When life gives you cold rice…you make Arancini

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 thoughts on “When life gives you cold rice…you make Arancini

  1. 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!

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

  2. 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

    1. 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!

    1. 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)…

  3. 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

    1. 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 🙂

    1. 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!

  4. 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 🙂

    1. 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!

      1. 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!

    1. 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 🙂

  5. 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! 😉

  6. 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!!

  7. 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.

    1. 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 🙂

  8. 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

    1. 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!

  9. ¡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 😉

  10. 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…;)

    1. 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!

  11. 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! 🙂

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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)

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