Frittelle di Riso di San Giuseppe Viterbesi

Viterbo St Joseph’s Day Rice Fritters


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

The city of Viterbo, in the region of Lazio, is where this delicious recipe was first officially created in the 1830s. It lies in the land of Tuscia, which covers an area from the walls of Rome, across the province of Viterbo and all the way to parts of Tuscany and Umbria as far as the sea. It is a historical region of Italy that comprised all the territories under Etruscan influence and Tuscia was the name adopted for Etruria after the Roman conquest. These crispy, deliciously sweet fritters - like bigne’ di San Giuseppe - are traditionally prepared to celebrate the feast of St Joseph on 19 March.


  • 250 g/9 oz/1 ¼ cups Arborio rice
  • 1 litre/1 ¾ pints/4 cups full-fat/whole milk
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 3 whole eggs, plus 3 chilled egg whites
  • 150 g/5 oz/1 ¼ cups plain/all-purpose flour
  • 150 g/5 oz/¾ cup caster/superfine sugar
  • 150 g/5 oz/1 cup sultanas/golden raisins, soaked in enough white wine to cover for about 30 minutes
  • 2.5 ml/½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • grated zest of 1 lemon or orange
  • 10 ml/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp rum
  • 5 ml/1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 litre/1 ¾ pints/4 cups sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


  1. Put the rice, milk, water and salt in a large pan and boil until soft, then strain, reserving the milk.

  2. In a bowl, whisk the whole eggs with the flour, sugar and the strained milk from cooking the rice. Add the sultanas, cinnamon, zest, vanilla, rum and finally the baking powder and whisk together.

  3. Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, then fold this into the sugar and flour mixture using a metal spoon.

  4. Gently stir in the boiled rice until you have a thick batter. Leave to rest for 1 hour.
  5. Heat the oil in a large, deep pan suitable for deep-frying until sizzling hot, then drop the batter into the oil in egg-sized scoops using 2 spoons. Take care not to overcrowd the pan: work in batches if necessary.
  6. Fry the fritters until golden brown and crisp, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Dust with icing sugar and serve piping hot.