Arancini (Rice Balls) with Marinara Sauce

from 51 votes

Make the most of leftover rice with this easy recipe for Arancini (Rice Balls) stuffed with mozzarella and served with warm marinara sauce.

Easy Arancini Rice Balls with marinara sauce

My first taste of authentic arancini, or Italian rice balls, was at Stuzzi Ristorante, a tiny restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood and just steps from where I attended culinary school. Back then, we knew the local hotspot as Bar Stuzzi, and it was a favorite for Italian small plates paired with towering glasses of crisp Prosecco.

The best arancini rice balls in a basket sprinkled with parmesan cheese

I’ll never forget my first taste of arancini, as my eyes went wide at the sight of the baseball-sized rice balls coated in breadcrumbs, deep-fried and served atop a bed of bright red marinara. They were a total triple threat: crunchy, creamy and cheesy.

Arancini dipped in eggs and breadcrumbs

If fried rice isn’t your thing, then arancini are the ultimate excuse for using up what’s left of the ol’ Uncle Ben’s in the fridge.

Hand with rice and mozzarella cheese to form arancini ball

Although many arancini recipes begin with a risotto base, it’s perfectly acceptable to skip the 20-minute stir time and start with day-old rice.

Slotted spoon with fried arancini rice balls

Make sure to check out my notes at the end of the recipe for a few tips that could mean the difference between perfectly rounded cheesy fried rice balls and, well, a hot mess of rice and dairy. 

Easy arancini in basket topped with parmesan cheese

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Arancini (Rice Balls) with Marinara Sauce

Make the most of leftover rice with this easy recipe for Arancini (Rice Balls) stuffed with mozzarella and served with warm marinara sauce.
Author: Kelly Senyei
4.81 from 51 votes
Easy Arancini Rice Balls with marinara sauce
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 arancini


  • 2 cups cooked white rice, cooled (See Kelly's Notes)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 8 small cubes fresh mozzarella
  • 1 cup Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • Oil, for frying
  • 1 cup store-bought or homemade marinara sauce


  • Place a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add enough vegetable oil to rise 4 inches in the pot.
  • Combine the rice, Parmesan and 1 egg in a medium bowl and use your hands to thoroughly combine the mixture.
  • Form each arancini by taking a small portion of the mixture, squeezing it firmly and stuffing one cube of mozzarella inside each ball. Repeat this process to form 8 arancini.
  • Whisk together the remaining 2 eggs. Dip each arancini in the eggs and then in the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess.
  • Once the oil reaches 375ºF, add 2 or 3 of the breaded arancini to the pot and fry them until golden brown and cooked throughout.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the fried arancini from the pot and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Immediately salt the arancini. Repeat the frying process with the remaining arancini.
  • Serve the arancini warm with a side of warm marinara sauce.

Kelly's Notes:

  • I've made arancini with many types of rice, but some varieties prove more successful than others. For example, regular old Uncle Ben's will only work if it's particularly sticky. The best rice for arancini is actually sushi rice (despite how unauthentically Italian that may be!) because it is much more glutinous so it's easy to work with.
  • Make sure you really squeeze the arancini together to make them as compact as possible. This will ensure the arancini hold their shape when frying.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don't forget to give it a star rating below!


Calories: 165kcal, Carbohydrates: 22g, Protein: 7g, Fat: 4g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 67mg, Sodium: 384mg, Potassium: 172mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 285IU, Vitamin C: 2.1mg, Calcium: 116mg, Iron: 1.4mg


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Recipe by Kelly Senyei of Just a Taste. Please do not reprint this recipe without my permission. If you'd like to feature this recipe on your site, please rewrite the method of preparation and link to this post as the original source.

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  1. 5 stars
    These turned out great! I made sure the rice was completely cooled. I did add a few tablespoons of homemade marinara sauce to the cooked rice because that’s how my Italian mother in law made them. I shaped the balls with the cheese inside a few hours before I was ready to fry them so they were nice and firm. I did use my air fryer for these; I saw a few commenters wondering about this method. I preheated my air fryer to 400, sprayed the prepared balls with avocado oil, and set the timer for 8 minutes. They weren’t quite done, so I cooked for an additional 3 minutes. Turned out perfect – kept their shape and cooked through. Plated them with some marinara sauce on the side and it looked like we were at a fancy Italian restaurant! Thanks for a great post; will be making these many more times.

    1. Hi Fortuna! The ingredient list and directions are listed above underneath the last image of this post. :)

  2. Delicious recipe, I added fresh herbs and used Arborio rice and fresh mozzarella. I’m sadly unable to eat tomatoes so used pesto sauce which was amazing.

  3. I have to say that this was really bland and tasted of basically nothing. I used sushi rice as recommended but opted for Panko breadcrumbs instead of Italian ones. I doubt it would have made a difference, though. My arancini looked really lovely, and they were very nice and crispy on the outside but there was just no flavour to them. I think it would probably be worth using a mushroom risotto or similar as a base rather than just plain (sushi) rice.

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the recipe, Michala. Italian-style breadcrumbs have seasonings, which give the arancini their flavor. :)

    1. Hi Jannette – I’ve never tried that so I’m not sure! Let me know if you give it a shot :)

  4. 5 stars
    These turned out great! I used sushi rice , made the rice the day beforehand. Took the rice out of the fridge a couple of hours before making the rice balls , and it all came together beautifully! Thank you !

  5. 5 stars
    I have made these in the past with complete failure. However, These were fantastic, finally!
    I didn’t quite have the 2 cups of cooked rice making it difficult to form a ball but I was determined I wasn’t going to give up. So I added a tsp of bread crumbs to the mixture and added parsley, it was perfect! It took approx. 2 minutes to make it into a tight ball. These were a hit! Thank you!!

  6. 5 stars
    Made these tonite ! I used 2 bags (4 cups)of precooked brown rice. Followed pkg directions – 2 mins in microwave. Added sautéed fresh minced garlic and onion, garlic salt powder, pepper, fresh parsley Added one egg and Grated Ramano. Stuffed each ball w shredded mozzarella and continued w recipe.. they held together really well! Delicious!

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