Crispy, bite-sized sticks with the stretchy, stringy cheese you can only dream about, Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks are the ULTIMATE homemade appetizer!
I’ve got a real obsession with fried foods. Fried fish, french fries, fried calamari, you name it. If it’s fried, it’s for me. I HATE deep frying at home though. It’s hot, makes a mess, and can actually be kind of dangerous (oil burns, ouch). I especially love a good, crispy mozzarella stick. Mozzarella sticks are traditionally deep-fried like my other favorite – crab rangoon, but I was looking for a way to avoid deep frying at home. Enter, the air fryer! Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks taste just like my favorite deep-fried cheese, but without all the mess or guilt!
Mozzarella sticks are one of those things that I ADORE, but never really enjoyed making on my own at home. I’ve attempted a few times, but they were either rubbery, all the cheese oozed out, or they weren’t worth the effort of using all that boiling hot oil to deep fry them. I stuck to ordering them at my favorite pizza shop instead.
But, that was all before I found my love for the latest and greatest kitchen gadget – the air fryer! No more oil splatters, no more leaky cheese, no more greasy mozzarella sticks making you feel gross after eating only a few. Mozzarella sticks air fryer style are for SURE the way to get your cheesy fix without all the guilt of a deep-fried snack.
These air fryer mozzarella sticks are crisped to perfection, give you that drool-worthy stretchy cheese, and you use barely any oil at all to fry them! So whether you’re feeding a group of hungry teenagers after school (ahem…me, always me) or you need the perfect appetizer to share with friends, homemade mozzarella sticks air fryer style are definitely for you.
Cheese – if your house is anything like mine, then you’ve got a huge pack of string cheese sitting in your fridge. My kids eat that stuff like it’s candy. Well, lucky for me, the main ingredient for homemade mozzarella sticks is string cheese!
Breading – obviously to make deliciously crunchy mozzarella sticks, you’ll need some kind of breading on those string cheeses. The base of your breading is going to be seasoned panko breadcrumbs (gives it that delightful little extra crunch). You’ll then jazz up that breading with some garlic powder, Italian seasonings, and a few other spices.
How to make mozzarella sticks in air fryer
STEP ONE: Step a dredge station to bread the string cheese. Put the flour in 1 bowl, beat the eggs in a second bowl, and stir together the breadcrumbs and seasonings in the third bowl.
STEP TWO: Unwrap the string cheese and get breading! Start by coating in flour, then dip the cheese stick in the egg, and then the panko mixture. Set your breaded cheese sticks on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Once they’re all coated, pop that baking sheet right into the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Don’t discard your dredging station though – there’s round 2 coming up!!!
STEP THREE: After 15 minutes (or the coating is frozen), take the cheese sticks and dunk them in the egg, and then back into the panko for a second coating and then place them back on the tray. You don’t need to do the flour step this time! Place the tray back into the freezer for 30 minutes or until frozen.
STEP FOUR: Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. Then spray the air fryer basket with olive oil cooking spray. Place the sticks into the basket in one even layer. Give the cheese sticks a quick spray with olive oil spray too.
STEP FIVE: Cook your mozzarella sticks in the air fryer for 3 minutes. Check, flip, and shake them and cook for another 3-4 minutes- checking and shaking the basket periodically. You know they’ll be done when the cheese sticks are golden brown and crispy!
How do you make mozzarella sticks without exploding?
There are two VERY important steps to take when making homemade mozzarella sticks air fryer style (or else you’ll end up with exploded cheese to clean out of your air fryer basket….the WORST).
First, you have to FREEZE your cheese sticks with the breading on. If the cheese sticks weren’t frozen, they’d melt way too fast in the air fryer making the cheese ooze out of the breading. By freezing them, you give the breading enough time to crisp up before the cheese gets too melted.
The second secret to non-explosive air fryer mozzarella sticks is to DOUBLE coat them. Coat them in breading, freeze that layer on, then coat them again *and freeze again of course…*. This is another step that ensures your cheese stays inside the breading where it belongs.
How long to cook air fryer mozzarella sticks in air fryer?
You’ve got your mozzarella sticks all ready to go (breaded, frozen, breaded, frozen again….). Now it’s time to cook them! For perfect air fryer mozzarella sticks, you’ll want to air fry them for a total of 6-7 minutes. 3 minutes on the first side, and then an additional 3-4 minutes on the other side until they’re perfectly crispy.
So you found a package of frozen mozzarella sticks stuck in the wayyyyy back of your freezer and are suddenly craving some gooey cheesy deliciousness? Before you even ask the question, yes you can cook frozen mozzarella sticks in an air fryer. Follow the same cooking instructions as these homemade mozzarella sticks, but shake them after 5 minutes and then fry for an additional 1-2 minutes.
Want more scrumptious appetizer recipes?
- Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings
- Ham and Cheese Stuffed Biscuits
- Air Fryer Cheeseburger Egg Rolls
- Air Fryer Blooming Onion
- Buffalo Chicken Pizza Bites
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Grab 3 bowls and set up a dredging station. Put the flour in the first bowl. Beat the eggs in the second bowl. In the third bowl, stir together the panko, Italian seasoning, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, and pepper.
- Unwrap the string cheese. Dip the cheese first into the flour, then the egg, and then coat in the panko and set on the prepared baking sheet. After all 12 cheese sticks are coated, place the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes or when the coating is frozen, take the cheese sticks and dunk them in the egg once more, and then back into the panko for a second coating. Then place them back on the tray and freeze for another 30 minutes.
- When you are ready to serve the mozzarella sticks, remove them from the freezer and preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees F.
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray and place the sticks into the basket in one even layer. Spray the cheese sticks with olive oil spray.
- Cook in the air fryer for 3 minutes. Check the cheese sticks, flipping and shaking them. Then cook for another 3-4 minutes. The mozzarella sticks are finished when they are golden brown and crispy. Serve warm with marinara for dipping.