Best Sicilian Arancini Rice Balls

Recipe byPetite Gourmets
August 16, 2021

The best Sicilian arancini are perfectly crispy outside and nice and melty inside, with a generous amount of meat and peas! And these arancini are almost as good as the ones found in Sicily!

Arancini rice balls are arguably the most recognizable of all Italian Sicilian foods worldwide. Their name means little oranges in Italian and is likely a reference to their shape and color.

The golden deep-fried and cheese-filled balls look as good as they taste and are loved as both a snack and a main course all over the world.

AranciniPhoto By Canva
Taste Score: %96
Difficulty Medium
Servings 6 people
Preparation 60 mins
Cooking 45 mins
Total 105 mins

Tips

  • For the best Sicilian arancini, use short-grain rice like vialone nano, carnaroli, or Arborio. Don’t try to use regular rice (boiled or steamed) for this recipe, as it is unlikely to stay together when trying to form a ball or cone.
  • Meat, cheese, and peas are the classic arancini fillings, but there are plenty of other vegetarian arancini filling options like pistachios, mushrooms, spinach, pesto, etc.
  • Keep any leftover arancini rice balls covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. If you want to store them for longer, freeze them on a baking sheet before transferring them to a ziplock bag and keep for up to two months. Reheat in the oven for 10-20 minutes until the exterior is crispy and the interior is melty.
  • The diced fresh mozzarella is optional. For lighter and less cheesy arancini, you can choose not to use this cheese.
  • When frying the arancini, use a neutral frying oil like vegetable oil.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Add rice, saffron, and 1 1/2 cups of water to a large saucepan and bring it to boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Once the water starts boiling, cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low, allowing the rice to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
  3. Uncover the saucepan and add in freshly grated Parmigiano, butter, salt, and pepper. Stir and transfer the rice to a large plate or baking dish, spreading out to cool to room temperature.
  4. Make the arancini sauce/filling while the rice cools. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a small saucepan and add onions, carrots, and celery. Sauté while stirring frequently until everything is softened and the onions become translucent, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  5. Then add the ground beef and fry for 5 -8 minutes or until they brown, stirring frequently.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of dry red wine to the saucepan and cook for about one minute until the alcohol aroma reduces.
  7. Add tomato paste and purée after a minute and lower the heat to medium-low, cooking while stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  8. Finally, add the peas and simmer for another 8 to 10 minutes, so the peas become tender, and the sauce thickens. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set it aside to allow it to cool.
  9. Begin shaping the rice balls once the rice and filling are completely cool. To do this, add a heaping tablespoon of rice to the palm of your hand and use your fingers and thumb to make it into a hollow bowl shape.
  10. Add a teaspoon of filling to the center of this hollow bowl. If using diced fresh mozzarella, add a cube or so of it at this stage.
  11. Gently shape the rice around the filling to form a ball or cone/pear shape. Repeat this process with the rest of the rice to form all the arancini.
  12. Then add flour, eggs, 1/2 cup of water, and a pinch of salt to a shallow bowl. Whisk until smooth before spreading breadcrumbs in a separate plate or baking dish.
  13. Roll the stuffed rice balls in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off before evenly coating with breadcrumbs.
  14. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes if the balls seem too loose or liquidy to help them firm up or fry immediately.
  15. To fry, heat 2 inches of oil in a frying pan till the temperature reaches 360°F. Add the arancini to this hot oil in batches of 2 or 3 and cook for about 3 minutes until evenly golden brown. Do not overcrowd.
  16. Transfer the cooked arancini rice balls to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
  17. Serve it hot.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Arancini
Serves 6
Amount Per Serving
Calories701
% Daily Value*
Protein 29 g58%
Total Fat 27 g34.6%
Cholesterol 201 mg67%
Sodium 867 mg37.7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

What Is Arancini?

Arancini or arancini di riso are stuffed rice balls that are a hallmark of Sicilian cuisine. The main ingredients are rice, meat, mozzarella cheese, and peas. The stuffed rice is shaped into cones or balls depending on the region before breading and deep-frying.

As for their origins, the spicy and savory arancini of today likely originated in Sicily after the arrival of ingredients from the ‘new world’. Prior to that, arancini had been a sweet Sicilian dish made with ricotta cheese, sugar, and milk.

What to Serve with Arancini Balls?

To serve arancini as a main course, pair them with a rich tomato sauce, aioli, wilted spinach, eggplant parmigiana, grilled asparagus, pear and pomegranate salad, beetroot relish, courgette fries, ratatouille, sausages, etc.

Arancini also go well with sicilian red wines like Nero d'Avola, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Etna Rosso, Frappato and others like Metodo Classico, Prosecco, Champagne, Cava, Sekt, and Lambrusco.

Here are our some delicious recipes you can serve with Arancini Rice Balls:

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