Arancini di risu (Sicilian Rice Balls)

September 15, 2022  |  By Peg Kern
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Delicious arancini made during our Sicily cooking vacations.Try this recipe of the month from April 2007! A traditional Sicilian appetizer and street food, these rice balls are a real treat. I have many times found them a hearty and delicious snack to keep my energy up while exploring the many wonders of Sicily.

Although they have several steps to their preparation, they are not difficult to make. You can easily substitute other fillings as well!

The name “arancioni” comes from their resemblance to oranges (“arancini” are little oranges).

See our wonderful cooking vacations in Sicily for more on this enchanting, mysterious island.

Arancini di risu (Sicilian Rice Balls)

Serves: 20
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cook method: fry


  • 500 gr (about 2 cups) Italian rice
  • 3 eggs
  • saffron (optional)
  • 120 gr (about 4 oz) firm cheese such as provolone, cubed
  • dried bread crumbs
  • oil for frying
  • meat sauce (see below)
  • ½ cup shelled cooked peas

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1. Prepare a simple meat sauce (ragù): sauté minced onions, celery and carrot until tender, then add ground meat (beef, pork, veal) and brown. Add a little red wine and let evaporate, and a little tomato sauce or paste and cook until there is very little liquid left. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir in shelled cooked peas.

2. Boil the rice in lightly salted water until just tender. Drain, remove from pan, and work in 2 eggs and the saffron (optional—you can also add some grated pecorino cheese if you like).

3. Wet your hands in a bowl of water and in the palm of your hand, shape a ball about the size of a tangerine or small orange, or a little smaller. Hollow out the middle and carefully add a little of the meat sauce and a couple cubes of cheese.

4. Carefully seal off the “orange” by pushing the filling in with your thumb while closing the rice over it with your other fingers. Be careful not to let the filling spill out. (You may add more rice if necessary to cover any “holes.”)

5. Roll the arancini in beaten egg and then the bread crumbs. Fry arancini, submerged in a fryer, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and keep warm.

Note: Arancini may be made ahead of time and kept warm or reheated in the oven.

Try a Roman version of a fried rice ball: Supplí al telefono.

Try more Sicilian recipes, including:

By Peg Kern

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