Sicilian Arancini Recipe
This Sicilian Arancini recipe is traditional, authentic and gooey-licious! These crispy, golden balls are filled with al dente rice, tender ground beef, fresh basil and the most aromatic flavours..not to mention divine, melted cheese! They are then coated in fresh breadcrumbs, deep fried and MUST BE EATEN HOT.
Arancini are arguably one of the most famous Italian savoury delights that exist, and I cannot get enough. In Sicily the fillings will amaze you – do you have a favourite?
500g/17 oz arborio rice
¼ onion (chopped)
Pecorino Romano (Or Parmigiano Reggiano)
1L/4 cups vegetable stock
120g/4 oz butter (for cooked rice)
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
500g/17oz ground beef
120g/4oz tomato paste
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery stick
½ chopped onion
50g/1.7 oz butter (optional)
Shredded dry mozzarella or provolone
5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Salt & pepper
Sicilian Arancini Coating:
2 beaten eggs
Pastella (flour + water mixture – optional)
1 large stainless steel pot + lid
1 large metal baking tray (chilled)
1 wooden spoon
1 large fry pan
1 large bowl (to cool the cooked meat in)
1 small bowl with water
1 large baking tray with baking paper
1 slotted spoon (for removing arancini balls)
How to make the rice
- Start this Sicilian arancini recipe by adding five tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large pot on medium heat with ¼ of chopped onion. Stir constantly until the onion is golden brown (about seven minutes).
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: This is different to making a risotto, the result should be dry, al dente rice – not a creamy texture.
- Once browned, add the vegetable stock, butter, and one tablespoon of tomato paste and bring this to a boil.
- Next, add the rice, stir quickly, then cover with the lid. Cook the rice until the water absorbs, making sure to stir occasionally.
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: Follow the cooking time as noted on the rice packet; it should be al dente when you finish cooking it.
- When the rice is ready, add in another portion of butter, stirring until it melts so it will be extra delicious.
- Now spread the hot rice straight onto your chilled tray reaching right into the edges using a wooden spoon – be gentle or the rice could break! Then top with pecorino or parmesan cheese.
- Let the rice rest for about one hour so it can cool and the cheese will melt into it.
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: You can put the rice in the fridge so it cools faster, but the cheese won’t melt into it if you choose to do this.
How to make the Arancini filling
- Let’s make the beautiful filling for the Sicilian arancini! Place a large pan on the stove at a medium heat, then add a generous amount of EVOO and the celery, onions, carrot.
- Cook this sofrito for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Then, add the ground beef until it is browned. Stir constantly to create a beautiful flavor – this arancini recipe is all about the most sensational aromas and flavours!
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: It’s important to break down the beef into small pieces, so it cooks more quickly.
- Add the peas, tomato paste, a splash of water, and tear some basil with your hands before adding it to the pan. Keep stirring until everything is combined. Then drop the heat to a lower temperature and let this simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Stir the mixture and add water as needed, so the arancini filling does not dry out—season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: For a richer taste, add an extra 50g/1.7 oz of butter to the mixture a few minutes before it’s done.
- Transfer the cooked meat mixture to a large bowl to cool down in the fridge for one hour.
How to assemble this Arancini recipe:
- Now that the rice and filling are prepped, it’s time for the final Sicilian arancini assembly! Before you start, slice the fresh mozzarella into small cubes, as this will help it to melt better!
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: Keep a bowl of water nearby for these next steps to avoid your hands sticking to the mixture.
- Take your chilled rice and form a pocket in the palm of your hand; add a generous amount of meat and cheese “filling” into the middle.
- Add another scoop of rice and form into a ball by pressing to get the moisture out.
- Place your formed Sicilian rice balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
VINCENZO’S PLATE TIP: This arancini recipe calls for rest time! It’s important to leave them in the fridge for a minimum of 1-2hr.
- If you don’t have eggs, you can make a “pastella” which is a mixture of flour and water to coat the arancini balls with before finishing them off with breadcrumbs. OR, use two beaten eggs and coat each ball. Then roll each one in fresh breadcrumbs.
- Set these aside on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat until you have coated each rice ball.
- Bring sunflower oil to 180°C/356°F in a pot on your stove, then add a few rice balls in at a time (depending on the size of your pot), making sure they have enough room.
- Fry each ball for about 5-7 minutes, or until they are golden brown and the cheese inside has melted.
How To Serve:
Add a spoonful of homemade tomato sauce to your serving plate. Then, place one of your crispy, Sicilian arancini balls on top with another drop of tomato sauce on top. Sprinkle pecorino cheese over the ball and garnish with a whole basil leaf. Go ahead and take a bite of this yummy cheese-filled masterpiece!
Note: You can add whatever filling you want to create new arancini variations. Try it with ham and cheese or spinach and ricotta cheese for a delicious take on this Sicilian arancini recipe.
E ora si mangia, Vincenzo’s Plate….Enjoy!
Here are 2 more Sicilian Recipes you MUST try:
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