Marinated mozzarella balls are a quick and easy Italian appetizer made with pure ingredients. Combined with fresh Italian herbs and spices, mild flavored mozzarella cheese balls or bocconcini are infused in an olive oil based marinade resulting in a delicious combination of flavors.

It only takes a few minutes to put this recipe together after which the soft mozzarella cheese will absorb the intricate flavors of the marinade while being kept in the fridge. This mozzarella appetizer is a true crowd pleaser to either serve on its own, as part of a charcuterie board, or in a salad or pasta dish.

top view marinated mozzarella balls recipe with crushed peppers, fresh parsley and basil, dried herbs and ground pepper in olive oil

What is mozzarella cheese?

Mozzarella cheese is usually made of either buffalo’s or cow’s milk. It is a stretched-curd cheese mixed with heated whey which is then moulded into various shapes. The most known are the oval rounds, the long rectangular shapes or the smaller balls. Mini mozzarella balls or bocconcini (meaning little bites or little morsels in Italian) are small, mild flavored, bite-sized mozzarella cheese balls

This white colored cheese usually has a very mild and milky taste making it a perfect ingredient to add to salads, pasta or pizza. Simple to make, they are also perfect to serve as small appetisers on their own. A real classy Italian treat your guests will just love at your next dinner party.

long view marinated bocconcini with olive oil mixed with fresh parsley and basil, dried herbs and chilli flakes in a yellow checkered bowl

Which ingredients to use

  • Mozzarella balls: Use fresh mini mozzarella balls or bocconcini which can be found in most larger supermarkets or Italian specialty stores. Another option are the ciliegine or cherry size mozzarella balls which are slightly smaller in size. These balls usually come in small plastic tubs, packed in water to keep them fresh. The water needs to be drained for this recipe.
  • Olive oil: The base of the marinade. As the mozzarella will absorb all the flavors of the marinade, use a good quality extra virgin olive oil. Afterwards, the olive oil can be reused as a dressing in a salad or pasta.
  • Fresh parsley: Flat leaf or Italian parsley provides a fresh and aromatic taste to the marinade.
  • Fresh basil: I prefer to add fresh basil instead of the dried version as the sweet distinctive taste of the fresh basil is much more pronounced. It perfectly characterises Italy on a plate.
  • Dried herbs: Personally, I like a mix of fresh and dried herbs to make this marinade. For this recipe, together with fresh herbs, I have used an Italian dry seasoning mix, containing thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and parsley.
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: Adds a hint of heat. Use more or less according to personal preference, although I would recommend not to overdo it as the spiciness will increase while marinating.
  • Salt: Add a pinch of kosher salt or fleur de sel to taste.
  • Pepper: Freshly ground pepper corns provide the best aroma. I have used mixed pepper corns (black, white, green and pink) but freshly ground black pepper will also work.
top view marinated mozzarella balls with basil, parsley, chilli flakes and dried italian seasoning

How to make this recipe

Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

This marinated mozzarella balls recipe is so quick and easy to make. It comes together in only 10 minutes.

  • Make the marinade: Finely chop the fresh basil and parsley. Combine the olive oil, parsley, basil, dried herbs and red pepper flakes in a medium-sized bowl. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Whisk together well.
  • Drain the mozzarella balls: Drain the fresh mozzarella balls in a colander to remove all excess liquid.
  • Marinate the mozzarella: Add the mozzarella balls to the bowl with the marinade and gently stir to coat. Make sure all the bocconcini are covered with the marinade.
  • Refrigerate: Transfer the mozzarella pearls to a mason jar or airtight container and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving.
adding fresh herbs, dried herbs, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes with olive oil to make a marinade
adding mozzarella balls to the marinade in white bowl
mixing mozzarella balls with the herb olive oil marinade

Recipe variations

This marinated mozzarella recipe is very adaptable to different tastes and palates. Here are some variations and ingredient substitutions you can use:

Sun dried tomatoes: These go really well with the taste of mozzarella. Finely cut the sun dried tomatoes to add a delicious tartness to this mozzarella appetizer recipe.

Garlic: The taste of raw garlic can be quite overpowering, so just add half a teaspoon of grated fresh garlic. Otherwise, you can consider using garlic flakes for a milder taste.

Lemon: Use either a bit of lemon zest or lemon juice for some extra acidity and freshness.

Fresh herbs: Instead of also adding dried herbs, you can opt for fresh herbs only, such as rosemary, thyme, oregano and/or marjoram.

Balsamic glaze: What is more Italian than a syrupy balsamic glaze? A sweet, fruity, tangy addition to the mild taste of mozzarella. Store bought will be fine, or you can take it one step further with this homemade balsamic glaze recipe.

Olives: Chopped black olives adds a buttery, bitter-sweet, salty taste to this dish.

Tips and tricks

  • How long to marinate: Leave to marinate for at least one hour before serving, but as always with marinades, the longer the better. So best prepare this dish the day before and store in the fridge overnight.
  • Refrigerating oils: The olive oil may solidify in the fridge. But don’t worry, this is normal. Take the jar out of the fridge and allow to warm up to room temperature before serving. The oil will become runny and clear again.
  • Mozzarella balls: Use any size of mozzarella balls you can find, pearls or bocconcini. You can even use standard fresh mozzarella and cut it into bite-sized pieces.
  • Olive oil: Use a good quality olive oil for that mild, fruity taste. However, if you aren’t a fan of olive oil you can use other infused or neutral oils like sunflower, grapeseed, avocado or canola oil. The taste won’t be 100% Italian, but you can then just add extra Italian herbs to compensate.
mason jar with marinated mozzarella pearls in olive oil and fresh herbs

How to store

You can store the marinated mozzarella in a mason jar or airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. This makes it a perfect prepare ahead Italian appetizer to serve when needed. Just make sure all the mozzarella balls are covered in the marinade for the best flavor.

After usage, don’t throw away the olive oil marinade as it can be used as a dressing for salads, pastas or even for cooking.

Serving suggestions

You can serve these marinated mozzarella balls as an appetizer at a dinner party or as part of a charcuterie board. They can also be used on Caprese skewers where they are combined with cherry tomatoes and a basil leaf on a toothpick.

When mixed with warm pasta the mozzarella will slightly melt which is just delicious. Or mix with cold pasta or any other salad, like this persimmon Caprese salad.

Did you know that these marinated mozzarella balls also make a great gift for a dinner party or even for Christmas? Store and present them in a beautiful mason jar.

More Italian recipes to try

top view marinated mozzarella balls with basil, parsley, chilli flakes and dried italian seasoning
Print Recipe Save Recipe
5 from 3 votes

Marinated mozzarella balls

Marinated mozzarella balls are a quick and easy Italian appetizer made with pure ingredients. Combined with fresh Italian herbs and spices, mild flavored mozzarella cheese balls are infused in an olive oil based marinade resulting in a delicious combination of flavors. It only takes a few minutes to put this recipe together after which the soft mozzarella cheese will absorb the intricate flavors of the marinade while being kept in the fridge. This mozzarella appetizer is a true crowd pleaser to either serve on its own, as part of a charcuterie board, in a salad or in a cold or warm pasta dish.
Prep Time10 minutes
Marinating time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 10 minutes
Course: Appetizers
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Author: Sabine

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces (or 225 grams) mozzarella balls or bocconcini drained
  • ½ cup (or 120 ml) olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried mixed Italian herbs
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground mixed pepper corns

Instructions

  • In a medium sized bowl, combine the olive oil with the fresh and dried herbs, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Mix well with a whisk.
  • Drain the mozzarella balls to remove all excess moisture.
  • Add the drained mozzarella balls to the marinade and gently toss to coat. Make sure all the bocconcini are properly covered in the marinade.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

Notes

  • Italian herbs or seasoning: A mix of dried herbs mostly consisting of thyme, rosemary, oregano, basil and parsley. Use an Italian seasoning mix or add your own mix of dried Italian herbs.
  • Olive oil: A good quality extra virgin olive oil will improve the taste of these marinated bocconcini. When the mozzarella balls are finished you can use the leftover olive oil for salad dressing or cooking.
  • Pepper: Freshly ground pepper has so much more aroma. I use a freshly ground pepper mix (white, black, pink and green peppercorns).
  • Crushed red pepper flakes: Add just a pinch of chilli flakes. You don’t want these fresh and soft mozzarella balls to be too spicy.
  • Marinade time: Allow to marinade in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving, but the longer the better.
  • Storage: Store in a mason jar or airtight container in the fridge for maximum of 4 days.
Tried this recipe?Mention @thetastychilli or tag #thetastychilli!

Did you make this recipe? I’d love to hear how it turned out! Leave a comment with rating below and share a picture with the hashtag #thetastychilli and tag me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

Share this recipe