Unbelievably crispy, these air fryer mozzarella sticks are everything you want from a gooey mozzarella stick without all the oil!
I’ll be honest, I’m still not head-over-heels in love with my air fryer. I continue to use my Instant Pot far more often (just look at my Instant Pot recipes for proof!), but I’m learning to love the air fryer for some things.
My largest complaint about it is the basket size, so perhaps I need to shop around for a larger one.
With that being said, I do LOVE it for these mozzarella sticks. They get just as crispy as deep-fried mozzarella sticks, which I would argue is something the oven is not capable of achieving.
It’s also great for air fryer chicken nuggets and air fryer falafel, plus it makes awesomely crispy Brussels sprouts. I’ll be continuing to sprinkle in an occasional air fryer recipe for those of you that own one. It is a fun little appliance and it makes food so crispy with very little oil, which I love.
About these Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t absolutely love mozzarella sticks? There is just something about the ooey, gooey cheese encased in a crispy breaded coating that is completely and absolutely irresistible.
Dipped in marinara or ranch, they’re the perfect party food or snack when you’re craving something cheesy.
We tested these a few different ways and found the best way possible to make these was to bread them twice. First you freeze the cheese stick halves until they’re solid. Then, they undergo the first breading: flour, then egg, then seasoned breadcrumbs. Then, back into the freezer they go. Once they’re frozen again, you’ll repeat the egg and breadcrumb step. And yup, you guessed it, back into the freezer!
Why the freezing? Well, you want the cheese to be nice and frozen when they go in the air fryer so that the breading has time to crisp up and get golden brown before the cheese starts to melt and ooze out of the breading. This will still happen occasionally and in small amounts, but if you skip the freezing steps, you’ll lose a lot more cheese.
No one wants that!
FAQs about Mozzarella Sticks
How long do you cook mozzarella sticks in an air fryer?
From frozen, you’ll cook these mozzarella sticks for 5-6 minutes in the air fryer or until golden brown and crispy.
Do you have to preheat an air fryer?
Not for all recipes, but for this one, it works best to start with a hot air fryer. If you start with a cold air fryer, the mozzarella sticks will warm up slower, causing more cheese to melt out of the breading. You don’t want to lose any of that yummy cheese!
What goes with mozzarella sticks?
The real question is, what DOESN’T go with mozzarella sticks?? Okay truthfully I like to stick to either ranch (try this homemade ranch) or marinara/pizza sauce.
I’m not here to judge! If you go through the trouble to freeze – bread – freeze – bread – freeze – air fry these (I still maintain that it’s 100% worth it), you can dip them in whatever you want!
Do I really have to bread them twice?
We tested them both ways. They’re way better double-breaded. Yes, it’s more work. Yes, they turn out okay if you only bread them once. But if you want really amazing mozzarella sticks, take the time to double coat them.
Do I really have to freeze them three times?
Yessss you do. Seriously, it’s worth it.
Tip: Okay, we’ve covered that these are a bit of a hassle (worth it!). BUT if you make extras (just go ahead and make a triple batch, you’ll be glad!), you can transfer them to a freezer safe bag and freeze them for up to three months. Then all you have to do is preheat the air fryer, cook them (might take 1-2 minutes longer), and you’ll be burning your fingers and mouth on the most delicious mozzarella sticks in less than fifteen minutes.
More great finger foods:
Snacking is the best, isn’t it? If you like these air fryer mozzarella sticks, you’ll love:
- Sweet Potato Wedges with Chinese five spice – these are SO good!
- Air Fryer Buffalo Cauliflower Bites – a healthy alternative to buffalo wings
- Air Fryer French Fries – hard to resist!
- Candied Bacon – I dare you to try and only eat one piece
- Ham and Cheese Sliders – a party favorite!
- Sausage Pinwheels – with apple, Gruyère, and sage
- Bacon Wrapped Dates
- Crispy Chickpeas – healthy snacking!
- Air Fryer Cheese Curds from Air Fried.. yum!
- 1/2 (12 oz) package mozzarella string cheese (6 cheese sticks), each one cut in half
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 large eggs, divided
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Olive oil spray
- Marinara or ranch for dipping
- Place mozzarella sticks in a zip-top bag and freeze until frozen, at least 1 hour.
- Set out three small shallow bowls. In the first bowl, place flour, salt, and pepper; mix lightly.
- In the second bowl, add 1 egg and beat lightly.
- In the third bowl, combine Panko, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder.
- One at a time, coat mozzarella pieces in the flour mixture, then dip into the beaten egg, and finally coat with the Panko mixture, pressing lightly to help the coating adhere.
- Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze again for 30 minutes.
- RESERVE bread crumbs. In a small shallow bowl, beat the second egg.
- Remove mozzarella sticks from freezer and dip in egg and then coat again in bread crumb mixture.
- Return to freezer for 30 more minutes (see note).
- Heat air fryer to 400ºF. Place breaded mozzarella sticks in a single layer and spray with olive oil spray. (You’ll need to do them in batches - don’t stack them up or crowd the basket!)
- Air fry to 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.
- You may use nonstick cooking spray instead of olive oil spray if that’s all you have.
- You can freeze the breaded mozzarella sticks for up to 3 months before air frying if desired.
- Nutrition information doesn't include dipping sauces.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
Verdict: These are so dangerously good. So much crispiness and gooeyness.
Husband’s take: Mmm-hmmm.
Changes I would make: Make more.
Difficulty: A bit of a fuss, but not difficult, and very worth it.