The Simple Way Geoffrey Zakarian Makes Arancini Balls

There is a special subset of folks who enjoy carby, cheesy, flavorful, deep-fried Italian goodness — and it's for those that Geoffrey Zakarian's arancini balls are certain to please. While most Sicilian rice balls come stuffed with some kind of meat or ragu filling, Zakarian's recipe is appealing in its simplicity, and the chef went on social media with his wife Margaret to show fans just how it's done. 

Zakarian uploaded a brief video on Instagram, which he captioned: "Tales of a restaurant family: Arancini Balls! This made the cut at the bar menu when we first opened the lambs club and has become one of little GZ's favorite snacks we make for him."

While many arancini recipes call for freshly prepared arborio rice, the main ingredient for Zakarian's arancini balls is cold, leftover risotto, to which is added parmesan cheese before it's rolled in egg wash, flour, and bread crumbs and deep-fried in a combination of olive and vegetable oils, then served sprinkled with sea salt and marinara sauce. With 11,000 likes and "yum" exclamations filing the comment section, this recipe looks like a win.

Arancini balls have an interesting culinary past

The dish is said to date back several hundred years, and to the high middle ages, or about the 9th to 11th century, when Italy was occupied by the Arabs who, it's said, were responsible for bringing rice flavored with spices into the local cuisine (per Nonna Box). It then became a thing to bread and fry the rice, in order to make the dish portable enough to enjoy on hunting trips. The breaded rice balls were named "arancini" because they are shaped like the oranges that dot Sicily.

By no means is Sicily the only area in Italy that makes rice balls, Rome has them too, where they are called suppli. Giolitti Deli says suppli sits closer to the style of arancini that Zakarian introduced us to with his social media video, because the dishes' main ingredients are typically arborio rice, which is usually used to make risotto, and mozzarella, while beef and peas are added to arancini. Regardless, we think there will be more than a few lacto-ovo vegetarians in the room that will be grateful to Zakarian for introducing the quick and easy-to-make Sicilian rice ball. And here's another easy rice ball recipe to try out.