Crab Arancini Recipe (Fried Rice Balls with Crab)

There are few foods more delicious than hot, fried arancini balls. My Crab Arancini recipe is creamy and filled with fresh lump crab. This fool-proof recipe walks you through the perfect breading station for these tender little rice balls. If you are a seafood lover like me, you’ll love this recipe. Check out my crab risotto recipe, which is the base of this arancini dish! Serve these with lemon aioli or marinara dipping sauce.

Zoomed in picture of fresh hot arancini with crab inside, with a marinara sauce.

Arancini is an amazing appetizer. It’s crunchy on the outside (thanks to the breadcrumbs and deep-fried cooking method). And on the inside, these arancini are hot and tender. This recipe requires chilled risotto as the base. Check out my favorite recipe for crab risotto – it’s easy to make and is cooked to al dente perfection! Plus, it’s full of white crab meat. After making the risotto, you will spread it in a rimmed baking sheet and chill it in the fridge for at least 1 hour. Then, you’re ready to form balls from the leftover risotto!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • It’s easy to make. Using leftover crab risotto streamlines the cooking process, making this recipe a convenient and practical option for busy home cooks. With just a few simple ingredients and straightforward steps, anyone can whip up a batch of delicious crab arancini in no time.
  • This is an easy, yet impressive dish! Crab arancini are not only delicious but also visually appealing, making them a standout dish on any table. Whether served as an elegant appetizer or a rustic main course, these golden orbs of goodness are sure to impress guests and family members alike.
  • You can make this ahead for a party. These crab arancini can be prepared in advance and either fried just before serving or reheated in the oven for a convenient make-ahead option. This makes them perfect for entertaining or for enjoying leftovers throughout the week.

A Note On Arancini

Arancini, originating from Sicily, are delicious Italian rice balls traditionally filled with ragù, mozzarella, and peas, then coated in breadcrumbs and fried to golden perfection. The name “arancini” means little oranges, due to their round shape and golden hue resembling oranges. To make the perfect base for arancini, a creamy and flavorful risotto is prepared using Italian Arborio rice, which is slowly cooked in a large skillet with ladlefuls of stock over medium-high heat. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for crab arancini.

  • Leftover Crab Risotto –The star ingredient of this recipe, leftover crab risotto provides a creamy and flavorful base for the arancini. Its rich seafood flavor adds depth to the dish, while its sticky texture helps hold the arancini together. Ensure the risotto is well-chilled before shaping the arancini to make the process easier. Arborio rice is the secret to tender, delicious risotto! 
  • Salt and Pepper – Essential seasonings that enhance the flavor of the arancini. Salt brings out the ingredients’ natural flavors, while pepper adds a subtle kick. Season each component of the arancini, including the risotto, egg wash, and breadcrumbs, for balanced flavor throughout.
  • All-Purpose Flour – Used for dredging the arancini before coating them with egg and breadcrumbs. The flour helps the egg wash adhere to the risotto balls, ensuring a crisp and golden exterior when fried. Shake off any excess flour before dipping the arancini in the egg wash to prevent clumps in the breadcrumb coating.
  • Eggs – Beaten egg acts as a binding agent and provides a sticky surface for the bread crumbs to adhere to. They help create a crispy and golden crust when the arancini are fried. Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper to add flavor to the breadcrumb coating.
  • Breadcrumbs – Coating the arancini with breadcrumbs creates a crunchy exterior that contrasts with the creamy risotto filling. The breadcrumbs also help seal in the moisture, ensuring the arancini stay moist on the inside while crispy on the outside. Use fine breadcrumbs for a smoother coating or panko breadcrumbs for extra crunch.
  • Vegetable Oil – Used for frying the arancini until golden brown and crispy. The high heat of the oil cooks the exterior quickly, creating a crunchy shell while keeping the risotto inside moist and creamy. Use a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable or canola oil, for frying.

Substitutions and Additions

  • Parmesan Cheese – Add some grated parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs for a tasty crunch! 
  • Add Lemon – For a citrusy kick, add lemon zest or lemon juice to the egg mix. 
  • Use a Different Oil – Make sure you use a flavorless oil with a high smoke point such as canola or vegetable oil. 

Step by Step Instructions

Uncooked, unbreaded balls of crab risotto on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

1: Take the hot leftover crab risotto and spread it out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or until it’s firm and set.

Once the risotto has cooled and set, remove it from the refrigerator and begin shaping the arancini. Take a small handful of the chilled risotto and flatten it in the palm of your hand. Shape it into a ball (about 3 tablespoons big).

Repeat with the remaining risotto.

Breading crab arancini in seasoned flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumbs.

2: Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper. Also, season the flour and breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.

Set up a breading station with three shallow bowls: one with seasoned flour, one with seasoned beaten eggs, and one with seasoned breadcrumbs.

Roll each risotto ball first in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess, then dip it in the seasoned beaten eggs, and finally coat it evenly with seasoned breadcrumbs. Place the coated arancini on a plate or tray.

Frying arancini in hot oil.

3: Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet or pot to 350°Farenheit (175°Celsius). Carefully lower the arancini into the hot oil in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.

Fry the arancini until golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per batch.

Hot crab arancini on a plate lined with paper towels on a wooden cutting board.

4: Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.

Serve the crab arancini hot with your favorite dipping sauce, such as lemon aioli or spicy marinara.

Overhead shot of arancini on an oval serving platter with marinara sauce and lemon aioli.

Tips and Notes

  • Check Oil Temperature – Test the oil with a wooden spoon—bubbles should form around the handle immediately when it’s hot enough. You can also use a deep-fry thermometer. Make sure you have enough oil, too! I suggest using 3-4 inches of oil. 
  • Thoroughly Chill Risotto – After shaping, chill the risotto balls in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm them up for frying.
  • Use Gentle Pressure – When shaping the balls, apply gentle but firm pressure to maintain the creamy texture of the risotto.
  • Fry in Batches –  Avoid overcrowding the pan by frying the arancini in batches to ensure they cook evenly and achieve a crispy exterior.

Arancini with crab on a plate with a marinara dipping sauce.

Serving Suggestions

  • Wine Pairing – Pair crab arancini with a dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, to complement the seafood flavors and refresh the palate between bites. The crisp acidity and fruity notes of these wines enhance the savory richness of the arancini.
  • Christmas Eve Feast – Serve crab arancini as part of the traditional Italian “Feast of the Seven Fishes” celebration on Christmas Eve. The crispy, seafood-filled arancini is the perfect addition to this festive and indulgent meal.
  • Garnishes – Serve crab arancini with a garnish of lemon wedges and fresh parsley for a burst of brightness and freshness. Squeezing a lemon wedge over the arancini adds a zesty tang, while the parsley lends a vibrant pop of color and flavor.
  • Dipping Sauces – Offer two delicious dipping sauce options to accompany the crab arancini: lemon aioli and marinara sauce. The creamy lemon aioli provides a tangy complement to the crispy arancini, while the marinara sauce adds a classic Italian touch with its rich tomato flavor. 

Storage and Reheating Instructions

  • Storage – Cool arancini to room temperature before storing them in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  • Reheating from Fridge – Preheat oven to 350°Farenheit (175°Celsius). Bake on a lined baking sheet for 10-15 mins. Alternatively, reheat in a skillet over medium heat until crispy.
  • Freezing – To freeze crab arancini, allow them to cool to room temperature after frying, then place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm. Transfer the frozen arancini to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag, labeling with the date and contents, and store them in the freezer for up to 2-3 months. When ready to enjoy, preheat the oven to 350°Farenheit (175°Celsius), bake the frozen arancini for 20-25 minutes until heated through and crispy, or reheat them in a skillet over medium heat until crispy on all sides. Enjoy your reheated crab arancini straight from the freezer!

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it! Tag @seasonedandsalted on Instagram and leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review below!

Crab arancini on a plate with red sauce.

Crab Arancini Recipe (Fried Rice Balls with Crab)

Allie Hagerty
Try this creamy and flavorful crab arancini recipe. These hot and tender rice balls are filled with fresh lump crab and are the perfect appetizer for seafood lovers.
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Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 arancini
Calories 129 kcal

Equipment

  • rimmed baking sheet
  • mixing bowl
  • Three shallow bowls for breading station
  • Deep skillet or pot for frying
  • Slotted Spoon
  • Paper towels for draining

Ingredients
  

  • 4.5 cups leftover crab risotto
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions
 

  • Take the hot leftover crab risotto and spread it out onto a rimmed baking sheet. Allow it to cool in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or until it’s firm and set.
  • Once the risotto has cooled and set, remove it from the refrigerator. Take a small handful of the chilled risotto and shape it into a ball. Repeat with the remaining risotto.
  • Season the beaten eggs with salt and pepper. Also, season the flour and breadcrumbs with salt and pepper.
  • Set up a breading station with three shallow bowls: one with seasoned flour, one with seasoned beaten eggs, and one with seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Roll each risotto ball first in the seasoned flour, then dip it in the seasoned beaten eggs, and finally coat it evenly with seasoned breadcrumbs. Place the coated arancini on a plate or tray.
  • Heat Oil for Frying: Heat vegetable oil in a deep skillet or pot to 350°F (175°C).
  • Carefully lower the arancini into the hot oil in batches, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes per batch. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the oil and drain on paper towels.
  • Serve the crab arancini hot with your favorite dipping sauce, such as lemon aioli or spicy marinara.

Notes

  • Check Oil Temperature – Test the oil with a wooden spoon—bubbles should form around the handle immediately when it’s hot enough. You can also use a deep-fry thermometer. Make sure you have enough oil, too! I suggest using 3-4 inches of oil. 
  • Thoroughly Chill Risotto – After shaping, chill the risotto balls in the refrigerator for at least an hour to firm them up for frying.
  • Use Gentle Pressure – When shaping the balls, apply gentle but firm pressure to maintain the creamy texture of the risotto.
  • Fry in Batches –  Avoid overcrowding the pan by frying the arancini in batches to ensure they cook evenly and achieve a crispy exterior.

Nutrition

Serving: 1aranciniCalories: 129kcalCarbohydrates: 25gProtein: 4gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 89mgPotassium: 48mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 36IUCalcium: 25mgIron: 2mg
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