Arancini Rice Balls Recipe (VIDEO)
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; the Creamy Chicken and Rice (a one-pot-meal) – if you loved that dish, you’ll enjoy these cheesy rice balls!
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Arancini are a satisfying treat – filled with a risotto-like creamy rice, ham, sweet peas, parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Serve with warmed marinara pasta sauce, these are wonderful for lunch on their own or paired with a fresh green 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!
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.
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 ziploc 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.
How to Make Rice Balls:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 about 3 minutes total per batch, turning to get all sides golden brown.
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! :).
Love Rice? Try Our Best Rice Recipes:
- Shrimp Fried Rice – perfect way to use up leftover rice
- Beef Rice Pilaf (Plov) – Our most popular instant pot recipe!
- California Rolls – learn how to make sushi rice
- Stuffed Cabbage Rolls – just like Mom’s!
Watch Natasha Make Arancini:
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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Arancini Rice Balls
Children and adults love these cheesy Arancini rice balls. They're such a treat fresh off the stove stuffed with glorious gooey cheese.
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:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs beaten with a fork
- 1 1/2 cups Italian Bread crumbs
- Oil for frying vegetable, canola, or grapeseed oil
Using a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot with tight fitting lid, over medium/high heat, add 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp butter. When hot, stir in diced onion and sautee 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.
If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen