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Italian Arancini: Irresistible Rice Balls for Your Next Gathering

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homemade Arancini

Are you ready to treat yourself to a delicious Italian street food? Arancini are golden, crispy rice balls stuffed with gooey cheese, and sometimes even a savory meat sauce. These tasty bites make a perfect appetizer or snack, and they’re easier to make than you might think!

Imagine biting into a hot, crunchy shell to reveal a center of creamy risotto and melted cheese. Your kitchen will smell amazing, and your family and friends will love you for it. Whether you’re hosting a party or just craving something special, making arancini at home is a fun and rewarding experience.

You can customize arancini with different fillings and sauces, making them versatile for any occasion. From traditional meat and cheese combos to creative twists like mushroom or spinach, there’s an arancini recipe out there for everyone.

Exact Ingredients (+ Possible Substitutes)

To make delicious Italian Arancini, you’ll need a few key ingredients. Here’s a list of what you’ll need and some possible substitutes.


  • Arborio rice: This short-grain rice is perfect for risotto and arancini because it gets creamy when cooked.
    • Substitute: Sushi rice can also work well.


  • Chopped onion: Adds flavor to the rice mixture.
    • Substitute: Shallots or green onions can be used for a milder taste.

Olive Oil

  • Extra virgin olive oil: Used for cooking the rice and onion.
    • Substitute: Canola or vegetable oil if you don’t have olive oil.

Vegetable Stock

  • Vegetable stock: Helps cook the rice and adds richness.
    • Substitute: Chicken or beef stock for a different flavor profile.


  • Butter: Adds creaminess to the rice.
    • Substitute: Margarine or olive oil for a dairy-free option.

Flour, Eggs, and Breadcrumbs

  • Flour, eggs, breadcrumbs: Used to coat the rice balls before frying.
    • Substitute: Panko breadcrumbs can be used for extra crunch.


  • Mozzarella or Provolone: Common for the filling.
    • Substitute: Cheddar or Swiss can also be used, though it will change the flavor slightly.


  • Meat Sauce: Traditional filling often includes a meat sauce with peas and tomato paste.
    • Substitute: For a vegetarian option, use a mix of sautéed mushrooms and spinach.


  • Salt and Pepper: Basic seasonings to taste.
    • Substitute: Add herbs like basil or oregano for extra flavor.

Having these ingredients on hand will help you make delicious arancini. Adjust the substitutes depending on what you have available in your kitchen.



  • Cooked risotto
  • Mozzarella cheese cubes
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil


  1. Prepare the Risotto: Cook your risotto and let it cool in the fridge. Cold risotto makes it easier to handle.

  2. Form the Balls: Take a spoonful of risotto and flatten it slightly. Place a cube of mozzarella in the center and shape the risotto around it to form a ball.

  3. Coat the Balls:

    1. Roll each ball in flour.
    2. Dip into beaten eggs.
    3. Roll in breadcrumbs until fully coated.
  4. Frying:

    • Air Fryer: Preheat to 375°F. Place the balls in a single layer, drizzle lightly with oil, and cook for 12-15 minutes, turning until golden brown.
    • Deep Fry: Heat vegetable oil to 350°F. Fry the balls in batches until golden brown, turning as needed. Drain on paper towels.


  • Ensure there’s enough space between the balls when frying to avoid sticking.
  • You can keep the fried balls warm in an oven set to low heat.
  • Experiment with different fillings like ham or mushrooms for variety.

Enjoy your delicious homemade arancini!

Tips, Tricks & Storing


  • Choose the Right Rice: Arborio rice is the best option. Its high starch content makes the risotto creamy, which is perfect for arancini.
  • Cool the Risotto: Let the risotto cool completely before forming the balls. This makes it easier to shape and handle.
  • Bread/Batter Thoroughly: Make sure each arancini is well-coated with breadcrumbs for a crispy texture.


  • Double-Coat for Extra Crunch: Dip the arancini in eggs and breadcrumbs twice for an even crunchier result.
  • Use an Air Fryer: Preheat to 350°F (180°C). Microwave arancini for 10-20 seconds first (optional), then air fry for 4-8 minutes.
  • Even Space: When air frying, make sure the arancini are not touching.


  • Refrigerate: If you have leftover arancini, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
  • Freezing: Place the arancini on a baking sheet and freeze for 1-2 hours. Then, transfer them to a freezer bag. They can last up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the arancini for 10-12 minutes or until they’re hot and crispy.

Recipe Variations & Serving Suggestions

Arancini can be made with many different fillings and cooking methods. You might like the classic meat and cheese combination, or you could try something new. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Recipe Variations

  1. Traditional: Filled with ground meat, tomato sauce, peas, and mozzarella.
  2. Vegetarian: Mix in spinach, ricotta, and mushrooms.
  3. Seafood: Try adding shrimp, crab, or scallops with a touch of lemon zest.
  4. Spicy: Use spicy sausage, hot peppers, and pepper jack cheese.
  5. Sweet: Create a dessert arancini with chocolate, hazelnuts, and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Try baking your arancini at 350°F for about 30 minutes if you want a healthier option.

Serving Suggestions

Pair arancini with tasty sides. Here are some ideas:

  • Bruschetta: Top with tomatoes, basil, and garlic.
  • Grilled Veggies: Asparagus or eggplant works well.
  • Dipping Sauces: Marinara, aioli, or a sweet beetroot relish.
  • Salads: A simple green salad or an Italian caprese can be refreshing.

Use these combinations to create a delicious meal that everyone will enjoy. Whether you stick to tradition or try something new, arancini are always a hit.