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Ball-shaped arancini from Palermo

Arancini [aranˈtʃiːni] (or arancine in Sicilian)[1] are stuffed rice balls, which are coated with breadcrumbs, and fried. Arancini are usually filled with ragù (meat and tomato sauce), mozzarella, and peas. There are a number of local variants that differ in fillings and shape. The name derives from their shape and color, which is reminiscent of an orange (the Italian word for orange is arancia, and arancina means "little orange"), although in eastern Sicily (especially in Catania), arancini have a more conical shape.

They are said to have originated in Sicily in the 10th century during Arab rule.[2][3]

In Palermo and Trapani, Sicily, arancini are a traditional food for the feast of Santa Lucia, 13 December, when bread and pasta are not eaten. This commemorates arrival of a grain supply ship on Santa Lucia's day in 1646, relieving a severe famine.[4]

Nowadays, with the increasing popularity of this snack food in modern Italian food culture, arancini are found all year round at most Sicilian food outlets, particularly in Palermo, Messina and Catania.

Ingredients and variations[edit]

Conical-shaped arancini photographed in Lipari.

The main type of arancino sold in Sicilian cafes are arancini con ragù, which typically consist of meat in a tomato sauce, rice, and mozzarella. Many cafes also offer arancini con burro (butter or béchamel sauce), or specialty arancini, such as arancini con funghi (mushrooms), con pistacchi (pistachios), or con melanzane (aubergine).

In Roman cuisine, supplì are similar, but commonly filled with cheese. In Naples, rice balls are called pall'e riso (rice balls).

In a variant recipe originating among the Italian diaspora in Southeast Texas, the arancini are stuffed with a chili-seasoned filling.[5]

In popular culture[edit]

In Italian literature, Inspector Montalbano, the main character of Andrea Camilleri's detective novels, is a well-known lover of arancini, and this has contributed to making this dish known outside of Italy.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "I cugini di Palerma e il sesso degli arancini. Un complesso di inferiorità culinaria". MeridioNews. 
  2. ^ Giuliano Valdes (1 May 2000). Sicilia. Ediz. Inglese (illustrated ed.). Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 9. ISBN 9788870098266. 
  3. ^ Clifford A. Wright (1 Jan 2003). Little Foods of the Mediterranean: 500 Fabulous Recipes for Antipasti, Tapas, Hors D'Oeuvre, Meze, and More (illustrated ed.). Harvard Common Press. p. 380. ISBN 9781558322271. 
  4. ^ Giuseppina Siotto, Vegetaliana, note di cucina italiana vegetale: La cucina vegetariana e vegana, 2014, ISBN 8868101858, chapter 14
  5. ^ "Arancini". Texas Monthly. 1 December 1988. 
  6. ^ "I arancini di Montalbano". Rai Uno. 6 July 2015. 

External links[edit]

  • Media related to Arancini at Wikimedia Commons