Italian Rice Balls Recipe

Rating 5.0
| 3
Italian rice balls, or arancini, are a popular Sicilian staple. These delicious deep-fried rice balls are filled with meat and melty cheese and covered in a crispy breadcrumb coating.
Utensils Appetizer
Globe Italian
Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, cookbook author, and food writer who graduated from The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She runs the seasonal food blog, Parsnips and Pastries, and is author of The Modern Cast Iron Cookbook.


6 1/4 cup(s)
water, divided
1 tblsp
plus 1 tsp salt, divided
2 2/3 cup(s)
white rice (carnaroli or arborio rice)
2 tblsp
1 3/4 cup(s)
all purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup(s)
tomato sauce, plus more for serving
1/4 cup(s)
diced cooked ham
4 oz
mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes
1 1/2 cup(s)
dried breadcrumbs
vegetable oil, for frying

Directions 5 steps | 45 Minutes

Step 1

Prep and measure all ingredients and make the rice. Cook the rice in 5 cups of boiling water with 1 tablespoon of salt, for about 15 minutes. Once the rice is cooked, the water will have been completely absorbed. Add the butter to the cooked rice. Stir to obtain a creamy and amalgamated mixture. Pour and level the rice on a large, low tray or sheet pan. Cover it with plastic wrap to allow it to cool completely. The plastic will prevent the surface of the rice from drying out. Let the rice rest for a couple of hours at room temperature.

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Step 2

Once the rice is cooled, place a couple of tablespoons of rice at a time in your hand and flatten it into your cupped hand. Don't make it too thin, otherwise the filling will ooze out. Have a bowl filled with water nearby so you can moisten your hands. To the flattened cupped rice, add a teaspoon of tomato sauce, a piece of mozzarella and 2-3 pieces of diced ham in the center. Next, add a spoonful of rice on top to close the ball, and then shape each arancini with your hands. Repeat the process to form all of the rice balls.

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Step 3

Once all of the Italian rice balls are formed, prepare the batter. In a large bowl pour the sifted flour, a teaspoon of salt and 1 ¼ cups of water. Mix thoroughly with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Then dip the arancini, one by one, into the batter, taking care to cover them entirely. Next, roll them in the breadcrumbs. At this point, you can reshape them if needed.

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Step 4

Heat the oil in a deep skillet to 350°F. Fry 2-3 arancini at a time, taking care not to crowd the pan as this will lower the temperature. Turn the rice balls often to avoid browning too much on one side. When the Italian rice balls are golden brown, remove from the oil and place them on a tray lined with paper towels.

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Step 5

Enjoy the Italian rice balls hot and serve with additional marinara sauce.

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  • The Italian rice balls can be kept in the fridge for 2-3 days and then reheated in the oven before serving.


What are arancini balls made of?

Arancini, Italian rice balls, are made with cooked arborio or carnaroli rice. It can also be made with leftover risotto. The balls are then stuffed with meat or tomato sauce and cheese. They are then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep-fried for a perfect contrast of a crispy outside and gooey inside.

What do you serve arancini balls with?

Arancini can be served alongside a savory marinara sauce or a garlic aioli. As an appetizer, it can also be served with a charcuterie board or a crudités platter. Because of its richness, arancini makes a lovely pairing with a light spring salad or roasted vegetables. 

Nutrition Per Serving
View All
25.4 g
11.4 g
70.8 g


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Carmela G.


11 Jul 2022

An amazing Italian Rice Balls Recipe. Easy to make but pack with flavor. An amazing recipe to create at home.

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Sam N.


11 Jul 2022

Great recipe for a divine dish. I love that this recipe alongside the video instruction and the step-by-step photos makes it quite simple to prepare Italian rice balls.

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Chrystal G.


11 Jul 2022

This is amazing! I love arancini. But I only learned to make it with risotto and usually feel intimidated with tackling making risotto and arancini. This is a much easier approach.

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