ARANCINI SICILIANI: How to Make the World’s Best Rice Balls

Arancini, also called arancine, are crispy balls filled with rice, saffron and meat sauce, then fried in extra virgin olive oil wrapped in a golden, crispy breadcrumb coating.

ORIGINS – The arancino di riso has ancient origins dating back to the late 19th century, a time when it was eaten during lunch by peasants who worked the thriving and hot land of Sicilian citrus groves.

Tradition has it that arancino takes its inspiration from the ancient Arab custom of eating rice and saffron seasoned with meat and herbs.

The crispy breading, on the other hand, is traced back to Frederick II: the breading in fact allowed the rice to be easily transported, thus making arancino the perfect food to take along on hunting trips.




Makes: 20 arancini


  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tsp saffron dissolved in 1/12 tbsp water
  • 20g butter
  • 1 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
  • salt to taste
  • 1 medium sized onion cut into small cubes
  • 1 small carrot cut into small cubes
  • 1 stick celery cut into small cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 3 1/2 oz minced meat
  • 6 oz tomato sauce
  • 4 oz fresh or boiled peas
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella cut into cubes (or caciocavallo cheese)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 oz all purpose flour
  • 125 ml water
  • salt to taste
  • bread crumbs as needed
  • oil for frying as needed



Prepare the rice, boil the rice with salted water until. Cook until the rise is tender and the water is fully absorbed.
Add the butter and the saffron dissolved in water. Also add the grated cheese, mix well.
Spread the mixture onto a tray or dish lined with greaseproof paper. Cover with a plastic wrap and let cool.
Prepare the filling, Saute the onions, carrots and celery until soft and tender.
Add the mince until the meat changes colour and is no longer pink.
Add the tomato sauce followed by the salt and pepper to taste.
Add the peas, cover and cook for a few more minutes. Until no more liquid remains in the filling. It should be thick and compact.
Shape the arancini, Take the rice mixture into the palm of your hand, make a shell by pressing in the center. Place the meat filling and the mozzarella cubes into the rice shell.
Form into a ball and then make a conical shape at the top.
Prepare the batter, combine the flour, salt and water. Whisk to form a smooth batter. Make sure to remove all lumps from the flour. Roll into the batter.
Roll into the breadcrumbs.
Fry arancini in medium hot oil in batches of two at a time. Fry until golden brown and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil before serving.

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