Rice Balls (Sicilian Arancini)


The name arancini, which is translated as “little orange” derives from their shape and color which, after cooking look like an orange. Sicilian arancini rice balls, stuffed with meat sauce, breaded, and fried until golden. To most tourists, this is street food. You don’t really get arancini in restaurants. But to Sicilians, an arancini is cooked with time and love by their mothers and grandmothers. This is my mother’s recipe. This makes about 10 -12 rice balls depending on size. Enjoy!

Meat filling:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 inch cut cubed Caciocavallo cheese (1 or 2 per rice ball)

Meat filling instructions: Fry onions first then add meat. Add tomato paste, salt & pepper, water & peas. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed. You’ll need a thick ragu. Add sugar if you like it a little sweeter.


  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • pinch of saffron
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup grated imported Pecorino Romano cheese
Rice instructionsBring broth with saffron to a boil. Set aside.
Fry minced onion in olive oil and butter to soften then add rice. Stir for a while. Slowly add broth to rice one ladle or two at a time. Keep the heat on simmer. Continue this process (as you would make risotto) until rice is tender. This is a slow process and could take up to 25 minutes. When rice is cooked set aside. You can add grated cheese and mix at this point. Let rice cool down before starting the next step below.


Deep-fry instructions:

Shape rice into a ball (a little larger than a golf ball) Make indentation and place about 1 tablespoon meat mixture in center with a few cubes of cheese and roll rice over in your hand, adding a little more rice to cover and form a ball. Prepare all of the balls and place on waxed paper before going to the next step.

Gently dip the rice ball in beaten egg. Roll in Italian seasoned breadcrumbs and deep-fry (375) about 3-4 at a time until golden. I used my Fry Daddy. Drain on paper toweling. 2 cups of Arborio rice made about 12 arancini depending on size.




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7 Responses to Rice Balls (Sicilian Arancini)

  1. Kat says:

    Can rice balls be frozen and reheated?

  2. Can be frozen!Do not dip in egg and breadcrumb’s till ready to fry!Make balls then freeze!

  3. Julie says:

    I have cooked this a few times now but I don’t add any Meat. I fry finely chopped onions with garlic and chilli, then I add some Parmesan cheese, tomato paste and then I add the Rice.

    Today I made a Curry and I added some of the Curry gravy into the mixture and it works very well indeed.
    Thank-you very much for your recipe. 😎

  4. Connie says:

    Delish I made them a few times, what I did was add cubed mozzarella in the center with the peas and chopmeat I also added 1/4 shredded mozzarella in the rice mixture so good and easy to do I also made a little sauce on the side soo good thank you for the recipe.

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