Saffron Rice Balls-arancine

Pat Duran


No snack is as beloved is Sicily as these saffron-scented rice balls filled with ragu, spinach or cheese.
Arborio rice is a plump short grain rice that has a creamy chewy texture and is great for making risottos.


★★★★★ 2 votes

makes about 2 dozen
1 Hr 30 Min
35 Min
Pan Fry


  • 3 Tbsp
    olive oil
  • 1/2 c
    each a small yellow onion and a carrot, both minced
  • 1/2
    stalk celery, minced
  • 3/4 c
    ground beef
  • 3/4 c
    ground pork
  • 1 c
    tomato sauce, italian seasoned
  • 2 tsp
    tomato paste
  • 1 small
    red onion,minced
  • 1 1/2 c
    arborio rice
  • 1/4 tsp
    crushed saffron
  • 1 1/2 c
  • 2 Tbsp
    grated parmesan cheese
  • ·
    kosher salt & fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 c
  • 2 medium
  • 1/4 c
  • 2 c
    bread crumbs, dry
  • ·
    canola oil, for frying

How to Make Saffron Rice Balls-arancine


  1. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over med-hi heat. Add first onion, carrot and celery and cook stirring often, about 10 minutes. Add beef and pork and cook, stirring about 10 minutes until browned. Stir in tomato sauce and paste, reduce heat to med-lo, and cook about 45 minutes, until thickened. Transfer meat filling to a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
    Heat remaining olive oil in a 2-quart saucepan over med-hi heat. Add red onion and cook, stirring about 10 minutes, until soft. Add rice and stir to coat. Stir in saffron and water. Bring to a boil, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 20 minutes, covered. Remove lid and stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Spread rice out on a plate to cool.
    Whisk together flour, eggs and water in a shallow bowl until smooth; place bread crumbs in another bowl and set both aside.
  2. To Assemble:
    Place 1 heaping Tablespoon of rice in the palm of your hand, flatten into a dish. Place about a teaspoon of the chilled meat filling in center of rice dish and form rice around filling to encase it completely, press gently to form a ball. Roll ball in batter and then in bread crumbs until evenly coated. Transfer to a parchment covered baking sheet; repeat with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, to firm up.
    Pour canola oil in a 6 quart Dutch oven to a depth of 2-inches and heat to med-hi(360). Working in batches, add rice balls to oil and fry until golden, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels; let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
    After removing from refrigerator you may bake (instead of frying) in oven for 12-15 minutes at 375^(internal temperature should be 160 when tested with thermometer.

Printable Recipe Card

About Saffron Rice Balls-arancine

Course/Dish: Beef, Rice Sides
Main Ingredient: Seafood
Regional Style: Italian

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