Meet the Pasta Granny Behind the Crispiest, Cheesiest Arancini

Plus, how to recreate this Sicilian snack at home.

April  5, 2023
Photo by Julia Gartland

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

Pasta Grannies founder Vicky Bennison has made it her mission to document the recipes of Italy’s grandmas—and her latest book, Pasta Grannies: Comfort Cooking, showcases the type of regional home cooking these women do best. In honor of the newest publication, Vicky met up with a pasta granny named Giovanna Bellia La Marca, who taught her the ins and outs of making classic Sicilian arancini—aka, rice balls that are stuffed with cheese and other fillings before they’re fried to golden, melty perfection.

This is one of those dishes that makes good use of leftovers. Giovanna starts with rice, specifically, a short-grain variety like Arborio or sushi rice (they’re stickier than their medium- and long-grain counterparts). She cooks the rice with saffron, which gives it a gorgeous yellow hue, then she seasons the rice with caciocavallo cheese (Pecorino Romano would also work) and adds egg for its binding properties. Nearby, she has leftover ragù—made from beef, veal, and pork, or whichever of the three you prefer—frozen peas, and cubes of low-moisture mozzarella poised for stuffing the ‘cini.

Once each component is laid out, Giovanna gets to work forming the arancini. After wetting her hands to prevent sticking, she grabs some rice, makes an indentation, and fills it with about a teaspoon of ragù, a cube or two of mozzarella, and a few peas. Then, she takes another mound of rice and gently presses it over fillings, fully encasing them in a ball approximately the size of her palm. Ideally, the formed arancini are then refrigerated for at least 15 minutes before completing the final steps: dredging and frying.

Giovanna coats the arancini in a “paste” made out of flour and water (which provides an adherable surface) and then rolls each one in plain, unseasoned breadcrumbs. Since all of the components are already cooked, the frying process happens more quickly than you might expect. A couple of minutes in hot oil—until the exteriors of the arancini are browned and crunchy—are all you need.

To learn more about how Giovanna makes her signature arancini, watch the video below—or check out her recipe and try them for yourself.

What do you stuff your arancini with when you make them at home? Tell us in the comments below!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

Anabelle Doliner

Written by: Anabelle Doliner

Staff Editor


I’m making a decent compensation from home k $60k/week , which was astonishing under a year prior I was jobless in a horrendous economy. I was honored with these guidelines and presently it’s my obligation to show kindness and share it with Everyone,
𝗶𝗻𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗺𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗦𝗲𝗲 𝗠𝘆 𝗡𝗮𝗺𝗲 𝗖𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗩𝗶𝘀𝗶𝘁𝗲,