Italian Rice Balls
Italian Rice Balls, also known as “arancini” always make a delicious appetizer or side dish for the whole family to enjoy. These Italian rice balls are made with cooked rice, eggs, cheese, butter, and parsley. Then they are coated with bread crumbs and gently fried until golden brown. Perfect!
I haven’t made our Italian rice balls in a while, and since my family was in the mood for them, I decided to make them and revive this recipe from our archives.
This is a classic Neapolitan recipe from our mom and from our aunt Tina.
Soft, pillowy rice texture with melted cheese oozing out with every bite makes them totally delicious!
These are amazing and worth making!
How To Make These Italian Rice Balls?
Rice balls are made with cooked long-grain rice, mixed with eggs, butter, and seasonings.
Then they are made into balls, coated with bread crumbs, and deep fried.
Italian rice balls are also called “Arancini” which is the Sicilian name for them, but they are usually stuffed with extra ingredients like meat, sauce, and peas.
It is an Italian classic “street” food and is usually served at dinner as a side or as an appetizer.
Best served with our Mom’s Quick Marinara Sauce for dipping.
*Follow along with our Step-by-Step Directions, or jump down to the bottom for the full recipe card.
Ingredients for Italian Rice Balls with Eggs & Cheese:
- 1 + 1/2 cups of uncooked white Long Grain Rice
- 3 cups of water, to boil the rice
- 4 Tbsp. butter (1/2 stick of butter)
- 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 Tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 1.5 cups plain bread crumbs, or GF bread crumbs, for coating
- 1 cup of canola oil, for frying
- 1 cup Mom’s Quick Marinara Sauce
Directions To Make Italian Rice Balls:
1. Boil rice according to the directions on the package. Normally, it’s 3 cups of water with 1 + 1/2 cups of rice. Cover with a lid. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until all water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat.
2. Add the butter and mix well with a large spoon until the butter has completely melted.
Transfer rice to a large bowl and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
3. Stir in the eggs and mix until eggs are well combined. Add grated cheese, parsley, and cayenne pepper. Continue to mix until well combined.
4. Taste the rice, and season with salt and pepper to taste. As the mixture cools, the rice mixture will start to thicken and become sticky enough to make them into balls.
5. Grab a second bowl and place bread crumbs.
6. Using your hand and a teaspoon. Take one heaping teaspoon of rice and form a ball, about 1 + 1/2-inch in size.
7. While in your palm, place your hand over the bread crumbs bowl, take some bread crumbs to coat the rice, and pat gently until the rice ball is completely coated. Transfer into a bowl or a tray. Repeat this process with each ball until the entire rice mixture is gone.
8. Using a 10″ frying pan or skillet. Heat canola oil on medium to high heat. When OIL is HOT, gently add the Rice Balls one by one (no more than 9 at a time, or it will cool down the oil).
9. Fry them up, turning them as needed to ensure they are golden on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
10. Transfer rice balls to a serving platter. Place a cup of marinara sauce in a small bowl for dipping.
Optional: Add some crushed red pepper to the dipping sauce – to spice it up. And serve.
Yields: 28 to 30 rice balls (depending on the size you make)
Reasons to LOVE Italian Rice Balls…
- These rice balls with eggs and cheese can be made in any size you prefer. Our family loves them best when we make them into the appetizer size.
- They’re inexpensive to make.
- You can easily reheat any leftovers in a microwave.
- They stay fresh for up to 2 days.
- Make ahead! These are easy enough to make a day in advance and fry them up just before you serve them.
- They’re fun at parties as an appetizer or serve as a side dish.
- Either way, everyone will LOVE THEM!
Cook’s Notes and Tips:
- If you prefer, you can use brown rice instead of white rice.
- Also, if you make the rice balls slightly larger, about 2 to 3 inches in width, you may add a small chunk of mozzarella in the center of each ball just before you roll them into breadcrumbs. Then fry them up! Making them more delicious with melted cheese oozing out!
- Use gluten-free bread crumbs, if you prefer.
- Our recipe calls for fresh parsley, but if you don’t have any on hand, you may use dried parsley. But fresh parsley is always best!
Can We Make Them Ahead?
- Make ahead, wrap them with clear wrap, and refrigerate for up to one day before. Then fry them up!
Can We Freeze Rice Balls?
- Yes, you can freeze them before frying or after.
- When you freeze them already fried, you can pull out the amount you want and reheat them in the oven, or allow them to thaw for about 20 minutes, and pop them into the microwave for a few minutes.
...Thanks for Pinning!
Additional Italian “street-food” favorites!
- Mozzarella in Carrozza
- Italian Muffuletta Sandwich
- Sicilian Sausages and Peppers
- Mini Pizza Bruschetta with Tomato and Cheese
Yield: 28 to 30 rice balls
Italian Rice Balls with Eggs and Cheese
Italian Rice Balls with Eggs and Cheese are a fun finger food for the whole family to enjoy! Just serve these with our Mom's Quick Marinara Sauce for dipping and watch them vanish!
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
- 1 + 1/2 cups uncooked white Long Grain Rice
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1 cup of Parmigiana grated cheese
- 3 whole eggs
- 1 Tbsp. fresh parsley- chopped
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 + 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs
- 1 cup of canola oil
- 1 cup Mom's Quick Marinara Sauce
- Boil rice according to the directions, 3 cups of water with 1 + 1/2 cups of rice.
- Cover with a lid. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, until all water has been absorbed. Turn off the heat.
- Add butter and mix well with a large spoon until the butter has completely melted. Transfer rice to a large bowl and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Stir in the eggs and mix until eggs are well combined. Add grated cheese, parsley, and cayenne pepper. Continue to mix until well combined.
- Taste the rice, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- As the mixture cools, the rice mixture will start to thicken and become sticky enough to make balls.
- Grab a second bowl and place the bread crumbs in it.
- Using your hand and a teaspoon. Take one heaping teaspoon of rice and form a ball in your palm, about the size or larger than a golf ball.
- While in your palm, place your hand over the bread crumbs bowl, take some bread crumbs to coat the rice, and pat gently until the rice ball is completely coated. Transfer to a bowl, or tray. Repeat this process with each ball until the entire rice mixture is gone.
- Using a 10" frying pan or skillet. Heat canola oil on medium to high heat. When OIL is HOT, gently add the Rice Balls one by one (no more than 9 at a time, or it will cool down the oil).
- Fry, turning them as needed to ensure even golden on all sides. Remove and drain on paper towels.
- Transfer rice balls to a serving platter.
- Place a cup of Marinara Sauce in a small bowl for dipping. Optional: Add some crushed red pepper to the dipping sauce - to spice it up.
- And serve.
Yield:14 to 15 servings
Serving Size:2 rice balls
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 154Total Fat: 3.2gCarbohydrates: 24.6gFiber: .6gSugar: .10gProtein: 6.6g
|Serving size: 1 serving|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 1.6g||2%|
|Saturated Fat 0.6g||3%|
|Total Carbohydrate 12.3g||4%|
|Dietary Fiber 0.3g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0.5g|
|Vitamin D 2mcg||8%|
How to keep them together
Hi Brenda! When you coat each rice ball with breadcrumbs, that’s what keeps them together. Also, keep in mind, the rice mixture, which is mixed with grated cheese and eggs, as it cools will become sticky and pliable to make them into rice balls. You can check out our “short video” showing how I make rice balls, on our Instagram, top row – in our featured highlights. I hope this helps! Have a great weekend! 🙂
You had me at “like eating a piece of heaven”…I’ve pinned.
LOL! thanks Karen!! Have a great weekend!
These look so fun! I like the idea of using risotto for the rice as well. Especially if it’s got saffron or mushrooms or something…. just to add more flavor. And to dip in the marinara? Brilliant!
Thank you Mimi! and your idea sounds wonderful too! Enjoy!
I think I could dunk a few of these! Yum
Hi Josie! And welcome to our site- its so nice to meet you! Glad you came by to visit and hope you see you again.
I am new visitor to your blog. Really nice to find and go through it. You have shared some amazing recipes. The recipe shared here is delicious, healthy and crispy. Surely will try it in my breakfast. Continue sharing such recipe. Thanks for sharing.
I especially like the idea of making them bigger and hiding mozzarella inside. They look so crispy and delicious!
We used to get huge rice balls all the time from an Italian deli but now that I'm seeing these, I think I'd like the mini more! More crispy surface area. 🙂
I have to say, fried food is the best finger food. These look absolutely wonderful!
Hey girls! These look amazing. I love anything that is fried and crispy. These sort of remind me of mozzarella sticks especially since they can be dipped in the marina sauce. Yum! xoxo, Jackie
Hey jackie, you're right! Mozzarella sticks is now on my list of things to make! I haven't made them in a long time, its goes on my endless list of things to do…thanks xo
These look so good! I love anything you can prep the day before and just cook the day of.
Hello, ladies! Thank you so much for your kind comment and I'm glad it brought me here. I'm you newest email subscriber. I've never made rice balls and they sound like a delicious appetizer. I'll be making some with mozzarella too. I think my family will love these.
Oh thank you Susan! We hope you like the rice balls, and we hope to see you more often! xxoo Anna
OMG, these are so crispy and crunchy looking I wish I could get a bite or two:)
Wow, those look and sound amazing. Perfect finger-food indeed!
I enjoy very much your recipes and I look forward to learning more Italian cooking sincer my husband is Italian! Thanks again, Lisa
Yes I believe you can Sara, My Mom makes this recipe in a pie form and bakes it, similar to her potato pie. Its just as creamy and delicious with a slight crunch on top. Go for it!
I am not a huge fan of eating fried foods because they often upset my stomach. BUT I think that you could totally make a baked version of these to still get that crunch. I think I just might try to do that. 🙂
Mike, you can certainly use olive oil and adding more cheese will make them even creamier!
I try to keep them light – less calories per ball.
I made them for Easter along with the sauce. Everyone liked them a lot. I found them equally good the next day. I'd alter the recipe a little by doubling the parmigiana. I used light olive oil, too. A deep fryer would be best, especially with peanut oil.
yes good ol aunt tina's rice balls…they were the best.
This recipe is what floods my mind with memories of my lovely family in NY. I've never had a meal with any of you without rice balls on the table. 🙂