Arancini: Italian Rice Balls


You all may remember back when I made pizzelles earlier this summer that I had found the recipe in a book, Always on Sunday, written about Italian family traditions. As it turns out, the author’s daughter came across her mom’s recipe here on Brown Eyed Baker, shared it with her mom, who then emailed me to see if she could send me a copy of her book and the new accompanying cookbook that she just had printed. I was so excited to hear from her and imagine my surprise when we realized that we lived ten minutes from each other! Instead of shipping the books we decided to meet at a local Starbucks to chit chat. Marcia is such a lovely woman who is passionate about cooking and wanting to share her heritage with others. She was so kind in giving me signed copies of her books and we enjoyed a great visit about cooking, baking, and Italian families.


These rice balls are from her new cookbook (not yet for sale), which I served with leftover sauce from the Eggplant Lasagna Tart. While Arancini are traditionally deep fried, I decided to go a healthier route and bake these at a high temperature instead of frying them. If you prefer frying, just fill a deep skillet with about 2 inches of oil, heat to 350 degrees, and fry in batches until golden brown. I thought these rice balls turned out fabulous, and the bit of cheese inside melts for a fabulous surprise when you bite into them. And because no Italian meal that includes sauce is complete without a great piece of fresh Italian bread to sop up the leftovers, I’ll give another local plug – Mazziotti’s Bread (from Arnold, PA) is back making bread again, so if you’re in the Pittsburgh area check to see if your local grocery store is stocking it! I’ve been sopping up a lot of sauce, eating bread and butter, and bologna sandwiches with it. Mmmm…


One year ago: Black-and-White Banana Loaf
Two years ago: Chicken Spread

Arancini (Italian Rice Balls)

Yield: Serves 6

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 to 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes


2 eggs
2 cups cooked rice
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, cut in ½-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons olive oil


1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Beat eggs lightly with fork. Add the rice and stir gently but thoroughly.

3. Take 1 tablespoon of the mixture, place a cube of mozzarella in the middle and then top with another tablespoon of rice. Shape into a ball and roll in the breadcrumbs. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the rice mixture.

4. Refrigerate pan of rice balls for at least 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 425°F. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over rice balls.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

(Adapted from Always on Sunday, Recipes From an Italian Childhood by Marcia Russotto)


48 Responses to “Arancini: Italian Rice Balls”

  1. Michele on August 10, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    This is sooo cool! I’m definitely going to try the rice balls and get a copy of the book. How awesome that she found you!


  2. Lauren on August 10, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Ooo – These look amazingly delicious! Not to mention simple, and easily gluten free, awesome =D.


  3. Liz on August 10, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    That’s for the baking tip. I’ll have to try it. I love making Arancini but I use left over risotto. The risotto and little cube of mozzarella cheese makes the balls incredibly creamy. If you haven’t tried Arancini with risotto, you must make it. You’ll love it.


  4. Liz on August 10, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    That’s = thanks. Sorry about that.


  5. Kerstin on August 10, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    Mmm, they look fabulous and I loved that you baked them!


  6. Tara on August 10, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    looks great! did you use just standard white rice? i love the idea of using leftover risotto, i usually just use my leftovers to make riso al salto but this looks also delish!


  7. Michelle on August 10, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Tara – I actually used brown rice because I had a bunch leftover, but I think white rice would be standard, and risotto even better!


  8. Andrea@WellnessNotes on August 11, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Oh, I like this recipe. It’s different from what I usually make. I’ll give these a try!


  9. Amy I. on August 11, 2009 at 3:03 am

    Arancini are pretty much my dream food… I haven’t had them since I lived in NYC years ago. Glad to see a non-fried version, I’m adding this to my to-do list! Aren’t blog/small-world coincidences the best? I had something very similar happen to me recently with my wedding dress. Made me feel all warm and fuzzy 🙂


  10. Trent on August 11, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Food has a way of bringing people together :0)

    Now I’m wishing I was back in Italy enjoying one of these tasty treats from the many street vendors…


  11. Kayla on August 11, 2009 at 8:50 am

    Wow, these look incredible!
    And it’s so cool that you two live so close!


  12. Alta on August 11, 2009 at 8:52 am

    Yum – love this! I could eat way, way to many cheesy rice balls.


  13. sherri on August 11, 2009 at 9:52 am

    What a great story of getting to meet this lady. These look delicious!


  14. meatlessmama on August 11, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Those look so yummy, and lucky you getting to meet the author and recieve signed books!!


  15. Maria on August 11, 2009 at 11:04 am

    These look so good! Easy too!


  16. Rachel 'Tha Pizza Cutta' Joyce on August 11, 2009 at 11:07 am

    So simple and hearty! I’ve never heard of this Italian dish so thanks for showing me something new.


  17. oneshotbeyond on August 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    sounds like my type of dish!!!


  18. sharon on August 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I saw a recipe for Arancini in a magazine and have been lusting after them ever since. Yours look absolutely perfect and even better than what I saw 🙂


  19. Carrie of CKC on August 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    These look fabulous! I emailed this post to my husband and hopefully we’ll be having these soon! 🙂


  20. Lisa on August 11, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    My mom makes something similar called suplee. She would make her “rice in the oven” recipe, arboria rice combined with red meat sauce, pour it into a lasagna pan and mix in shredded mozzarella then bake it in the oven. That alone is delicous but we would look forward to what she did with the leftovers! She would make rice balls out of the leftover rice and add a cube of mozzarella in the middle, roll the rice balls in bread crumbs then lightly fry them. One word…HEAVEN!!


    • Lorrie Jo on May 25th, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      When I was in college I had a friend that would make these Suplees. His rice was also made with a tomato base, and he put a square of mozzarella in the middle. This is the first recipe I’ve found for anything similar. I’m so excited to try them!


  21. dawn on August 11, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    I love making these in the winter. I think I would sweat to death if I made them now. Yours are absolutely perfect.


  22. Danielle on August 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    oh wow…does that look good!


  23. Lucy on August 11, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Ooooh the wonders of Arancini, delicious and so good! I also love the idea of baking in a hot oven instead of frying.




  24. MARCIA on August 11, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    BTW…these are great served with the traditional tomato sauce, but are exceptional served with a creamy porcini mushroom sauce.


  25. Michelle on August 11, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Marcia – Thanks so much for the suggestion! A creamy mushroom sauce sounds like it would be fabulous with these!


  26. Bridget {Bake at 350} on August 11, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    Those look AMAZING!


  27. Chaya on August 11, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    I am always looking for gluten free recipes for my husband and I hope to try this, this week. I have a feeling, it will become a regular on our menu, if it tastes even half as good as it looks.


  28. gina on August 12, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Gosh, we cook a lot…I love “rice balls” my kids love them more..we put pea’s in the center with a touch of sauce…these are incredible the second day!! Thanks for sharing such great recipes, I really enjoy your posts!!


  29. Kelbakes on August 12, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    This looks fantastic! I think I will have to try these at my boyfriend’s birthday party. Thanks!


  30. Erin on August 14, 2009 at 9:48 am

    This looks delicious! I’m definitely making it this week, despite the summer heat.


  31. Edith Panormios on August 14, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Marcia, you’re famous already. I want one of your books. They look so very good.


  32. Ashley Nicole on August 18, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    I really dont understand why everyone keppts saying “awesome, gluten free!” it not gluten free.. calls for bread crumbs. duh read the recipe!


    • Karina on April 13th, 2013 at 10:09 am

      My take is that since they are gluten free household, they must have gluten free bread to get bread crumbs from.


  33. Ivonne on October 11, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    Love! Love! Love! They look fabulous. The best part of the post is about the recipe history. How cool is that! I say it all the time. The best thing about food blogging is the people that you get to meet!


  34. Heather Lee on December 29, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Thank you for this non-fried version!
    i’m bringing these little morsels to a NYE party and I need it to be easy for the host to know what to do with it haha!
    I think i’m going to add parmesan cheese to my rice mixture but this is incredible thank you so much!
    (the pizzaria i worked at for 8 years used to add peas to theirs… i don’t know if that’s needed.)



  35. Heather Trabucco on March 1, 2010 at 9:07 am

    this recipe sounds fantastic, and imagine my surprise when I read your local plug for Mazziotti’s in Arnold, PA! I have been eating their bread my whole life!
    I can’t wait to try this recipe out, as well as using some local italian bread to sop up the sauce.


  36. M512 on August 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I just made these. The making was a bit goopy, but totally manageable. That said, they turned out beautifully-even with my using my leftover brown rice with peas/onions.
    I haven’t seen any other post-making-them reviews on here, so I thought I’d leave one!

    ~M in Austin


  37. sheila @ Elements on August 4, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Thanks so much for this wonderful recipe!! My Italian grandmother used to make rice balls all the time, but I never got her recipe before she passed away. My mom doesn’t have it either. I just made some last night but I used leftover risotto instead. Total yumminess!!! Thanks again, and I’ve put that book on my wish list! 🙂


  38. Brian on April 10, 2011 at 2:35 am

    Not so sure about the “roll in breadcrumbs” part, there was no rolling happening for me…more like “slop them into the general form of a ball in one hand and sprinkle breadcrumbs on top using the other hand and then slop them into more of a ball and quickly drop them onto the pan before they fall apart” 🙂 But as soon as they’re refrigerated and then baked, they’re balls alright…

    But they were delicious. I made a few variations, in some I put raw cheddar and cream cheese and in others I put feta and and cream cheese…you could put just about any kind of cheese in there
    I also didn’t have seasoned breadcrumbs so I made my own and just put italian spices, garlic powder, pink himalayan salt into panko breadcrumbs and it was fantastic

    Next time, I use Risotto. I used white jasmine rice.
    Thanks! Big fan of your site.


  39. Michelle on November 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Just made these, came out awesome. A tip…. we put on gloves and sprayed them with cooking spray so the rice wouldn’t stick. You may not need to wear the gloves, but definitely spray your hands.


  40. maria on April 13, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Hi Michelle!
    Once again I am trying one of your Italian recipes, I don’t know if maybe rice here in Ecuador is different, but just like Brian from one of the last posts, I was unable to shape the rice into a ball, it just fell apart and when rolling in the breadcumbs it was even worse… I had to kind of throw the rice “ball” on the pan and try to give it a shape.
    Do you think maybe I should put one less egg in the mixture? I’m thinking maybe it was too liquid and that’s why it did not hold together.
    Anyway I ended up just putting the whole mixture in an oven plate and making one whole dish out of it because it was just impossible the other way! For next time, do you have a tip????
    Thank you!


    • Michelle on April 14th, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Maria, Next time, if the rice is too soft, I would decrease the egg.


  41. Marine@Green Global Travel on January 23, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Well that’s appetizing! I like the history of the recipe too!


  42. Becky on March 19, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Yum! I’m planning on making a big batch of these, but want to make them in advance for a birthday party. Does anyone know/has tried cooking, freezing then re-heating? Thank you. Becky


    • Michelle on March 20th, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Hi Becky, I haven’t tried freezing these; hopefully another reader can give you an idea of how well they hold up!


  43. Mariya Matkin on August 3, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    Made these today. They are delicious. Planning to make them for Thanksgiving also!


  44. Lisa Musumeci on February 11, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    I just made these for lunch today and they were great! I added some finely chopped broccoli to the rice and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs. Instead of using regular mozzarella, I cut up two sticks of low fat mozzarella string cheese into bite sized pieces. They came out so lovely, I didn’t even dip them in the marinara sauce! I’ll definitely be making this recipe again! Thanks!


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