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Southwest Risotto Balls with Avocado Ranch Dip

Southwest Risotto Balls with Avocado Ranch Dip

Leftover risotto is transformed into a hearty appetizer with the help of some Mexican spices and pantry items.  Southwest Risotto Balls and Avocado Ranch Dip are perfect for a fiesta!

Southwest Risotto Balls and Avocado Ranch Dip are perfect for a fiesta! Southwest Risotto Balls Recipe | Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls

If you’d rather skip my (very helpful, I think) tips and tricks, essential cooking info, and similar recipe ideas – and get straight to this delicious recipe – simply scroll to the bottom of the page where you can find the printable recipe card.

My family loves Mexican recipes but one thing that we are not a fan of are leftovers.  Brooks will only eat two things that are leftover from previous meals: pizza and ham.  I made risotto the other night and, as usual, I made too much so I needed to find a way to use the leftover risotto and make it into a new dish that even Brooks will eat.

What is Risotto?

If you are not familiar with risotto, here is a quick note about it.  Risotto is a rice dish that comes from North Italy that consists of starchy, short-grain rice called Arborio rice that is slow cooked with a broth or other flavorful liquid.  I use a lot of white wine when I make risotto but you can use chicken or vegetable broth.

When I made it the other day, I used vegetable broth and a little bit of butter because I wanted to keep it simple since the kids were eating it too.

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Leftover risotto is transformed into a hearty appetizer with the help of some Mexican spices and pantry items. Southwest Risotto Balls and Avocado Ranch Dip are perfect for a fiesta! Southwest Risotto Balls Recipe | Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls

How do you make Risotto?

I used 2 cups of Arborio rice and toasted the rice in a saucepan with 1 tablespoon of butter.  Once the rice was toasted, I slowly added warm broth, 1 cup at a time, until all 6 cups were used and the rice was creamy and cooked through.

This made 6 cups of rice and we were left with 2 cups once we were done eating. I put it in the refrigerator for later knowing I could turn it into something great.

Leftover risotto makes the best Southwest Risotto Balls | Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls

When I was ready to repurpose the risotto, I grabbed my the rest of my provisions!

These risotto balls also required a few other ingredients that I already had on hand as well: sour cream, ranch seasoning (homemade but you can use the packaged one to save time), shredded cheese, panko breadcrumbs, and an egg.  Time to clean out the fridge and make a summer fiesta!

Southwest Risotto Balls Recipe for a great appetizer!| Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls

A tip about avocados…

I hate when I get home and my avocados are all bruised and over-ripe.  The easiest way to find a good one (or two or three) is by looking at the stem.

  1. Grab one with the stem attached.  It should be firm but tender when you gently squeeze.
  2. Pop the stem off.  The avocado “belly button” should be green, not brown. If it’s brown, it is past it’s prime and you should put it back.
  3. When you cut it open it will be perfect:)
  4. Store leftover avocados in an air-tight environment.  The air is what turns your pretty green to a yucky brown/gray.  I store my ripe ones, that I can’t use right away, in my vacuum sealer and place in my freezer.  They stay perfect for a few months and ready for smoothies or guacamole.  You can also make your guacamole and then store in the vacuum bags too.  If you are storing in a food storage container, cover the top with plastic film directly on the guacamole to keep the air out.
Southwest Risotto Balls made with leftover Risotto! Avocado Ranch Dip Recipe | Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls
Southwest Risotto Balls and Avocado Ranch Dip are perfect for using up leftovers! | Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls

Time to make the risotto balls!

This recipe is simple!  Grab all the ingredients and combine, minus the Panko breadcrumbs.

Roll into 1 inch balls, then roll in the breadcrumbs to coat, and fry in 375F oil until brown and crispy!  Drain and serve with Avocado Ranch Dip.

Make your leftover rice into Southwest Risotto Balls | Take Two Tapas | #AranciniRecipe #LeftoversRecipe #SouthwestRecipe #RisottoBalls

These Southwest Risotto Balls are the perfect way to use up leftover risotto or rice, are a great meal with a salad, and make the perfect party appetizer!  My Avocado Ranch Dip is the perfect sidekick!

Southwest Risotto Balls with Avocado Ranch Dip

Yield: 10 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Repurpose some leftovers into these Southwest Risotto Balls and keep your Summer Fiesta going into the next day or two!


For the Risotto Balls

  • 2 cups risotto (chilled)
  • 1/2 cup pepper jack cheese (shredded)
  • 1 tablespoon Southwest Seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons chopped green chilies
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil for Frying

Avocado Ranch Dip

  • 1 avocado (ripe)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 fresh Serrano pepper (seeded, chopped)
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon Ranch Seasoning


  1. Heat oil to 375F

For the risotto balls

  1. Combine, leftover risotto, egg, taco seasoning, chilies, and cheese.
  2. Form into 1 inch balls. I used a small ice cream scoop.
  3. Roll in Panko breadcrumbs.
  4. Fry 4 or 5 at a time until golden brown, flipping once.
  5. Remove and drain on a cooling rack or paper towel-lined plate.
  6. Keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest.

For the Avocado Ranch Dip

  1. Peel avocado and remove seed.
  2. Add avocado, sour cream, lemon juice, ranch seasoning, and pepper to a blender or food processor.
  3. Pulse until combined.
  4. Serve with Southwest Risotto Balls


*If you like this recipe, please leave me a comment and rate it with some stars.  Thank you!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 262Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 45mgSodium: 437mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 6gProtein: 8g

This nutrition information was generated via a third party, Nutritionix, and can not be held liable for any discrepancies in the information provided.

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Monday 31st of August 2015

These look FANTASTIC Jennifer !! If I could I'd grab them right out off the screen, as they make me drool

Thursday 3rd of September 2015

Thanks Winnie!

Dini @ The Flavor Bender

Tuesday 18th of August 2015

I love Risotto balls! Especially with this Mexican twist... Such a great idea! :)

Tuesday 18th of August 2015

Thanks! I love risotto balls and I love Mexican so why not combine the two...

Michelle @ A Dish of Daily Life

Friday 14th of August 2015

I want to try this! I love risotto balls, and you know I love anything Mexican!

Monday 17th of August 2015

I have the same loves so I couldn't resist combining the two!

Alli @ Tornadough Alli

Thursday 13th of August 2015

I love this! I make an Italian version of this and it's awesome. I'm soooo excited to try this!! I would love if you would come link up at tonight's Throw Back Thursday!!

Monday 17th of August 2015

Done and Done! I eat the Italian ones all the time and love them! Thought I would throw a new twist to it!

Healing Tomato

Wednesday 12th of August 2015

I love seeing risotto in an appetizer form. I bet it tastes amazing with an avocado ranch dip. Great recipe

Monday 17th of August 2015

Thanks! I usually eat risotto when I go out as a starter instead of soup. Luckily they have it in small portions or I would never get to eat dinner:)