Arancini with Pancetta and Basil {Suppli}

Arancini with Pancetta and Basil {Suppli}

AranciniArancini, also known as suppli, is an Italian appetizer that is popular in both Sicily and Rome. A delectable fried small bite made of Arborio rice wrapped around a savory center, it’s everything an appetizer should be. Bite sized, a mixture of textures and flavors and it goes perfectly with a glass of wine.

There are many variations  of this classic appetizer which include centers of mozzarella cheese, a meat ragu and even mushrooms. I don’t think you can go wrong with any version, really. A fried ball of rice is pretty amazing no matter how you stuff it.

arancini fillingFor my version I’m using some of my favorite flavors. Pancetta, basil and mozzarella. The salty pancetta complements the basil, while the mozzarella makes everything a hot melty mess. All encased in a crispy arborio shell. It doesn’t get much better than that, folks.

IMG_3511Making the rice balls is not at all complicated. First of all, make sure your hands are wet at all times. This keeps the rice from sticking to your palms.

Then, press a patty of rice into your hand. Make an indent in the center and press in your filling. Take another scoop of rice from the bowl and put it on top of the filling. And then you pretend that you are making a snowball. Pack, pack, pack. And that’s it!

arancini ballsOnce all of the balls are formed, you are going to dip them into a flour/egg wash/bread crumb mixture. The idea of this will totally stress you out because you will be convinced that they are going to crumble apart in the process. Fret not. For some crazy reason the balls stick together just fine. Trust me.

suppliSee how nice they look? Really, this is not at all complicated. After the balls are coated, the fun begins. Frying time. I use a plug in deep fryer, but you can certainly fry these up in a large skillet or a Dutch oven. They take all of four minutes to brown up. And the end result is a little bit of nirvana….

suppli aranciniSeriously, are you drooling? I haven’t even cut one open for you yet. Bad food blogger. Here, let me show you what these guys look like on the inside. Are you ready for it?

IMG_4028Crunchy on the outside. Smooth and silky on the inside. With just a little bit of crisp texture from the pancetta. You need to make these for your next party. And would you do me a favor when you host that party? Invite me. Because I sure would like someone to make these for me sometime. I’ll even bring the bottle of wine!

5.0 from 4 reviews
Arancini with Pancetta and Basil {Suppli}
Recipe type: Appetiser
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
A crispy arborio shell that encases a melty mozzarella and pancetta center. A classic Italian appetizer.
  • 1 lb Arborio rice
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ⅔ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup pancetta, diced and cooked until crisp
  • 3 Tbsp basil leaves, sliced
  • ½ lb mozzarella cheese, cubed
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (for dredging)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of fine bread crumbs
  • vegetable oil for frying
  • marinara for dipping (see notes)
  1. In a large pot, heat chicken stock over high heat and bring to a boil. Pour in rice and reduce heat to just a simmer. Cook uncovered for fifteen minutes or until al dente. Drain the rice from the remaining liquid and spread rice out on a cookie sheet. Allow to cool and then refrigerate overnight.
  2. Pour rice into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs and Parmesan cheese. Mix until incorporated.
  3. Put a bowl of water next to the large bowl of rice. You will need this to keep your hands damp.
  4. Press a palm sized patty of rice into your hand. Press to make an indent in the center. Place a cube of cheese, a sprinkle of basil and a bit of pancetta in the center. Scoop some more rice out of the bowl and cover the filling with it. Pack it together like you are making a snowball.
  5. Place the formed balls on a cookie sheet and prepare your work station for dredging.
  6. Put the flour in a plate and position as the first step of your dredging process. Next, place the bowl of lightly beaten eggs in the second dredging position. The last plate will hold the bread crumbs.
  7. Roll a rice ball lightly in the flour. Then give it a quick dunk in the egg wash. Lastly, roll it around in the bread crumbs. Lightly press the breadcrumbs into the rice ball.
  8. Place coated ball on the cookie sheet and do the same with the remaining balls.
  9. Prepare for frying.
  10. Heat oil over medium high heat. You will know it's ready when you place a bit of crumbs in the pot and it sizzles. Cook each ball for four minutes. They should be uniformly golden brown.
  11. Place cooked balls in a 200º oven to keep them hot while you finish the frying process.
  12. Serve with your favorite marinara.
My favorite marinara is Ina Garten's:

There are affiliate links in this post for products that I think are helpful while making this recipe.


  1. they look great!! I love arancini. I’ve never made it but it’s on my “must make list”. My favorite right now is beef and peas inside. But I need to give this one a try!

    • Yes, that’s another traditional variant. Peas and meat. I haven’t tried that one yet. I’m not really a peas girl.

  2. I may have just died and gone to heaven!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Fabulous pix Melanie! Your Arincini recipe looks and sounds wonderful!

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait to try this and I will certainly invite you, especially if you are bringing the wine!!

  5. Oh yum. I must try these!

  6. Patricia N. says:

    This sounds delicious. I have 3 packages of pancetta in the freezer. I got them for $1.99 at Shaw’s in the reduced section. Been trying to decide what to do with them.

  7. Barbara Rogers says:

    What are your thoughts on baking them instead of deep frying?

  8. looks amazing for sure going to try these Wish me luck : )

  9. Wow, these look incredible. I love the addition of pancetta to the melting mozzarella goodness!

  10. This looks so good! I first heard about arancini only a few months ago. And after that, it seems that recipe after recipe have sprung up on the interwebs. Or maybe it’s because of my heightened awareness of these things. Yours are to die for… can’t handle the melty cheese! For tropical weather, do you think it’s necessary to refridgerate the shaped rice balls before frying to prevent crumbling or will it be ok? A recipe I’ve seen required like overnight refrigeration etc… made me scared of trying this!

  11. WOW. It’s like mozzarella sticks ALLLLL grown up. And I just happen to have aborio rice I need to use up!! LOVE this! Weight Watcher points will just have to wait.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just visited Melanie In The Middle and clicked the link and saw this beautiful recipe. Glorious! I’ll be visiting more often and I will try this recipe as soon as I can Melanie!

  13. Funny you posted this arancini recipe. Today, my (Italian) boyfriend’s mother and I were discussing the difference between Arancini and Supplì. I have read that the former is made without ragù while the latter has ragù added. I read that that is essentially the only difference, but that they are not one in the same. However, his mother stated that they were one and the same: however, she later admitted that the name and preparation styles are different regionally. Anyway, your arancini look amazing and so neat. The best arancina/arancino I have ever had was a spinach and cheese one in Ortigia, Sicily. After my first bite, I melted right in my seat haha. I must try out arancini with pancetta and basilico. YUM!

  14. I just ordered these at a restaurant this week. They were stuffed w/ chicken and cheese and were served in a savory sage sauce. Delicious. Now I have to make them!

  15. WOW- these look amazing! Found you on Tasty Kitchen. Thanks!

  16. This looks delicious!! But I would sub the pancetta out for something else.

  17. These look AmaZing!!! I am considering this recipe for our upcoming wine and beer tasting – can these be made ahead of time? Any suggestions would be helpful!

  18. I really liked pancetta, didn’t know about it! I have recently discovered the vegetarian version of arancini, made with arancino with eggplants, tomato sauce and mozzarella, or with spinaches and mozzarella… (source:

  19. these are tasty but wouldn’t recommend cooking without a fryer. I used a frying pan and the mozzarella ended up not melting in the center. Also, mine ended up being huge! Maybe I did something wrong…

  20. We made these tonight, and they were delicious! I first had arancini at a St. Anthony’s Italian festival in E. Boston and have been wanting to make them since. I used bacon instead of pancetta because it’s just what I had on hand. My ITalian husband was raving. I hope no one cuts corners on the fresh basil. Do they freeze well? Thanks for sharing!

  21. Arancini – my hands down fav Italian treat as well. I am looking to perfect a new go to appetizer – I think I have found it with this recipe. i would also like to know if you can freeze before frying step.

  22. Kathy Nickoloff says:

    can I reheat or keep these arancini warm in oven if I deep fry ahead of guests arriving?

  23. Arancini and Suppli are not the same thing. They evolved completely separate from each other with the Arancini originally coming across with Arabs into Sicily (although they weren’t breaded at that point, that was added later for reasons of trasnport and preservation).

    Where Suppli are 100% Roman in origin.

    Other things to note would be the shape and size. Arancini are larger and round (like an orange, hence the name), where Suppli are more oval like a croquette and smaller.

    Also the fillings differ. With Arancini also having sweet variations, where Suppli are generally tomato based, with a meat sauce and the addition or the morzarella is not mandatory, but this makes the difference between Suppli and Suppli telefono.

    The dish you have here is essentially Suppli in size and recipe but with the shape of an Arancini.

    And that concludes today’s Italian food history lesson.

  24. And yes you can freeze them.

    You can also cook them straight from frozen, although you have to be careful with the temperature otherwise you’ll end up with a burnt exterior and frozen block of cheese in the middle.

    • Although keeping to the traditional Suppli size vs the Arancini will remove some of the issues found when cooking from frozen.

  25. Probably worth adding that when people make these in Italy they generally do it from the left over from the previous night’s rissotto.

    When you make them this way it takes a fair amount of the burden away from producing suppli.

    Nothing wrong with the directions here at all, I’ve just found that if you try to go straight from the raw ingredients to the suppli the process feels a lot longer rather than breaking for a tasty rissotto at dinner time with a nice glass of red, before finishing the next day.

    Sometimes things don’t work out like that though, I hope nobody ever has to go through the pain of producing suppli from scratch for the same day.

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