Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella and Pancetta with Basil Aioli

Arancini stuffed with mozerella and pancetta©Kevin Ashton 2021
Arancini stuffed with mozzarella and pancetta ©Kevin Ashton 2021

Arancini, also known as “Sicilian Oranges”, are a great way to use up leftover risotto but you can also make them from scratch. Arancini originated in Sicily in the 10th century, so they have been around for a long time.

In the cities of Palermo, Syracuse, and Trapani in Sicily, arancini are a traditional food for the feast of Santa Lucia on 13th 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. I have stuffed my arancini with mozzarella and smoked pancetta but you use whatever you have in your fridge.  Of course, vegetarians can use vegetable stock in their risotto and even a vegetarian buffalo mozzarella such as Laverstoke, which is made with vegetarian rennet. 

*Don’t forget you can cut this recipe in half to make 10 arancini!

Arancini (makes 20 x 50grams)

300 grams Arborio Rice
100 grams onion finely diced
1000 ml Chicken or vegetable stock hot *
80 grams Parmesan cheese (grated)
80 grams unsalted butter cut into small pieces
175 ml dry white wine
2 large cloves garlic peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil

  1. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil together with 25 grams of butter in a thick bottomed saucepan. Then add the onion and cook on a medium high heat for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent the onions from browning. When the onions are soft and translucent add the risotto rice.
  2. Stir the rice to mix with the onions and butter to coat well.
  3. Next add the white wine and stir until the wine has been absorbed by the rice.
  4. Turn the heat down to medium and add a ladle of stock at a time into your rice, stirring to make sure the rice does not stick to the bottom of the saucepan. Let the stock be absorbed into the rice before adding more.
  5. When all the stock has been added cook the risotto for a further 15 minutes until it is al dente, cooked but still has a slight bite to it
  6. Turn heat to low and add the rest of the butter and then the cheese.
  7. Pour the risotto into a large baking dish or roasting tray to spread the mix out and quicken the cooling process. Once cool enough then refrigerate.


20 x 7 gram pieces of buffalo mozzarella
125 grams smoked pancetta (*optional) cooked and chopped


250 grams  white breadcrumbs  
65 grams plain flour
2 medium eggs
50ml milk

Basil Aioli

250ml good quality mayonnaise
Zest of half large lemon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1-2 cloves of garlic finely diced
8 grams of fresh basil leaves chopped

To Make the Aioli

  1. Combine the mayo, lemon zest, garlic and basil leaves and blend with a hand blender or food processor. The finished basil aioli should have a nice pale green colour. 
  2. Season lightly with salt and pepper and then stir in the lemon juice and refrigerate until needed.

Making the Arancini balls

  1. Divide the cold risotto rice into 50 gram balls.
  2. Make a indent and add a little cooked pancetta and a 7gram piece of mozzarella. Close over the filling and make sure the ball is sealed and roll in your palm to make sure it is round.
  3. Once all the balls are done refrigerate on a non-stick tray for 30 minutes.

Coating the Arancini balls in breadcrumbs

  1. Make sure your flour and beaten egg with the milk are both seasoned with salt and pepper.
  2. Roll a ball into the flour and roll in your palm to remove excess, flour, then coat in the egg mix.
  3. Lift the ball out of the egg and put into the breadcrumbs, roll to make sure it is well coated and place on a clean tray.
  4. Once all the Sicilian Oranges are bread crumbed, then coat for a second time to ensure they don’t fall apart when frying.
  5. Deep fry the Arancini in small batches in hot oil 190C for about 7 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Drain them on paper towel as they come out of the fryer.
  7. Keep them warm in the oven 100 C as you cook the rest.

To Serve

Serve 2 Arancini per person for a starter and 3-4 as a main course. Offer the basil aioli as a dipping sauce.

Chefs Tips

You could serve the Arancini with a spicy tomato sauce if you prefer. 

Try to keep one hand dry and free of egg whenever you are bread crumbing food, to prevent your bread crumbs from becoming lumpy. To get the maximum amount of lemon zest from a lemon, try using a speed peeler to peel the lemon (to do this your lemons need to be firm and your peeler sharp). Make sure the skin contains no white pith before very finely chopping it. Try sprinkling a tiny amount of sugar onto the skin to help release the lemon oils from the skin.

Watch this space for an accompanying YouTube video coming soon!

©Kevin Ashton 2021
All rights reserved. No content on this website including, but not limited to, text and photography may be reproduced without prior explicit written consent.


18 thoughts on “Arancini stuffed with Mozzarella and Pancetta with Basil Aioli

    1. If you have you some left-over risotto you could to make a couple and if they fall apart when cooking you can still use the rest of the risotto as per normal. When I want to reheat risotto, I get some chicken or vegetable stock simmering and then turn the heat down to low and stir in the risotto rice. Heat until you have a temperature of 70 C add some grated parmesan and serve. If you created any extra ingredients for your attempt at Arancini the, such as pancetta or mozzarella stir them in at the last moment.
      Best Wishes

      Liked by 5 people

    1. If for example you are using up a risotto then be guided by the flavours you already have. For example if you have mushroom risotto, then leave out the pancetta. If you have an asparagus or pea risotto then also leave out the pancetta but leave in the mozzarella for all, as it adds moisture to the finished Arancini. Sun-blushed tomatoes would also make a good filling.
      Best Wishes and thank you for supporting my blog.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. What’s a speed peeler?
    I have a favorite one that is super sharp and only $4 or $5.00. You use your thumb. Kind of hard to describe.
    I’ve made this dish at the cooking school when I worked as a sous chef. It’s time consuming, but worth it.

    Thanks for sharing.
    How’s Covid where you live? Things are opening up here in California and masks aren’t mandatory. People are beginning to travel and fly, but I’m not ready to get on a plane.
    It’s been a long year and a half, but cooking and baking has helped.
    Take care Kevin.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Teri and thank you for your great question.
      In the restaurant business we call any peeler that is a U shape rather than the older design, a speed peeler (they are usually sharper). Here is a link to an example
      I totally agree with your assessment of Arancini, time consuming but totally worth it.

      As for Covid in the UK… Things are starting to get back to normal but we are still wearing masks in public places such as supermarkets.

      As for flights, the government has a traffic light system of which countries you can visit for vacation. People have to have tests before and after their trip and self-quarantine if they test positive. This necessary process can add $100’s to the cost of a family holiday so the effects of Covid with continue to hamper our new normal for some while.

      During lockdown I had to be adaptable and learn how to teach cooking online, via Zoom. I now also teach other tutors how to use Zoom so I am very thankful for that. For many chefs lockdown has been awful and very long.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes! That’s the peeler. I love it and bought 2 more this week. One for my son and one for my niece.
        Glad Covid is getting a little safer there too. We still wear masks indoors too, but I hear that could be lifted in 2 weeks or so.

        I’ve been raising chickens, composting, making compost tea, gardening and planting vegetables, cleaning, cooking , baking. Made a baby quilt today for a new neighbor . So fun. Also caring for my elderly parents and of course my husband.

        Hoping to write a new blog again soon.
        Enjoy your zoom classes.


        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Elvira,
      If you wish to add ginger and make the dish more oriental I would do the following. Leave the parmesan cheese out of the risotto and the mozzarella out of the Arancini. You could stuff the risotto balls with mushrooms cooked in garlic and ginger., and make an oriental type dipping sauce instead of the Basil Aioli.

      Best Wishes

      Liked by 1 person

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