Monday, December 10, 2018

Crunchy Pickle Rice Balls with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

This post was sponsored by USA Rice Canada. We were compensated monetarily but all opinions and experiences, as always, are our own!

Sue and I really cannot get enough rice. I mean, seriously, can we talk about the nutritional advantages of rice for a second?
·         Rice is a delicious and versatile, slow burning complex carb that provides long lasting energy
·         It’s naturally sodium, cholesterol, and gluten free AND low allergen
Plus, it’s delicious, it’s incredibly versatile, and so easy to make. You can cook a huge batch on the weekend and refrigerate or freeze for later use (It will hold in the freezer for up to 6 months!). Pop over to for some short how-to videos on how to reheat your rice so it’s just like freshly cooked!
Sue and I are also big fans of the fact that U.S. grown rice is as local as it gets for Canadians, and rice is super affordable so great for feeding a hungry family!  
You can find tons of great recipes and tips over at! Be sure to pop over and have a look.
For this post Sue and I wanted to create a fun and different holiday appetizer that, while perfect for this time of year, would also work all year ‘round. Sue is a bit of a pickle freak while I am a definite sushi lover… Sue said, “Hmmm… what would happen if deep fried pickles and sushi had a baby?”
I know what you’re thinking.
Whaaaaaaat kind of hybrid would that be?
Well, turns out a delicious, crunchy-squishy hybrid.

Crunchy Pickle Rice Balls with Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

1 cup uncooked sushi rice
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup pickle juice
1 egg

2 cups Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp dried dill

4 - 5 small pickles, chopped into chunks

Oil for deep frying (about 1 litre) 

Spicy Red Pepper Jelly

green onion, sliced

Prepare rice - Cook the rice according to the package directions. Once done, let cool for about 15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. Pour into the cooked rice and stir well to combine.

 Set aside to cool completely. When rice is cool, you are ready to make your pickle balls!
Prepare the batter - whisk together flour, baking powder, water, pickle juice, and egg to form a pancake-like batter. Set aside.
Prepare the topping - in a large, shallow bowl, combine panko crumbs and dill. Set aside. 
Before you begin, fill a bowl full of water and have it sitting on your work surface beside you. You will need to keep your hands wet to prevent the rice from sticking to you. 
See photo below - you should have your rice, bowl of water, chopped pickle, batter, and topping all ready to go. 
Place oil for frying in a large pot and start heating while you make the balls. You want the oil to be at 350° degrees. 

Wet your hands and pinch off a ping pong ball sized amount of rice. Flatten in it in the palm of your hand and place a pickle piece in the middle.

Gently squish the rice around the pickle and press into a ball. Continue with the rice and pickles until your are out of rice. We usually get between 18 to 20. 

Using a fork (or your fingers but that is messier), dip a ball in the batter and roll it to coat evenly. Then lift the ball and gently shake off any excess batter. Transfer the ball to the topping and roll to coat all the sides. 

Repeat with all the balls. 

Deep fry 4 - 5 balls at a time in the 350° degree oil until golden brown, about 1 - 2 minutes.

Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let excess oil drip back into the pot. Place on a wire rack with paper towel underneath OR directly onto paper towel to let any excess oil drip off. 

You can serve now OR you can serve at room temp OR you can even serve cold. Place the balls on a serving platter with the Spicy Red Pepper Jelly. 

You can sprinkle with a little sliced green onion, if desired.

These make a lovely addition to the holiday table with those pops of red and green!

You can cut them in half for presentation - this will also double your servings from 18 to 36. 

Sue's hubby, Rob, loved the squishy texture of the rice with the crunchy pickle and crisp coating. (So did we!) 

They are delicious when first made and are hot BUT, the beauty of this recipe is that they are also amazing at room temp or even the next day, chilled. 

We served the red pepper jelly in a bowl for dipping but you could also place it in a plastic bag, snip the corner off, and drizzle it on top of the balls. The little bit of heat in the red pepper jelly pairs really well with the tang of the dill. 

I found that without any red pepper jelly the crunchy pickle balls had a buttery taste from the batter and crumbs that was delicious on its own as well. Because of the sushi aspect of these, you could also serve them with a little wasabi or sriracha mayo. 
Like things even spicier? Throw a slice of jalapeno in there with your pickle!
Rice makes this fun holiday appetizer affordable and, other than the deep frying, fairly nutrient dense (think B vitamins, phosphorus, and zinc!) 
Be sure to pop over to for more recipes and information on rice.


  1. What festive fun! Thanks for all your support. Merry Christmas too. Cheer form Carole's chatter

  2. I've just come back from Japan and in every meal, from breakfast till dinner, here was rice :-) . People are in good shape and healthy, and I can see why ;-) . Love your rice balls with a pickle inside! So cool!

  3. These are such a unique party appetizer! Love the pickle in the centre and they look super crunchy! Great recipe!

  4. Oooh fellow rice-lover here! Love the idea of a rice ball with a pickle!

  5. A great idea for an appetizer, Jo and Sue. Sort of like arancini but even more special with the pickle centre. I will try this! Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thank you! We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

  6. I am loving this pickle and sushi offspring! Yummy -pickles are rice are 2 of my faves as well. How creative :) And I can't wait to try it!

  7. I would love to bite into the pickle after the first crunch. The red pepper jelly takes it to another dimension. Yummy! Thanks for sharing.