Arancini Di Riso – Crispy Fried Risotto Balls

When life hands you left over Risotto, make Arancini Di Riso – Crispy Fried Risotto Balls.
Text And Photo By Amelia Pane Schaffner

Arancini di riso

In Italy, when life gives us left-over risotto , we make arancini. I actually make more risotto than I need every time, specifically so I can make arancini. Arancini di riso (which literally means little “oranges of rice”) are little balls of risotto (shaped like oranges, hence the name) often stuffed with anything from ground beef, sausage, salame, prosciutto, cheese, peas, mushroom, and tomato sauce.

Arancini are a perfect antipasto. They can be eaten with your hands and go great with either prosecco or a beer. I like serving mine in brown paper cones – street-food-like. In Sicily, they are shaped a bit more like rounded pyramids, with a cone top and rounded bottom. When they are just stuffed with cheese and shaped like oval croquettes they are called suppli’ (they should be “al telefono”, meaning “on the phone”, with the melted cheese forming long string-like strands like an old fashioned telephone cord!) and they are more typically found in Rome.

You have to make these and eat them right away (in Naples they say “Frijenno Magnanno”: frying and eating). That means that the cook usually does not really get t eat! Although he/she gets all the credit and plenty of family and friends’ love.

For presentation purposes, you can serve with tomato marinara sauce (although this is not quite customary in Italy!!!) and a leaf of parsley or basil. Another way I serve them is with a simple and quick red onion “marmellata” (marmelade). If I was in Sicily, I would use cipolle rosse di Tropea, DOC small sweet red onions. It is so versatile, and you will love adding it to many other dishes.

Presentation - Arancini di riso

arancini and red onion marmellata

To make sure your arancini turn out great every time, here are my tips:
– dampene your hands with water while shaping the balls
– use gloves when breading them (this will avoid a sticky gooey mess on your hands)
– cool the shaped balls for a while in the fridge before frying (they’ll keep their shape better)
– have the temperature of the oil as close to 375F as you can
– if you have a large batch keep the ones already fried warm in a 200F oven
– fry and serve immediately if you can!!!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Arancini di riso (crispy fried risotto balls) with red onion marmellata
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Arancini di riso are Italian crispy fried risotto balls, served here with a quick red onion marmellata (marmelade)
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Serves: 4
  • 500 grams (17 oz, 3 cups) leftover risotto (any flavor), cooled
  • 100 grams (3 oz, 1 cup) of mozzarella (or fontina or provolone) cheese, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • Optional: steamed peas, chopped deli meats (salame, prosciutto, speck), cooked meat, a few tablespoons of tomato sauce
  • 200 grams (7 oz, 2 cups) all purpose flour (or more, as needed)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten well
  • 250 grams (9 oz, 2 cups) breadcrumbs (or more, as needed)
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • salt & pepper for seasoning
  • Peanut (or other high-smoking point vegetable, such as canola or sunflower) oil, for frying
Quick red onion marmellata (to serve)
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 Tbps olive oil
  • Salt and pepper TT
  • ½ Tbsp Turbinado sugar
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Place about ⅓ to ½ cup risotto in your palm (have wet hands) and use it to enclose a piece of mozzarella (and feel free to be creative with any other additions: see my optional suggestions), pushing into the center, then roll again to make sure the rice has surrounded it on all sides. Set on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat until you have used up all the leftover risotto and cheese.
  2. Create your breading station: line three dishes with flour, beaten egg (seasoned with salt and pepper) and bread crumbs.
  3. Once all the balls have been rolled out, working one at a time, dip and roll the balls in the flour first, then in the beaten egg and turn to coat entirely. Lift and allow any excess egg to drip off, then roll in the breadcrumbs until completely combined. Again, shake off any excess and place back on the parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the risotto balls.
  4. Place tray in fridge for 30-60 minutes. Line a large tray with paper towels. Heat 3-4 inches of the oil in a deep heavy-bottom pan or heat deep fryer to 375 degrees F. Remove risotto balls from the fridge. Fry the arancini no more than 3 to 4 at a time until golden brown, turning on each side, about 4 minutes in total. Remove with slotted spoon and place arancini to drain on tray lined with paper towels. Season again with sea salt. Serve hot or room temperature, with very cold beer or prosecco.
Quick red onion marmellata
  1. Sauté the thinly sliced red onion in heated olive oil, add a pinch of salt, pepper, Turbinado sugar, and red wine vinegar. Slowly cook, covered, for 10 minutes, or until they are translucent and caramelized, adding some water if needed.
Amelia Pane Schaffner

Amelia Pane Schaffner

Amelia Pane Schaffner grew up in Italy but lives in the US. She has travelled the world and blends her diverse experiences in a global cuisine approach, based on few, locally sourced, preferably seasonal, ingredients, artfully presented and convivially shared. Her blog, Z Tasty Life, has been featured in Food News Journal, among others and her photography has been exhibited at local galleries.

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Originally Published: April 27, 2011

35 Responses to Arancini Di Riso – Crispy Fried Risotto Balls

  1. Tamara Novakoviç

    Tamara Reply

    April 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    I once tried arancini that my friend made, but never made them myself. I really like this and yours are absolutely perfect!

  2. Joan Nova

    Joan Nova Reply

    April 27, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    I was scrolling down admiring these perfectly formed balls and the red onion marmellata when I got to the author bio…I should have known it was you! Great work here, just as on Z Tasty Life!

  3. Pingback: Pasqua (Easter) and “la pastiera” | Z Tasty Life

  4. Simone Van Den Berg

    Simone Van Den Berg Reply

    April 29, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Those look absolutely perfect! I have seen these little treats before but never tried to make them myself!

  5. mimi chiesi Reply

    May 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm


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  7. Beth Reply

    July 15, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I loooove arancini & can’t wait to try your recipe, but I missed the step that addressed the orange zest. Will you please clarify? Thank you, your help will be greatly appreciated.

  8. Amelia Pane Schaffner

    Amelia Pane Schaffner Reply

    July 16, 2012 at 10:09 am

    Beth: the orange zest goes in with the breadcrumbs

  9. Pingback: Risotto Ball Bags Please… « HUBBY AT HOME

  10. Maria N-L Reply

    September 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Amelia,
    Thank you so much for sharing your recipe. As much as I have many of my mom’s recipes written down, this is one that I just didn’t have. However, I think the hardest part for me is keeping the rice in a ball. Is there any hint on how to do this without it falling apart?

    Looking forward to hearing from you. Cannot wait to make these!

  11. Amelia Pane Schaffner

    amelia from z tasty life Reply

    September 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Maria: wonderful to hear! Here is the tip I use: have a bowl of cold water next to you while you are making the arancini and wet your hands every time you roll a ball. This will help to keep them together a little more!

  12. Pam Reply

    October 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I was watching the Food network the first time I saw these and wanted to eat one sooo bad. :) I will have to make them now. I was wondering if I could get the recipe for the sweet one they had on there. It was made with rice and was real sweet and had chocolate in it also. Looked absolutely wonderful!
    Thank You!

  13. Pam Reply

    October 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    I was wondering if I could get the recipe for the sweet one they made. It was made with rice and was real sweet and had chocolate in it also. Looked absolutely wonderful!
    Thank You!

  14. ilovecooking Reply

    November 19, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    I was wondering if these could be fried, frozen and then just reheated in the oven? Thanks for a great site! Can’t wait to hear from you!~C

    • Amelia Pane Schaffner

      amelia from z tasty life Reply

      November 19, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Sure, you “can”… (and Trader Joe’s even carries some)…but when they are just fried they are much much better

      • ilovecooking Reply

        November 19, 2012 at 5:06 pm

        Would freezing them ready for frying be a better choice then? ~C

  15. Paul Capicchioni Reply

    November 23, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Good recipe; I do all except I wrap the
    cheese with prociutto.

  16. Pingback: Risotto Balls aka Arancini di riso « savourandstyle

  17. Gina Smith Reply

    March 28, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    I have made a Risotto balls before. I froze them then fried them. It was sooo yummy and it made no difference from the freshly made ones. In fact I think it was better… ;)

  18. Sheila Reply

    July 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Hi Amelia,
    Can I use aborio rice instead.? I heard it sticks better, I also like to bake, rather then fry to save on fat/calories?

  19. Silvana Reply

    August 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Nice recipe, but further to the question on reheating in the oven once they have been fried. Please don’t as rice should only ever really be reheated once…..

  20. Gina Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    Can the risotto be made ahead of time and refrigerated?

  21. Amelia Pane Schaffner

    amelia Reply

    August 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    @Sheila: Yes, arborio is what you make risotto with! Sure…. you can bake, but they will not be as tasty as fried!
    @Silvana: actually, while i generally agree with you, i have found that if you start with “al dente” rice, leftover arancini heated in the oven are not bad!

  22. Christopher Reply

    August 31, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    This IS very time consuming, but the wife is up for it!

    in fact she made lemon/basil risotto cooled it.

    now the balls stuffed are in the fridge cooling off

  23. Christopher Reply

    August 31, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    love having Meyer Lemons and plenty of basil in the backyard…

  24. Anne Reply

    September 12, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I just made them and they are amazing and so easy to make!! Unfortunately I didn’t had Mozarella to put in the middle…but still delicous!

  25. Arancini siciliani Reply

    September 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Arancini siciliano il vero oro siciliano

  26. Dasha Reply

    January 6, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    Makes these now. Thanks for sharing

  27. Leo Reply

    July 22, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    I’ve tried a few recipes, including one for cheese balls, but my main concern is that they crack open while they’re frying. Not enough oil? Not hot enough? Maybe you can let me know before I try your recipe this weekend :) Thanks.

  28. Kevin Reply

    August 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    These are one of my favourite foods from Italy of my wife and I. We have just finished eating the ones made using your recipe and I have to say they were superb, and we are going to make them again for a party we are having on Tuesday. Thank you for sharing with us.

  29. Pingback: Crispy Arancini Balls

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