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How to Make Arancini (Sicilian Rice Balls)

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  • Author: Emily Roselyn
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 22 1x


Arancini, which are soft, cheesy, and crispy fried rice balls, seemed to be sold everywhere in Sicily. We could buy them for breakfast, lunch, or in the late afternoon. Sicilian arancini are the perfect finger food because they have creamy rice, a variety of tasty toppings, and melted cheese all in a small fried package. I can’t think of anything else you could serve at your next dinner party with cocktails.



For the rice dish,

  • 2 ΒΌ cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 oz risotto rice (Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano)
  • 2 oz finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large egg

For the middle

  • 1/2 cup leftover Bolognese sauce or any other thick meat sauce
  • 14 cup thawed frozen green peas 12 cubes or balls of mozzarella
  • For cooking the arancini
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups of dry, small breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups vegetable oil
  • To serve Aoli or tomato sauce (garlic mayonnaise)


How to make risotto:

  • Bring the broth and olive oil to a boil in a large pot. Stir in the rice, bring the pot back to a boil, and then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook the rice, uncovered, for about 12 minutes, until it is al dente (tender but firm). When the rice is done cooking, use a colander to drain off any extra water (any remaining liquid should be thick, heavy cream-like). Gently stir the rice in the colander to get rid of any extra liquid. Spread the rice out on a baking sheet and let it cool until it is room temperature. You can also put the rice in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • When the rice is cool, put it in a large bowl and mix in the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and the egg.

Get the sauce ready:

  • Warm up the Bolognese sauce or another meat sauce of your choice, then mix in the peas. Set aside.

Prepare your workspace:

  • Set the bowl of risotto, the meat sauce, and the cheese cubes in front of you in an assembly-line fashion. Set a baking sheet close by so you can put the rice balls on it as you make them. Take out a large ice cream scoop if you have one. This will help you measure out exactly 14 cup (60 ml) of rice for each arancini. If you want, you can wear disposable gloves because it can get a little messy.

How to make the little balls:

  • Make a small ball with 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the rice mixture in the palm of your hand. Make a well in the middle of the ball and put about 1 tbsp (15 ml) of the meat sauce in it. Put a ball of bocconcini or a cube of mozzarella in the middle of the sauce. With both hands, gently shape the rice so that it completely covers the meat sauce and cheese. Slowly close your hands over the rice ball to make it perfectly round.
  • Use the rest of the risotto and meat sauce to make more arancini. Once you’ve made all the arancini, put them in the freezer for 20 minutes. This will help keep them round while they fry.

Put the arancini in a bowl:

  • Put three shallow bowls on the surface you’re working on. Put the flour in one bowl, the two eggs in another, and the breadcrumbs in the last bowl. Set up a second clean baking sheet near the first one so you can put the rice balls on it as you coat them in flour.

Coat one rice ball all over with flour.

  • Remove any extra flour. Roll the rice ball in the beaten egg to coat it, letting any extra egg drip back into the bowl. The last step is to roll the rice ball in the breadcrumbs and lightly press it so that the crumbs cover the whole thing. Place on a baking sheet and do the same with the rest of the rice balls.
  • Fry the arancini: If you want to serve the rice balls as soon as you make them, heat the oven to 200Β°F (95Β°C) or the lowest setting to keep them warm while you fry them. Double up the paper towels and put them on a baking sheet.
  • Pour enough vegetable oil into a big stockpot so that it comes up the sides about 2 inches (5 cm). Depending on the size of the pot you’re using, you may need to add more oil. Add more oil if you need to.
  • If you have a thermometer, put a deep-fry thermometer in the oil and heat it to 375Β°F (190Β°C) over medium heat. (If you don’t have a thermometer, follow the steps below to check the temperature.) Once the oil is at the right temperature, keep an eye on it and adjust the heat under the pan so that the temperature stays the same as you fry.

If you are not using a thermometer:Β 

  • Dip a small piece of rice into the oil to find out how hot it is. It should sizzle in a steady but lively way. If nothing happens, the oil is not hot enough. If the oil around the breadcrumb coating boils and sputters, the oil is too hot. Change the heat as needed.
  • When the oil is hot enough, carefully drop two or three arancini into it. Don’t put too many in the pot. Fry, turning with tongs or a slotted spoon as needed, for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on all sides. Put them on the baking sheet with the paper towels and put them back in the oven if you want to keep them hot. Fry the rice balls that are left.



  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Pan Fry
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 24
  • Calories: 190 kcal
  • Sugar: 1g
  • Sodium: 384mg
  • Fat: 6g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 23g
  • Fiber: 1g
  • Protein: 8g
  • Cholesterol: 33mg

Keywords: Arancini, Appetizers