Sicilian Arancini: A Culinary Jewel from the Heart of the Mediterranean

Sicilian Arancini: A Culinary Jewel from the Heart of the Mediterranean

Sicilian Arancini: A Culinary Jewel from the Heart of the Mediterranean


Welcome to my series of making famous dishes from every city in the world. Today our tastebuds will be traveling to Sicily.

Nestled in the heart of the Mediterranean, Sicily is a land that tells ancient stories through its ruins, landscapes, and, most captivatingly, its cuisine. Among the island's culinary treasures, arancini hold a special place, embodying the essence of Sicilian gastronomy. These delectable rice balls, with their golden, crispy exterior and rich, savory filling, invite you on an epic journey that transcends time and place.

Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!

You can always get a hold of me on Instagram.  

A Brief History:

The history of arancini is as layered as the dish itself, tracing back to the 10th century during the Arab rule of Sicily. The Arabs introduced rice and saffron to the island, which eventually led to the creation of arancini. Initially, these rice balls were a way to utilize leftover risotto, but they quickly evolved into a standalone delicacy, celebrated across the island and beyond.

Admiring the tableware? Check out our artisan collection.

Culinary Artistry and Variations:

The making of arancini is an art form, showcasing the creativity and ingenuity of Sicilian cooks. At its core, an arancino consists of a ball of saffron-infused rice, encapsulating a heart of ragù (meat sauce), peas, and melted cheese. However, the beauty of arancini lies in their versatility. From the classic arancini al ragù to innovative variations featuring spinach and ricotta or even seafood, there's an arancino for every palate.

Arancini al Ragù: The quintessential Sicilian arancino, featuring a hearty filling of meat sauce, peas, and a cube of mozzarella.

Arancini al Burro: A creamy alternative, filled with béchamel sauce, ham, and cheese, offering a milder but equally tantalizing flavor profile.

Arancini ai Funghi: For mushroom lovers, this version combines the earthy tones of mushrooms with the creamy richness of cheese.

The Perfect Arancini: Tips and Techniques

Achieving the perfect arancini is a balance of texture, flavor, and technique. The rice should be al dente, the filling generous yet contained, and the breadcrumb coating crisp and golden. Here are some tips to master the art of arancini-making:

Use Arborio or Carnaroli rice for the best texture. Let the cooked rice cool before shaping to ensure the balls hold their form. Be generous with the filling but avoid overstuffing to prevent the arancini from falling apart during frying. Double-coat with breadcrumbs for an extra crunchy exterior. Fry in batches to maintain the oil temperature, ensuring each arancino is evenly golden.

If you're not hot on deep frying, they are also fabulous in the air fryer.

Serving and Enjoyment

Arancini are best enjoyed hot, allowing the contrast between the crunchy exterior and the molten core to shine. They are often served as a snack or appetizer, accompanied by marinara sauce for dipping. However, their substantial size and filling nature also make them a satisfying meal on their own.

Take your time and enjoy the process.

Dont let the fact that this recipe is a two day process stop you from trying out this dish. Instead, enjoy the process and imagine you are on the beatiful island of Sicily making this delicacy for your most beloved friends.

I had a lot of fun making this dish and I hope you do too!

Sicilian Arancini


Lunch / Dinner


11 Balls

Cook Time

A long time

Enjoy the taste of Sicily without having to buy a plane ticket


Alixandrea Tieben


For the Rice:

  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1/4 chopped onion
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • A pinch of saffron threads (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • Pecorino, parmissan or romano cheese
  • Salt to taste

For the Ragù Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 can of remaining tomato paste
  • fresh basil

Additional Ingredients:

    • Mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
    • 3 4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 cups breadcrumbs, for coating
    • Vegetable oil, for frying


Preparing the Rice:

  1. In a large saucepan, add oil to pan and saute the onions until golden.
  2. Add the broth, bring the broth to a simmer and add the saffron threads, tomato paste, and butter.
  3. Cook the rice in the saffron broth according to the package instructions until it's al dente.
  4. Once cooked, gently spread the rice on a baking sheet to cool down, then sprinkle on the cheese and salt to taste.

Making the Ragù:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and garlic, sautéing until translucent.
  2. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the ground meat, and cook until browned, breaking it apart with a spoon.
  3. Stir in the tomato sauce, peas, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Simmer for about 20 minutes, adding a little water at times to prevent the meat from drying out. Let it cool before assembling the arancini.

Assembling the Arancini:

  1. Take a portion of the cooled rice and flatten it in the palm of your hand.
  2. Place a spoonful of the ragù and a cube of mozzarella in the center of the rice.
  3. Enclose the filling with the rice, and squeeze, shaping it into a ball or a traditional pear shape.
  4. Repeat this process until all the rice and filling are used.
  5. Let the balls rest in the fridge for at least two hours, or overnight.

Coating and Frying:

  1. Add flour to a bowl, and pour about a cup of water and stir with a fork to make a "cream" batter.
  2. Set up a breading station with separate dishes for the batter and breadcrumbs.
  3. Roll each rice ball the batter, and then coat it with breadcrumbs.
  4. In a deep fryer or a large, deep pan, heat the oil to 350°F (175°C).
  5. Fry the arancini in batches until they are golden brown and crispy, about 4-5 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  6. If you don't want to deep fry, you can use an air fryer at 350 for 8-10 min.


Serve the Arancini al Ragù hot, accompanied by marinara sauce or simply on their own, allowing the burst of flavors from the creamy rice, rich ragù, and melted mozzarella to delight your palate.

Find me making this recipe on instagram. If you make this, feel free to tag me @mora_ceramics.

Written by Alixandrea Tieben


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