Supplì alla Romana are a quintessential Italian street food traditionally made with leftover risotto rice.

They are breaded and deep-fried with a heart of melted mozzarella cheese.

Our supplì are as tasty, crispy, messy, melty, scruffy, and as Italian as it gets. They can be enjoyed as appetizers, snacks, or a main dish.

Melty deep-fried rice supplì

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet if using gluten-free breadcrumbs.

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What are supplì alla Romana?

Suppli di riso vegani e filanti

Supplì alla Romana (aka supplì al telefono) are a traditional and regional Italian recipe made in the central parts of Italy, like Lazio and Umbria.

They are similar to Arancini Siciliani, also made of deep-fried rice.

However, supplì has a longer, slimmer shape compared to arancini.

They are traditionally made with meat or tomato risotto leftover from the previous day and mozzarella cheese filling.

italian deep fried rice balls with melted core

If you walk around the streets of Rome these days, you can find all kinds of supplì made with all sorts of rice.

Like our Italian rice balls, riso al salto, and risotto cakes, supplì is an excellent recipe for using up leftover risotto.

Our favorites are mushroom risotto, saffron risotto, eggplant risotto, and zucchini risotto.

Here, we make supplì with non-dairy cheese and assure you they turned out delicious!

Ingredients and substitutions for supplì

tomato risotto

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Tomato risotto leftovers

Here is our tomato risotto recipe.

Using leftover tomato risotto stored in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight is essential.

Cold rice has a more compact and dry consistency that is perfect for turning into a supplì.

If you make the risotto from scratch to make the supplì, make a dryer, firmer one than a regular one.

Then, let it cool completely before making the supplì. For instance, you could make the risotto in the morning and the supplì in the evening.

Vegan cheese slices (or mozzarella)

We use them as a filling for the supply, although traditionally, mozzarella is used.

There are many varieties in supermarkets these days.

We use one that is made with an almond base and coconut oil. Get one that comes in slices if you want a wow effect when you open the supplì.

Alternatively, any melty vegan cheese will work.

Non-dairy milk

We use soy milk instead of egg wash to wet the supplì before rolling them in breadcrumbs.

Any plant milk works; make sure it’s unsweetened and unflavored.


Store-bought or homemade, both are fine. We use them for the breading. Use gluten-free breadcrumbs to make this free of gluten.

Frying oil

Pick an oil that is suitable for frying.

Supplì alla romana or deep fried stuffed rice balls

Tips for making the best supplì

Use leftover rice

This recipe was designed hundreds of years ago as a repurposed dish.

Large Italian families would take leftover rice, shape, and bread and deep-fry it.

Leftover rice is perfect for this recipe because it is dryer and firmer than freshly made risotto.

Because of this, the rice ball will stay together and compact when we fry it.

So, the best is to make extra vegan tomato risotto rice for lunch, then in the late afternoon or the day after, you prep the supplì alla Romana with the leftovers.

Grease your hands with olive oil

When shaping the supplì alla Romana, it is easiest to pour a few drops of olive oil onto your hands, rub them together, and start making the supplì.

The oil will prevent the rice from sticking to your hands, making it much easier to make a smooth supplì.

Wash your hands often

After rolling a few supplì, the rice will stick to your hands, making it difficult to keep shaping them.

So, our advice is to wash your hands every 3 supplì. It’ll be a lot faster to shape them this way.

Use vegan cheese slices

If you want the best visual result when you open the supplì alla Romana (aka supplì al telefono), you should use cheese slices rather than shredded cheese.

When the cheese slice melts, it will give you the cheesy effect when you pull the supplì alla Romana apart.

Keep the oil at the right temperature

The best temperature to fry these Italian-style stuffed rice balls is between 160°C (320°F) and 180°C (356°F).

If the temperature is too low, the supplì will absorb too much oil, making it hard to eat them.

If the temperature is too high, the breading will cook too fast and burn, while the cheese inside will not reach a melting point.


What does supplì mean

Supplì is adapted from the French term surprise.

A French general walked the streets of Rome at the beginning of the 19th century, eating the Roman deep-fried rice balls and calling them “surprise” due to the melted cheese hidden inside.

The Romans immediately Italianised the term, transforming it into soplìs first and supplì later.

Why are they called supplì al telefono?

The term comes from the mozzarella cheese melting and creating a cheesy string from one end of the supplì to the other, resembling an old cable telephone.


These days, Italian supplì Alla Romana is made in a million different ways.

We showed you the most basic version with vegan tomato rice, but you can make them with any Italian Risotto.

Our favorites are supplì made with leftover Mushroom Risotto and Saffron Risotto.


Supplì is best eaten within 1 hour from frying them.

However, if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

When ready to eat them, warm them in the oven at 180°C (360°F) for 10 minutes.

More risotto recipes

More rice recipes

supplì alla Romana

Supplì alla Romana

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 4 votes
Supplì alla Romana are a quintessential Italian street food traditionally made with leftover risotto rice.
They are breaded and deep-fried with a heart of melted mozzarella cheese.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 4 people
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, Side dish
Cuisine: Italian


  • 1 pound tomato risotto <– click for recipe (best if leftover from previous day)
  • 4 ounces vegan cheese in slices or mozzarella cut into chunks
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup soy milk unsweetened
  • ½ gallon frying oil


  • Take 4 ounces vegan cheese in slices, put them on top of each other, and cut them into 2-inch long (5cm) pieces.
    Supplì di riso step 1
  • Prepare 1 plate with 1 cup breadcrumbs, 1 bowl with ¼ cup soy milk, 1 large empty plate, the cheese sticks, and some olive oil.
    Supplì di riso step 2
  • Take 1 pound tomato risotto leftovers from the fridge.
    TIP: if you make the risotto from scratch for the supplì, you need to make it very thick and let it cool down completely before using it for the supplì.
    Supplì di riso step 3
  • Grease your hands with olive oil, then place a spoonful of the leftover risotto rice in your left hand.
    Supplì di riso step 4
  • Flatten the rice between the palms of your hands.
    Apply gentle pressure with your index finger in the center of the flattened rice to create a nest for the cheese.
    Supplì di riso step 5
  • Place the cheese stick in the rice.
    Then, with both hands, wrap the rice around the cheese, rolling it between the palms of your hands.
    Make sure the cheese stick is fully sealed by the rice.
    Supplì di riso step 6
  • You should get a smooth and compact rice croquette that resembles a small cylinder shape with round ends.
    Set it aside on a clean plate and repeat the step until you run out of rice.
    Supplì di riso step 7
  • For the breading, take each supplì, one by one, gently dip it in the bowl with the soy milk, then roll it in the breadcrumbs.
    Now, take it in your hands and add more breadcrumbs, pressing between the palms of your hands.
    Make sure the supplì is wholly coated with breadcrumbs, then set it aside on a clean plate.
    Supplì di riso step 8
  • In a pot, add the frying oil and bring it to 340°F or 170°C.
    Throughout the frying process, try to keep the oil between 320°F (160°C) and 356°F (180°C). Prepare a large platter lined with kitchen paper.
    Supplì di riso step 9
  • Gently lower the supply in the hot oil. Be careful.
    Add up to 4 supplìs at a time. Gently move the supplìs around to cook evenly. Fry in the oil for about 5 minutes until they turn a nice brown color.
    TIP: If the oil is too hot, the supplì will cook too fast on the outside and become too dark.
    Keep the oil around 340°F (170°C) for best results by checking with a kitchen thermometer.
    Supplì di riso step 10
  • Take the supplìs out of the oil, let excess oil drip away, and rest on a large platter lined with kitchen paper.
    Supplì di riso step 11
  • Let them cool for at least 3 minutes (be careful; they are very hot inside and you can get burned), then enjoy eating them with your hands.
    supplì di riso



Calories: 196kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 15g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 1.5g
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Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

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