Arancini (or Arancine - Arancino) are delicious Italian Rice Balls that are stuffed with mozzarella, covered with breadcrumbs, and then fried until golden and crispy. They are inexpensive, extremely easy to make, and also a great way to use leftover risotto dishes. You can serve these small arancini rice balls as an appetizer/starter or as finger food/canapés at your next dinner party to impress your guests!
These scrumptious Italian Rice Balls (also known as Arancini/Arancine/Arancino) made with leftover risotto are my all-time favorite party food. They have a light and crispy coating with a creamy, soft, and cheesy inside. Loved by kids, adults, or even fussy eaters, these crispy and golden brown risotto balls are an absolute crowd-pleaser.
What are Italian Rice Balls?
Italian Rice Balls are round-shaped risotto balls filled with mozzarella (or/and meat ragu), coated with breadcrumbs, and then fried until golden and crispy. Originating from Siciliy, they might come with different fillings and different shapes/sizes. They are known by many names such as Suppli, Arancini, Arancine, or Arancino around different regions of Italy.
Risotto balls originated from Sicily in the 10th century, when they were ruled by Arabs. Their origins may so be possibly the same as Kibbeh from Middle Eastern cuisine.
Why This Recipe Works?
- This recipe is a great way to use leftover risotto dishes. You can use almost any risotto dish to make crispy arancini balls.
- They are versatile. You can serve these Italian rice balls as an appetizer, as finger food, as a snack, as a side dish, or as a light lunch along with marinara sauce and a bowl of Rocket and Parmesan Salad.
- You can prepare Arancini balls up to two days in advance and keep them refrigerated until you need them.
- Italian Rice Balls are loved by everyone, they are an absolute crowd-pleaser!
Ingredients and Substitutes
- Leftover risotto - I used leftover Creamy Wild Mushroom Risotto for this recipe but you can make fresh risotto and let it cool down which would add extra prep time. For more delicious risotto recipe ideas, please check my Pumpkin Risotto (Risotto alla Zucca) and Creamy Shrimp Risotto with Peas recipes.
- Mozzarella - You can use any type of stringy cheese you prefer such as Kasar cheese, Cheddar, Gruyère, Fontina, Provolone, Taleggio, or Raclette.
- Plain Flour - It is also called all-purpose flour. It helps the eggs stick better to risotto balls.
- Eggs - They help the breadcrumbs stick to the arancini. 2 medium-sized eggs are enough for this recipe.
- Breadcrumbs - I prefer panko breadcrumbs for breading as they are made from white bread without the crust and have a larger grain than regular bread crumbs. Their texture is light and airy and they will crisp to a perfect golden brown. However, you can use any breadcrumbs you have in hand.
How to Make Italian Rica Balls (Arancini/Arancine)?
Making these crispy and delicious risotto balls is very easy and straightforward. However, to achieve the best results you need to follow a few simple steps:
If you are using freshly made risotto, let it totally cool down and refrigerate it for a few hours, ideally overnight so that it sticks together easily.
Shape the Risotto Balls
Scoop the cold risotto into 16 equal pieces, slightly larger than a walnut. Use slightly wet hands while rolling the risotto into balls. Flatten a risotto ball in your hand and put a piece of mozzarella cube in the center. Avoid making it too thin or the mozzarella will oose out! Close the rice around the mozzarella and roll it into a tight ball.
Set the arancini ball aside on a plate or a cutting board, and repeat the same with the remaining leftover risotto.
Cover with Breadcrumbs and Fry
Season the flour and eggs with salt and pepper. Set up 3 bowls and fill them with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs.
Dip each prepared risotto ball starting with the flour, followed by the eggs, and finally, the breadcrumbs.
Transfer them to a tray and set them aside.
Fill a small pot or pan with frying oil until it’s 6 cm - 8 cm (2" to 3") deep.
Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 170° C (340° F), gently add the arancini balls, and lower the heat to medium.
Cook them for 6-8 mins, or until golden brown and melted in the center. Set them aside on a plate lined with a paper kitchen towel.
Serve them immediately while still warm with tomato sauce and a bowl of salad.
If you want to serve the risotto balls at a later time, give them a quick browning in hot oil and place them on a silicon paper-lined baking sheet. When you need to serve them, Simply reheat them in the preheated oven at 200° C (395º F) for 10 minutes.
Scroll down to the recipe card for the full, printable recipe!
What to Serve with Arancine Rice Balls?
Same as Shortcrust Pastry Mini Sausage Rolls, Thai Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce, and Crispy Duck Spring Rolls, these delicious and crispy Italian Rice Balls are great as an appetizer/starter, finger food, or snack.
Top Tips From the Chef
- The risotto has to be totally cooled down before you try to shape it. I make the risotto the day before or use leftovers from the previous day's dinner as the cold risotto holds together much better than freshly made one.
- Set your working station efficiently before you start making the rice balls. Have a small bowl of water for wetting your hands when shaping the balls. Have your seasoned flour on a flat plate, whisk your eggs in a small bowl and place the breadcrumbs on a plate before starting to cover your risotto balls with breadcrumbs.
- Make sure the mozzarella is tightly and entirely covered with the rice when shaping the rice balls.
- Make sure you heat the frying oil until it reaches 170° C (340° F). You can use a cooking thermometer, or a piece of bread to test the oil. The oil is ready when the bread turns golden brown within 45 seconds.
Yes, you can prepare them and keep them refrigerated for up to 2 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months in an airtight container, and fry them just before serving.
The leftover Arancini balls would keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can freeze them for up to 3 months for longer shelf life.
The best way to reheat the leftover arancini balls is to place them in a preheated oven to 180° C (360° F) for 10 to 14 minutes, or until they are piping hot. Alternatively, you can use an air fryer and reheat them at 175° C (350° F) for 10 until they are thoroughly heated.
For more delicious and authentic Italian recipes why not try:
I hope you enjoy the process of making these crispy and scrumptious Italian Rice Balls (Arancini/Arancine) as much as you enjoy eating them! 🙂
Bon appétit! / Afiyet olsun!
Italian Rice Balls (Arancini)
- 670 g leftover risotto
- 75 g mozzarella (cut into cubes)
- 2 medium eggs
- 75 g plain white flour / all-purpose flour
- 50 g breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- vegetable, rapeseed, or sunflower oil for frying
Shaping the Risotto Balls
- Scoop the cold risotto into 16 equal pieces, slightly larger than a walnut.
- Use slightly wet hands to roll the risotto into balls. Flatten a risotto ball in your hand and put a piece of mozzarella cube in the center. Avoid making it too thin or the mozzarella will oose out!
- Close the rice around the mozzarella and roll it into a tight ball.
- Set the risotto ball aside on a plate and repeat the same with the remaining risotto.
Covering with Breadcrumbs and Frying
- Season the flour and eggs with salt and pepper. Set up 3 bowls and fill them with flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs.
- Dip each prepared risotto ball starting with the flour, followed by the eggs, and finally, the breadcrumbs. Transfer them to a tray and set them aside.
- Fill a small pot or pan with frying oil until it’s 6 cm - 8 cm (2" to 3") deep.
- Heat the oil over high heat until it reaches 170° C (340° F), gently add the arancini balls, and lower the heat to medium.
- Cook them for 6-8 mins, or until golden brown and melted in the center. Set them aside on a plate lined with a paper kitchen towel.
- Serve them immediately while still warm with a bowl of tomato sauce.
- If you want to serve the risotto balls at a later time, give them a quick browning and place them on a silicon paper-lined baking sheet. When you need to serve them, Simply reheat them in the preheated oven at 200° C (395º F) for 10 minutes.
This post use affiliate links. This means that if you click on them and then buy something, we get a small amount of commission to keep the site running, but it doesn’t cost you anything more.