arancini rice balls

Sicilian Arancini Recipe (Italian Risotto Rice Balls With Saffron)

If you know anybody who has traveled to Sicily the first thing they will probably tell you is to taste their Arancini (rice balls).. Sicilian rice balls are very popular not only in Sicily but throughout Italy.

Sicily’s traditional arancini is usually cooked with boiled rice flavored with special saffron and stuffed either with organic caciocavallo (cheese), and “ragù” – which is, minced meat with fresh tomato, onion, celery, red wine & peas – or with butter, some mozzarella cheese & ham.

Arancini’s make great appetizers, on the go snacks and hearty lunch fillers. They are loved all around Sicily, you can find several versions of Sicilian arancini rice balls in almost every corner of the region.

Recipe Video

Arancini (Rice Balls) Recipe Ingredients

Cookware Needed For This Recipe
Ingredients For The Risotto
  • Rice Carnaroli (500 g)
  • Saffron (2 Sachets)
  • Butter (50g)
  • Grated Parmesan (100g)
Surrounding Crunchy Batter For The Rice Balls
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Bread Crumbs
Ingredients For The Filling
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Celery
  • 1 Carrot
  • Olive Oil (2 Tbsp)
  • Butter (1 Tbsp)
  • Minced Pork or Beef (200 g)
  • 1 Glass Of White Wine
  • Tomato Sauce (100 g)
  • Peas (80g)
  • 1/2 cup of Caciocavallo Cheese Or Mozzarella cut in cubes.

How To Make Arancini Rice Balls

1. Preparing The Filling For The Rice Balls:

Put the olive oil and butter in a frying pan on high heat, then add the chopped carrots, celery and onions.. Stir and let cook for about a minute then add the minced pork, a pinch of salt and stir fry until meat is brown.

2. Once the meat is browned add a glass of white wine until it evaporates, then add 300g of canned or homemade tomato sauce. Stir and let cook for 1 hour on low heat. Add the peas at the end, stir for the last time and let the filling sauce simmer off the stovetop until room temperature.

filling for arancini

3. Preparing The Risotto:

Toss the rice in the saucepan on high heat and toast (cook) for about 2 minutes without water and gradually add water while stirring until the rice is cooked. While cooking the rice add the saffron and stir. While stirring you should see the rice turn into a creamy yellowish color.

saffron in rice

4. Take the rice off the stove top and add 50g of butter and 100g of grated parmesan and stir until it’s well mixed with the rice then pour it on a baking sheet or ceramic tray. Spread and flatten the risotto with a spatula.


5. Cover the risotto with aluminum foil and let it rest for 2 hours.

6. After 2 hours the risotto is ready and the filling sauce has simmered down.. Prepare all ingredients to make the arancini. (Filling, risotto, cubed cheese)

risotto, arancini sauce, cheese

7. Take a small amount of risotto with your hand and flatten, then put 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle, add 2 cubes of cheese and put more risotto on top to make it like a rice sandwich. then create a conical shape or ball. (see pics below)

shaping the risotto
creating arancini

8. Place them all the arancini’s that you made on a clean surface, once you finished you can start making the batter to deep fry them.

9. Preparing the Batter:

Making the batter is easy, simply mix water and flour in a bowl and stir with a whisk until it’s creamy, in a separate bowl pour about 2 cups of bread crumbs.. Quantity depends on how many arancini’s you want to fry.

10. Take one rice ball at a time and dip it first in the flour batter.. Make sure it’s well covered so the bread crumbs has no problem sticking to it.

flour batter

11. Now you can cover it with bread crumbs…

bread crumbs

12. When the rice balls are ready, deep fry them until golden brown and place on paper towels in a plate, wait until they cool down and they a ready to eat… Congratulations! Im sure you and family members will love them.

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