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  • Writer's pictureNicole Leonetti

Rice Ball Recipe (Arancini)

I’ve been eating Rice Balls since I was a kid. My mother used to make the traditional version with Saffron and Peas and the Italian deli I worked at in high school made incredible rice balls, as well. When I moved away from Staten Island, I thought I would never get to enjoy Rice Balls again. Fortunately, though, Arancini (Italian for “Little Orange”) started to appear on restaurant menus and my beloved Rice Balls became a trend. I was overjoyed! I always order Rice Balls when I see them on a menu, but nothing can beat the homemade kind. My version has two of my favorite ingredients: Prosciutto and Mozzarella! If you are vegetarian or pork-averse, you can easily leave out the prosciutto. I started making these about 14 years ago. Below is the recipe—inspired by many—that seems to be the most popular in my family.

*Makes about 14 Rice Balls


- 3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

- 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

- 1 Yellow Onion, diced (fairly small)

- 3 oz Prosciutto di Parma, diced

- A Bunch of Black Pepper

- 1 Cup of Arborio Rice (I do a heaping cup!)

- 1 Cup of Dry White Wine (I use a Pinot Grigio)

- 2 Large Eggs, beaten

- ¼ Cup Italian Parsley – plus extra for Bread Crumb Mixture (rough chop)

- 1 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese – plus extra for Bread Crumb Mixture (Freshly Grated)

- 5 ounces Mozzarella, cut into small cubes

- 2 Cups Bread Crumbs (I prefer unseasoned so I can season myself)

- 4 Cups Canola Oil (or Safflower Oil)


- In a medium saucepan, heat the 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil and 3 tablespoons of Butter over Medium Heat

- Add the Onion and Prosciutto

- Stir, Stir, Stir and cook for about 7 minutes (add some Pepper here)

- Add the Arborio Rice and cook, stirring until opaque for about 4 minutes (add more Pepper)

- Add 2 cups of Hot Water and bring to a boil

- Bring to a Simmer – stirring often

- Once the Water starts to absorb – start adding the White Wine a quarter cup at a time until all liquid is absorbed – this will take about 25-30 minutes (stir regularly)

- Turn the Rice out into a bowl and allow to cool (it takes a while to cool so be patient)

- Add the Eggs, Parsley, and Parmigiano to the bowl and mix everything together

- Create your Bread Crumb Mixture – in a plate or bowl mix the Bread Crumbs, a handful of Parsley, handful of Cheese, and a few teaspoons of Black Pepper (set aside)

- Starting forming the rice mixture into balls (a little larger than a golf ball) – use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each, inset one Mozzarella cube in the middle and use your palms to round the ball so the cheese is completely enclosed

- Roll each ball in the Bread Crumb Mixture so that it is completely coated, and set on plate

- In a large deep pot, heat the 4 cups of Canola Oil over Medium High heat until it reaches 370 °F

- Working in batches, fry the balls in the oil until golden brown, about 5 minutes

- Transfer the balls with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate

- Serve warm and eat as many as you can!

I believe these Rice Balls are perfect as an Appetizer for a meal or served with Hors d’oeuvres for a party. You can also just eat them as a snack. You can even (and this is a little controversial) put them in a sandwich with some Marinara Sauce and enjoy!

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