What Sauce Goes with Arancini Balls? 11 Delicious Options

Arancini balls are a beloved Italian snack consisting of fried rice balls coated in breadcrumbs. These indulgent bites are often served as an appetizer and pair wonderfully with a variety of sauces that complement their crispy exterior and creamy, cheesy interior.

When selecting a sauce for arancini balls, you’ll want to consider flavors that won’t overpower the dish. Tangy, herby, and mildly spiced sauces work best to enhance the rice balls rather than mask their flavor. The sauces should also have enough texture and body to cling to the breaded exterior of arancini.

To help you decide which sauce to serve with arancini balls, here is an overview of 11 delicious options that are sure to be a hit:

1. Romesco Sauce

Romesco sauce is arguably one of the best sauces to pair with arancini balls. This classic Spanish condiment contains roasted red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, almonds, olive oil, vinegar, and spices. It has a rich, nutty flavor that isn’t overpowering, making it an ideal match for fried rice balls. The thick texture also nicely coats each bite of arancini.

When making romesco at home, feel free to adjust levels of heat by adding crushed red pepper flakes or smoked paprika. You can also stir in freshly chopped parsley or basil for extra flavor and color. Romesco sauce tastes fantastic with arancini balls on its own, but can also be served as a dip alongside the rice balls.

2. Garlic Aioli

Another excellent sauce for arancini balls is garlic aioli. This creamy condiment contains olive oil, egg yolk, lemon juice, garlic, and sometimes mustard. When prepared properly, garlic aioli has a lush texture and bright, tangy flavor that pairs perfectly with fried foods like arancini.

When mixing up a batch of aioli for rice balls, consider adding fresh herbs like chives, parsley, basil, or tarragon to brighten up the flavor. Lemon zest can also provide a nice citrusy kick. If you want something spicier, stir in a pinch of cayenne or smoked paprika. Drizzle the garlic aioli over arancini balls or serve it alongside for dipping.

3. Tomato Sauce

You can never go wrong with classic tomato sauce when it comes to Italian rice balls. Look for a high-quality tomato sauce made with ripe tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil, and a touch of red wine vinegar. Avoid anything too chunky or overly seasoned.

The bright, tangy flavor of tomato sauce allows the essences of the arancini to shine through. For extra flavor, add fresh basil leaves or a grating of parmesan cheese to the sauce right before serving. Drizzle the tomato sauce over the rice balls or opt for more of a dipping style sauce.

4. Bang Bang Sauce

If you want to move beyond traditional Italian sauces, consider a fun Asian-inspired condiment like bang bang sauce. This sweet, spicy, umami sauce contains mayonnaise, sriracha, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sometimes soy sauce or mirin.

The creaminess and subtle heat make bang bang an exciting pairing for fried rice balls. Feel free to tweak the sauce to your preferences by adding extra sriracha for more kick or fresh herbs and scallions for an extra pop of flavor. Drizzle or dip the arancini balls into the colorful sauce for a fusion kick.

5. Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is another classic Italian condiment that pairs nicely with arancini balls. Look for a simple marinara made with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and Italian seasonings. Avoid anything too chunky.

The rich, savory tomato flavor of marinara allows the filling of the arancini balls to shine through. For extra flair, top the sauce with torn basil leaves, red pepper flakes, or grated parmesan before serving. Offer the sauce on the side for dipping or drizzle it over the top of the rice balls.

6. Sweet Onion Sauce

Sweet onion sauce, sometimes called onion jam, offers a delicious flavor contrast to fried arancini balls. Slow cooking onions in butter, sugar, and balsamic vinegar results in a jammy sauce with both sweet and tangy notes.

The mild, syrupy flavor complements arancini without overshadowing the dish. If you want to pump up the flavor, add minced garlic, fresh thyme, or a splash of red wine vinegar. Serve the onion sauce drizzled over the rice balls for amplified richness and flavor.

7. Chimichurri Sauce

Bright green chimichurri sauce is an excellent choice if you’re seeking an herby sauce for arancini balls. This uncooked sauce contains parsley, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, vinegar, and oregano.

The fresh, vibrant flavor acts as the perfect foil to indulgent, fried arancini balls. For extra complexity, add green olives, sun dried tomatoes, jalapeño, or an extra splash of vinegar to your chimichurri. Spoon it over the rice balls or offer it alongside for dipping.

8. Mushroom Sauce

Earthy mushroom sauce is a great choice if you want something more savory and umami-forward. Sauté mushrooms in olive oil and garlic, then simmer in wine or broth until thickened.

The deep, woodsy notes of the mushroom sauce pair beautifully with creamy arancini filling. Stir in a splash of cream or sprinkle of parmesan for even more richness. Drizzle the sauce over plated arancini balls for an extra touch of savoriness.

9. General Tso’s Sauce

For an Asian fusion twist, serve arancini balls with General Tso’s sauce. This sweet, sticky sauce contains soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, chilies, and thickened with cornstarch.

The glistening sauce clings nicely to arancini balls, coating each crunchy bite with its trademark sweet and sour flavor. For more complexity, add toasted sesame oil, chopped scallions, crushed red pepper, or a spoonful of smooth peanut butter to the mix.

10. Aji Verde

Aji verde is a bright Peruvian green sauce made with jalapeños, cilantro, lime juice, onion, and olive oil. It has a refreshingly herby flavor with a touch of heat.

The tangy spice is a nice contrast to richly fried arancini balls. For more dimensions of flavor, add diced avocado, Greek yogurt, or additional cilantro to your aji verde. Serve the sauce drizzled over arancini or place it in a bowl for dipping.

11. Chili Tahini Lime Sauce

Nutty tahini combined with chili sauce and lime makes for an irresistible sauce pairing for arancini balls. Simply whisk together tahini, lime juice, chili sauce, minced garlic, and warm water until smooth.

The sauce boasts savory sesame notes followed by a tangy, slightly spicy finish from the lime and chili. For extra flavor, incorporate soy sauce, fresh ginger, or toasted sesame oil. Spoon this vibrant sauce over arancini balls for a mouthwatering fusion dish.

How to Select the Right Sauce

With so many tasty sauces to choose from, it can be challenging to select the right one for your arancini balls. Here are a few tips for picking a sauce that will perfectly complement these crispy rice fritters:

Consider the filling: Match the sauce to the interior of your arancini. Rich, cheesy fillings pair best with tomato or garlic-based sauces. Meat fillings go nicely with heartier sauces like mushroom or onion. For arancini with fresh veggies, try a lighter sauce like chimichurri or bang bang.

Mind the texture: Thicker, clingier sauces like romesco, marinara, or General Tso’s work best for coating arancini balls from the outside in. Thinner sauces can be used for dipping or drizzling over the top.

Brighten up boring sauces: Even basic tomato sauce can be enhanced with fresh herbs, parmesan, red pepper flakes, or balsamic reduction. Don’t be afraid to spice up, brighten up, or thicken up basic sauces to make them more exciting.

Try new flavors: Expand your palate by exploring sauces from other cuisines, like Korean gochujang, Mexican salsa verde, or Lebanese toum. Fusion flavors create amazing new taste combinations.

Make it personalized: Add customized touches to sauces like stirring in diced peppers, pureeing in fresh herbs, or blending in cream cheese or yogurt for a luscious texture.

Offer variety: Present multiple sauces family-style so guests can sample different flavors. Provide a mix of tomato sauce, aioli, and chimichurri for dipping diversity.

Sauce and Pairing Inspiration

Beyond the sauces already discussed, there are endless possibilities when it comes to finding the perfect match for arancini balls. Here is some additional sauce inspiration to get your creativity flowing:

  • Pesto – Fresh basil pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto complements the Italian flavors of arancini beautifully.
  • Tzatziki – Cool cucumber tzatziki sauce contrasts nicely with hot arancini. Stir in fresh dill or mint for extra dimension.
  • Salsa Verde – Herby cilantro and tomatillo salsa verde tastes amazing with arancini, especially shrimp or chorizo-stuffed ones.
  • Yum Yum Sauce – Sweet and tangy yum yum sauce is a fun change of pace from typical Italian sauces.
  • Queso – No-fuss cheesy queso is a crowd-pleasing dip for meatball or cheese-filled arancini.
  • Ranch – Cool, herbaceous ranch dressing complements fried arancini balls for a familiar flavor.
  • Sriracha Mayo – For spicy arancini, mix sriracha into mayo or aioli for a simple dipping sauce.
  • Honey Mustard – Sweet honey mustard dressing strikes a nice balance with savory arancini.
  • Peanut Sauce -Nutty Indonesian peanut sauce makes a delicious pairing for any Asian-filled arancini.

Don’t limit yourself to just one sauce either. Offering a selection of dips and drizzles allows guests to switch between flavors. A trio of romesco, chimichurri, and tomato sauce lets people customize each arancini bite.

Complementary Sides

Arancini balls already pack a lot of flavor on their own, so sides should be kept simple. Here are some crunchy, fresh options that pair nicely:

Crudités – Fresh, raw veggie sticks like carrots, celery, radishes, and cucumber make a light counterpoint to fried arancini. Ranch or hummus are ideal dips.

Ditalini Pasta Salad – Chilled ditalini pasta tossed with vinaigrette provides a starchy accompaniment and fun textural contrast.

Bruschetta – Garlicky tomato bruschetta on crusty bread offers freshness between arancini bites.

Mixed Greens Salad – A basic salad of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and balsamic dressing balances out the meal.

Focaccia Bread – Warm focaccia wedges are perfect for sopping up any leftover sauce after the arancini are gone.

Polenta Fries – For heartiness, serve crispy parmesan polenta fries alongside arancini balls.

Green Beans – Quick boiled or sautéed green beans round out the plate with something fresh and earthy.

Saucy Arancini Ball Recipes to Try

Now that you know how to pick the perfect sauce, here are some tasty arancini ball recipes to pair it with:

Traditional Cheese Arancini – Stuff cheesy risotto into balls, coat with breadcrumbs, and fry. Serve with marinara for dipping.

Shrimp Scampi Arancini – Mix diced shrimp and scampi sauce into risotto before forming into balls and frying. Drizzle with lemon garlic aioli.

Caprese Arancini – Stuff mozzarella and diced tomatoes inside the rice balls for a caprese salad twist. Serve with pesto for dipping.

Carbonara Arancini – Add fried pancetta, peas, and parmesan to risotto before forming into balls. Serve with an eggy Caesar dressing for dipping.

Lobster Arancini – Fold chunks of lobster meat into creamy risotto balls before frying. Serve with a rich lobster cream sauce for dipping.

Chicken Parmesan Arancini – Stuff breaded chicken cutlet pieces and marinara sauce inside the arancini before frying. Serve with tomato cream sauce.

Reuben Arancini – Fill balls with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and dressing. Fry and serve with Thousand Island dressing.

However you choose to sauce and stuff them, arancini balls make for an irresistible party appetizer or fun weeknight dinner. With the right dipping or drizzling sauce, these Italian rice fritters become an absolute treat for the taste buds. So grab your favorite condiments and get rolling!

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What Sauce Goes with Arancini Balls?

Discover 11 delicious sauce options that perfectly complement crispy arancini balls. From Romesco to Chimichurri, find the ideal dip or drizzle for these Italian rice fritters.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1


  • Romesco Sauce
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Bang Bang Sauce
  • Marinara Sauce
  • Sweet Onion Sauce
  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • Mushroom Sauce
  • General Tso’s Sauce
  • Aji Verde
  • Chili Tahini Lime Sauce


  • cheese fillings.
  • Form compact rice balls around cheese centers.
  • Dredge rice balls in flour, egg wash, then breadcrumbs.
  • Fry arancini in oil at 350°F until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per batch.
  • Drain on paper towel-lined plate. Keep warm in oven.
  • Make your sauce while arancini fry.
  • Serve arancini drizzled with warm sauce for dipping.
Keyword What Sauce Goes with Arancini Balls

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