Unbelievably crispy, these air fryer mozzarella sticks are everything you want from a gooey mozzarella stick without all the oil!
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.
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!
From frozen, you’ll cook these mozzarella sticks for 5 to 6 minutes in the air fryer or until golden brown and crispy.
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!
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.
Yes, you do. Seriously, it’s worth it.
What to Pair with mozzarella sticks
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!
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.
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!
- 6 ounces mozzarella string cheese (6 cheese sticks, each one cut in half)
- 2 tablespoons whole wheat or all-purpose flour
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, divided
- ⅓ 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.
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.