Homemade mozzarella sticks are a game-day great — but hey, no shame if you want to make them for dinner. Our version can be baked or fried, whichever you prefer. Here's how.
Why we love this recipe
I feel like regular mozzarella sticks already have a pretty great PR team. Homemade mozzarella sticks, though? Maybe they take a little more convincing. This recipe is:
- Crisp and flavorful on the outside, gooey and dreamy on the inside
- Easier to make than you may think
- 100% prep-ahead friendly (freeze for up to 3 months before cooking)
- Great baked or fried, whichever you prefer
Fun fact: I was stunned to learn that the history of this near-perfect app dates back to medieval France.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- Low-moisture mozzarella is the good old one-pound block (such as Polly-O) in the refrigerator case at the supermarket. You can use whole-milk or part-skim.
- Use Italian-style dry breadcrumbs for great flavor.
- If you're baking the mozzarella sticks, you'll need two tablespoons of olive oil. If you're frying, you'll need plenty of safflower oil or another neutral-tasting oil with a high smoke point (peanut, canola, sunflower, vegetable oil blend).
How to make them
Here's what you'll do to make a great batch of these classic appetizers. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post. And get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Whether you're baking or frying, you'll start by mixing the salt, garlic powder, and onion powder into the breadcrumbs. If you're baking, you'll toast the breadcrumbs with the olive oil in a pan until golden brown. If you're frying, use the breadcrumb mixture raw.
- Next you'll set up three wide, shallow bowls: one with flour in it, one with beaten eggs in it, and one with the breadcrumb mixture in it.
- Cut the mozzarella into 18 sticks. I like to cut the longest dimension into six slices and then cut each slice into three long sticks. Dip the sticks one at a time into the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, coating well. When all sticks are coated once, give them a second layer of egg and breadcrumbs.
- Next, place the breaded mozzarella on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pop the whole thing into the freezer. Freeze until solid. When frozen, they're ready to cook. You can bake them at 425°F for about 12 minutes or deep-fry at 350°F for about 90 seconds. Either way, you're looking for golden brown on the outside and just gooey on the inside.
Expert tips and FAQs
Unsurprisingly, baked mozzarella sticks are lower in fat and calories yet still crisp and flavorful. Baking is also easier, less messy, and less intrusive (think fine mist of cooking oil and lingering scent throughout the house).
That said, frying is kinda spectacular. If you want to hew as closely as possible to the sports-bar and pizza-place classic, this is the way to go.
Here's how I like to cut a 1-pound block of mozzarella into 18 sticks. First, cut the block into 6 equal slices along the longest dimension. (You can cut it in half first and then each half into thirds, to make it easier to judge the measurements.) Then, cut each slice lengthwise into three sticks.
String cheese tends to be MUCH more expensive, but you can use it if you want. Cut each stick in half crosswise to create two shorter sticks. They'll be a little stubbier than the classic, but they'll work fine.
It may seem a bit fussy, but absolutely do not skip the second layer of breading. Whether baked or fried, mozzarella loves to escape from its confines. The double breading is the key to containing it.
Don't skip the freezing, either. It's an insurance policy against unruly, oozing cheese. It's not impossible to cook them successfully without freezing, but it's a whole lot harder and not worth the risk.
You can 100% prep them in advance. Follow all the steps except for cooking, and freeze for up to three months. Cook them directly from the freezer.
Mozzarella sticks are best when served shortly after cooking. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat and re-crisp in the oven or toaster oven before serving.
More favorite lightened-up appetizers
This genre has become something of an Umami Girl specialty. Here's a glance at some of my personal favorites.
- Baked Buffalo wings
- Classic or vegetarian potato skins
- French onion soup potato skins
- Jalapeño poppers
- Crispy chicken tenders
- Turkey meatballs (& subs)
- Asian-inspired pork meatballs
- 1 pound (454 grams) low-moisture mozzarella (whole milk or part skim)
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
- 2 cups (224 grams) Italian-style dry breadcrumbs
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ cup (60 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 eggs
- Cut the mozzarella into 18 sticks.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, salt, onion powder, and garlic powder.
- If you plan to bake the mozzarella sticks, you'll brown the breadcrumb mixture first. In a medium frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the breadcrumb mixture and cook, stirring almost constantly, until crumbs are almost as browned as you would like them. (They'll brown a little bit more in the oven, but not as much as you might expect.) If you'll be frying, skip this step.
- Place breadcrumb mixture into a wide, shallow bowl.
- Place the flour into another wide, shallow bowl.
- Into a third bowl, crack the eggs and beat well.
- One at a time, dip each piece of mozzarella into the flour. Coat all surfaces and lightly shake off any extra, loose flour.
- Dip the flour-covered mozzarella into the egg and coat all surfaces, letting any excess drip off.
- Roll the egg-covered mozzarella into the breadcrumbs, coating all surfaces. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Repeat until all sticks are covered.
- Then create a second layer of breading on each piece of mozzarella by dipping it into the egg and then into the breadcrumbs. (You won’t use flour for the second coating.)
- When all sticks are double-breaded and back on the lined baking sheet, place the whole thing into the freezer and freeze until solid. You can proceed as soon as they’re frozen, or freeze them for up to three months before baking.
- To bake: Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center. Transfer the prepared baking sheet directly from the freezer to the oven. Bake until mozzarella is just melted, 11 to 12 minutes.
- To fry: In a deep, medium-sized Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat at least one inch of oil to 350°F. Add mozzarella sticks a few at a time and fry until golden-brown and gooey but not precariously so, about 90 seconds. Drain on paper towels.
- Cool slightly before transferring to a serving plate, with marinara sauce for dipping.
- Here's how I like to cut a 1-pound block of mozzarella into 18 sticks. First, cut the block into 6 equal slices along the longest dimension. (You can cut it in half first and then each half into thirds, to make it easier to judge the measurements.) Then, cut each slice lengthwise into three sticks.
- If baking, brown the breadcrumb mixture almost as much as you'd like your mozzarella sticks to be browned. I'm always surprised how little additional browning occurs in the hot oven. (I've learned this lesson over and over again with other baked breaded foods, but it's still a bit counterintuitive.)
- It may seem a bit fussy, but absolutely do not skip the second layer of breading. Whether baked or fried, mozzarella loves to escape from its confines. The double breading is the key to containing it.
- Don't skip the freezing, either. It's an insurance policy against unruly, oozing cheese. It's not impossible to cook them successfully without freezing, but it's a whole lot harder and not worth the risk.
- You can prep the sticks and freeze them up to three months in advance. Freeze solid on a baking sheet, then transfer them to an airtight container or zip-top bag.
- Homemade mozzarella sticks are best when served shortly after cooking. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat and re-crisp in the oven or toaster oven before serving.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 165Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 61mgSodium: 321mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 9g