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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's arancini

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall / 01 March 2016

If you have some leftover risotto, one of the most delicious things you can do with it is transform it into these Italian-style fried rice balls.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's recipe for Italian arancini is a great way to use up leftover risotto rice

Preparation time

5 minutes

Cooking time

15 minutes




For the arancini

  • 250–350g cold cooked risotto
  • 50–70g Parmesan or other hard cheese, grated
  • Any scraps of cooked meat or fish, torn or chopped into small pieces
  • Any cooked veg, such as mushrooms or courgettes, chopped small, and/or peas
  • Some soft herbs, such as parsley, dill, lovage, chervil and/or chives, chopped (optional)
  • 1 egg, beaten, to bind (if needed)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the coating

  • Some plain flour
  • 1–2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional)
  • Couple of handfuls of fine breadcrumbs (optional)

For frying

  • Sunflower oil


If you have some leftover risotto, one of the most delicious things you can do with it is transform it into these Italian-style fried rice balls. They’re good quite plain with just some cheese worked into them, or with other scraps of leftover meet or veg mixed in. Authentic arancini are deep-fried and have a molten centre of mozzarella, but these simple patties are much less fuss to assemble and easy to shallow-fry.

Tip the cold risotto into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Add any extra scraps of cooked meat, fish or veg that you think will work well. Add some chopped herbs if you like, taste, then season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

Mix everything together well. It should be sticky enough to hold together, but add a little beaten egg to bind if needed.

Roll the mixture into walnut- to golf-ball-sized balls, then flatten lightly to form plump patties.

Dust the patties with flour, and, if you want to go the whole crispy-coating hog, dip them in beaten egg, then into fine breadcrumbs – but just flouring them is fine, too.

Heat about a 1cm depth of oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Shallow-fry the arancini patties, in batches if necessary, fairly gently until golden brown on the outside and piping hot in the centre. Serve immediately.

Tips and swaps

To make large arancini with a surprise centre, take 2 patties (before flouring them), make a dimple in the middle of each and spoon a tasty filling into one of them (see right). Place the non-filled patty, dimple side down, on top then squish the 2 patties together to seal in the filling and make a single, fat patty. Repeat with the rest. Fry as above and serve piping hot.

Arancini filling options

  • Cubes of mozzarella or blue cheese (as shown).
  • Fried mushrooms, with cooked peas, if you like.
  • Scraps of ham or chunks of cooked sausage.
  • Cooked spinach and pine nuts, mixed with some soft goat’s cheese.

Extract taken from Love Your Leftovers by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, £20) Photography © Simon Wheeler

Visit our Italian recipes recipes section for more kitchen inspiration.


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.