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Marinated mozzarella balls or ciliegine are one of my favorite items to get at the olive bar at our local grocery store but they can be pricey. It is simple enough to make at home with a little prep and an hour of marinating time. Marinated mozzarella is perfect for a no-cook appetizer or as part of an Italian-inspired antipasti board.
This dish could not be simpler to prepare. Soaked in olive oil, garlic, and fresh herbs, the mozzarella develops a rich and complex flavor.
The complete ingredient list and measurements are listed in the printable recipe below.
- Ciliegine: Mozzarella balls come in many different sizes. From traditional mozzarella which is about the size of an orange to Perline which is the size of pearls. For this recipe, we opted for ciliegine which is the size of a cherry but you can substitute any size such as bocconcini or ovolini. If you choose a larger size you might need to cut it into bite-size pieces before marinating.
- Olive Oil: Not all olive oil is created equal. You want to find the best quality that also has a nice flavor that complements the mozzarella and herbs.
- Herbs and Spices: Our recipe uses fresh basil and oregano but you can substitute dried. Approximately 1/2 tablespoon of dried basil is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of fresh and approximately 1 teaspoon of dried oregano is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of fresh. You can also add some thyme, parsley, or rosemary as well. Besides fresh herbs, you will need some garlic and crushed red pepper.
How to Make Marinated Ciliegine
Here are the quick step-by-step instructions with visuals; you can find the full instructions with the exact ingredients in the recipe card below.
Pro-tip: Don’t discard the extra olive oil. It will have a delicious garlic herb flavor and is perfect for dipping your favorite bread.
1. Combine the herbs, spices, and olive oil: In a small bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt.
2. Marinate the ciliegine: Add the ciliegine and stir to coat then transfer to an airtight container and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
3. Serve: Allow marinated ciliegine to come to room temperature then taste and add additional salt or herbs as needed. Serve with bruschetta and dried salami or as part of a charcuterie board.
Mozzarella Types by Size
Mozzarella cheese has a variety of names depending on its size and form.
- Perlini or Mozzarella Pearls – the size of a pearl and weighing 1-4 grams
- Noccioline – the size of a nut and weighs about 9 grams
- Ciliegine – cherry size and weigh around 13 grams
- Bocconcini – are bite-size and weigh about 40 grams
- Ovolini – are the size of an egg and weigh approximately 113 grams
- Fior di Latte, di Bufala, and Burrata – are all the size of a small ball and weigh between 113 grams to 225 grams
Recipe Tips and Notes
- The mozzarella balls need to marinate for at least an hour, so plan accordingly.
- You can use any size of mozzarella balls but anything bigger than “bite-size” should be cut into smaller pieces.
- The olive oil will solidify in the refrigerator so allow it to sit at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Marinated mozzarella goes with an anti-paste plate or charcuterie board, on crostini, or mixed into an Italian-inspired pasta salad.
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Other Recipes to Try
If you enjoy this recipe, we recommend checking out some of these:
Marinated Ciliegine (Mozzarella Balls)
- 8 ounces ciliegine, small fresh mozzarella balls
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- In a small bowl combine the olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and salt.
- Add the ciliegine and stir to coat.
- Transfer to an airtight container and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
- Allow marinated ciliegine to come to room temperature then taste and add additional salt or herbs as needed. Serve with bruschetta and dried salami or as part of a charcuterie board.