I Tried 4 Different Methods of Cooking Arancini – Here’s the Best One!

Arancini, those crispy, golden Italian rice balls, are one of my favorite appetizers. But, to be honest, sometimes I try to avoid having the smell of frying oil in our home.

I was looking on some recipes for air fried arancini, and a thought crept into my mind.

Why won’t I try all the different methods I can find to cooking them and see which one turns out the best.

I tried four different methods: deep-fried, baked, air fried, and pan-fried to discover which made the most delicious arancini.

Each method had its own unique result, from the crunchy deep-fried exterior to the healthier baked option. I experimented with temperature settings, cooking times, and even the level of oil used. Ultimately, the best way to cook arancini was the air fryer for its perfect crispy texture and less greasy finish.

But make sure you check the comparison table at the end for full details.

The Recipes I Used

I was excited to try out different methods for cooking arancini, and I found some fantastic recipes online.

For the deep-fried method, I used a recipe from The Mediterranean Dish. This recipe had a classic approach. The rice balls were stuffed with cheese, coated in breadcrumbs, and then deep-fried until crispy and golden.

For the baked arancini, I followed the recipe by Lemons for Lulu. This version required baking the risotto balls in the oven. After coating them in breadcrumbs, I placed them on a baking sheet and baked until they were golden and crunchy.

The air-fried arancini came from various sources but primarily from I preheated the air fryer to 370°F (190°C), placed the arancini balls inside, and air-fried for about 10-12 minutes until they were golden and crispy. They were spritzed with olive oil to help them get that golden color.

The pan-fried method was guided by a recipe from Archana’s Kitchen. This required pressing the rice mixture into balls, filling with cheese, and frying them in a pan with minimal oil, turning them to ensure all sides were evenly cooked and crispy.

Trying these recipes was an exciting journey, and each method provided a unique texture and flavor experience!

Cooking Methods Compared

Trying different cooking methods for Arancini gave me insights into how each technique affects texture, flavor, and overall enjoyment. Each method has its unique details and special benefits that might inspire you to try Arancini in a new way.

Deep Frying for Crunchy Texture

Deep frying gives Arancini the best crunchy texture. For this method, I heated vegetable oil to 350°F and carefully lowered the rice balls into the hot oil using a slotted spoon.

The golden brown crust formed within 3-4 minutes, making each bite a delightfully crispy experience.

Pros: The Arancini were extra crunchy and had an appealing deep-fried flavor. They cooked evenly and quickly.

Cons: This method requires a lot of oil, which can be messy. You also have to keep an eye on the heat with a thermometer to avoid burning.

Baking for Healthier Option

Baking is a healthier method, using less oil compared to frying. I preheated my oven to 375°F and placed the breaded Arancini on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brushing them with olive oil before baking ensured some crispiness.

They turned golden brown after about 25-30 minutes.

Pros: This method uses much less oil, reducing the overall fat content. It’s also a cleaner process with no splattering oil.

Cons: Baked Arancini can lack the same level of crispiness and flavor depth found in fried versions. The cooking time is also longer.

Air Frying for Convenience

Air frying Arancini is a game-changer for its convenience and ease. I preheated my air fryer to 370°F and placed the balls in a single layer, ensuring they didn’t touch each other. Spritzing them with olive oil helped them crisp up.

After 10-12 minutes, they were golden brown and crispy.

Pros: The air fryer uses very little oil, and the cooking process is quick and straightforward.

Cons: The air fryer can only cook a limited batch at a time, which means making multiple batches if you have a large quantity.

Pan Frying for Tradition

Pan frying keeps things traditional while still delivering great results. I heated some extra virgin olive oil and unsalted butter in a skillet and added the Arancini, turning them frequently to ensure even browning.

After about 8-10 minutes, they were golden brown and ready to eat.

Pros: This method gives you control over the cooking process and infuses the Arancini with a rich, buttery flavor.

Cons: It requires more attention to ensure even cooking and can sometimes result in an uneven texture.


Here’s a comparison of the four different methods I used to cook Arancini: deep-fried, baked, air fried and pan-fried. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses.

Point of ComparisonDeep-FriedBakedAir FriedPan-Fried
Texture and CrispinessSuper crispy and crunchyModerately crispyNicely crisp but not as crunchy as deep-friedModerately crispy
Flavor ProfileRich and indulgentSlightly lighterGood, but a bit lighter than deep-friedModerate
Health ConsiderationsHigh in fatLower in fatLower in fatModerate fat
Cooking Time8-10 minutes25-30 minutes10-12 minutes10-12 minutes
Difficulty LevelMediumEasyEasyMedium
Equipment RequiredDeep fryerOvenAir fryerSkillet
Cleanup EffortHighLowLowMedium
Aroma and MessStrong smell, grease splatterMinimal aroma, cleanSlight aroma, no messModerate aroma, some splatter
Reheating and StorageLoses crispinessStays fairly goodHolds up wellLoses crispiness
Nutritional ImpactHigh in calories and fatLower calorieLower calorieModerate calorie
VersatilityVery flexibleLess flexibleQuite versatileVersatile

The verdict, it depends.

To me, the overall winner is probably the air fryer one. But it is really hard to compete with the taste of deep fried arancini.

I am sure others will lean more towards the baked version as it is healthier than deep fried, less messy and easier in general.

What’s your favorite?

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