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Arancini Recipe - How to Make Sicilian Arancini

How to Make Sicilian Arancini

Have some leftover risotto? Make Sicilian arancini! And if you don’t? Let’s make some anyway!

We like to think of making Sicilian arancini as a delicious labor of love. Really they’re fried balls of risotto with a little secret inside. What do they hide? Well, that depends. The classic version is meaty ragù, but you can find all sorts of inventive versions on the island like toasted pistachio and tomato, eggplant and ricotta or even tuna ragù. If you’re in your kitchen, then it’s entirely up to you! Even though the arancini fillings change, the feeling remains the same: pure crispy, gooey bliss!

fresh hot sicilian arancini
Fresh Sicilian streetfood: Arancini in Palermo, Sicily

The origins of arancini lie in Sicily in the 10th century when the island was under Arab rule. Before going on a long trip, the travelers would take a large bowl of saffron-infused rice and roll it with pieces of meat and vegetables to form a ball. These balls were then breaded and fried to be brought along with them. As they were both filling and easy to transport, they made the perfect travel snack (and still do!).

Fun fact, on the west side of the island you’ll order an arancino (plural: arancini), while on the east side you’ll order an arancina (plural: arancine). What’s the difference? One version is feminine, the other masculine. To this day, Sicilians debate over what’s the correct way to call them! Either way, they both stem from the word arancina, which actually means “little oranges” in Italian.

sicilian arancino rice ball fried and filled with cheese and ham
A Sicilian Arancino filled with ham and cheese!

Probably the best part about Sicilian arancini, if we had to choose, is that you can make them with whatever you like! From veggies and fresh herbs to prosciutto cotto and bechamel sauce, the combinations are endless. For a sweet treat, you can use Nutella or chocolate. You can even get creative with the leftovers you might already have in your refrigerator. Make sure to bookmark this arancini recipe so that you’re ready when inspiration hits!

When visiting Sicily or southern Italy, you’re likely to see them sold by street vendors or in a panificio. If you’re lucky enough to come across freshly fried Sicilian arancini, they’ll be slightly crispy on the outside with a warm and gooey center. Hmm, we know just thinking about them must make your mouth water, so we’re here to help you get that feeling right in your kitchen today!

girl with sunglasses and white blouse sitting outside and biting into a fresh arancino in Palrmo, Sicily
CET Founder, Sierra Busch, enjoying a hot Arancino in Palermo, Sicily

As part of our series of interactive virtual workshops during the Covid quarantine, we hosted a special session on how to make arancini- you know, as you do! Ludovica from The Sicilian Host, guided us through a 2 hour lesson where we learned how to make arancini with a group from all around the world! Book a live workshop now to learn this recipe directly from Ludovica!

Tips for Making Sicilian Arancini

Use risotto rice, instead of regular rice as it may fall apart when you try to form the balls. Another trick is to make some risotto ahead of time, a batch that has been refrigerated for a few hours will stick together much easier. Last tip for making Sicilian arancini, don't rinse the rice because we need all the starch to help it stick together.

Arancini Ingredients

To make arancini you’ll need:

For the risotto:

3 cups of small grain white rice (such as Roma or Arborio rice)

1 yellow onion

2 tbsp olive oil