Arancini are crisp on the outside with a creamy, cheesy center. Children and adults love these classic Italian rice balls. They such a treat fresh off the stove, stuffed with glorious gooey cheese.

This arancini recipe is similar in flavor to one of the most popular recipes on my site; Instant Pot Chicken and Rice (a one-pot meal). If you loved that dish, you’ll enjoy these cheesy rice balls!

Cheesy center of an Arancini Rice Ball

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Arancini Recipe

Arancini are a satisfying treat filled with risotto-like creamy rice, ham, sweet peas, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. Serve with warmed marinara sauce, these are wonderful for lunch on their own or paired with a fresh Caesar Salad.

This recipe was adapted from one of my favorite Italian cooks: Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and is based on her “Arancini di Riso” (Rice Balls) from her book, Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. Thank you Lidia for introducing me to this wonderful treat!

Arancini Video Tutorial

Learn all of our best tips and tricks for making the best Arancini! One bite into a cheesy rice ball and you’ll know they are well worth every bit of effort.

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What is Arancini?

Sicilian Arancini are rice balls stuffed with cheese and other fillings such as cheese and meat, the coated with bread crumbs and deep fried. The fillings vary by region but arancini have been popular in Italy for centuries.

Even if you aren’t a fan of “deep fried” foods, give this one a try. Arancini are coated in a light layer of fine Italian bread crumbs and the rice is compacted, so they hardly soak up any oil and do not have the taste or mouth feel of a deep-fried food. It is a cross between Risotto and Cheesesticks. Two of my favorites combined into one irresistible dish.

Arancini recipe ingredients with rice, ham, cheese, white wine, peas and parsley

Pro Tip:

Use Italian-style breadcrumbs to enhance the authentic Italian flavor of Arancini. Italian Style bread crumbs also have a finer crumb which helps bind the outer layer to the rice ball and creates an irresistible crisp texture.

Breading ingredients for arancini rice balls

How to Make Rice Balls

Cook the Arancini Rice Mixture: In a heavy pot, sautee onion with olive oil and butter until soft then add ham and cook until golden then stir in the rice. Add white wine and cook until mostly evaporated then add hot chicken broth and 1 tsp salt. Cover and simmer until liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in the peas, cover and cook another 2 minutes.

Step by step how to cook rice for arancini

Cool the Mixture – Spread rice mixture onto a baking sheet to cool. Once rice is at room temperature, stir in parsley and parmesan. Form rice balls with wet hands, using a heaping ice cream scoop of rice for each. Stuff each rice ball with a cube of mozzarella cheese and form a tight ball to enclose the cheese.

Form the Rice Balls – Set up 3 shallow bowls. Bread the rice balls one by one, dipping first into the flour, then the beaten egg and finally rolling in bread crumbs.

Step by step how to make arancini rice balls

Fry the Rice Balls – Once all of the arancini are formed, heat 1″ of vegetable oil in a pot over medium heat. Once the oil is hot (350˚F), add arancini in batches without crowding and cook for about 3 minutes total per batch, turning to get all sides golden brown.

Arancini frying in a pot of oil

Drain and Serve – Transfer fried rice balls to a paper towel-lined platter and serve warm with marinara, or with ranch (as my son prefers), or skip the dip and just enjoy them! :).

Fried Arancini rice balls resting on paper towels

Can you Eat Rice Balls Cold?

Arancini are best served warm when they are creamy and cheesy in the center. They are just as good freshly cooked as they are reheated, especially when you reheat in the oven to re-crisp the exterior.

How do you Reheat Arancini?

Once arancini are fried and cool to room temperature, you can store them in the refrigerator or freezer (in a freezer-safe container or zip-top bag).

  • To reheat frozen arancini – There is no need to thaw. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400˚F for 20 minutes.
  • To reheat refrigerated arancini – bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 400˚F for 15 minutes.
Center view of arancini rice ball with melted gooey cheese

I hope you give these classic Italian Rice Balls a try. Everyone of all ages loves Arancini. Who can resist a crisp fried ball of rice stuffed with cheese?

Love Rice? Try Our Best Rice Recipes:

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Arancini Rice Balls

4.95 from 103 votes
Author: Natasha Kravchuk
Arancini rice ball open to the cheesy center
Children and adults love these cheesy Arancini rice balls. They’re such a treat fresh off the stove stuffed with glorious gooey cheese.
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients 

Servings: 24 rice balls

For the Arancini Rice Balls:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 cup ham, finely diced (about 3 oz)
  • 2 cups Jasmine rice, un-rinsed
  • 1 cup Chardonnay, (dry white wine)
  • 5 cups chicken broth, or stock (hot)
  • 1 tsp salt, (plus more to sprinkle fried arancini)
  • 1 cup frozen peas, fully thawed
  • 1/3 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, cut into 24 (1/2-inch) cubes

For Breading/ Frying:

Instructions

  • Using a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid, over medium/high heat, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter. When hot, stir in diced onion and saute until soft and golden (4-5 min). Add finely diced ham and cook another 2 min or until golden. Add rice and stir to coat with oil.
  • Pour in 1 cup white wine and cook until mostly evaporated (2 min). Add 5 cups hot low sodium chicken broth and 1 tsp salt then cover and simmer until liquid has been absorbed by the rice (about 15-17 min). Stir in the peas in, then cover with a tight fitting lid and finish cooking (2 min). Rice should be soft and the liquid mostly absorbed. Spread rice mixture onto a large rimmed baking dish to cool.
  • Once rice is at room temperature, stir in 1/3 cup finely chopped parsley and 1 cup parmesan cheese. Form rice balls with wet hands, using a heaping ice cream scoop for each. Stuff each rice ball with a cube of mozzarella cheese and form a tight ball with the rice mixture to enclose the cheese.
  • Set up 3 shallow bowls, the first one to have 1 cup flour, the second with 3 beaten eggs, the third with 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs. Dredge each rice ball in flour, shaking off the excess, then dip one-by-one in the beaten egg allowing excess egg to drip back into the bowl. Finally, roll balls in breadcrumbs until evenly coated. It’s best to roll and bread all of the rice balls before beginning frying since the frying is quick.
  • Add an inch of vegetable oil into a deep pot over medium heat. Once oil is hot (350˚F), add the breaded rice balls in batches without crowding the pot and cook about 3 min total per batch, turning to get all sides golden brown. Transfer to paper towels, sprinkle right away with salt and serve warm with marinara.

Nutrition Per Serving

190kcal Calories23g Carbs8g Protein6g Fat2g Saturated Fat33mg Cholesterol384mg Sodium149mg Potassium1g Fiber1g Sugar240IU Vitamin A4mg Vitamin C112mg Calcium1.2mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Arancini Rice Balls
Amount per Serving
Calories
190
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
6
g
9
%
Saturated Fat
 
2
g
13
%
Cholesterol
 
33
mg
11
%
Sodium
 
384
mg
17
%
Potassium
 
149
mg
4
%
Carbohydrates
 
23
g
8
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
1
g
1
%
Protein
 
8
g
16
%
Vitamin A
 
240
IU
5
%
Vitamin C
 
4
mg
5
%
Calcium
 
112
mg
11
%
Iron
 
1.2
mg
7
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: arancini, Italian rice balls, rice balls
Skill Level: Medium
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 190

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Karen E McConnell
    March 2, 2024

    I was wondering, if this recipe could be baked instead of deep fried? Even though not much oil is absorbed by them. Thanks, Karen

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      March 2, 2024

      Hi Karen! I have not tested baking these in the oven.

      Reply

  • Les
    February 27, 2024

    Hello Natasha! I’m asking what l can substitute for the wine in your riceball recipe? Thankyou!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 27, 2024

      Hi Les, I have not tried any substitutions for wine. More broth will probably work but the flavor isn’t going to be the same.

      Reply

  • Monica
    February 24, 2024

    My daughter and I were so excited about this recipe. It was alright but not a favorite.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      February 25, 2024

      Hi Monica, can you describe what you didn’t like about them and maybe I can help troubleshoot?

      Reply

  • Michelle
    February 22, 2024

    This recipe was send in an e mail saying look at my gluten free recipes. I was excited until I noticed it’s not a gluten free recipe.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 23, 2024

      Hi Michelle, one of our readers commented and shared this “substituted the flour with potato starch and the breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs … delish!” Hope that helps.

      Reply

  • Caroline
    February 22, 2024

    Hi Natasha,
    I received this recipe in an email titled Check Out My Latest Gluten-Free Recipes! However this isn’t GF. Can you please tell me what to use to make these GF? They look delish!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 23, 2024

      Hi Caroline, one of our readers commented and shared this “substituted the flour with potato starch and the breadcrumbs with gluten free breadcrumbs … delish!” Hope that helps.

      Reply

  • Nidia
    February 22, 2024

    Had them in while visiting Sicily a few years back and loved the can’t wait to try your recipe ♥️

    Reply

  • Sha
    February 22, 2024

    My first time making these Arancini Rice Balls and they turned out great! So adorable and fun to eat. Gone in minutes!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 22, 2024

      That’s great to hear, Sha!

      Reply

  • Beth R
    February 22, 2024

    My favorite and my first time making at home! I am planning on making again for my in laws when they visit. So good!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 22, 2024

      That’s wonderful, Beth!

      Reply

  • Melissa
    February 21, 2024

    This recipe blew me away! So good and so simple to make. Can’t wait to make these again!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 21, 2024

      Sounds great! I’m happy to know that you loved this recipe so much!

      Reply

  • Faigy
    February 21, 2024

    I would like to know if I can make them with plain cooked rice? do you think it would hold a shape?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      February 21, 2024

      That might work but various types of rice require slightly different cooking times and water measurements.

      Reply

  • Suzanne Bélanger
    February 21, 2024

    My husband is diabetic so I was wondering if I could use the cauliflower rice instead of the Jasmine rice for this recipe. I am a big fan of yours and I even got your recipe book for Christmas. Every recipe I have tried is always delicious ! 😋😋 This one looks absolutely yummy !

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 21, 2024

      Hi Suzanne! Unfortunately, I have not tested that to know what the outcome would be. I’m sorry.

      Reply

  • Karen
    February 21, 2024

    Hi Natasha,

    I’ve made these a few times and is one of my favorite recipes of yours. I freeze on a cookie sheet after frying and cooling then put in ziplock freezer bags to store in freezer. Then when my husband and I want some, I take out and bake till hot and crispy. Love your videos and recipes and have your beautiful cook book. Thanks!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      February 21, 2024

      That’s great, Karen! Thank you for sharing.

      Reply

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