When life gives you cold rice…you make Arancini

5 Nov

So…look away now if you fear deep frying, or just don´t do it for health reasons. I understand, really I do. It´s just that I do deep fry from time to time. Once, in a little experiment to see just how much oil is used when making “proper” chips, I measured the oil (half vegetable, half olive oil) before and after making them and was pleasantly surprised to find that just a couple of tablespoons had been used in the whole process. So now, whilst I don´t advocate eating deep fried food daily, or even weekly, I don´t feel guilty when I do make chips, or deep fried peppers, or croquetas…I do it with joy in the anticipation of how good they´ll taste when they´re hot out the pan.

However, if you do want a healthier, and non fried version, check out this great baked recipe from Natalie at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian.

So, on with the deep frying. Ingredients are few for delicious arancini, but you do need to have some leftover risotto from the day before. Don´t even think about making it fresh to use the same day. Magic happens overnight in your fridge and those little grains of rice continue to absorb any liquid as they cool down and become extra stodgy sticky and perfect for molding into those little balls of ricey, cheesey goodness.

Arancini, as I am sure many of you know, are named after the Italian word for “Little Oranges” because of their shape and beautiful colour. When I was a child on holiday in Southern Italy with my family, sometimes the aunties would agree to a night off of cooking. This meant either a visit to a local restaurant or a trip to the local shop which provided all sorts of delicious “ready meals” to take home and heat up. Nothing like fast food of today, of course. Proper food, made by the Mamma or Papá of the shop – pasta, roasted peppers, hot and cold meats…well, a whole menu full of delicious food to take home and enjoy. I would always offer to go along with the uncles to collect this as I was rewarded with a piping hot “arancino” to eat on the way home. God forbid I should pass out with hunger on the way.

Just in case you fancy doing something different, arancini can also be made with minced meat as a filling – it´s up to you.


  • Leftover, cold risotto, at room temperature
  • Mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • Dried breadcrumbs (I used panko, as I have just “discovered” them in the UK – have never come across them in Spain – but use whatever kind you like)
  • Oil for deep frying

Take about a tablespoon of cold risotto and put it into the palm of your hand (wet your hands first, this stops things from getting too messy. Place a little cube of cheese into the centre and mold the rice into a ball then roll it in the breadrcumbs.

Deep fry the arancini in very hot oil for about 2 minutes or until they are a beautiful deep golden colour.

Drain on kitchen roll and have a cold glass of wine to hand because you will probably need to taste one to check it´s done, burn your lips and need to cool them down.


71 Responses to “When life gives you cold rice…you make Arancini”

  1. Pendle Stitches November 5, 2012 at 13:40 #

    Now I just need to stop scarfing all the risotto in one sitting so I can make these. They look delicious. And no, making more risotto wouldn’t work…I’d just eat that too! Oink! Oink!

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 13:42 #

      I do know what you mean – I purposely made extra and had to force myself to put it away so that we wouldn´t be tempted!

      • Pendle Stitches November 5, 2012 at 13:44 #

        It’s shocking. Risotto is just so comforting and soothing. Especially on clear, cold days like today!

  2. thecompletecookbook November 5, 2012 at 13:49 #

    Oh yeah Tanya, this is the business – seriously scrumity and oh so moreish business!
    I believe in balance in life and a good old deep fried something or another every other week is just what we need to keep us happy.
    🙂 Mandy

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 14:04 #

      Glad you agree with me Mandy (although I do understand that it´s not right for some people), and we did enjoy them!

  3. Val November 5, 2012 at 13:57 #

    I like the cold glass of wine tip! Would this work with paella leftovers?

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 14:13 #

      You could try but the rice is less glutinous so you might need to roll the balls in egg before the breadcrumbs just to make sure they don´t break up. No reason not to give it a go!

  4. cookinginsens November 5, 2012 at 14:58 #

    Sounds really good!

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 15:32 #

      Thanks Rosemary – a nice little treat with a glass of wine!

  5. Marianne November 5, 2012 at 15:14 #

    Never thought of that – great idea 🙂

  6. Mad Dog November 5, 2012 at 15:24 #

    Delicious! The Food Programme on Radio 4 was excellent this week – it was all about the benefits of using lard 😉

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 15:34 #

      I know you´re not a man easily intimidated by things like lard and frying! Will have to listen to this later while I am painting the ceiling 🙂

  7. Food,Photography & France November 5, 2012 at 16:00 #

    That sounds great. A friend of mine recently told me to convert to Panko. They sound great and I’m going to get some via internet.

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 17:48 #

      Yes, I was surprised at how much difference they do make – nice big crumbs and really crispy. Or you could let me have your address and I´ll send you some from the UK (seriously)…

  8. Ria November 5, 2012 at 16:38 #

    I’ve just converted to panko breadcrumbs too! These look delicious will have to give them a go – does it work ok if you shallow fry them instead? x

  9. Ria November 5, 2012 at 16:40 #

    ps. That’s a lovely little wine glass by the way 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 17:46 #

      Now you´ve jinxed it – so far have not managed to break any! And yes, you could shallow fry, you´d jsut have to turn them a few more times. Might even be easier to spray them with a little oil and then bake if you don´t want to deep fry. Or…you could come over to me for the night and we´ll eat risotto for dinner and arancini for lunch 🙂

      • Ria November 5, 2012 at 19:06 #

        Your last suggestion is the winner! x

      • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:05 #

        See you soon then 🙂

  10. lujos November 5, 2012 at 17:13 #

    We live in Spain, too, and can’t easily get risotto rice. Does cazuela/paella rice work as well?

    • Chica Andaluza November 5, 2012 at 17:47 #

      They do sell it now in Mercadona (as well as Eroski and Carrefour) but yes, just make sure you cook it well (almost too much) and it should be fine the next day for molding into little balls!

  11. narf77 November 5, 2012 at 19:40 #

    Its 5.37am…its raining outside and its dark and I am already salivating and thinking about what I am going to cook for our tea tonight. I think arancini might be on the cards. What a useful, delicious and frugal meal. The Italians certainly know how to dress up leftovers and serve them well don’t they! I must say, since I gave up dieting I am eating more oils and the occasional fried food and haven’t put on any weight. I used to constantly think about fried food but now its an occasional thing and I don’t think that anyone should have to appologise for their occasional ingestation of heavenly fried food. I say “make it worth it!”… fantastic home made chips, arancini and wonderful tempura’s…if you are going to eat it, make it yourself and celebrate that wonderful flavour :). Cheers for tonights tea 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:05 #

      I so agree. Am someone who has always battled with their weight but, like you, am now enjoying fried foods every so often and it doesn´t seem to make me put on weight. Everything in moderation!

      • narf77 November 6, 2012 at 19:06 #

        I think that the stress of worrying about what you eat makes you focus on it obsessivly. I no longer think about food from the moment I get up because in my mind, I am no longer rationing it or counting calories or any of that bampf. I lost 15kg (30lb) in the space of 4 months and am slowly losing a kilo at a time without any effort at all. I love NOT dieting…its the very first weight loss idea that hasn’t resulted in me yo-yo dieting since I was about 10. Fat isn’t our enemy, its a tool to make us race to the next diet and line someones nefarious pockets with our hard earned cash and diets DON’T WORK folks…sad but true. There is a multimillion dollar industry pinning its hopes on failure after failure because of the repeat business. We dieters (ex in my case) are most tenacious in our desire to be thin! ;). Well done on escaping the madding dieting crowd…I wish there were more of us…sometimes I feel like those few on the Titanic that went the right way and no-one else would listen!

  12. restlessjo November 5, 2012 at 22:13 #

    These do sound good, but I never make risotto (sad admission), and if I did I’d scoff it all!

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:05 #

      That´s the problem with risotto – hard to leave some behind for the next day! Do try the baked risotto recipe (last post) if you´re not a risotto maker – you can pop it in the oven and forget about it 🙂

  13. Promenade Claire November 5, 2012 at 22:18 #

    ha going hungry on the way home, just love it ! Oh yeah and I love arancini too 🙂 there’s a time and a place for deep frying and this is one of them

  14. Our Growing Paynes November 5, 2012 at 23:35 #

    You have to do a deep fry night once in awhile! 🙂 It is so yummy.

  15. bitsandbreadcrumbs November 6, 2012 at 00:19 #

    Love arancini, and if we hadn’t scarfed up all of that great baked risotto, it would have made yummilicious arancini. Next time I’ll make a double batch so I can make some of these, too! 😉

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:11 #

      Love that word scarfed! Risotto is so naughty – it never stays in the bowl as leftovers!

  16. Eha November 6, 2012 at 02:49 #

    Enter spoilsport: I’ll apologize to the whole ‘forum’ ahead of time ’cause I DO not deepfry 🙂 ! But then you supplied such a lovely link thoroughly enjoyed. And, yes, I love risotto and, yes, this sounds awfully nice!! Substituted ordinary breadcrumbs for panko a long time ago: it helps to live in the W Pacific area 😀 ! Available everywhere!!

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:11 #

      No need for apologies, we respect you 🙂 And yes, Natalie´s recipe is lovely, isn´t it?! I´m a panko newbie, but once discovered, never forgotten!

  17. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide November 6, 2012 at 04:40 #

    Those look great. We just made our baked version again. Oh, but to have them hot out of the fryer.

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:06 #

      Ah Greg, I know you´re not a “fryer” but I bet you make a pretty good baked version!

  18. ChgoJohn November 6, 2012 at 05:20 #

    Considering the many times risotto was — and still is — prepared, never once were the leftovers used to make arancini. It’s just not a dish that was made in my family but, then again, there weren’t many deep fried dishes prepared either. We Bartolini chose to clog our arteries in other ways. 🙂
    Even so, I would like to try these. Maybe the next time I make risotto. It’s just that a dish of leftover risotto makes such a great lunch. I’ll just have to make even more than normal so that I can have a dish for lunch the next day and arancini the day after that.

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:12 #

      I like the way you´re thinking Mr B! I love leftover risotto for lunch too. Actually, I like most leftovers for lunch (and even breakfast). Seems like a lot of us are going to have to make 3 times the amount – once for dinner, then for lunch, then for arancini 🙂

  19. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen November 6, 2012 at 06:04 #

    Oh, my goodness these look delicious! Thank you for doing a little scientific research, now I shan’t feel the least bit guilty when frying! I could just picture you in my imagination.. skipping along and nibbling because it was too hot to pop in all at once:) xx

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 12:12 #

      You saw me didn´t you in the kitchen?! Well, I had to taste them after draining and before putting them on the plate – which is when I really should have taken the photo…but I couldn´t wait!

  20. Tandy November 6, 2012 at 09:03 #

    lovely memories! I will have to try and make sure we have some left over risotto next time I make it 🙂

  21. Bluejellybeans November 6, 2012 at 09:54 #

    ¡Qué rico Tanya! Nunca he hecho esta receta, pero creo que nos va a gustar mucho 😉 Lo malo es que no creo que vayan a quedar muchos restos después de hacer tu receta de risotto 😉

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 10:22 #

      Esto es el problema con risotto – es muy dificil resistir!

  22. Bam's Kitchen November 6, 2012 at 10:42 #

    Every once in awhile we all deserve some little pleasures in our life. I always have leftover rice in our home and this is a great idea.

  23. Natalie Ward November 6, 2012 at 12:07 #

    Welcome to panko addiction! They are amazing aren’t they? Make such a difference to the final crunch. Thanks for the link, phew that was a while ago, those pics!! The weather is the same today though, perfect risotto making weather and leftovers for an arancini lunch tomorrow too! And the glass of wine is also applicable for the baked version 😉 PS I get panko here in Euromarket in Fuengirola or Makro in Malaga, if you don’t have enough room in your suitcase…;)

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 13:11 #

      Ooh thanks for the tip – we keep meaning to go to Makro! Glad you have perfect risotto making weather. This morning we went out to buy something at B&Q and there was still ice on the cars at 9.30am and 6 degrees…eek!

  24. TBM November 6, 2012 at 12:24 #

    Why does deep fried taste oh so good and yet, it isn’t good for you. Looks and sounds tasty.

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 13:12 #

      Well, in moderation it´s not sooooo bad (she says, trying to convince herself)!

      • TBM November 7, 2012 at 12:16 #

        I tell myself that as I stuff my face.

      • Chica Andaluza November 8, 2012 at 10:09 #

        Hee hee!

  25. fati's recipes November 6, 2012 at 14:52 #

    The best comfort food everrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……….. 😀

    • Chica Andaluza November 6, 2012 at 15:27 #

      Yay – Fati – good to hear from you! Hope all is going well and that you´re not studying/working tooooo hard 🙂

  26. spree November 6, 2012 at 20:26 #

    I must be doing something terribly wrong to never have risotto leftover! I suppose I’ll have to double the recipe. These look so so very good – and shouldn’t be missed on account of the frying. I’ve got really good news! Whatever oil is on the paper towel afterwards accounts for ALL the oil missing from your measuring cup! These are the new superfood! 🙂

    • Chica Andaluza November 7, 2012 at 12:22 #

      Aha – thanks for furthering the scientific investigations!

  27. Karen November 6, 2012 at 22:56 #

    Yum…I can’t resist arancini. They are so decadently good.

  28. gardenfreshtomatoes November 7, 2012 at 13:32 #

    I think I’ll have to get myself to Italy to try the Real Deal…several attempts in restaurants have been unsatisfying…I *should* love everything about them!

    • Chica Andaluza November 8, 2012 at 10:09 #

      Start saving those pennies (or cents!) you really should go!

  29. chaiselongue1 November 12, 2012 at 17:44 #

    I missed this while I was away – in Catalunya eating paella! – so I’m just catching up. I love arancini and we always make extra risotto so that Lo Jardinièr can make them – he’s better at it than I am, more patient. If you fry in olive oil then frying is healthy – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! I’m interested by the idea of buying breadcrumbs and have never heard of panko. We put our stale bread in the oven to dry it out completely then grind it to make breadcrumbs of whatever smoothness or chunkiness required.

    • Chica Andaluza November 13, 2012 at 13:24 #

      When I´m at hpme I also do the same thing for breadcrumbs as you – makes sense! But I do have to admit that thse Panko ones are super crunchy!

  30. Karista November 16, 2012 at 06:57 #

    You know, I’ve never made Arancini. I love to eat them but I’ve just never made them. Think I’ll make some for the holidays. These look divine!

  31. Calico Stretch November 23, 2012 at 01:52 #

    I haven’t tried oven risotto or arancini so will have to do both. I do have chicken risotto left over in the freezer so might just have to try a bit of arancini soon. I know the kids will love it.

    Congratulations and yayayayayay for finishing house #1. By the time I write this I guess the handles and tenants will have been installed…. Hooray :o)

    • Chica Andaluza November 23, 2012 at 14:56 #

      Handles sorted and tenant moves in this week – hurrah! Leftover freezer risotto would be perfect for arancini 🙂

  32. waterfallsandcaribous December 24, 2012 at 19:02 #

    Yum! These are definitely one of my fav snacks…

    Merry Christmas to you and hope you have a wonderful day today/tomorrow (not sure what time zone everyone is in currently, haha)!

    • Chica Andaluza December 28, 2012 at 21:15 #

      Ah thanks – hope you had a fabulous time too in KL!

  33. kursijeparablog January 26, 2016 at 18:27 #

    look so delicius,….

  34. aida tour February 6, 2017 at 08:32 #

    yum. taste great

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