Start to Finish: 50 minutes Servings: 4 to 6 Difficulty Level: Intermediate
Mozzarella sticks are impossible to resist and, to some, seemingly impossible to make. It's true that these treats can leak or burn when dropped in hot oil. Using a double breading technique and pairing cold cheese with hot oil, in a recipe adapted from one provided by Serious Eats, prevents those mishaps and results in crunchy, better than store-bought sticks of gooey goodness.
- 16-ounce block of low-moisture mozzarella cheese
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups white flour
- 1 1/4 cups plain breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Pinch ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Vegetable oil
Prepare the Cheese
Cut the block into sticks that are about 1/2 inch wide, 1/2 inch thick and 3 to 4 inches long.
Crack the eggs into a pie pan or shallow bowl and whisk them. Pour the flour into a second shallow dish or plate and stir in half the salt. Pour the breadcrumbs, remaining salt, pepper and Italian seasoning into a third shallow dish. Stir the crumbs around to fully incorporate everything.
Arrange the three dishes in a row with the egg first, the flour second and the crumbs third. Set a clean plate on the other side of the breadcrumb dish.
Place a few of the cheese sticks in the egg mixture. Use one hand -- your "wet hand" -- to turn the sticks around until they're thoroughly coated. Use that hand to transfer the sticks into the flour.
Use your other hand -- your "dry hand" -- to scoop flour over the sticks. Press flour against the ends of the sticks to be sure they are coated. With your dry hand, return the sticks to the egg.
Turn the sticks around again in the egg using your wet hand. Move them to the breadcrumb mixture.
Use your dry hand to scoop breadcrumbs over the sticks. Gently press the crumbs onto all sides of the sticks, including the ends.
Place the crumb-covered cheese sticks on the clean plate. Repeat this process until they're all coated.
Refrigerate the plate for 30 minutes.
Fry the Sticks
Just before you take the cheese sticks out of the refrigerator, set a large frying pan over medium heat. Pour in 1/2 inch of vegetable oil and let it warm up for a few minutes. Dip the end of a wooden spoon in the oil -- when the oil bubbles around the wood, it's ready to fry with.
Cover a plate with a few paper towels. Pull on a pair of long oven mitts and keep them on while working with the oil.
Using a pair of tongs, gently transfer each stick into the hot oil. You may be able to fit them all into the pan at once, or may need to make them in two batches.
Let the sticks cook for about 60 seconds, or until they start to turn golden brown. Use the tongs to carefully rotate the pieces so they fry evenly and let them cook for an additional 30 to 60 seconds.
Remove the finished mozzarella sticks from the oil using the tongs. Set them on the paper towel-covered plate. Let them cool for 2 to 3 minutes and serve them with marinara sauce.
Cheese and Crumb Alternatives
Making perfect mozzarella sticks isn't a task that allows for much variation, but playing around with the cheese and breadcrumb coating will give you slightly different flavor and texture.
- Using prepackaged string cheese is a convenient alternative to slicing up a block of cheese. Cut the sticks in half before breading them. However, not all string cheeses are equal. Taste-test any string cheese variety before frying it. The ideal string cheese for this purpose has salty, mild flavor and is firm but not rubbery.
- Experiment with using smoked mozzarella sticks to make a treat that tastes like it came from a campfire.
- Substitute panko crumbs for traditional breadcrumbs. They'll give your mozzarella sticks crispy crunch.
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