Mozzarella sticks CAN be a “real food”!!?? Okay, maybe not the deep fried ones from street fairs and carnivals. But making these at home (in an air fryer, especially) can yield a pretty healthy snack with just the natural fat in the mozzarella cheese and eggs and a few (or very few) carbs in the breading mix (depending on your choice of breading). Note that you can also bake these in the oven (see below).
If you have tried to make mozzarella sticks before (in oil, oven, or air fryer) and had trouble getting the breading to stick, so you rinsed them off, let them drain in the colander, and tucked them into lunches in zipper bags (and threw your breading and egg mixture down the garbage disposal), try again! (I heard of someone who had that experience before…..hmmmmm….she might be named Donna…)
There are some tricks within this post that could help you make perfect healthy mozzarella sticks (or “fried” cheese) for your kiddos (or yourself!). It really could work this time!
If you are an Intermittent Faster, these are perfect to open your eating window–filling, low carb, and yummy! (Want to learn about IF–check out my free start up charts!)
1) If you want no unbreaded spots on your sticks, do everything listed—three dredging bowls rather than two; full oil in the breading mix; and double dipping.
2) Season your breading if you are not using my breading mix. Consider using my Favorite Seasoning Mix. If you are using something already somewhat salty (from my 21 Ways to Crumb Low Carb article), like Parmesan or pork rinds, omit the salt in your seasoning.
3) Any flour may be used for the extra first step flour bowl—almond flour will be low carb but will add more fat; coconut flour will give a different flavor; sprouted white or sprouted wheat are not noticeable in their “different taste.”
4) For extra crispiness, use coarser products in your breading mix, such as cracker crumbs, cereal crumbs, etc.—even if you want to dilute their carb count with a low carb item. These will lend a crisper outside.
5) To double or triple the recipe, the oven time will need increased and the air fryer will need to be run two or three times. Do not stack or overlap.
6) It seems like an unnecessary step to only put in half of your ingredients then refill halfway through, but the egg mixture creates clumps and moisture in the final dredging bowl and makes it nearly impossible to coat chicken pieces well near the end—-so refill half way through!
7) If you do not want to use eggs, you could try yogurt or sour cream or something else somewhat thick. If you use milk in place of eggs, you will definitely need to double dip in order to get enough breading to stick. Eggs really work for mozzarella sticks. Since they are so difficult to get breading to stick to, I wouldn’t substitute anything.
8) The oil in the crumbs also help with the coating of such smooth items as cheese sticks, skinless chicken breasts, pork chops, etc.. I highly recommend using it.
9) if you still have trouble keeping your breading mix on, you can also coat completely and flash freeze on trays for one hour before frying or baking.
10) To learn how to use lower carb ingredients in breading mixes, check out my “21 Ways to Crumb Low Carb” article!
Below are links to the ingredients I use in this recipe. I am an affiliate for Amazon.com. If you click on the links, I will earn a small commission. Thank you for your support of this blog!
- AIR FRYER and OVEN Instructions
- If needed, preheat air fryer (400 degrees) or oven (425 degrees).
- Set up your dredging station in either of these two ways—using half of the ingredients called for as you will refill halfway through:
- a. Three dredgings: Bowl 1–flour, salt, and pepper; Bowl 2–whisked eggs; Bowl 3–seasoned breadcrumbs or breading mix (REPEAT!)
- b. Two dredgings: Bowl 1–whisked eggs; Bowl 2: seasoned breadcrumbs or breading mix (REPEAT!)
- Stir ½ to 1½ TBSp of oil into breading mix bowl (last bowl), depending on whether you want to use 1 TBSP or up to 3 TBSP oil total and half the paprika.
- If using the flour first, dredge the first stick in the flour, cover with flour, and coat thoroughly.
- Dredge the tender in the egg then the breading mix. If double dipping, dredge in egg and breading mix again. (The amounts given in the recipe are for double dipping; you will likely want to double dip.)
- If oven baking: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment or foil sprayed with cooking spray
- Place stick on sprayed rack in air fryer or prepared baking pan.
- Repeat for all sticks, stopping halfway through to refill all bowls.
- Air fryer cooking: Be sure sticks are barely touching and are not overlapping at all. Fry at 400 degrees for 2-5 minutes or until outsides are golden brown and insides are melty and gooey!
- Oven cooking: Bake in regular oven for 3-5 minutes or convection oven for 2-4 minutes.