Arancini di Riso, also known as arancini balls or Italian rice balls, is a popular snack in Southern Italy. It’s very common to find street vendors selling arancini balls from their carts. You don’t have to travel all the way to Italy just to get a taste of this popular Italian snack, for you can make them in your own kitchen with this recipe!
What is Arborio Rice?
A rice variety of short-grain rice, arborio is used primarily in the classical risotto preparation. It is named after the area in Italy where it was originally cultivated. The grains of arborio are short, fat, slightly oval-shaped, and have a pearly white exterior. Aside from risotto, arborio is used in dishes where creamy rice is needed.
What Does Arancini Mean?
Hailing from Sicily, the southern region of Italy, arancino is a small meal that fits in the palm of the hand. The word stems from arancia, which means “orange”. Arancini means “little oranges.”
Arancini balls are rice balls that look like oranges, sometimes sold in sizes as big as the fruit or smaller. An arancini rice ball is made with risotto and contains meat sauce, peas, and mozzarella. They are then deep-fried, their golden brown color giving them a look that’s similar to oranges. There are also regional variations where arancini have a conical shape instead of a round one.
What is the Difference Between Arancini and Rice Balls?
Arancini and Suppli are two popular fried rice balls in Italy. Arancini is made with arborio rice, mozzarella, meat sauce, and peas, while the recipe for Suppli only calls for arborio rice and mozzarella. Suppli is more commonly found in Rome.
Ingredients for Arancini (Italian Rice Balls) Recipe
1 cup arborio rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup panko or dry bread crumbs
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup dried parsley, chopped
4 ounces of mozzarella cheese
1 cup tomato sauce (meat sauce)
1/2 cup flour
Vegetable oil (for frying)
Kosher salt and pepper
Can I Use Leftover Risotto for This Recipe?
Risotto is a vital part of any arancini rice balls recipe. You can make it fresh, or you may use leftover risotto. In fact, one of the best ways to use up leftover risotto is to turn them into arancini balls.
Do You Put Egg in Arancini Balls?
Yes. This Sicilian arancini balls recipe requires the use of eggs for the bread crumbs to stick to the rice balls.
How To Make Arancini
Aranci rice balls can be eaten around the clock. You can have it as a snack, as your lunch, or even as a part of Italian course dinner. Make your own restaurant-quality arancini balls by giving this great recipe a try!
First, prepare the risotto. Using a dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot, bring the chicken broth and 1/4 teaspoon of salt to a boil over medium-high heat. If chicken broth is not available, you may use chicken stock. Keep it warm over low heat.
In another pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often until it is soft. Add garlic and stir constantly until softened but not brown.
Add in the rice. Season it with salt. Stir often until some of the grains turn translucent around the edges. This could take about 3 minutes.
Add white wine and stir often until the pan is almost dry. Ladle 1 cup of warm chicken broth to the rice mixture and bring it to a simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Continue the process of adding a cup of broth and stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed. Do this until all the stock has been used and the rice is cooked through.
Remove from heat. Add grated parmesan cheese, cream, lemon juice, black pepper, salt, and butter.
On a parchment-rimmed baking sheet, spread the risotto in an even layer. Chill for an hour. If you want to chill it for longer, cover the risotto with plastic wrap after an hour.
Remove the chilled risotto from the fridge and prepare another parchment-lined baking sheet.
Scoop about 1/4 cup of the rice mixture into your hands and form a patty. Place about 2 to 3 pieces of cheese in the center of the rice mixture. Add a little tomato sauce and peas as well. Carefully pinch and shape it into a risotto ball. Make sure that you roll the rice ball into a tight ball so that it doesn’t fall apart.
Place on the prepared baking sheet. Make sure that the frozen peas have been thawed before you put them in the center of the rice mixture.
Continue and repeat the process with the remaining risotto, cheese, meat sauce, and peas. Freeze balls for 10 minutes.
Next, prepare the breading. Place flour, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl. Add eggs to another shallow bowl and lightly beat them. In a third bowl, combine panko or bread crumbs, dried parsley, salt, and pepper.
Work with one rice ball at a time. First, roll balls in flour, and shake off the excess. Next, coat the balls in the beaten egg mixture and allow the excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Finally, roll balls in the shallow bowl containing panko or bread crumbs.
Repeat the process with the remaining arancini. Chill afterward.
Next, it’s time to fry the arancini rice balls. Prepare a deep fryer and heat 1 cup of vegetable oil. The hot oil must reach around 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
It’s important to fry the rice balls in batches, leaving at least one inch between each ball. Carefully lower each rice ball into the hot oil and deep fry until golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. You may turn the balls as needed to get them into an even golden brown coloring.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. The paper towels will drain the oil. Sprinkle finely-grated parmesan cheese on top if desired. Serve immediately with marinara sauce on the side.
Arancini Recipe Tips
This recipe calls for the use of risotto. Using leftover rice or freshly cooked rice will result in failure. If the risotto making process in this recipe is difficult for you, another way to make the risotto is to use an Instant Pot.
You may replace the parsley in this recipe with Italian seasoning. To make your own Italian seasoning, simply mix 2 tablespoons each of dried basil, dried oregano, dried rosemary, and dried parsley along with 1 tablespoon each of dried thyme and red chili flakes. Add 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and keep in an airtight container.
If you have no baking sheet to cool the risotto in, you may also use a large bowl instead.
This recipe can be made vegan by substituting dairy cheese with vegan cheese. Skip the meat sauce and heavy cream. Replace the chicken broth with vegetable broth.
Make this recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free panko.
You may also serve the arancini balls at a later time by removing them out of the oil quickly after turning golden brown and keeping them in a preheated oven. Serve warm.
Leftover arancini should be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 3 days. They can also be frozen for up to a month.
To reheat arancini balls, simply reheat them in a 305F oven for 15 minutes. You may also reheat them in an air fryer.
Aside from deep frying, you can also air fry the arancini rice balls. Use this recipe to make the risotto and the arancini balls. Preheat the air fryer to 450F for about 5 minutes while the balls are chilling. Drizzle each risotto ball with olive oil. Cook in batches and don’t overcrowd the air fryer container. Air fry for about 8 minutes. Remove, garnish with grated parmesan cheese, and serve with marinara sauce.
Bring the streets of Italy to your home with this delicious arancini rice balls recipe! They can be enjoyed by the entire family any time, any day.
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Hui Yin moved from Hong Kong 🇭🇰 to the USA 🇺🇸 when she was just 8 years old. Now in her late 20's she enjoys writing and taking long walks in the park to burn off the copious amounts of rice she eats for dinner.