Unbelievably crispy, these air fryer mozzarella sticks are everything you want from a gooey mozzarella stick without all the oil! 

Air fryer mozzarella stick being pulled apart with a cheese pull.
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I love my Instant Pot (just look at my Instant Pot recipes for proof!), but I’ve fallen completely head-over-heels for my air fryer.

And boy, oh boy, I love to use my air fryer to make these mozzarella sticks. They are amazing! They get just as crispy as deep-fried mozzarella sticks, which is something a regular oven is not capable of achieving. 

This nifty appliance is also great for air fryer chicken nuggets and air fryer falafel, plus it makes awesomely crispy Brussels sprouts. The air fryer is easy to use and it makes food so crispy with very little oil, which I love. 

Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love mozzarella sticks? There is just something about the ooey, gooey cheese encased in a crispy breaded coating that is completely and absolutely irresistible. (Have you tried my fried goat cheese? It’s so good, too.)

Dipped in marinara or ranch, fried mozzarella sticks are the perfect party food or snack when you’re craving something cheesy. 

Stack of air fryer mozzarella sticks on a plate with marinara.

About This Recipe

When we tested these, we tried out a few different methods. Our goal is always to figure out the tastiest, most effective and easy way to make recipes so you don’t have to. Our findings: The best way to make the best mozzarella sticks was to bread them twice.

First, freeze 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! 

Mozzarella stick being dipped into pizza sauce.


How long do you cook mozzarella sticks in an air fryer?

From frozen, you’ll cook these mozzarella sticks for 5 to 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!

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?

Yes, you do. Seriously, it’s worth it.

A plate of crispy mozzarella sticks sprinkled with parsley.

What to Pair with mozzarella sticks

The real question is, what DOESN’T go with mozzarella sticks?? Truthfully, I like to stick to either ranch (try this homemade ranch) or marinara/pizza sauce

But the world is your oyster and you are free to do whatever makes you happy! Wanna dip them in BBQ sauce? Homemade fry sauce? Hot honey? Chimichurri? Pesto? Alfredo sauce? Applesauce?

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! 

Make-Ahead Ideas

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 to 2 minutes longer), and you’ll be burning your fingers and mouth on the most delicious mozzarella sticks in less than fifteen minutes.

Air fried mozzarella stick, being pulled apart with a large sting of mozzarella cheese connecting the two halves. Additional mozzarella sticks are pictured along with a small cup of marinara sauce.

More great finger foods

Snacking is the best, isn’t it? If you like these air fryer mozzarella sticks, you’ll love: 


Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks Recipe

4.40 from 71 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Unbelievably crispy, these air fryer mozzarella sticks are everything you want from a gooey mozzarella stick without all the oil! 
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  • 6 ounces mozzarella string cheese (6 cheese sticks, each one cut in half)
  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • cup panko or bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Olive oil spray
  • Marinara or ranch, or for dipping


  • Place cut 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 to 6 minutes or until golden brown.


  • You may use nonstick cooking spray instead of olive oil spray if that’s all you have.
  • Breaded mozzarella sticks can be frozen for up to 3 months before air frying, if desired.
  • Nutrition information doesn’t include dipping sauces.



Serving: 2mozzarella sticks, Calories: 127kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 9g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.4g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Trans Fat: 0.01g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Sodium: 320mg, Potassium: 42mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 0.3g, Vitamin A: 97IU, Vitamin C: 0.01mg, Calcium: 39mg, Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.40 from 71 votes (70 ratings without comment)

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  1. JM Hardin says:

    4 stars
    I’m making these for the 3rd time and I’m running into a huge problem. I use the wet/dry hand technique for breading, and I keep finding that as soon as I put the stick from the egg into the breadcrumbs, I’m losing a chunk of egg wash. I can dip my finger back into the egg to fill the gap, but too often it only makes the problem worse. Have you ever run into this?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Hmm, I haven’t run into that problem. Is that for the first dip or second dip?

      1. J.M. Hardin says:

        IIRC it was the first batter. I’m also noticing that no matter how careful I am, I got cracks in my breading, and I think it was a spot where the flour didn’t adhere to the frozen cheese stick.

        1. Rachel Gurk says:

          Hmm, yeah there are always a few tiny gaps in the breading (just how it goes with homemade), but for the most part it should stay put.

  2. Bethy says:

    Cut in half… length wise or the other way?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      The other way – so they’re not as long.

  3. Yates Fam says:

    Our first experiment with air frying – we had no idea homemade cheese sticks could be this good. I had to race to the table to grab some before they were all devoured!! Easy and plenty of cooking room in a toaster oven on air fry setting.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked these!

  4. Laurie B. says:

    These were amazing and so easy!!! I didn’t use all of the spices but I wish I would have. I also used paper plates for easy clean up. I didn’t find it frustrating at all having to freeze them…It’s well worth the wait! I just bought an air fryer and absolutely LOVE it! The brand I have has multiple settings, including a dehydrator. I was able to purchase it for 60% discount just for hosting an online P.C. party.
    Thanks for this recipe! I’ll definitely be checking out others!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked them! Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment, it means so much to me!

  5. Arielle says:

    These were amazing!  Totally worth all the work.  A few of mine busted open but I believe that is my error in breading them.  I’ll definitely make these again.  

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad to hear it! They are a bit labor-intensive, but SO yummy! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  6. David R Campbell says:

    I made these yesterday for “football food”. They were excellent! I did have to use more panko and an extra egg but that was probably due to my inexperience in breading. My wife, who is too honest a critic about anything I cook, absolutely loved them. My daughter and son-in-law also loved them. My 6 yo granddaughter, however, didn’t like the panko. Next time I’ll make a few with regular seasoned breadcrumbs. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked them! They are perfect football food! Thanks for taking the time to come back and leave a comment!

  7. The Toppack says:

    it looking good, I love it

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m happy to hear that!

  8. denise says:

    sounds fantastic. just don’t have an air fryer. lol

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Oh, bummer! Put it on your wish list! :)

  9. Ted Vetzal says:

    Which air fryer are you using? I’m debating on getting one, but the big question is do I get one with a paddle that stirs the food or one that just has a perforated tray?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Hi Ted – The one I have is no longer available. I can’t say I’m absolutely in love with it, but it gets the job done. I wish they made them with larger baskets. But this one is easy enough to wash, and it heats up quickly and seems to have good air flow. I wouldn’t get one that stirs the food, because with recipes like these, it would ruin them. I think the ones with the perforated trays are more versatile. I hope that helps!