This arancini recipe shows you how to make the perfect Sicilian street food. Day-old risotto is formed into a ball, stuffed with cheese, fried, and then topped with marinara sauce. It is nothing short of perfection.
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I visited Sicily once for a weekend. I had lived in Rome for about three months at the time, learning all about Italian food and how to make it.
What I learned when I got to Sicily, though, was that Sicilian food is drastically different than the rest of Italy. Sicilians cook their sauces differently, their sweets differently, their pistachios (mmmm) differently. They even cook their street food differently.
I finally got my hands on an arancino (something I had been waiting a long time for) when I arrived in Sicily. I took one bite of my long-awaited snack and was instantly transported into a fried street food heaven.
What are Arancini?
Arancini (plural) are a street food in Sicily made by frying rice into a ball. Sicilians normally put melty, mozzarella cheese in the center of the arancino along with beef and peas, and then fry it up. The arancini then come with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. Typically, the rice used to make arancini comes from leftover risotto.
There are many different ways that you can make arancini. For example, the traditional method includes cheesy risotto with marinara sauce, beef, and peas. Some of the more modern ways to make the food, though, includes adding pistachios, or pesto, or simply leaving it as a cheese dish.
Where Did Arancini Originate?
Arancini originated in Sicily, where it is still a very popular street food! The Sicilian version of arancini is the version that contains beef and peas. However, there is a very similar concept that exists in Rome, called Supplí.
Supplí is very similar to arancini except that it never contains any other ingredients besides cheese and marinara sauce. In addition, supplí is formed into a cone shape, while arancini are served in the shape of a ball.
Technically, the recipe I’m sharing in this post could be called supplí, as it has the same ingredients as Roman Supplí. Luckily, some arancino are served this way, so we can stick with calling this recipe by its more well-known name 🙂
Can this Arancini Recipe be Made Ahead?
I wouldn’t recommend frying your arancini until right before you’re going to eat them. However, if you would like to prep your arancini ahead of time, you can always freeze the un-fried rice balls. Then, right before you’re about to eat, you can thaw the rice balls and fry them! This will work perfectly, as you’ve eliminated most of the prep but are still eating the arancini when they are freshly fried.
If you have to fry your arancini ahead of time and then freeze them (I wouldn’t recommend this option), you can always bake the arancini to heat them up before consuming. Simply preheat your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and warm the arancini until they are warm to the touch.
What Rice Should I Use for This Arancini Recipe?
Good question! I recommend using this risotto recipe as the base for your arancini. This risotto (and most other risottos) are made with arborio rice!
What Ingredients are In this Arancini Recipe?
Panko Bread Crumbs
Shredded Parmesan Cheese
Oil, for Frying
Marinara, for Dipping
How to Make Arancini Balls
Start by separating your risotto into eighths.
Form each eighth of the risotto into one large ball. At the center of each arancini, place a small mozzarella ball. Use your hands to form the risotto into a circle shape.
Place each arancini ball on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 10 minutes.
Mix the shredded parmesan into the panko breadcrumbs.
Beat an egg in a small bowl.
Remove arancini from the freezer, and roll each arancino (singular arancini) in egg, then transfer and roll in the panko bread crumbs.
Heat the oil in a large pot or a deep fryer, and heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the arancini until the outside is browned, turning as necessary to cook all sides evenly.
Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with red sauce for dipping.
How Do You Make the Rice Balls Stick Together?
With the risotto recipe that I suggest you should have no problem getting the rice to stick together, even if it is a few days old. This risotto recipe is creamy and cheesy, and has a great texture to stick to itself and form a ball.
Other risotto or rice recipes may have a different texture, making them more difficult to form into a ball shape. If this is the case, crack an egg into the rice and use your hands to mix the egg into the rice. This should allow the rice the extra help it needs to hold its shape.
Only do this if this rice will not hold its shape, as you do not want the rice to be too wet if you add an egg unnecessarily.
Did you like this Arancini Recipe from Sicily? If so, you may like these other Italian dishes we have on the blog right now. Check them out:
- 4 cups Risotto, cold
- 8 Mozzarella Balls
- 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
- 2 tbsp Shredded Parmesan Cheese
- 1 Egg
- Oil for Frying, vegetable oil or sunflower oil
- Marinara Sauce for Dipping
- Start by separating your risotto into eighths.
- Form each eighth of the risotto into one large ball. At the center of each arancini, place a small mozzarella ball. Use your hands to form the risotto into a circle shape.
- Place each arancini ball on a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Freeze for 10 minutes.
- Mix the shredded parmesan into the panko breadcrumbs.
- Beat an egg in a small bowl.
- Remove arancini from the freezer, and roll each arancino (singular arancini) in egg, then transfer and roll in the panko bread crumbs.
- Pour the oil in a large pot or a deep fryer, and heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the arancini until the outside is browned, turning as necessary to cook all sides evenly.
- Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain. Serve with red sauce for dipping.