Cooking Smart: Spinach-Chicken Rice Balls

These rice balls are a great way to turn leftover chicken meat into an exciting new meal. I made these a few times for my family, and they were always a big hit with my hubs and kids. Sometimes I only get a couple of rice balls for myself because my eldest gobbles them up.

I know this might sound crazy, but I don’t like eating leftovers. That is if the exact same menu is repeated the next few days. This leads me to cook fresh foods every day, which is not very smart. So I’m starting a new series called “cooking smart,” where I cook a certain item and then reuse it into different meals. It’s really to help myself out, but of course, I will share what I planned and how it worked out here.


Last weekend I picked up 4 lbs of chicken thighs from Costco, and on Monday, I baked all of them at once. I’m sharing the basic recipe I use below, but I change the seasoning depending on how I plan to use the chicken.
Once the chicken was out of the oven, I plated some for dinner and immediately stored and refrigerated a portion I planned to use the following days. I think this is important, especially if you are using meat for packing lunches that will sit at room temperature for a while. You want to reduce food spoilage as much as possible.
Tuesday, I made some of the chicken into spinach-chicken rice balls. We had Korean-style egg drop soup with them. (The recipe is coming up soon!)
Wednesday, we had chicken salad. I deconstructed the salad for my kids

Oven-baked skinless and boneless chicken thighs

  1. Preheat oven to 425F.
  2. Pat dry chicken thighs. Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle seasoning on top. (seasoning mix recipe below.)
  3. Bake for 25 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
    .
    ▪️Seasoning for 1 lb of chicken
    👉🏻1 tsp salt + 1 tsp paprika + 1 tsp onion powder + 1 tsp dried thyme + 1/2 tsp garlic powder + 1/2 tsp pepper
    .
    📝 notes
    ▪️It is best to season a few hours earlier (or the night before) and let the chicken sit in the fridge. However, I didn’t prep ahead this time and just let the chicken sit a bit while the oven was preheating, and that is ok too.


For the rice, I cooked it fresh in the morning using my Instant Pot, but you can make it ahead or use microwaveable precooked rice. The best way to store rice is to portion it out into one serving and freeze them. I added a bit of salt directly into the water when cooking rice, but you can simply mix some salt into cooked rice as well.

Watch this video to see how to form the rice balls.

Spinach-Chicken Rice Balls

Leftover chicken meat transfromed into an exciting new meal. Great for lunch boxes.

Course lunch box
Cuisine Asian
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 12 rice balls
Author whiteblankspace

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked and chopped chicken meat such as oven-baked thighs or rotisserie chicken
  • 1 cup fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 3 cups of cooked short-grain white rice aka sushi rice

Instructions

  1. If using leftover chicken meat, microwave chopped chicken until hot to kill bacteria on food. Let it cool a bit and place it in a food processor.
  2. Add spinach and mayo to the food processor.
  3. Process until the mixture turns into a coarse paste.
  4. Wet your hands with water to prevent the rice from sticking. Place about 3 tbsp of rice on your hands and press flat.
  5. Place 1 tbsp of chicken filling in the middle of the rice.
  6. Gently wrap the filling with rice, creating a ball. It’s ok if the top isn’t completely covered.
  7. Add a tbsp of additional rice on top to cover the filling. Using your hands, pat the rice into a ball.

Recipe Notes

If packing for lunch, you can either pack them in a thermos or bento box at room temperature. I like to add lettuce at the bottom of the bento box to prevent the rice balls from sticking. In hot temperatures, you may want to add an ice pack to the lunch bag.

Rice balls can be refrigerated for up to a couple of days. Let them warm up a bit at room temperature or microwave before eating.

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