Arancini (Sicilian Rice Balls)


September: National Rice Month

Rice is a staple in our household, as Islander was raised eating it almost every day in Hawaii. Any leftovers would be made into fried rice, such as Spam fried ricesinangag and khao pad. Then our friend Lisa L., who spent time in Sicily, Italy, as a reservist in the U.S. Navy, told us about fried rice balls called arancini. She ate them as a snack while she toured the towns during base liberty there.  Islander was interested in using leftover rice to cook a different dish from another culture—and arancini was a great idea!

Arancini is derived from the Italian word arancia, meaning “orange” (arancina means “little orange”), because the fried rice balls look like the fruit. There are a variety of filllings, such as meat, peas, mushrooms, cheese and even chocolate (on the Feast Day of St. Lucy).

We made our arancini with a mozzarella cheese filling. These simple Sicilian snacks are petite, portable and perfect for posting a recipe in observance of National Rice Month!


(Adapted from UKTV Good Food Channel)


  • Leftover rice or pasta risotto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Italian-flavored breadcrumbs (such as Progresso brand)
  • Japanese breadcrumbs (panko)
  • Oil for frying


Salt and pepper the leftover rice. Make a 2 ½ – 3-inch diameter ball with the rice and slightly flatten it to create a well in the middle. Place a cube of cheese and enclose with the rice.


Beat the egg and dip the rice ball in it. Coat in the Italian-flavored breadcrumbs. Then roll in panko to add crispness.


Deep fry until golden and drain on paper towels. Serve hot with a side of tomato sauce (optional).



  • We made Santa Lucia Leves on the Feast Day of St. Lucy on December 13,  but the water used to boil the rice just added flavor to this Hungarian soup. The rice itself was not included in the recipe so we made arancini out of it.
  • Search our blog for other rice recipes.