Arancini (UK: /ˌærənˈni/, US: /ˌɑːr-/,[1][2] Italian: [aranˈtʃiːni], Sicilian: [aɾanˈtʃiːnɪ, -ˈdʒiː-]) are Italian rice balls that are stuffed, coated with breadcrumbs and deep fried, and are a staple of Sicilian cuisine. The most common arancini fillings are: al ragù or al sugo, filled with ragù (meat or mince, slow-cooked at low temperature with tomato sauce and spices), mozzarella or caciocavallo cheese, and often peas, and al burro or ô burru, filled with ham and mozzarella or besciamella.

Sicilian arancini for sale at a counter
TypeSnack, street food
Place of originItaly
Region or stateSicily
Serving temperatureHot or warm
Main ingredientsrice, ragù

A number of regional variants exist which differ in their fillings and shape. Arancini al ragù produced in eastern Sicily have a conical shape inspired by the volcano Etna.[3]


Arancini derives from the Sicilian plural diminutive of aranciu ('orange'), from their shape and colour which, after cooking, is reminiscent of an orange.[3]

In Sicilian, arancini is grammatically plural. The corresponding singular is either the masculine arancinu or the feminine arancina.[4][5] The eastern side of Sicily tends to use the masculine form, while the western side tends to use the feminine form.[6]

In Italian, the masculine arancino (pl. arancini) form has become prevalent, even though the feminine form arancina (pl. arancine) can also be used.


An open arancino, showing the rice and ragù stuffing

Arancini are said to have originated in 10th-century Sicily, at a time when the island was under Arab rule. Its origins may therefore be possibly the same as kibbeh of the Levantine cuisine.[7][8]

In the cities of Palermo, Siracusa, and Trapani in Sicily, arancini are a traditional food for the feast of Santa Lucia on 13 December, when bread and pasta are not eaten. This commemorates the arrival of a grain supply ship on Santa Lucia's day in 1646, relieving a severe famine.[9]

Today, with the increasing popularity of this finger food in modern Italian food culture, arancini are found all year round at most Sicilian food outlets,[lower-alpha 1] particularly in Palermo, Messina and Catania. The dish was traditionally created to provide a full meal to Federico II di Svevia during his hunting activities.

Ingredients and variations

Conical-shaped arancini photographed in Messina

The most common type of arancini sold in Sicilian cafés are arancini cû sucu (it. arancini al ragù), which typically consist of meat in a tomato sauce, rice, and mozzarella or other cheese. Many cafés also offer arancini cû burru (it. arancini al burro, with butter or béchamel sauce) or specialty arancini, such as arancini chî funci (it. arancini ai funghi, with mushrooms), arancini câ fastuca (it. arancini al pistacchio, with pistachios), or arancini â norma (it. arancini alla norma, with aubergine).

In Roman cuisine, supplì are similar but are commonly filled with cheese (different preparation methods and filling distribution). In Naples, rice balls are called pall' 'e riso. In a variant recipe originating among the Italian diaspora in Southeast Texas, the arancini are stuffed with a chili-seasoned filling.[11]

In Italian literature, Inspector Montalbano, the main character of Andrea Camilleri's detective novels, is a well-known lover of arancini – especially those made by Adelina Cirrinciò, his housekeeper and cook. The success of the book series and the television adaptation has contributed to making this dish known outside of Italy.[12]

See also


  1. "However, as soon as any foreigner arrives in Sicily, his first encounter with the cuisine will be with rice croquettes, called arancini. They are sold everywhere, in fry stands on the beach, in cafes, and in bars serving hot food (tavola calda)."[10]


  1. "Arancini". Collins English Dictionary. HarperCollins. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  2. "arancini" (US) and "arancini". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020.
  3. Chef Rubio (2014). Sperling & Kupfer (ed.). Unti e bisunti. ISBN 9788820090432.
  4. "I cugini di Palerma e il sesso degli arancini. Un complesso di inferiorità culinaria". MeridioNews (in Italian). Archived from the original on 11 August 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2014.
  5. "Arancina o arancinu? Una risposta esaustiva - Cadèmia Siciliana". Cadèmia Siciliana (in Italian). 30 December 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  6. D'Ignoti, Stefania. "The gender fight behind Sicily's most iconic snack". Retrieved 24 January 2022.
  7. Giuliano Valdes (1 May 2000). Sicilia. Ediz. Inglese (illustrated ed.). Casa Editrice Bonechi. p. 9. ISBN 9788870098266.
  8. Clifford A. Wright (1 January 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.
  9. Giuseppina Siotto, Vegetaliana, note di cucina italiana vegetale: La cucina vegetariana e vegana, 2014, ISBN 8868101858, chapter 14
  10. Muffoletto, A. (1971). The art of Sicilian cooking. Doubleday. p. 52. ISBN 9780385038607. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  11. "Arancini". Texas Monthly. 1 December 1988.
  12. "I arancini di Montalbano". Rai Uno. 6 July 2015. Archived from the original on 17 July 2015.
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