Arancini di Riso

Sicilian Rice Fritters


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes About


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

These delicious rice balls are on sale at every café in Sicily, and are eaten as a quick snack. Few dishes say as much about the various nationalities who have contributed to the island over the centuries: the rice came from the Arabs; the cheese (traditionally canestrato fresco but here replaced with mozzarella) was contributed by the Greeks; the ragù derives from the French ragoût, and the tomato dipping sauce came from the Spanish. Arancini di riso are the pride of every rotisserie or Tavola Calda.


For the Risotto

  • 1.5 litres/2 ½ pints/6 cups hot chicken, meat or vegetable stock
  • 75 g/3 oz/6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 600 g/1 lb 6 oz/2 ½ cups risotto rice, preferably vialone nano
  • 90-105 ml/6-7 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the Fritters

  • 15 g/½ oz/1 tbsp butter
  • 50 g/2 oz/½ cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 100 g/3 ½ oz/scant 1 cup cooked peas
  • 80 g/3 ¼ oz mozzarella cheese, diced
  • 50 g/2 oz prosciutto, finely chopped
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp plain/all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 90 ml/6 tbsp white dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 quantity ragù (optional)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying
  • tomato sauce (see Cook’s Tip)


  1. Pour the stock into a pan and heat to simmering point. Keep it simmering while you cook the risotto.

  2. Melt half the butter in a large heavy pan and add the onion. Cook over a very low heat for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft but not coloured.
  3. Stir the rice into the onion mixture and toast the grains thoroughly on all sides, so that they are opaque but not coloured. Add a ladleful of hot stock and stir it in until it has been absorbed.
  4. Add a further two ladlefuls of hot stock and stir constantly so that the rice absorbs the liquid and all its flavour. Continue in this fashion, adding more stock only when the spoon draws a clear wake behind it as you draw it through the cooking rice.
  5. After about 20 minutes, when the rice is soft and creamy, take the pan off the heat and stir in the grated Parmesan cheese and the rest of the butter. Adjust the seasoning to taste and set aside to cool.

  6. Put the cold risotto into a bowl. Melt the butter in a pan and sauté the mushrooms lightly. Add them to the risotto, with the peas, mozzarella and prosciutto.

  7. Place the flour, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs in separate shallow bowls.
  8. Shape the rice mixture into balls, about the size of tangerines. If you want to fill them with ragù, make an indentation in each ball, spoon in 5 ml/1 tsp of ragù, then reshape so that the ragù is enclosed.
  9. Roll the balls in the flour, then the eggs and finally the dried breadcrumbs.

  10. Heat the oil in a large pan to 180°C/350°F, or until a cube of bread, dropped into the oil, browns in about 45 seconds. Fry the balls, in batches, for 6-8 minutes until golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve hot, with the tomato sauce for dipping, if you like.