What are Arancini?

Di L.

Arancini are a deep-fried, Sicilian specialty made from bread crumb-covered rice balls and stuffing. They can be crafted from plain rice or risotto that is specially prepared or one day-old. The stuffing can be made from any number of ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese, meat and tomato sauce, mushrooms, eggplant, peas, or a combination of any of the above. Arancini make great snacks, antipasti, or a hearty addition to a tossed salad. They are best enjoyed fresh out of the fryer.

Arancini is sometimes made from leftover risotto.
Arancini is sometimes made from leftover risotto.

Arancini requires a great deal of preparation. The ingredients must be ready beforehand and assembly takes about an hour. First, the risotto or plain rice must be prepared and allowed to simmer until it absorbs all of the water or stock. This will take about 30 minutes to one hour. Then the rice must be allowed to cool. During this time, the filling can be prepared. Set aside a bowl of flour and beat two eggs. Place the bread crumbs in a separate bowl.

Peas are often an ingredient in arancini.
Peas are often an ingredient in arancini.

Use moist hands, take a handful of risotto and roll it into a ball approximately 1 – 2 inches in diameter. Flatten the ball, make an indentation in the center, and place a piece or a spoonful of whichever filling you select in it. Roll the rice back into a ball, dip it quickly into the flour for a light coating, then into the egg, and finally into the bread crumbs. The arancini are now ready to be fried. Pour enough vegetable oil into a heavy, deep saucepan or a wok until it is about two inches deep. Heat the oil until it is about 360 degrees. Drop the arancini into the oil in batches and allow them to fry until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel to drain. Let rest for about two minutes and serve piping hot.

Arancini originated in Sicily.
Arancini originated in Sicily.

Many varieties of seasoning can be added to the rice, the tomato sauce, or even the bread crumb coating. If the arancini is made using risotto, further seasoning of the rice is unnecessary. Your favorite herbs can be sprinkled into the tomato sauce, and salt, pepper, or even paprika can be added to the flour coating, depending on how adventurous you feel.

Mushrooms may be part of the stuffing for arancini.
Mushrooms may be part of the stuffing for arancini.

Arancini has recently become more popularized outside of Sicily due to Italian author Andrea Camilleri. The main character of his popular detective novels, Inspector Montalbano, is an avid fan of the dish.

Arancini can make a good addition to a tossed salad.
Arancini can make a good addition to a tossed salad.

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Discussion Comments


@fify - I have the opposite problem. I have had arancini in a few restaurants, and it was delicious! However, I just don't have the patience to make it at home.

I'm a cook with a short attention span. If it takes me more than a half an hour to make something, it's not happening. Luckily I have a few authentic Italian restaurants near my apartment that serve awesome arancini.


Mmm, homemade arancini is the best. Arancini at stores and restaurants are not always made very well, it never turns out as well as a homemade ones I think. I have a friend who said that arancini is not very tasty. I asked him where he had it and he said a cafe. Clearly that was not real arancini because a well made arancini cannot turn out bad. You just have to make sure you are eating those made by an experienced cook.

I've had ragu, peas and cheese filled arancinis before. I can make them at home now too. I'm wondering what other kinds of fillings can I use? Would it be very weird and uncommon if I made a ground beef filling for example? Any suggestions?


@feruze-- Arancini means 'oranges' in Italian! The full name is 'arancini di risu' which translates as 'rice oranges.' They say that it was named this way because when they are fried, they have a bright orange color and resemble small oranges. I think it's a good name for this food. If you can't remember though, don't worry, I'm sure restaurants will know what you mean if you say rice balls or fried rice balls.

My grandmother says that when she was young, arancini was usually in the shape of a cone, not a ball. Over time the round ball shape became more popular but some still make it in a cone shape. So don't be shocked if you get small cone shaped arancini at restaurants.


This sounds just like a Japanese snack food called onigiri. It is a rice ball stuffed with different kinds of fillings and wrapped in some seaweed. I love onigiri and I think arancini must taste even better because it is fried and eaten hot. Onigiri is generally eaten cold. Arancini sounds like a snack or appetizer you can only have at home or at restaurants. I'm going to look for it on the menu next time I go to an Italian restaurant.

Does the name arancini mean something? I might forget the Italian name, but it would be easier to remember the meaning.

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