or took your eyes off of the pot for even one second, that it would be ruined.
Maybe that’s a bit extreme, and maybe I was a bit too zealous with my technique in the past, but none of that matters now. Thanks to the help of a multi-cooker, I can have perfectly cooked risotto in just 6 minutes, with zero attention paid, and relatively minimal stirring.
The New Way
This technique has been around for a while, and I actually have a great recipe for Japanese Inspired Risotto on my site and YouTube channel already. However, this time it’s not so much about the risotto as it is what you can do with that risotto.
As much as I love a perfectly velvety bowl of warm risotto, I think I actually enjoy eating arancini a bit more. To start, the contrast of the crispy exterior surrounding a creamy interior is far superior to the singular textured bowl of traditional risotto. Secondly, risotto can be quite finicky, especially when trying to serve it to a crowd.
Arancini is simply the perfect way to serve risotto to a party because it can be made ahead of time, and then fried up just before serving. You don’t have to worry about the risotto getting too dry, or sitting too long, or overcooking. It’s just fry, serve, and enjoy!
Corn Fest 2021
A couple of our friends have a large garden in their backyard, and they recently invited Ben and me over for a corn harvesting party. The goal was to have a few people over to help pick the corn, and then we would use the corn to make a variety of dishes.
I was informed ahead of time that only one of the dishes they had planned on making, a corn and coconut salad, would be made vegan. Delicately put, if I wanted to eat more that a bowl of corn and coconut flakes (the salad was actually amazing!), then I would have to bring a dish or two of my own to the party.
So, like any good product launch, I was given a heads-up on an exclusive drop. One clandestine meeting in the parking lot of a real estate school later, and I had 6 ears of corn to test recipes with.
Since corn season started at the beginning of summer, I have been saving pictures on Instagram of corn risottos. I even made a note in my recipe idea book that I wanted to try to make a vegan version of a corn risotto. Corn Fest 2021 was my opportunity to not only test out a recipe for a vegan corn risotto, but this was also a great chance to have a group of tasters give me feedback on it before I shared the recipe online.
However, as a massive fan of Top Chef, I knew all too well that the worst dish that a contestant can make, especially if they are planning on feeding a crowd, is risotto. It never comes out right. Someone always wants to be the one that can make risotto and not get sent home, but inevitably, they get sent home.
This was a new budding friendship, and my first dinner party in almost two years… I did NOT want to get sent home. But like every brave contestant before me, I still wanted to make a damn risotto to feed a crowd… What was I going to do?
That’s right! Make it ahead of time and then deep fry it! (aka make arancini)
With 6 ears of freshly picked corn, and a pantry full of necessary ingredients, it was time to make a test batch.
Corn Risotto: An Origin Story
I started by using the basic broth-to-arborio-rice ratio that I used for my Japanese Inspired Risotto. To that, I started to build the flavor profile that I wanted for this corn risotto — starting with my proprietary “umami bomb” combination of nutritional yeast and miso.
In a non-vegan risotto, a lot of the depth of flavor comes from adding parmesan cheese. The cheese adds a saltiness and a savoriness that is hard to duplicate. Sure, there are vegan parmesan cheeses on the market, and they’re delicious in their own way, but I like knowing that I can reach a similar flavor profile using ingredients that I always have around the house.
Since corn was the star of the dish, I wanted to maximize the presence of the corn in the risotto and arancini, so I knew that I wanted to add the corn at the very end so that it wouldn’t overcook and get lost in the rice. But how was I going to impart corn flavor into the dish without actually adding any corn while it was cooking?
The leftover corn cobs actually contain quite a bit of flavor and corn essence, so by adding them to the risotto while it cooked, the rice became infused with all of that corn flavor. I knew that I had really done something special by adding those cobb when I first hit the quick release on my multi-cooker, and the whole house started to smell like corn.
Having a Ball. Or 20.
From the beginning, I knew that a delicious corn risotto was not my final destination. No. A pot of risotto would never work for a party, and I would be too self conscious to serve it to a room full of folks I had just met. I needed a way to have ultimate control of the risotto, and arancini was the way to go.
From the first taste of the risotto, I knew I was golden. I just needed to wait a few hours (overnight) before the corny risotto was firm enough to roll into balls.
But what about the coating of these arancini? I mean, they were going to be served at Corn Fest 2021, afterall. I needed to maximize their corniness! And what better way was there to do that, then to use corn flakes?!
I started by pulsing a few cups of cornflakes in my food processor along with some Noochy Licious, salt, pepper, and a few different spices. Instead of letting it get to a dusty powder, I stopped blending when the cornflakes reached a nice sandy texture.
Then, again, with my proprietary techniques, I used a combination of chickpea flour and water to create the “egg” mixture to help the corn flakes stick to the balls.
The time arrived for me to scoop and form my arancini. I used a ¼ cup cookie scoop to portion the chilled risotto out onto a baking dish. I then rolled each mound in flour, forming them each into tight balls with my hands.
Once fully floured and rounded, I rolled each ball in the chickpea flour mixture, and then tossed them into the seasoned corn flake crumbs.
I think I turned on my deep-frying apparatus (an electric wok I stole from my grandparents’ garage sale…) somewhere between the flour and the corn flakes, but once I had a few balls made, the oil was hot enough for me to fry-up a couple.
Immediately, I could see that they were getting a perfect golden brown. The corn flake crumbs really helped to give them that “orange” appearance. A few intense minutes of carefully rolling the balls around in the bubbling oil, and they were done. Ready for a taste.
The exterior was perfectly crispy, and made a crunch as I broke into it with my hands. Inside, they were still perfectly moist and gooey. One thing I was worried about was them being too dry inside because there wasn’t enough fat or cheese to keep them moist. Luckily, I worried for nothing.
After the first bite, I knew I had nailed it. I took a picture of the remaining fried balls and sent it to my friend Steve, who had given me the corn to test with. His first reaction: “They look great! Are you going to make a sauce, too?”
A Vegan’s Favorite Food:
Though the corn arancini could hold their own, I agree that they could use a sauce. In fact, prior to him texting me back with that “question”, I had already started thinking about what I could pair them with.
With arancini, the go-to sauce is normally a marinara or tomato-based sauce. I didn’t really consider going that direction because I knew that it would compete too much with the delicate corn flavor. Also, I didn’t really want to go in the warm sauce direction since these were going to be served as hors devours at a party, and there wouldn’t really be any way too keep the sauce warm throughout the night.
Never one to shy away from a mayo-based sauce, I thought about what I could add to vegan mayo to make a great dip. What could I add that would compliment the corn arancini, and help to balance out the flavors?
The balls were savory and a bit sweet, but there wasn’t really any spice to them. As great as the flavor and texture was, they were also a bit one-note. So, the job of the sauce would be to fill in any gaps, or to provide any flavors or textures that the arancini were missing.
Calabrian chilis are amazing. They are spicy and flavorful, and they often come packed in a vibrant red oil that’s equally, if not more, valuable than the peppers themselves. So, into my food processor went a generous scoop of vegan mayo, a few tablespoons of Calabrian chilis and their oil, and a whole roasted red pepper to smooth out the flavor and to add to enhance the ruddy color.
Once all of the ingredients were pulsed together, I tasted for seasoning and adjusted accordingly. Luckily I had saved one ball of arancini from my test batch, and I dipped it right into the sauce.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- Olive oil – Sticking with the Italian theme, I use olive oil at a couple of points in the recipe. It doesn’t have to be your top-shelf olive oil, and in fact, pretty much any oil will do. If you’re wanting to keep this recipe oil-free, you can honestly just omit it completely.
- Arborio rice – With a slightly higher starch content, you really want to make sure that you’re using Arborio rice here. It’s easily found on the same supermarket aisle as other types of rice, however, being that it’s considered a “specialty” rice, it tends to be a bit more expensive. If you absolutely cannot find it, or if you don’t want to spring for it, then (in a pinch) you could use a short grain white, sushi, or Calrose rice.
- Vegan chicken bouillon – I don’t actually purchase vegan broth, I just purchase bouillon or “granules”. My favorites are Better Than Bouillon’s “No Chicken” flavor, or Totole (accidentally vegan) Chicken or Mushroom soup base.
- Nutritional yeast – This recipe was created in collaboration with Gloriously Vegan, but even if it wasn’t I would still sternly recommend using Noochy Licious nutritional yeast. It’s truly the best. Click HERE to learn more about this delicious product.
- Black pepper – Growing up, my mom always made “hot corn”, which was just frozen corn, margarine (it was the 80s!), and a ton of black pepper. When developing the flavor profile of this recipe, my mom’s “hot corn” came to mind. In my opinion, the more, the merrier.
- All purpose flour – Adding a bit of AP flour to the arancini before coating them in the chickpea flour batter really helps the breading stick. This is also the only non gluten-free item in the recipe (as long as your cornflakes are certified GF). You can easily use any other type of GF flour instead if GF is what you’re going for.
- Chickpea flour – A truly magical ingredient, it’s literally just ground up dry chickpeas. Mixed with water, it’s my favorite egg replacement for adhering breading to foods. If you can’t find it, you could just use your favorite vegan egg substitute instead.
- Canola oil – For deep frying. If you want crispy arancini, there’s no way around it.
- Roasted red bell peppers – In addition to the spicy Calabrian chilis in the aioli, I also add roasted red pepper for flavor and color. For my recipe, I just used jarred ones, but if you want to go through the effort of roasting your own, then by all means.
- Miso – I’ve been obsessed with the combination of miso and nutritional yeast for some time now. I’ve used it in pretty much every Italian-inspired dish I’ve made in the past year because it really delivers the tangy, salty, umami that you would get from parmesan cheese. If you don’t want to go and buy a container of miso for this one recipe (though it lasts forever in the fridge and can be used in so many ways), you can just omit it, and add a bit more salt to taste.
- Vegan butter – Or as we used to call it, margarine. I prefer Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter best, but other store brands would work just as well in this recipe. If you want to keep your risotto oil free, just omit it.
- Corn – This recipe was developed as a way to showcase corn that was fresh from the garden. If you don’t have fresh corn, frozen will work. The benefit of having corn that is fresh off of the cob is that you can use the cobs to impart more of a “corny” flavor into the risotto.
- Onion – Every risotto worth its stock starts with an onion. Shallot would be amazing as well. If you have a clove or two of garlic, throw that in, too. If you’re adverse to all alliums, then just leave them out.
- Lemon juice – The very last thing added to the risotto before it gets rolled into balls is lemon juice. You really want to use fresh lemon juice here for its flavor, and well, it’s freshness.
- Dry white wine (pinot grigio) – Like onion and Arborio rice, wine is one of the most consistent ingredients in risotto. I like a dryer wine, like a pinot grigio, but whatever white wine you have on hand (as long as it’s not super sweet) will work. If you want to know which wines are vegan before you buy them, check out barnivore.com. I sometimes struggle to find info about every bottle on the shelf, but most major labels can be found.
- Corn flakes – Keeping this dish as “corny” as possible, I decided to use corn flakes as the crunchy coating on the arancini. Many big brands contain D3, which is not normally vegan. However, if you buy an organic variety, or sometimes even the generic store brand, they are usually free of that additive. If you don’t want to buy a box of corn flakes for one recipe, then go ahead and use your favorite vegan breadcrumb instead.
- Calabrian Chilis in oil – For the Calabrian Chili Aioli, you of course need Calabrian chilis. I like the ones that come packed in oil because you also have a spicy oil to use in a number of ways. If you can’t find these particular chilis, then your favorite chili sauce will work.
- Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker – The proportions of ingredients here, as well as the six minute promise, is based on cooking this risotto in a multi-cooker or electric pressure cooker. Without this, the ratio of broth to rice and the cooking time will not work. Follow THESE DIRECTIONS for cooking, and double the amount of stock used in my recipe.
- Deep fryer or large Dutch oven – I tried to make this arancini recipe work in an air-fryer, but it just doesn’t. If you want to make great arancini, you really need to deep fry them. I use an electric wok that lets me set the temperature to 350 F. If you don’t have such an appliance, you can fill a large Dutch oven with about 2 inches of canola oil, and fry them that way.
6 Minute Sweet Corn Risotto
Effortless plant-based risotto that cooks in just 6 minutes in your electric pressure cooker. Eliminate the corn, and you have a delicious vegan risotto base that you can flavor to your liking.
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
- ½ cup dry white wine (pinot grigio)
- 3 cups vegan chicken broth (or 3 cups water + 1 tablespoon bouillon)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- 2 ears of corn (about 1 ½ cups) kernels removed, cobbs reserved
- ½ lemon, juiced
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Using the “Saute” function or your electric pressure cooker, saute the olive oil, onion and miso paste together for about 3 to 4 minutes until the onions just start to soften. Add the rice, and saute for another minute or two – avoid letting anything burn to the bottom of the pot. Pour in the wine, and stir continuously until the wine has disappeared. Finally, stirn in the broth, nutritional yeast, and halved kernel-less corn cobs.
- Secure the lid on, and make sure that the pressure release valve is closed. Set your cooker to cook on high pressure for 6 minutes.
- As soon as the 6 minute cook time is up, carefully “quick release” the pressure. Placing a towel on top to help eliminate splatters.
- Carefully open the lid and allow the rest of the steam to escape. Add the vegan butter, corn, black pepper, and lemon juice. Stir vigorously for a minute or two until it reaches the desired consistency. If your risotto is too thick, add a bit of broth and continue to stir. If it’s too thin, turn on the “Saute” function once again, and continue to stir as the risotto reduces. NOTE: if making Corn Arancini, it’s best if the risotto is on the thicker side.
- Serve immediately, or transfer to a heat-safe bowl where it can then be refrigerated and turned into Corn Arancini.
Corny Vegan Arancini
Turn leftover risotto into the best snake or appetizer of all time. These particular arancini are coated in a savory corn flake breading that takes the corny-ness of these fried risotto balls over the top.
- 1 batch “6 Minute Sweet Corn Risotto” refrigerated overnight
- 1 quart canola oil – for deep frying
- 4 cups cornflakes
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup chickpea flour
- ½ cup water or broth.
- For best results, cook your “6 Minute Sweet Corn Risotto” a day ahead so that it can firm-up in the refrigerator overnight.
- Add all of the coating ingredients to a food processor, and blend until it reaches the consistency of coarse sand.
- Using a ¼ cup cookie or ice cream scoop, divide your chilled and firmed risotto into 18 to 20 mounds. To make things easier, place the mounds on a lined baking sheet. Set aside.
- Set up 3 rimmed plates or shallow bowls. In one, add the all purpose flour. In another, add the chickpea flour and water — mixing them until there are no lumps remaining. In the third dish, add the Cornflake Coating.
- One at a time, roll each mound of risotto in the flour, and then roll it in your hands to form a ball. Return each floured ball to the baking sheet, and continue until all of the balls are formed and coated in flour.
- Working in batches of 3 to 4, roll each ball into the chickpea flour and water mixture, and then place them directly into the Cornflake Coating. Carefully roll each ball in the coating, and then lightly roll each coated ball between your hands to help the coating stick. Continue until all of the balls are coated.
- Store in a sealed container, and refrigerate (for up to 3 days) or freeze (for up to a month) until you are ready to fry them.
- Fill your deep fryer or dutch oven with about 2 inches of oil. Preheat the oil to 350 F. Depending on the size of your fryer or pot, you’ll have to work in batches to fry all of the arancini. Cook them for about 5 minutes, until they are a deep golden brown, bordering on “orange” as their namesake would suggest.
Remove fried arancini to a paper towel lined plate, and lightly sprinkle with kosher salt. Serve immediately.
Vegan Calabrian Chili Aioli
A spicy and creamy Calabrian chili dip that's perfect for Arancini or your favorite fresh or fried veggies.
- 1 cup vegan mayo
- 1 whole roasted red pepper
- 1 to 2 tablespoons crushed Calabrian chilis in oil
- Pinch salt
- In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients until creamy. Taste for heat, add more calabrian chili as needed. Salt to taste.