Arancini Rice Balls

Appetizers & Snacks  |  Published Dec 14, 2021  |  Updated Dec 14, 2021  |  By Tawnie

fried rice formed into balls on a blue plate with marinara

Arancini Rice Balls are simply awesome! After enjoying many arancini at one of our favorite local restaurants I decided it was time to make them myself.

This post has been sponsored by USA Rice. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Kroll’s Korner running!

The gooey mozzarella in the center is a wonderful surprise and dipping them in marinara or tomato sauce is an absolute must! (However, dipping in a basil pesto sounds equally amazing).

I love serving these Italian rice balls as appetizers or they are delicious on their own with a salad or soup.

rice balls rolled in breadcrumbs on parchment paper

But, what is arancini?

  • Arancini is a Sicilian specialty of saffron-flavored rice balls stuffed with varying ingredients that can include meat, meat sauce, vegetables (such as peas) and/or cheese.
  • The rice balls are coated with breadcrumbs and usually fried, though they can also be baked.
  • The word arancine means “little oranges” and refers to both the shape of the fruit and the orange color from the saffron.
  • My recipe is does not include saffron, but you could add a pinch of saffron to the rice when you add the broth if you prefer!

I made my arancini large to yield 12 big arancini balls, but you can always make yours smaller if you prefer. 🤗

It’s a perfect appetizer for the holidays, or year round, and a fun way to cook with rice in the kitchen!

an up close image of the middle of an arancini ball with gooey mozzarella in the center

Ingredient Notes:

  • U.S.-grown basmati rice: U.S. basmati is an aromatic long grain rice with its own distinctive aroma and flavor. Their savory and nutty flavor works really well in this recipe and you’ll love their fluffy, slightly chewy texture.
  • Butter and flour: when making the béchamel sauce, you’ll need butter and flour to make the roux.
  • Whole milk: 1 cup is needed to make the béchamel. This sauce gets mixed into the rice so the rice stays nice and creamy.
ingredients in small bowls
  • Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese: freshly grated Parmesan is recommend and low-moisture mozzarella. You’ll need to cube the mozzarella into small cubes to stuff inside the balls.
  • Italian breadcrumbs: I like using Italian breadcrumbs because they have a little seasoning already mixed in. I haven’t tried making these with any other breadcrumbs but I’d imagine any finely ground bread crumb would work great.
  • Eggs: For the dredging station when the rice balls get coated. (Dredging station is 3 shallow bowls: flour, egg and then breadcrumbs).
  • Vegetable Oil: A neutral oil like vegetable or canola oil is best for deep frying.

Step by Step Directions:

Classic arancini is a true labor of love. My recipe is a bit more streamlined. It may sound complicated or sophisticated but it’s quite simple:

  1. Make the rice & let it cool
  2. Form cooled rice into disks
  3. Stuff with cheese & roll into balls
  4. Coat in breadcrumbs
  5. Deep fry!
rice on a baking sheet and in a bowl
how to make arancini into balls and stuffed with mozzarella
rice balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper

Making the rice is very similar to making rice pilaf. It’s easy and takes all of 25 minutes from start to finish.

Once the rice is done you can make the béchamel sauce (see video for guidance).

You’ll combine the rice and béchamel sauce together and then turn out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Flatten into a thin even layer and chill in fridge for at least 1 hour.

After the rice is chilled, scoop a small handful and shape into a flat disk. Place mozzarella in the center and fold the rice around the cheese and shape back into a ball, being sure to enclose the cheese. Rice balls may be a little sticky but not too horrible to work with. You can use wet hands if too sticky.

Dredge in flour, then egg and then breadcrumbs and fry in vegetable oil.

fried rice formed into balls on a blue plate on a paper towel with marinara on the side

Tips and Variations

  • Typically these rice stuffed balls are made with arborio rice or leftover risotto. If you have risotto and want to make that way, go for it! 😊
  • There are a variety of fillings you can choose, I kept it simple and used mozzarella. Common fillings include meat, peas, mushrooms, sausage, ham, spinach, and more.
  • When frying in oil be sure to get oil hot enough, I recommend 350°F. If you don’t have a food thermometer to check, you’ll know the oil is hot enough when a cube of bread turns golden in 20 seconds. Once hot, of course be very careful as you set rice balls into oil. I use a spoon or slotted spoon to drop each rice ball in, allow to cook in hot oil, turning to brown all sides. It’s best to work in batches so you don’t over crown the pot. Top up the oil as needed between batches.
  • Dip in your favorite sauces: pesto, marinara, garlic aioli, spicy sriracha aioli, etc.
fried rice formed into balls on a blue plate with marinara

FAQ

Is arancini a starter or a main dish?

Make them bite sized to serve as appetizers or make them larger to serve as a main. There is no right or wrong!

How do I reheat arancini?

I recommend in the oven at 350°F until warm, about 10-15 minutes. This will also help keep the exterior crispy and the inside will get creamy again.
How do I store leftover arancini rice balls?  Once cooled, arancini keeps well in the fridge in a container lined with a paper towel for up to 5 days, covered.

How do I freeze arancini?

Place cooked and cooled arancini in a freezer safe baggie and freeze for up to 2 months. When ready to enjoy, place on a baking sheet and bake, frozen, at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.

HUNGRY FOR MORE? If you try this recipe, why not leave a star rating in the recipe card right below and/or a review in the comment section further down the page? I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow me on Pinterest or InstagramSign up for my email list, too!

fried rice formed into balls on a blue plate with marinara
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Arancini Rice Balls

These Arancini Rice Balls are golden and crispy on the outside and creamy and cheesy on the inside! They are made with U.S-grown basmati rice, (as opposed to the traditional risotto), are breaded, and then deep fried to golden perfection.
5 from 6 reviews
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings: 12 large rice balls
Calories: 462kcal

Ingredients

For the rice

  • 2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup U.S.-grown basmati rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth

For the béchamel

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated

Arancini Assembly

  • 1/2 cup mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying – (you’ll need enough to add 2 inches deep into a pot, about 3-4 cups)

Instructions

  • Make rice on stovetop: Melt butter over medium-high heat in a saucepan. Add in onions and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4minutes. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute more. Add basmati rice and stir until evenly coated and grains look translucent. Add in the broth and bring to a small boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer with lid on for 15-20 minutes.Remove from heat and allow to sit covered for 5 more minutes.
  • Make the béchamel: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until roux forms. Slowly add in the milk in small increments, continuing to whisk and stir as the sauce thickens. Whisk until smooth and all the milk is added. Add in the cheese, stir and remove from heat.
  • Pour rice into a large mixing bowl. Pour béchamel sauce over rice and stir to thoroughly combined.
  • Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread rice out into an even thin layer and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  • Once rice is chilled, scoop a small handful and form into a flat disk. Place 1-2 small mozzarella cubes in the center and fold the rice around the cheese and shape back into a ball, being sure to enclose the cheese. Rice balls may be a little sticky but not too horrible to work with. You can use wet hands if they are too sticky. Place on parchment paper. Repeat to make 12 large rice balls, or make smaller if preferred.
  • Line up the dredging station. Gather 3 shallow bowls. Place the flour in the first bowl, whisked eggs in the second bowl and breadcrumbs in the third. Roll rice balls in flour first, shaking off any excess. Dip in egg and then coat completely in the breadcrumbs. Place balls on a plate or baking sheet. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate or freeze arancini while the oil heats, just enough to keep the rice balls cold.
  • Fill a medium saucepan over medium heat with at least 2 inche sdeep of vegetable oil and heat oil to 350°F. Cook arancini in batches of 3-4, rotating to ensure all rice balls evenly cook. This should take about 4-5minutes. Once golden brown, use a slotted spoon to lift them, one by one, allowing excess oil to drip off. Place onto a paper-towel lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat with remaining arancini, topping up oil as needed and keeping oil at or around 350°F.
  • Let arancini cool slightly, sprinkle with more freshly grated Parmesan, parsley and serve with marinara or favorite dipping sauce.

Video

Notes

  • To reheat: I recommend in the oven at 350°F until warm, about 10-15 minutes. This will also help keep the exterior crispy and the inside will get creamy again.
  • Storage: Once cooled, arancini keeps well in the fridge in a container lined with a paper towel for up to 5 days, covered.
  • Leftover risotto: Typically these rice stuffed balls are made with arborio rice or leftover risotto. If you have risotto and want to make that way, go for it! 
  • Fillings: There are a variety of fillings you can choose, I kept it simple and used mozzarella. Common fillings include meat, peas, mushrooms, sausage, ham, spinach, and more.
  • Frying tips: When frying in oil be sure to get oil hot enough, I recommend 350°F. If you don’t have a food thermometer to check, you’ll know the oil is hot enough when a cube of bread turns golden in 20 seconds. Once hot, of course be very careful as you set rice balls into oil. I use a spoon or slotted spoon to drop each rice ball in, allow to cook in hot oil, turning to brown all sides. It’s best to work in batches so you don’t over crown the pot. Top up the oil as needed between batches.
  • Dip in your favorite sauces: pesto, marinara, garlic aioli, spicy sriracha aioli, etc.
Find Kroll’s Korner on Instagram!Mention @krolls_korner or tag #krollskorner

Nutrition

Serving: 1large rice ball | Calories: 462kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 32g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 45mg | Potassium: 129mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 221IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 1mg

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7 Comments
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1 month ago

Great recipe. Glad i found this!

Shadi Hasanzadenemati
1 month ago

I was looking for a recipe like this, thank you for sharing!

Jill
1 month ago

Your photos have me drooling! I have got to try these!

Beth
1 month ago

These are so yummy! Made them for the family yesterday and there isn’t even one left. Thanks for this delicious treat.

Andrea
1 month ago

Much easier to make than I thought. I will be making these ASAP! They are fabulous!

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