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Arancini balls are a delicious staple of Italian cuisine. In particular, this wonderful culinary creation originated in the region of Sicily, from where it spread and increased in popularity, first in Europe and then across much of the world. However, if you’ve never tried these wonderful fried snacks then you may wonder, what to serve with arancini?

What Is Arancini?

Arancini are basically deep-fried rice balls. More specifically they are risotto balls made of arborio rice that is stuffed with various ingredients (with mozzarella being a common choice) and coated with bread crumbs. They are then deep-fried until golden brown, resulting in a delicious form of street food that is crispy/crunchy on the outside whilst the insides are wonderfully soft rice with extra flavours and textures added by the use of various ingredients.

As mentioned above, cheeses such as mozzarella cheese are a common filling choice for stuffed arancini rice balls. However, they are far from the only fillings that you are likely to find in stuffed rice balls. Other common options include nuts such as pistachios, ragu, prosciutto (or ham/another equivalent) and eggplant. Additionally, it is also common to see sweet varieties of arancini filled with ingredients such as dark chocolate, lemon zest and cinnamon.

What to serve with arancini? 9 delicious side ideas

What Goes With Arancini?

Arancini is a wonderful deep-fried treat that is often eaten as a snack. However, when wanting to use them to make a meal you will likely need to serve something alongside them. Naturally, the flavours associated with arancini will greatly vary depending on which type you’re having. 

However, most options will likely be savoury rather than sweet and contain rich flavours and ingredients. Additionally, they will have a crispy exterior that gives way to fluffy arborio rice along with typically creamy ingredients. As such, choosing side dishes that complement or nicely contrast these traits in some manner is always a good choice.

What to Serve with Arancini?

With the above in mind then, you may be unsure of what to pair with arancini. However, whilst you typically want something solid and substantial when serving mashed potatoes, for the crispy arancini exterior the opposite is just as often true. Although, something solid may still be good for particularly creamy fillings. With that in mind then, the following options are great to serve alongside arancini:

  1. Marinara Sauce
  2. Aioli Dip Sauce
  3. Grilled Asparagus
  4. Eggplant Parmigiana
  5. Wilted Spinach
  6. Beetroot Relish
  7. Italian Stuffed Bullhorn Capsicums
  8. Pear And Pomegranate Salad
  9. Prosciutto, borlotti and roast tomato salad

What to serve with arancini? 9 delicious side ideas

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a wonderfully rich tomato-based sauce that also contains garlic, onions and carrots that have been shredded. Truly this sauce is filled with an assortment of wonderful flavours and textures, such as the soft crunch of onion and carrots, the rich tomato sauce and the subtle but distinct tastes of garlic and onion that always make for a wonderful secret ingredient.

The resulting combination of tastes and textures makes for a sauce that pairs excellently with cooked arancini rice balls. This is especially true for particularly cheesy variations since as we all know, cheese and tomato is an iconic combination. Although, it will also pair excellently with any other savoury form of arancini just as well.

Aioli Dip Sauce

We all know that mayonnaise makes for a great condiment in a wide variety of contexts. However, instead of using mayo as a dipping sauce, an even better idea is to use an aioli dip instead. 

Aioli is made from olive oil and minced garlic. As a result, it is wonderfully creamy with a garlicky tang that is truly to die for. If though, you can’t find any aioli dip or can’t make your own then garlic mayonnaise will be an excellent choice that most people are unlikely to notice the difference between. 

The beauty of this condiment though is that the creamy texture and garlic taste will pair excellently with near enough any type of arancini you can possibly serve. This is true whether it’s cheesy, meaty or stuffed with vegetables.

Stonewall kitchen lemon herb aioli, 10 ounces

Grilled Asparagus

Arancini, whilst having a wonderfully crispy exterior is more known for its delicious stuffings which can include pistachios or ham and a creamy bechamel sauce, along with already creamy arborio rice.

As such, some crunchy and smokey grilled asparagus can help provide a wonderful contrast in flavours and texture. This is because asparagus is known for pairing well with creamy ingredients, as such the fillings of arancini make them a wonderful choice of side. Meanwhile, if the arancini contain smoked cheese or meats then the synergy of these flavours with that or grilled asparagus will be truly something special.

If though, you want to make this into a more substantial meal then creating an antipasti plate with arancini and grilled asparagus is an excellent idea. To so along with these ingredients add some sliced tomatoes, salami, bocconcini (small mozzarella balls) and (potentially) olives. All of which should be drizzled with a pesto dressing.

Eggplant Parmigiana

If wanting to double down on the cheesy nature associated with arancini along with keeping things at least somewhat veggie-focused then an eggplant (or aubergine) parmigiana is what you need.

Often, this is seen as a vegetarian equivalent to the lasagne as it operates on similar principles. However, instead of using pasta, the eggplant will be sliced thinly and layered between a rich tomato sauce. Finally, like with a lasagne, a generous amount of cheese will be used to top this before baking.

The result is an incredibly rich dish that is similar to lasagne. However, instead of the meaty flavours, this dish is slightly sweet and bitter thanks to the eggplant.

The result is a dish that is rich and wonderfully flavourful that can work either as a main dish following an arancini starter or in a small portion on the side.

Wilted Spinach

Are you looking for something slightly lighter and green, but not quite as crunchy as something like asparagus? If so, then some wilted spinach is an excellent choice. 

This is a simple dish that can be made by lightly sauteeing or stir-frying the spinach with some garlic and olive oil or butter. The goal here is to briefly cook the spinach until it has shrunk, following which it will be ready to serve along with a grating of nutmeg or a sprinkling of nuts.

This works because the sweet and earthy tastes normally associated with spinach are subsequently complemented by garlic along with a slightly more acidic and robust flavour. All of which contrasts wonderfully with the rich, creamy and crispy nature of the arancini.

What to serve with arancini? 9 delicious side ideas

Beetroot Relish

A wonderful way to add a bit of tang and sweetness to your arancini is will a delicious dollop of beetroot relish.

This is a fantastic side to accompany with arancini as the flavours will bounce off each other beautifully. This is because the tangy and sweet flavours help to really emphasise the mellow and homey flavours of the arancini balls.

If though, you’re not a lover of beetroot, then don’t worry. Other relish options that work well include caramelised onion or tomato relish.

Italian Stuffed Bullhorn Capsicums

When having a stuffed parcel treat like arancini, serving it alongside another form of stuffed food can be a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. This is because with these stuffed bullhorn capsicums (large red peppers) there will be a myriad of flavours and textures that brilliantly synergise and contrast with those of arancini.

One of these is the soft crunch of pepper with the crispy arancini exterior. In addition, though, the combination of cheeses from both dishes and the contrast of creamy rice with couscous provide also come together to create a complex and layered dish.

What to serve with arancini? 9 delicious side ideas

Pear And Pomegranate Salad

Salad is a wonderful way to balance out the richness of any deep-fried dish with arancini balls being no exception. This is because they add some extra freshness to the meal along with keeping things quite light.

This can be simply done with a mix of pears and pomegranate seeds on a bed of rocket and a dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Additionally, a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top adds an extra sharp twist.

Prosciutto, Borlotti And Roast Tomato Salad

A very different salad option is to serve arancini alongside prosciutto, borlotti (cranberry beans) and roast tomato salad.

Doing so provides smokey flavours from the prosciutto along with a rich and creamy flavour from the borlotti. Meanwhile, the roasted tomatoes will be wonderfully juicy and add a slightly tart but sweet and acidic flavour.

Answered: What to Serve with Arancini?

Arancini is a wonderful deep-fried Italian snack food that is stuffed with an assortment of different ingredients. As such, the number of sides that can go with them are incredibly varied with the options listed above merely being some of the best well-known options.

Ultimately though, your own palette will be unique. As such whilst these are all good starting points, why not experiment with some ideas of your own as well?

FAQ – What to Serve with Arancini?

How long do arancini balls last?

Arancini balls can become soggy when left at room temperature for prolonged periods of time. As such, it is often best to keep them in the fridge. However, even under refrigerated conditions, they will still only last two to three days.

Can arancini balls be reheated?

Arancini balls can be reheated quite easily. The best way to do so is to microwave them for roughly fifteen seconds, following which they should be heated in a preheated oven for roughly five to ten minutes or until piping hot. For the best results heating them at a temperature of 350°F (or 180°C) on a wire rack is recommended.