Arancine – Breaded Balls of Perfection

There are things in life which you shouldn’t form an opinion on until after you’ve tried them. A new city, perhaps, or a job. Movies, acquaintances. Things that require familiarity before a sound judgment can be made. Arancine, however, do not fall into this category. As soon as I heard them described, I knew they’d be my new favorite food of all time. Didn’t even need to taste one.


Arancine are fried, breaded balls of sticky rice filled with ragú (meat sauce), tomato sauce, and mozzarella. How could that go wrong?! Stuff those ingredients into an old sock, and I would eat it.

The existence of arancine was first recorded in Sicily during the 10th century. Although eaten elsewhere in Italy, they’re a distinctly Sicilian snack and have become an emblem of pride for the island. The name means “little orange” (Italian for orange is arancia), although some of the examples you can find in street markets around Palermo are the size of rather large oranges (like the bubba in the photo above).

Arancine are street food: nothing you would order in a restaurant, but a snack to be eaten as a quick lunch, or when you’re hungry during midday. Though the ball shapes with ragú/mozzarella filling are most common, there are also arancine in cones, or filled with things like ham or mushrooms.

If you can’t get to Italy, but must try them yourself, a great recipe for classic arancine can be found at

Mini Arancine Sicily

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Globetrottergirls

    We love arancini! I love how you call them ‘breaded balls of perfection’… so true 🙂

    1. Juergen

      We are addicted to them. Now we just have to find a place where we can buy them fresh out of the deep fryer and we will be all set and looking like arancini in a month ourselves, hehe

  2. maurizio

    Hi! two small remarks:1) we say arancina (1) and arancine (>1) NOT arancini which sounds really bad to our palermitan ears…2) IThe name arancina comes from “arancia” the fruit and not from “arancio” (the colour)however, your description and details are perfect…keep goinga native…

    1. Mike Powell

      Thanks for those corrections… I’ve updated the post (and now understand why everyone looks at me funny when I scream for Arancini: not because I’m a weirdo freak, but because I’ve been mispronouncing it, hehe)

  3. Francesco

    Maurizio is right but in all honesty I should also add that arancini with an “i” is the way they spell it in Eastern and Southern Sicily. Also, the most widely read contemporary Sicilian author, Andrea Camilleri, has popularized the spelling “arancini” also in other parts of Italy, at the point that people in Rome will correct you if you say “aracinE”. To me, a Palermo native, the reasons of philology as those of heart will have me spell always “arancinE”, the “little oranges”, as Maurizio remarked. Ciao!

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