3 fried arancini on a puddle of marinara sauce on a white plate garnished with grated cheese and micro basil.
Photography: Tiara Chiaramonte – Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

Did somebody say rice balls?  This Sicilian street food staple is one of my favorite things in the world.  You’ll find them all over the streets of Palermo, and the variations are endless.  I like a simple mozzarella filled ball, but you can use mushroom risotto or add some meat sauce and cooked peas to the center for a heartier arancini.

Grab my Creamy Risotto recipe HERE!


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 1 ½ cups chilled leftover risotto
  • 12 ciliegine fresh mozzarella, drained and patted dry with paper towels
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 large eggs, well beaten
  • 1 ½ cups panko
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving
  • Marinara, warmed, for serving, optional
  • Micro basil, for serving, optional


  • Using a 1-ounce (2 tablespoon) cookie scoop, portion the risotto.
  • Use your thumb to create a well in the center of the scooped risotto.
  • Place a ciliegine in the center of each well and carefully shape the risotto around the mozzarella.
  • Set up a dredging station by placing the flour, egg and panko each in their own shallow bowl.
  • Working one ball at a time, dip the risotto-wrapped mozzarella ball into the flour and roll to coat. Shake off any excess flour and gently roll the ball to refine the shape.
  • Dip the flour-coated ball into the egg and roll to coat; shake off any excess egg.
  • Drop the ball into the panko and roll to coat. Place the breaded ball onto a quarter sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining risotto balls.
  • Place the breaded arancini into the refrigerator, uncovered, to keep chilled.
  • Meanwhile, fill a 4-quart Dutch oven with 3-inches of vegetable oil and heat to 325 degrees.
  • Carefully drop 4 of the arancini into the hot oil, and cook, maintaining a temperature of 300 to 315 degrees, until deep golden brown, for 5 minutes.
  • Using a spider, transfer the arancini to a paper towel-lined plate and crush some flaky sea salt over each ball.
  • Bring the oil back to 325 degrees and repeat.
  • Serve atop a puddle of warmed marinara, if desired, immediately.


¾ cup of risotto will yield 6 arancini. Feel free to use as little or as much risotto to make the desired quantity.
The colder the risotto, the easier it will be to work with.
If cooked in advance, reheat in a 400 degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes, until the mozzarella is completely melted in the center of the arancini.
Cuisine: Italian
Course: Appetizer, Side Dish
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino