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Sicilian Arancine


Arancine are one of the most traditional foods in all of Sicily.  These fried rice balls resemble oranges - the Italian word for orange is arancia.  They can be stuffed with a variety of mixtures, but a meat sauce, or ragu, is the most traditional.  In Sicily, they are sold everywhere and we loved to see them sold on the street by vendors, in the airport or even gas stations.  How different from the sad hot dogs and pretzels you buy in an American gas station! They are great picnic fare and are often eaten just held in a paper napkin.  Arancine are made by forming balls of risotto, inserting some kind of stuffing, rolling them in bread crumbs and then frying. They are best served hot but can be eaten room temperature.  

Sometimes the shape of the arancine tell you what the stuffing is inside.  A traditional round shape, like an orange, is usually filled with a meat sauce.  An oval shape is sometimes stuffed with cheese and ham.  When I was growing up, my mother put peas into a lot of dishes, like lasagna, that other mothers did not. When I went to Sicily, I understood why - peas are very often put into meat sauces and arancine are no exception.  

To make these, you will need two major components - the risotto and the meat sauce.  Since it is easier to shape and handle cold risotto, these are a great way to use leftover risotto.  For this dish, I also used leftover frozen bolognese sauce (I always seem to have some in my freezer).  That really made these a snap.  The risotto is easy to make and then you just spread it out onto a baking sheet to cool. Once cool, the risotto is shaped into balls.  I also keep the rinds of my Parmigiano Reggiano wedges and throw them in when I make risotto.

I made arancine one year for our annual Christmas Eve buffet.  I made much smaller ones - probably about the size of a golf ball.  I stuffed them with mozzarella and diced prosciutto.  I even made them a few days ahead of time, fried them and then froze them.  I took them out, frozen, and just warmed them in the oven and they were delicious.  So yes, you can make arancine ahead of time and freeze them.

For an easy variation, you can also make very small ones and stuff them just with a bit of cheese.  These are popular in Rome and are called suppli al telefono, for the way the strands of cheese look like telephone wires when you pull them apart. They make great little appetizers.

Haven't made risotto yet?  It's very easy.  Give it a try. Make a batch in the morning, cool it in the fridge and then form the arancine. Risotto only takes about 30 minutes to make. Arborio rice can be found in just about every grocery store now, so there's no excuse!  

I stuck bay leaves in mine so they looked like oranges - if you live in a great growing climate, you can stick lemon leaves or orange leaves for an even prettier look.


Sicilian Arancine


for a printable recipe, click here

makes 12 large, orange sized arancine or 24 smaller ones


  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups Arborio, Carnaroli or Aquerello rice
  • a rind of Parmigianno Reggiano cheese (if you have it) or 2 tablespoons grated cheese
  • 2-3 egg whites
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (you can also use panko)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • about 1 cup (approximately) of meat sauce, bolognese, or ragu
  • enough vegetable oil (I used Canola) to give you about 4 inches of oil in your pot


Make the risotto:

Heat the broth, add the saffron to it and keep it warm in a pot next to the pot in which you want to make your risotto.

In a medium size heavy pot, heat the olive oil and butter.  Saute the onion with a pinch of salt gently for a few minutes.  Do not let it brown.  Add the rice, raise the heat a little and toast the rice for a couple of minutes. Add a couple of ladlefuls of broth and stir the risotto.  Add the cheese rind.  Lower the heat a little - you do not want the mixture to boil, but just to simmer gently.  When the rice has absorbed the broth, add two more ladlefuls.   You can tell when to add the broth by running your spoon through the mixture.  If the liquid immediately fills in the crevice you make, let it cook some more.  If it remains clear, it is time to add more broth (see photo in post for an example).  Keep adding broth and stirring, repeating until rice is tender, about 25 minutes.  You may not use all the broth.  If you don't have enough broth, continue with plain water.  If you don't have a cheese rind, at this point add the grated cheese and mix. Pour the risotto onto a baking sheet and let cool.  You can refrigerate it to let it cool.

Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment or wax paper.  Place the egg whites in a small bowl and beat a little with a fork.  Place the bread crumbs in a small bowl.  Place the meat sauce into a small bowl.

Scrape the cooled risotto into a bowl and add the whole beaten egg.  Mound some risotto into your hand using a quantity a little smaller than what size you want the finished arancine.  With a spoon or your hand, make an indentation in the risotto. Place about a tablespoon of meat sauce in the indentation, add some risotto over the top and gently mold the whole thing into a ball.  Roll the arancine in the egg whites and then in the bread crumbs. Place the arancine onto the wax paper.  After they are all done, place them in the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.

Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

Heat about 4 inches of oil in a small pot or use a fryer if you have one. When the oil becomes hot enough to fry, lower the arancine one at a time into the oil with a handled strainer.  Let fry for a few minutes, checking the color so they do not burn and gently rotating them with the strainer.  When they are golden brown, remove with the strainer and place on paper towels to drain.

Arancine can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for a couple of days. They can also be frozen.  Just heat up gently in the oven.


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Reader Comments (44)

Will somebody please make these for me?

Lovely presentation! Most anxious to try these.......I have always wanted to make them.........they look delicious. Thank you.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDolores Calzaretta

I wrote a cookbook and my daughter sent it to Martha Stewart and she wanted my Arancini Rice balls to make on her program which I did. I put Hot Cappocola and cheese in mine but the pictures of these are beautiful and I can't wait to try them. I just love this program they have the best Italian dishes and others on it. The person who did this program a big thank you.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarmella

I've always wanted to make these, and you make it look so easy! I don't see it in the recipe, but I assume you roll the rice balls in egg white and then breadcrumbs at some point. Do you do this before placing in the fridge, or right before frying? Gorgeous photos, as always. I just love your blog.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDawn (KitchenTravels)

From The Italian Dish:

Dawn: Thank you for catching that! That's what I get for trying to write late at night. I have corrected it. You roll the arancine in the egg whites and bread crumbs before placing in the fridge to firm up.


April 27, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I so enjoy your blog! Beautiful pictures and great recipes. Your presentation of the arancine with the leaf to resemble an orange is very artful. You mentioned that when you make them ahead of time for your Christmas buffet that you "bake" and freeze them. Are these fried later or do you use a different method for the cheese and ham stuffed ones?

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSonia

I never thought of using parmesan rind in my risotto. Thanks for the tip. I usually save my rind for minestrone.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTina

From The Italian Dish:

Sonia: Oops! My mistake - I fried them and then froze them. When it came time to serve, I just baked them in the oven to warm them through. Thank you. I corrected it.

April 27, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Oh, these bring back memories. In the late 1970s I was stationed at a Navy base in Sicily -- NAF Sigonella. Lived in a little village called San Gregorio di Catania and used to get arancine at the local pasticceria. I will have to make these soon.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKarin

This recipe needs to come with a warniing: DANGER, after frying these-you will eat the entire batch! They are soooo delicious.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAllison

My Nonna was from Panarea and always used to make these. Now, I make them for my boys. These kind (with the meat sauce) is how I remember Nonna making them but my boys love them with just a cube of fresh mozzarella in the center. I love your pictures.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKristi Temple

Your family must jump for joy everytime you step foot in your kitchen! Your artistry always comes through in your cooking Elaine!

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermarie

I love arancine!!! I used to eat them regularly when I was living in Italy and haven't had them since 2006. I think it's time to make some! These look lovely.

April 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJune

Wonderful! I grew up knowing these as "Suppli al Telefono" as you mention. My Zia Franca in Rome makes the BEST ones! When my husband and I went to Italy together after we were married (his first time), he fell in love with these. I love the creative touch with the bay leaves! And your pictures are lovely!

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFlavia

Fantastic! Never tried these but they look so tempting and delicious!

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCherine

Here is a dish I haven't tried yet and now I"m stirred to do so. Love the "leaf" touches.

April 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAngela@Spinachtiger

Gorgeous pics Elaine. You are so talented at writing, cooking, photographing and teaching!!!

I was leafing through a sicilian cookbook literally yesterday and stopped to read through this exact recipe;). Funny timing.

April 29, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjanelle

Fantastic recipe-my sicilian grandmother made these and added peas...she also put peas in her tomato sauce-these would be a great appetizer....thanks for sharing!

April 30, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

OMG These are my favorite little bites ever!! I make them with mozzarella stuffed inside! I never even thought to add different fillings - I GUESS I'll just HAVE to make them again! :)

May 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGaby

Ooooh,love these very much but have never thought to add some meat into them.Gorgeous!

May 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChook

I made these over the weekend and followed your recipe to the "T". Including the parmesan rind. My rissoto has never tasted soooo good!

And, the Arancine's turned out delicious. I told my mom what I was planning to make, and when I described them she said - oh yeah, Orangini's - grandma used to make those. My sister remembered too. I was glad to hear them called Orangini's, considering I have no idea how to pronounce Arancine'

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJacquelyn

From The Italian Dish:


So happy to hear that you made these and loved them! I think it's funny that your mom said "Orangini". That's a great version of "Arancine". Sometimes the plural masculine is used for these, Arancini, which is pronounced very close to "Orangini". It is "ah-rahn-CHEE-nee."

May 18, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

Your Arancini Di Riso look so good! My family love these.. me too!

May 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie

OMG, I just found your blog. I am a foodie and love Italy - and write about them both on my site - but I find your recipes outstanding and your pics amazing! Now I am hungry. Keep up the great food porn girl ;)

I'll definitely be back!

June 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRobin @ My Melange

I love, love, love arancine. I've been searching the internet for a recipe that resembled the ones I had a restaurant in Rome. This is it. Thank you!

June 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRoxanne

Fantastic. I love risotto and I love arancini. Your directions are easy to follow and the pictures are great!

I've bookmarked your site and I am sure to come back!

August 6, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Helena (Brazil)

What a delicious site. I sent it along to my Sicilian family and friends.....
The Arancine - we called them rice balls, bring back memories of cooking and eating them right from the hot oil.
Your pictures have inspired me to make them again.
Thank you

August 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

"Suppli al Telefono" is what I heard them called in rome which is a more modern name and refers to the mozzarella strings (suppli) that appear when you cut them in half and pull them apart in sicily they were called without exception, arancine. but whatever they are called they are to die for.


August 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentergiacomo

Wow! I love your presentation! When I visited Sicily I10 years ago had riceballs wherever I could find them and they were SO delicous! My Grandmother migrated from Palermo so it was so enthrawling to see and taste all the delicious recipes she brought here to America with her and that she passed on to our family! I can't WAIT to try yours! It seems the riceballs I make I used a long grain rice and although so delicious eaten immediately, the texture is lost after an hr. I believe it's the risotto and cheese that make the rice the way I tasted it in Sicily...will try it real soon! Thanks!

October 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie Taranto-Berner

Fantastic website, great recipes and very professional photos! Just a question about the Arancine... you say you can prepare them a day or two ahead and refrigerate, should I fry first, cool and then refrigerate or should I just put them in the fridge without frying?

Thank you.

November 5, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle Newson

From The Italian Dish:

Michelle: You can fry them, cool them and refrigerate. They warm up in the microwave or oven just beautifully. You can also just assemble them and shape them, keep them covered in the fridge for a day and then fry.

November 5, 2010 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I just discovered your food blog and I love it! It brings me back to my childhood. The recipes look wonderful and the photography is beautiful!!

November 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGiovanna

Can these be made with white rice instead of making risotto? Can the white rice be made using the chicken broth for a liquid instead of water? It would just have to be adjusted to the amount of liquid needed for that amount of rice. Thanks!

April 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTeresa

From The Italian Dish:

Teresa: I'm not sure that regular white rice would be as creamy as risotto. The risotto ends up being very sticky after it has cooled and thus easy to form the balls.

Also, did you mean using water instead of the chicken broth? You can use water, but it just won't be as flavorful.

April 21, 2011 | Registered Commenter[Elaine]

I am from Sicily. Arancines are made in a conic shape, not spheric.

May 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermatteo

I love arancine!!! I used to eat them regularly when I was living in Italy and haven't had them since 2006. I think it's time to make some! These look lovely.Good LucK!

September 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAl Pacino

Just found your blog-and I saw this recipe for arancine! I was so excited-my step daughter was married in Sicily (Bolognetta, to be exact) and while we were there we tried the arancine at a local "bar"- it wasn't a bar like in the states- it was a type of cafe. Anyway, we just loved them and I promised my husband I would give it a try at making them. Your recipe looks so good and your instructions are very thorough - I can't wait to give it a try!

February 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersmithbackp

I tried your recipe..followed it exact, except i forgot the worked out perfectly and the crowd went wild for these. Thank u!

June 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Hey, very nice site...I am trying to do a blog of italian cuisine, look at it :) bye bye

March 2, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAgochef


May 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie

My family always made these with mozarella and that is what I do with my family because we have a vegetarian daughter. I think I would like to add peas and mushrooms next time. I love them.

March 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoAnn

I fell in LOVE with these on my first trip to Sicily, and they are still my all-time favorite Sicilian street food! My favorites are the ones with pecorino and proscuitto instead of the ragu. Molto bene!!

August 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSandra L.

I was watching a French movie when the protagonist walked into the street and over his left shoulder was a sign on a storefront..."Orangini". Curious as always I Googled the name and wound up here. These sound excellent...a must try. Thanks for the info.

May 2, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

I learned to make these from my mom, who learned them from her mom, my Nana who was from Palermo Sicily. I was taught to make mine with the meat mixture only. Maybe my mother was not fond of peas, but she never put any in her Arancine. We never got this wonderful dish only on Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners and I took over making these from my Mom about 1980. I've never met anyone who ate them who didn't love them. My son in law loved them so much one year he ate about 20 of them! I recommend anyone who makes them to know that once you've served them you will be hounded for them often and forever!!! They are a bit labor intensive for one person, but worth the effort! Now I have my granddaughter and grandsons help me! It's a joy to pass down the recipes to the young ones!

February 2, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Nazworth

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