Arancini with Pomodoro Dipping Sauce

A fried ball of risotto and cheese makes for a delicious appetizer.

Arancini with Pomodoro Dipping Sauce
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christina Daley
Active Time:
1 hrs 25 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 25 mins

A staple of Italian cuisine, arancini are risotto balls that are breaded and fried. Arancini are often made with leftover rice or risotto, but in this recipe, we're walking you through the process from start to finish, providing a simple risotto recipe that results in gorgeous arancini. Our Arancini with Pomodoro Dipping Sauce makes a fantastic starter or hors d'oeuvres for an Italian feast.

It all starts with ultra-creamy, silky risotto, which gets a little tang from the addition of sour cream. This risotto is meant to be formed into balls and deep-fried, but you can even serve the creamy rice all on its own—just plate the risotto after adding the Parmesan, thyme, salt, and pepper instead of chilling, breading, and frying.

Chilling the risotto makes it easier to shape into balls. After shaping, the arancini can be refrigerated for up a day before frying, or frozen for up to a month. When adding the arancini to the frying oil, place it on a slotted spoon and gently lower the spoon down into the oil—dropping it into the pot will result in hot oil splashing everywhere. Serve this arancini alongside our Pomodoro Dipping Sauce.


  • 3 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 1 tsp.)

  • ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion (from 1 small onion)

  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice

  • ½ cup dry white wine

  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream

  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

  • 1 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated with a Microplane grater (about 1 cup)

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste 

  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

  • Canola oil

  • cup all-purpose flour

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • Pomodoro Dipping Sauce


  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Bring chicken stock to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-low. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Add white wine, and cook, stirring often, until wine is completely absorbed, about 3 minutes. Add hot chicken stock to rice mixture, ½ cup at a time, and cook, stirring often until stock is completely absorbed before adding more, about 15 minutes total. Add heavy cream and sour cream, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is creamy and rice is tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cheese, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper. Pour rice mixture onto prepared baking sheet, and spread in an even layer. Chill rice mixture, uncovered, until cold, about 1 hour.

  2. Pour canola oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large Dutch oven; heat oil over medium to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with paper towels; set aside. Place flour in a medium bowl. Whisk together eggs in a separate medium bowl until well combined. Place panko in a third medium bowl. Remove rice mixture from refrigerator, and shape into 16 (1¼-inch) balls (about ¼ cup each). Working with 1 rice ball at a time, place ball in flour, and toss to coat. Transfer to whisked eggs, and toss to coat. Place in panko, and toss again until well coated. Transfer breaded rice ball to a plate; repeat process with remaining rice balls.

  3. Carefully add rice balls to hot oil in 3 to 4 batches, and fry, stirring occasionally, until rice balls are deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on a rimmed baking sheet lined with paper towels, and immediately season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm in a 200°F oven. Allow oil to return to 350°F between batches. Serve hot with Pomodoro Dipping Sauce.

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