Easy Italian recipe for rice balls with mozzarella (suppli)

Deep fried croquettes of tomato risotto stuffed with a gooey melted mozzarella heart? Try our recipe for rice balls, or classic Roman suppli in rosso!

We all know what arancini are.

Those yellow cone shaped fried rice balls you find everywhere in Italy.

They are a great snack.

But did you know that there is another version of these Italian rice balls?

They are called suppli.

And that is what we are making today: check our recipe for rice balls with mozzarella cheese, also known as Roman suppli!

What is a suppli in Italy?

Funny name, right!

Well we first didn’t know where the name suppli came from.

After visiting Rome a couple of months ago, we were told by the waiter from our favorite bottega that in fact suppli is the Italianized version of the French word ‘surprise’.

The surprise is in the melted mozzarella cheese inside.

These little Italian snacks are balls of risotto rice mixed with tomato paste or sauce, and they are popular in Roman cuisine.

What’s the difference between suppli and arancini?

Suppli come from Rome, and arancini originate from the island of Silicy.

Another difference is their shape.

Suppli have a cylinder shape, more like a croquette.

Arancini are larger cone shaped balls.

And then their color: suppli are reddish brown, and arancini are yellowish to orange in color.

The reason for the difference in color is the ingredients that both are made of.

Suppli contain arborio risotto rice, tomato paste and mozzarella cheese – while arancini are made with arborio risotto rice, mozzarella cheese and extra ingredients such as beef and green peas.

Here and there you will also find more modern variations.

We like to keep it simple and just go for the classic tomato and mozzarella suppli!

How do you pronounce suppli?

Phonetically suppli is pronounced [supˈpli].

When was suppli invented?

We already said it.

Suppli are a street food snack.

And they started to become very in Rome in the early 1800’s.

Rice is a staple food in Italy, and it is cheap as well.

So street vendors started to specialise in making these funky little deep fried rice balls on the street.

Cooked and cooled risotto rice balls with a cheap filling of cheese – often cooked and chopped up chicken liver was added as well, another cheap ingredient.

A delicious and filling bite if you ask us!

People would buy these freshly deep fried rice balls as a snack, a lunch bite on the go or a cheap lunchbox treat.

Is suppli Roman?

It sure is!

A highly popular street food snack you will come across while visiting Rome is suppli, a breaded and deep-fried rice ball.

A rustic treat!

What is suppli made of? Does suppli have meat?

Try them if you can: you will love this snack filled with tomato risotto rice and melted mozzarella cheese!

Even still nowadays the classic ‘suppli alla Romana’ is made ‘in rosso’, risotto rice mixed with red tomato sauce and a heart of molten mozzarella at their center.

If you can’t find it, many authentic Roman restaurants also have this specialty on their menu.

Why is called suppli al Telefono?

Telephone cord suppli, where does that name come from?

That is because when you tear the fritter in half, it uncovers the gooey melted mozzarella center and the cheese string while pulling it can get so long like a telephone cord.

How do you eat suppli?

Leave the cutlery on the table.

You eat suppli with your hands of course!

Break them in half or just take a good bite to get that classic melted mozzarella string.

That is the only way to do it.

Suppli are enjoyed as an antipasto bite, or an appetizer before pasta and main course.

Are suppli gluten free?

All types of natural rice are gluten free.

However it is possible that a little flour is added to the cooked risotto rice to make it stick better.

And then there is also that mixture or flour, egg and breadcrumbs that the suppli is coated in before it is deep fried.

So no, classic suppli are not gluten free.

Our Italian recipe for rice balls

We love risotto.

And yes, we always make just a little extra if we plan a risotto dinner at home.

Just so we can use that extra leftover cooked rice to make our recipe for rice balls with mozzarella!

Have you made risotto before?

You can check one of our favorite basic risotto recipes here.

What we do is add a little tomato sauce or tomato paste to the still warm risotto to make the suppli with it later on.

If you make risotto from scratch just like in recipe for rice balls below, start a day in advance to give the rice time to chill and rest in the fridge overnight.


Here we go!

Deep fried croquettes of tomato risotto stuffed with a gooey melted mozzarella heart? Try our recipe for rice balls, or classic Roman suppli in rosso!

Easy Italian recipe for rice balls with mozzarella (suppli)

Ingredients for about 10 to 12 suppli

  • 1 cup (220 g) Arborio risotto rice
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • ½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
  • 2 cups (480 g) pureed tomatoes
  • 1 cup (240 ml) hot beef broth
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (45 g) grated parmesan cheese (optional)
  • 1 cup (120 g) plain flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup (80 ml) milk
  • 2 cups (120 g) breadcrumbs
  • 6 oz (180 g) mozzarella cheese
  • pepper
  • salt
  • frying oil
  1. Pour the olive oil in a large saucepan and put it over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the chopped yellow onion and stir fry them for about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the risotto rice and stir well. Let the onion and rice fry for another minute.
  4. Then add the white wine to the pan, and keep stirring until the wine is fully absorbed.
  5. Turn the heat lover to medium and alternately start adding splashes of the hot beef broth and the pureed tomatoes. Stir regularly and add more of both once the broth is almost gone.
  6. It takes about 25 minutes for the rice to become al dente.
  7. Stir in the grated parmesan cheese (optional) and butter. Give it a minute to melt into the rice.
  8. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper.
  9. Take the cooked risotto off the heat and let it cool down fully at room temperature. Cover the pan and put the rice in the fridge overnight.
  10. Next day make your suppli. Prepare 3 separate bowls to bread the rice balls: flour, beaten eggs and milk, and breadcrumbs.
  11. Divide the cold risotto into 10 to 12 portions. Cut the mozzarella cheese in even sticks as well.
  12. Flatten a portion of the rice in the palm of your hand. Put a piece of mozzarella cheese in the center, and carefully wrap the rice around it. Then gently shape it into a cylinder form.
  13. Once you have made them all, first roll the suppli in the flour, then dip it in the egg and milk mixture, and finish with a breadcrumb coating.
  14. Deep fry the rice balls in batches until they are crisp and golden.
  15. Serve them piping hot while the mozzarella is still gooey.

What do you think of our recipe for rice balls?

Will you give it a try?

Let us know how it went!

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