Growing up, no sleepover was complete without frozen mozzarella sticks. Today’s crispy outside, gooey inside homemade Mozzarella Sticks do justice to the nostalgic classic, but you’ll feel great about the ingredients (and have a blast making them too!).
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If your childhood sleepovers (or late-night college festivities) were anything like mine, you likely remember mozzarella sticks as deep-fried, greasy, gooey wonders of crispy cheesy goodness.
I never felt particularly well after eating fried cheese sticks, but that wasn’t the point.
Sometimes a girl just needs fried cheese (and sometimes a side of Zucchini Fries too).
Today, I’m sharing my “grown-up, healthy mozzarella sticks.” (This Adult Mac and Cheese is yet another “grown-up” version of a childhood favorite that came in a blue box.)
They’re just as cheesy, crunchy, and satisfying as the cheese sticks from the days of yore but made with a few healthy(ish) modifications.
5 Star Review
“We tried it today as a family. Easy to make, easy to get the family involved. Fun to make and eat. Tasted really good.”— Jules —
Unlike the mozzarella sticks (or Potato Skins) you’ll find in a freezer box or on a bar menu, today’s homemade mozzarella sticks are baked in the oven, not fried (just like these tasty Jalapeno Poppers).
Of course, they’re still ideal for dunking in your favorite dipping sauce (these Honey Garlic Chicken Wings are also perfect for dipping).
Childhood Erin would eat mozzarella sticks with ranch dressing but grownup Erin prefers her mozzarella sticks with marinara sauce…though if you passed her a plate of them with ranch dressing at a football party, I doubt she would say no.
How to Make Mozzarella Sticks
Making mozzarella sticks without frying them is easier than you think!
The recipe uses simple ingredients to yield deliciously cheesy and golden goodness.
Keep reading to learn how to make the BEST mozzarella sticks recipe ever (then whip up a batch of this Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip for dipping).
This recipe is easy but requires some advance planning. You need to freeze the cheese before coating it it with the breadcrumbs, then freeze the assembled mozzarella sticks again before baking.
- String Cheese. Yes, that string cheese. The most important of all the mozzarella sticks ingredients! I like to use part-skim mozzarella string cheese for convenience (and string cheese is actually a fairly wholesome snack).
You can also prepare this recipe with a block of mozzarella cheese rather than string cheese. Simply cut the block into 4-inch by 1/2-inch sticks.
- Flour. Using flour is important for making those yummy breadcrumbs stick to the string cheese. I found that all-purpose flour was the best for this recipe.
- Eggs. The all-important breadcrumb binding agent. Since the eggs are critical for sticking the breadcrumbs to the string cheese, I have not tried to make mozzarella sticks without egg.
- Breadcrumbs. For a perfectly uniform and crisp coating, use a blend of Italian-seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs and whole wheat panko bread crumbs (like these).
If you can’t find whole wheat varieties, which I prefer for their slight added nutritional benefits, you can swap for regular breadcrumbs and panko.
- Italian Seasoning + Garlic Powder. The secret weapon in these baked mozzarella sticks. They give these Italian cheese sticks that nostalgic pizzeria flavor (just like this Italian Mac and Cheese).
- Dipping Sauce. Are you team ranch or marinara? Both are excellent options for these homemade baked mozzarella sticks (and this Roasted Red Pepper Dip probably wouldn’t be too shabby either).
- Cut each piece of cheese in half crosswise, then freeze until solid.
- Next, dredge the frozen cheese in flour.
Work in batches of 2-3 pieces of cheese at a time. If you tackle too many cheese sticks at a time, the egg will freeze right onto the cheese and no longer be sticky enough for the crumbs to adhere.
- Then, dip them into a bowl of beaten egg white, whole eggs, and water.
- Finally, coat the cheese in a mixture of whole wheat bread crumbs, panko, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
- Pop the coated cheese sticks back into the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Don’t skip this step. It is a MUST or the cheese will melt all over the baking sheet before the crumbs turn golden.
- When ready to bake, cook the mozzarella sticks in the oven until golden and the cheese is heated through.
To prevent sticking, bake the mozzarella cheese sticks on a large baking sheet, covered with aluminum foil and coated with olive oil spray. I also like to lightly coat the tops of the sticks with the oil to help them brown in the oven.
- Remove and let cool for a few minutes then serve warm with your favorite sauce for dipping.
- To Store. Mozzarella sticks are best enjoyed immediately after making. You can try saving the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- To Reheat. For best results, warm the cheese sticks gently in a 350 degree F oven until heated through.
- To Freeze. For long-term storage, transfer the unbaked coated sticks to a ziptop bag and freeze them for several months.
Meal Prep Tip
Cheese sticks can be prepared through Step 3 and frozen for several months. When ready to serve, bake from frozen as directed in the recipe.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Shallow Bowls. Make dredging the mozzarella cheese sticks in egg and breadcrumbs easy peasy (they’re great for prepping Crispy Asian Chicken Tenders too).
- Baking Sheet. One of my most used and trusted kitchen warriors! It’s great for making other tasty appetizers like Parsnip Fries.
- Small Whisk. This smaller-scale whisk is ideal for stirring ingredients together without splashing everything all over the counter.
The Best Sheet Pans
These commercial baking sheets are make from pure aluminum, so they’ll never rust. Plus that makes for great heat conductivity.
Did you make this recipe?
Let me know what you thought!
Leave a rating below in the comments and let me know how you liked the recipe.
Had competitive cheese pulling been a sport in college, I would have been the champion.
Frequently Asked Questions
Certainly! If you have a brand of gluten free 1:1 all-purpose flour substitute and gluten free breadcrumbs you’ve used successfully for other breaded recipes in the past, I expect it would also work here. If you give it a go, I’d love to hear about your results.
Unfortunately, I haven’t tested this mozzarella stick recipe without eggs. I worry that without the egg the panko breading would not stick to the frozen cheese. I would recommend doing an Internet search for egg substitutes to use for breading. Good luck!
Yes! Mozzarella sticks are delish in the air fryer. Note: every air fryer is a bit different so keep a close eye on them as they bake the first time you make them to ensure they cook up to crispy golden perfection.
The history of our favorite little gooey, cheesy snack is quite interesting (and up for debate). They’re believed to date back to a recipe from 15th-century France(!!). While this original recipe would not resemble the mozzarella stick of today, the basic ingredients and instructions are likely linked. Mozzarella sticks earned their status among the fried food hall of fame in America during the 1970s and 1980s when popular hang-out spots started serving them to customers. Once people tasted crispy on the outside, gooey on the inside fried cheese, the dish spread like wildfire.
- 12 sticks part-skim mozzarella string cheese
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg white
- 2/3 cup Italian-seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- Olive oil cooking spray or an olive oil mister like this one
- Marinara sauce or ranch dressing, for serving
- Slice each piece of cheese in half crosswise so that you have 24 shorter pieces. Arrange the cheese in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet or plate, then freeze until completely solid, about 1 hour.
- Once fully chilled, place the flour in a shallow bowl (a pie dish works well). In a separate shallow bowl, whisk the egg, egg white, and 1 tablespoon of water until well combined. In a third shallow bowl, combine the whole wheat bread crumbs, panko, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Arrange the plates in a line (flour, eggs, breadcrumbs). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Working no more than 2 to 3 cheese sticks at a time, dredge the frozen cheese sticks in the flour, shaking off excess.
Next, dip into the egg, then place in the bowl with the crumbs and lightly pat to coat (if you tackle too many cheese sticks at a time, the egg will freeze right onto the cheese and no longer be sticky enough for the crumbs to adhere). Place the breaded cheese sticks on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the process with the remaining cheese sticks.
Place cheese back into the freezer for at least 2 hours or overnight (this is a MUST or the cheese will melt before the crumbs turn golden).
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with olive oil spray. Arrange the frozen cheese sticks on the sheet, leaving about 3/4 inch between each. Lightly coat the tops of the sticks with the oil.
- Bake in the lower third of your oven for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cheese is heated through and the crumbs are golden. Let stand for 3 minutes and serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping. (I like to heat the sauce first.)
- You can also prepare this recipe with a block of mozzarella cheese rather than string cheese. Simply cut the block into 4-inch by 1/2-inch sticks.
- TO MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE: Cheese sticks can be prepared through Step 3 and frozen overnight. For longer-term storage, transfer the frozen sticks to a ziptop bag and freeze them for several months. Bake directly from frozen.
- TO STORE: Mozzarella sticks are best enjoyed immediately after making. You can try saving the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, then reheating them gently in a 350 degree F oven until warmed through.
- Nutritional information has been calculated with half the amount of flour and bread crumb mixture, as not all of it is used, but you do need extra on each plate to be able to completely coat the cheese stick.
READ: Mozzarella Sticks