Do you have a ton of leftover rice? These colorful Korean-style rice balls are a great leftover rice recipe. You can easily adapt the recipe for any vegetables you have on hand. Use short grain rice. These are great for lunchboxes and as a finger food or snack.

Colorful rice balls made with the leftover rice and vegetables.

Have you ever wonder, Hmmm, what can I make with the leftover rice I have in the fridge?

If you are looking for some great leftover rice recipes or left over rice ideas, these budget friendly, Korean rice snacks can put a smile on your face.

Don’t you just love all the colors of these rice balls? They are made with leftover short grain rice and scraps of vegetables I had in my fridge.

I can picture these rice balls…

  • in lunch boxes
  • as a finger food at a party
  • or being gobbled up as a gluten-free snack

Unless I am in the mood for Korean kimbap (seaweed rice rolls), these rice balls are my go-to remedy to get rid of leftover rice. And making them is a snap – you can’t get any better than this!

Korean-style rice balls snacks made with leftover rice and vegetables

Ideas for Tasty Rice Balls

  1. Ham and Spinach Rice Balls
  2. Egg and Pickled Radish Rice Balls
  3. Mushroom and Vegetable Rice Balls

The best thing about these rice balls is that not only can you use up your leftover short grain rice, one of the main Korean rice types, you can also adapt the recipe to use any vegetables you might have in your kitchen.

The rice recipes above are just ideas for you, but I hope you let your imagination go wild with what you have in your kitchen!

If you like to try an exquisite Korean rice dish, try my easy bibimbap recipe. You can make this complex authentic Korean mixed rice under 1 hour. Don’t forget to check out my other Korean rice recipes if you need more inspiration.

Three different types of rice balls are presented on a small serving dish.

Recipe FAQs

What to put in rice (suitable ingredients for rice balls)?

  • For the vegetable: use any green leafy vegetable, squash (zucchini), pepper, broccoli, carrot, pea, pickles, or herb.
  • For the protein: ham, ground meat, bacon, egg, salmon, canned tuna, or fish roe
  • For other ingredient: mushroom, dried fish, roasted seaweed (crumbled), fish cake.

You can use any combination of vegetable and protein options I mention above. Or make them vegan/vegetarian if you wish.

What rice should I use?

Either short grain or medium grain cooked rice. The fluffy long grain rice won’t work well with this recipe. You will need some stickiness from the rice grains to adhere each other.

Can I use frozen leftover rice?

Of course! I usually reheat frozen rice in the microwave until they are warm to the touch.

How do you make rice balls stick together?

  • I found that wearing a pair of disposable plastic gloves helps forming the balls better than the bare hands. Grease the gloves with a tiny bit of oil before making the balls. It seems that rice doesn’t stick much to the gloves.
  • Try not to make the balls too big. If you’re not careful, the weight of the ball itself can pull the rice grains apart from the other ingredients. I find 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter is most ideal.

Now let’s make some adorable short grain leftover rice snacks.

Korean-style rice balls made with ham and spinach as a finger food.

1. Ham and Spinach Rice Balls

These rice balls use minced ham, baby spinach, and green onion. You will need to chop the ham pieces finely.

Substitution Idea: Try Korean ground beef bulgogi instead of ham pieces for more Asian flavor!

  1. Use finely minced ham pieces, green onion, and chopped baby spinach.
  2. Saute spinach and green onion in a little oil until they are wilted. Season with Korean soup soy sauce (Do not use too much oil. It will prevent the rice grains from sticking to each other.)
  3. Combine rice, ham, and spinach in a mixing bowl; mix well. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Take a heaping tablespoonful of rice mixture and gently squeeze to form a ball, about 1 1/2-inch in size.
Korean yellow rice balls made with eggs placed on a white serving dish.

2. Egg and Pickled Radish Rice Balls

Don’t you just love the pretty yellow? The hard boiled egg yolks stain the rice and turn them into beautiful yellow balls of joy.

I used Korean pickled radish (see my korea seaweed rice roll recipe for another great use of pickled radish) and hard boiled egg. Pickled cucumber would also work as well in this recipe.

  1. Mince pickled radish into small pieces.
  2. Separate the hard boiled egg whites and egg yolks. Chop the egg whites finely.
  3. Using a strainer and a spoon, mash the egg yolks to crumble. In a mixing bowl combine egg yolks, egg whites, pickled radish, rice, and mayonnaise; mix well. Season with salt according to your taste.
  4. Take a heaping tablespoonful of rice mixture and gently squeeze to form a ball, about 1 1/2-inch in size.
Rice ball snacks made with mushroom, red pepper, green onion are placed in a serving bowl.

3. Mushroom and Vegetable Rice Balls

I used fresh shiitake mushroom for these rice balls. The chewy and meaty texture of mushrooms makes these quite enjoyable. Any mushroom will work. Season with garlic, ginger, and other Korean condiments to make them even more tasty.

  1. Chop mushroom, red pepper, green onion finely.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoon of oil in a skillet. Saute mushroom and vegetables with garlic and ginger. Season with Korean soup soy sauce, and sesame oil.
  3. Combine the mushroom mixture with the rice in a mixing bowl; mix well. Season with salt if needed.
  4. Take a heaping tablespoonful of rice mixture and gently squeeze to form a ball, about 1 1/2-inch in size.
Korean rice balls arranged in a wooden serving bowl lined with perilla leaves.

Serving Suggestion

3 colorful rice balls are made with leftover rice and vegetables

30-Minute Rice balls (Leftover Rice Recipe)

These colorful Korean-style rice balls are made with leftover rice. You can easily adapt the recipe for any vegetables you have on hand. Use short grain rice.
5 from 6 ratings

Ingredients

Ham and Spinach Rice Balls

  • 2 cup (400 g) cooked short grain white rice, warmed
  • 1/2 cup (125 g) minced ham
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 cup (64 g) baby spinach, loosly packed
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp Korean soup soy sauce (gukganjang)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Egg and Pickled Radish Rice Balls

  • 2 cup (400 g) cooked short grain white rice, warmed
  • 4 hard boiled egg yolks
  • 2 hard boiled egg white
  • 1/2 cup (77 g) finely minced pickled radish, or any pickled vegetable
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • salt , to taste

Mushroom and Vegetable Rice Balls

  • 2 cup (400 g) cooked short grain white rice, warmed
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 cup (50 g) finely chopped shiitake mushroom, or other mushroom of your choice
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) finely chopped red pepper
  • 2 green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp Korean soup soy sauce (gukganjang)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions 

For Ham and spinach rice balls

  • Heat oil in a skillet and saute spinach and green onion until they are wilted. (Do not use too much oil. It will prevent the rice grains from sticking to each other) Season with Korean soup soy sauce.
  • Combine rice, ham, and sauteed spinach in a mixing bowl; mix well.
  • Take a heaping tablespoonful of rice mixture and gently squeeze to form a ball, about 1 1/2-inch in size.

For egg and pickled radish rice balls

  • Chop the egg whites finely.
  • Using a strainer and a spoon, mash the egg yolks to crumble. In a mixing bowl combine egg whites, egg yolks, pickled radish, rice, and mayonnaise; mix well. Season with salt according to your taste.
  • Take a heaping tablespoonful of rice mixture and gently squeeze to form a ball, about 1 1/2-inch in size.

For mushroom and vegetable rice balls

  • Heat oil in a skillet. Saute mushroom and vegetables with garlic and ginger. Season with Korean soup soy sauce, and sesame oil.
  • Combine the mushroom mixture with the rice in a mixing bowl; mix well. Season with salt and pepper according to your taste.
  • Take a heaping tablespoonful of rice mixture and gently squeeze to form a ball, about 1 1/2-inch in size.
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