These fried rice balls speak Sicilian! Ciau! Piaciri di canuscìriti!
These fried rice balls speak Sicilian! Ciau! Piaciri di canuscìriti!

But it's really the exact same thing - except yours is singular and mine is plural! 

The arancino (ah-rahn-CHEE-no) comes to us from Sicily. It may look very similar to a supplì, but make no mistake, it's not the same!

First, you can tell an arancino from a supplì just by the shape. The supplì is rounded on both ends while an arancino has an unmistakable pyramid-like shape, round at the bottom but pointed at the top.

The ingredients are also different from a supplì (this arancino recipe from Giallo Zafferano is in English):

  • Saffron (not in supplì, and gives the arancino rice its distinctive yellow color)
  • Vialone Nano rice (supplì use Carnaroli, which is basically the same type)
  • Peas (you will never find a pea in a supplì!)
  • Caciocavallo cheese (only mozzarella in a supplì)

Other variations also have ham and mozzarella, however. And the tomato ragĂą meat sauce is also in both.

It gets its name from the orange, which in Italian is "arancia." There's nothing citrus-flavored in the arancino, but Sicily is known for its citrus fruit, so it's thought that it was named after the orange because the arancino is also round and has a golden hue (yeah, I know, I think it's a bit of a stretch too—but this comes from the Accademia della Crusca, which is the highest linguistic authority in Italy!) 

You might, in fact, see it called arancina in Sicily, but that's the same thing.

The arancino is so famous that in 2019 it got its own entry in the Oxford English Dictionary! Italy Magazine wrote about that in its 'Arancini' Enters the Oxford English Dictionary.

There's also a video of the arancino "unboxing" (ie, cutting it open!) on the Italy Magazine Facebook page.

So, now, for the million-dollar question: which do you prefer, supplì or arancini? Take the Fried Rice Ball Challenge in this week's poll!