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Arancini ~ Italian Rice Balls

Updated on November 10, 2015

Arancini Translates to Little Oranges

Arancini: Italian Rice Balls, my families recipe has been around for at least 100 years; and we have always made them to have on Christmas Day, it wouldn't be Christmas without them. They can be prepared ahead of time and warmed up in an oven right before you're ready to serve them, they also freeze well too. We do the 7 fishes for Christmas Eve, on Christmas Day it's all about the meat (by then you're getting ready to grow a pair of gills from all the seafood the night before, lol).

This is a recipe from my Sicilian side of the family, and is a good example of Sicily's Arabic & Greek influence. If it seems a little sketchy in places it's because this recipe was never written down by anyone in my family; and in order for you to learn how to make them you must watch and learn. If I had a computer that can handle it I'd video tape me making them (or hire an actor, I'm not exactly a "Looker" if ya know what I mean, lol). So do forgive me in advance, I'm not being vague on purpose. There are many recipes for Arancina online, and I've included links to them so you can draw your own conclusions; you'll notice my recipe is a little different, and my friends fight over who gets to take any extra home (so it must be good). The only way you can get an Arancina slot is if someone on the list dies.

Arancini Meat Filling
Arancini Meat Filling

So many people I know take a shortcut and mix the meat and rice together; granted it will make your life easier. I don't do it that way; if you make them like this your rice balls may fall apart. Many add peas, I don't like peas in my Arancini (my family never made them that way); if you give me a rice ball with peas in them, I'll want to throw it at you (you've been forewarned, lol).


  • 1 lbs of chop meat
  • 1 small jar of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of your favorite tomato sauce (some use a sm. can of tomato paste)
  • 1 cup of Golden raisins soaked in Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 small onion minced
  • olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan)
  • a handful of parsley


  1. The night before you start take the raisins and soak them in sweet vermouth (if not over night, at least a few hours) drain the vermouth (you can omit this step and use plain raisins if you are alcohol-free). In a large skillet on low heat / flame add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the minced onions, cook till translucent then add the small can of tomato paste and let that cook a few minutes constantly stirring add a little water to loosen it up (you can add the water to the empty can of tomato paste, this way you make use of all the tomato paste). If you choose to add tomato sauce, add it after you brown the chopmeat. Add the chop meat and brown it (if there is a lot of fat in the skillet, use a spoon to remove most of it), then add the golden raisins, parsley and pine nuts (you can also add salt and pepper, I recommend going easy on the salt, the grated cheese you add to the rice will have plenty of salt) . Let the meat cool completely or do this the night before and refrigerate till your ready to form the rice balls.
2.8 stars from 16 ratings of Arancina Meat Filling

Making the Rice Filling - and Bread Crumb Outer Coating.

The key to make Arancini hold together is to NEVER ever rinse the rice before you prepare it, otherwise you'll remove the starch and they will fall apart (a common complaint for those who have tried to make this recipe). There is also a trick to making them, you need to add a vegetable shortening to the rice while it is still hot (as well as whatever cheeses you decide to add); once you do this you'll need to refrigerate them for a while, after the rice has been mixed well and cooled down a little. You can make the rice the night before; it's easier to make everything the night before, or you'd need to start early in the morning.

I use a pyrex lasagna tray, just to give you an idea of what you want to end up with. Make the rice according to the instructions on the box; some people cook the rice in chicken broth, I don't it's your call.


  • 2 - 3 pound bag/box of Carolina Rice
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated cheese
  • 1/4 cup of Crisco vegetable shortening
  • saffron (optional)
  • 3 - 5 eggs (some use just egg yolks)
  • 1 stick of butter


  1. Cook your rice as directed on the box, I repeat do not rinse the rice before you cook it. When the rice is done and while it's still hot add whatever cheese/s you'ld like to add; (my mother always used just grated cheese, many people add mozzarella) add a nice ladle of Crisco or store brand vegetable shortening and/or a stick of butter (my mother just used Crisco). Also, some people just put egg yolks in the rice; it's up to you. Let this mixture cool down a little before you add the eggs, basically you want to add enough egg/s to get a yellow tint to the rice (hard to see if you've added saffron, which I don't use my mother hated it).

Rice Balls Ready To Fry

Forming The Rice Balls

Now that your rice has been in the fridge a couple of hours, the Crisco (veg. shortening) and butter should have solidified along with the cheese/s; and the rice should stick together to form your rice balls. The easiest way to do this is to form the Arancina and bread them in the same production line, at the same time.

Hold out your hand like you're asking for money, and cover it with rice as you cup your hand (I use the large spoon pictured above in rice balls ready for frying photo). In the center of the rice mixture in your hand spoon in a heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture; then make a motion to close your hand, you may need to patch the top with rice if you have small hands. You're going for the size of a large to medium orange (some make them smaller, I like to make them big enough so that you're guest are fairly satisfied with one. We always joked and said the rice balls tend to get as large as basketballs as you're getting tired and start rushing the job.

Next up is rolling them in eggs (that have been beaten) and then bread crumb; and that's it, they're ready to fry. Use the oil of you're choice, we use vegetable oil, heat it to around 350 (or there about); they should start to turn golden brown right away, if the oil is too cold, they'll take too long to cook and fall apart on you. Remove from oil and roll around on a brown paper bag or paper towels to remove the oil. I place them on a drying rack so they cool. You can serve them hot or freeze them, and warm them up in the oven as needed. Enjoy!

I can see my mother taking a bite and saying in Sicilian "I lived another year". My mother passed away in 2006, she had ovarian cancer; this is how she lives on through her recipes. Thank you for visiting my Lens, if you liked it please don't forget to "Squid Like" it. Thanks.

How To Make Arancini ~ Italian Rice Balls - Seeing Is Believing Check Out The YouTube Vids

It's so much easier to make these when you see how others do it. This is an involved recipe, and a labor of love; well worth the effort, once you make them I'll bet you do so every year. They make a great appetizer.

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    • cmoneyspinner1tf profile image

      Treathyl FOX 3 years ago from Austin, Texas

      WOW! This HUB is a winner! Shared it via Pinterest and people keep repinning! FYI.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 4 years ago

      @othellos: The recipe is from my Sicilian side of the family, I suspect it may have Greek or Arab roots; it was my aunt Agnes's recipe, her son told me that her real name was Athena. Thanks for the visit and your participation on my Lens; hope you're having a Fantastic Summer.

    • profile image

      othellos 4 years ago

      Delightful lens. I had a similar recipe that I didn't know where it came from. Yours is better in the filling ingredients so I will try yours next time. Appreciate you sharing the recipe.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      @Deborah Swain: Thank you.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      @Deborah Swain: Must be a beehive of activity today, I was just watching the Litany of the Saints and the Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel. Thank you for the Blessing, visit and like.

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 5 years ago from Rome, Italy're BLESSED!

    • Deborah Swain profile image

      Deborah Swain 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      In Rome, where I live, there's a place you'd just love...Mondo Arancina...sells every flavor you can imagine!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yuummm! I want to try those!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Yuummm! I want to try those!

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      We are going to have to give these a try. They look very good.

    • DreamingBoomer profile image

      Karen Kay 5 years ago from Jackson, MS

      I've never heard of these but they look delish! Thanks!

    • DeborahDian profile image

      Deborah Carr 5 years ago from Orange County, California

      Mmmm ... these look yummy!!

    • tonybonura profile image

      Tony Bonura 5 years ago from Tickfaw, Louisiana

      This is making my stomach want some rice balls in it. :-) Thanks for sharing.


    • dogface lm profile image

      dogface lm 5 years ago

      Ahh... You are making me hungry!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I return visit and recommend for other lenses

    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 5 years ago

      I love Italian rice balls! Yummmy!

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      Looks so delicious! I would love to try it.

    • profile image

      roony672 5 years ago

      Wow these sounds really, really good!

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      i am hungry right now for arancini.

    • Escapes2 profile image

      Escapes2 5 years ago

      I love rice balls. We use peas in ours instead of the raisins.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image

      Tolovaj Publishing House 5 years ago from Ljubljana

      I am always on the hunt to use rice in alternative ways and this one is just perfect:)

    • profile image

      myamya 5 years ago

      Delicious lens, great job!

    • profile image

      kmyangel 6 years ago

      Your lens is very Yammmy :)

    • VisFeminea profile image

      VisFeminea 6 years ago

      Nice! I will do some vege ones ;)

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      @Pam Irie: Haha, your welcome; I've been making them for years and have still had some Rice Ball Fails. Lol I tried to be as honest as possible; like I mentioned this recipe was never written down, and my mother passed away (so she's not talking), I just hope "The Force" is with me when I make them :-)

    • JJNW profile image

      JJNW 6 years ago from USA

      Do you know a good vegetarian version, or is that illegal too? lol - these sound soooo yummy. I had never heard of them before! Thanks!

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Thanks for pointing out DO NOT rinse rice. We constantly rinse rice here in Hawaii before cooking, so I think I'd have to really concentrate when I start preparing this recipe.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      @JJNW: Thank you for stopping by my Lens and participating. I know that some people just make them with Rice and Peas, I'm not sure how you would do the outer coating without egg (assuming you want vegan too). I suppose you can toy around with wheat meat and tofu versions too; the toughest part is making a concoction that will stick together, especially through the frying process.

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      @Beadsnresin: ROTFL, you'll get no argument from me there. Thanks for visiting my Lens and participating.

    • Beadsnresin profile image

      Beadsnresin 6 years ago

      Peas in Arancini, should be deemed as illegal LOL

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 6 years ago

      @nyclittleitaly: BTW, you'll get no arguments from me there. ROTFL

      Thank you for visiting my Lens and participating.

      You bring the Cannoli and I'll bring the Rice Balls.

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 6 years ago

      Rice balls are great. Thanks!


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