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

4.92 from 108 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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Comments

  • Wyatt Vanfleet
    May 13, 2024

    just made some with a friend, turned out really well! We substituted the white wine with a shot of white vinegar, and it gives them a nice bit of tang that we actually really enjoyed. The tang makes them taste like french cuisine though, so we would still use the white wine if we want them to taste really authentic

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 14, 2024

      Thank you for sharing that with us, glad to hear that it worked out well using a shot of white vinegar!

      Reply

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