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Homemade Mozzarella Sticks are deliciously seasoned with breadcrumbs on the outside and hot, gooey melted cheese on the inside. Serve them with marinara sauce for dipping at your next party or game night! Air fryer, oven, and traditional frying method instructions all work and these are great for making ahead and storing in the freezer so you can enjoy mozzarella sticks whenever you want!
We love fun appetizers and finger foods! If you are planning a party, some of our other favorites are Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers, Slow Cooker Little Smokies in Honey Garlic BBQ Sauce, and Corn Dog Mini Muffins.
Crispy, gooey mozzarella sticks
When we go to a restaurant, I always love to peruse the appetizer menu. Appetizers are the best! Sometimes my husband and I will even order a couple different appetizers and just make a meal out of them instead of getting entrees!
These homemade mozzarella sticks are my favorite appetizer made at home, which is definitely more cost-effective. And frankly, they taste better than any mozzarella sticks I’ve ever had a restaurant!
They are great for making in advance and freezing to have on hand whenever the craving strikes or so you have less to prepare before a party. Then all you have to do is fry them up and serve them hot when guests arrive!
While I prefer the prepared the classic way by frying them in hot oil, these mozzarella sticks are also pretty darn delicious made in the air fryer or even baked in the oven. The air fryer is my second favorite approach since I can make just enough for our family of four without the mess and hassle of heating oil. Plus, it’s faster than the oven.
What you’ll need
- Mozzarella cheese: While I love fresh mozzarella, it’s too soft to hold up when making mozzarella sticks. Instead, you want to pick up a block of firm whole milk low moisture mozzarella cheese. I have even cheated and used my kids mozzarella sticks before and they work pretty well too.
- Italian-Style Breadcrumbs: These seasoned breadcrumbs are a little more fine than the Panko-style breadcrumbs, which actually makes for a better coating on these mozzarella sticks. I tried them with a Panko version and Italian seasoning, but didn’t like the texture nearly as well.
- Eggs & milk: These are beaten together to create an egg wash that you will dip the sliced sticks of cheese into so the crumbs will stick to them.
- Parmesan cheese: This deliciously salty, nutty cheese adds depth of flavor to the breading that coats the outside of the mozzarella sticks.
- Salt: We want to season our breadcrumbs so they crispy outside coating doesn’t taste stale or bland.
- Vegetable oil: This is only used if you are planning to fry your mozzarella sticks.
- Marinara sauce: You can either make homemade marinara sauce for dipping, or pick up your favorite brand from the store. We love the Rao’s brand of marinara sauce and always keep a couple of jars in the pantry for nights when I don’t have time to make it from scratch.
How to Make Mozzarella Sticks
- Prep for success! Set up two shallow dishes – one with the eggs and milk whisked together, and another with the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and salt. Slice the block of cheese into 16 sticks and set them to the side. Each stick will roughly be 3 1/2″ long by about 1/2″ wide, which is just about perfect size-wise.
- Coat the mozzarella in the breading: First, dip a cheese stick in the egg wash first, then roll it in the breadcrumbs so they coat the outside. Repeat the process again by dipping the coated mozzarella stick back into the egg wash, then the breadcrumbs for a solid coating that will help hold in the cheese as it melts during the cooking process. Repeat with the remaining cheese, egg wash, and breadcrumbs, transferring the finished mozzarella sticks onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Freeze the breaded mozzarella sticks for at least 1 hour.
- For frying: If you want to fry your mozzarella sticks, add enough oil to a large skillet for fill it at least 1″ deep. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until it reaches between 350 and 365 degrees F. I find it helpful to use a digital thermometer to keep tabs on the temperature of the oil so it doesn’t get too hot or cool down too much while frying. Add 5-6 mozzarella sticks to the hot oil and fry for 1-2 minutes until crispy and golden brown on the outside. You will want to carefully turn them partway through using tongs if there isn’t enough oil in the pan to completely cover them.
- Drain: Transfer the cooked mozzarella sticks to a plate lined with paper towels to drain while repeating with the rest of the sticks.
- Serve: These are best enjoyed piping hot with marinara sauce for dipping.
Tips for making mozzarella sticks
- Use a block of the firm mozzarella cheese, rather than fresh mozzarella cheese, which is softer. The firm mozzarella is better for cutting and frying.
- We tested this recipe with both Panko-style bread crumbs, and the smaller classic Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs. The finer breadcrumbs made for a better coating that held to the cheese and provided better coverage.
- Don’t skip the second coating of breadcrumbs. It’s hard to get enough coating to create a shell to hold in the cheese while it fries with just one dip in egg wash and breadcrumbs.
- Leftovers will keep for 1-2 weeks in the fridge and can be reheated in the oven or microwave, although they won’t be as crisp as when they are first fried.
What dipping sauce is best for mozzarella sticks?
Our favorite choice is a classic marinara or pizza sauce for dipping these crispy-on-the-out-side, melty-on-the-inside sticks.
You can serve the marinara sauce cold for a contrast, or heat it up on the stove top or in the microwave if you prefer.
But I also love these with ranch dressing. Because everything goes with ranch, doesn’t it?
Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks
This is my second favorite way for making mozzarella sticks, if I’m not frying them.
Preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees F. Arrange your mozzarella sticks in a single layer in the basket and spray or brush them with cooking spray or olive oil for that crispy, fried effect.
Air fry for 6-7 minutes until golden brown on the outside and the cheese is hot and gooey in the middle.
Baked Mozzarella Sticks
If you would like to bake your mozzarella sticks, follow all of the same instructions for prepping and freezing them. When you are ready to cook them, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the mozzarella sticks in a single layer and spray or brush them with cooking spray or olive oil to help them crisp up a bit in the oven.
Bake for about 10-12 minutes until they are golden brown on the outside and the cheese is molten in the middle!
More Recipes Like This
- Bacon-Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers
- Crispy Coconut Shrimp (Fried or Baked)
- Slow Cooker Little Smokies in Honey Garlic BBQ Sauce
- Classic Shrimp Cocktail
- Easy Chicken Parmesan Sliders
- 1 pound mozzarella
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Marinara sauce, for dipping
- Slice the brick of mozzarella cheese into 16 sticks that are each about 3 1/2" long.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. In a separate shallow dish like a pie plate, stir together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and salt.
- Working one at a time, dip each mozzarella stick into the egg wash, let the excess drip off, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat the process for each mozzarella stick for a double coating of bread crumbs by dipping again in the egg wash and breadcrumbs before transferring to a sheet pan. Continue until all of the cheese is coated and the breadcrumbs have been used up.
- Transfer the mozzarella sticks to the freezer and freeze for at least 1 hour.
- Fill a large skillet at least 1"-2" deep with vegetable oil, or use a deep fryer if you have one. Heat the oil to between 350 and 365 degrees F over medium-high heat. The temperature will drop when the frozen mozzarella sticks are added, so use a thermometer to monitor the oil temp and keep it in range.
- Working in batches, fry 5-6 mozzarella sticks at a time for 1-2 minutes, carefully turning with tongs halfway through, until crispy and golden brown on the outside. Remove the fried mozzarella sticks to a plate lined with paper towel to soak up any excess oil.
- Continue to fry the remaining mozzarella sticks, then serve hot with marinara sauce for dipping.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 168Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 60mgSodium: 501mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 10g
All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.
This recipe first appeared on The Recipe Critic where I am a contributor.