What Are Mozzarella Sticks?

A.E. Freeman

Breaded and fried pieces of mozzarella cheese, mozzarella sticks are long and thin. If a healthier version of the snack is desired, the mozzarella sticks may be baked instead of deep-fried. Typically, mozzarella sticks are served as an appetizer or a snack, with a tomato-based dipping sauce.

Mozzarella sticks are fried in a seasoned flour batter.
Mozzarella sticks are fried in a seasoned flour batter.

Mozzarella sticks come in several forms. A person can prepare the appetizer at home from scratch if she wishes. Frozen versions that can be heated in the oven or in a deep fryer are also available. The sticks are common on the menus of casual dining restaurants and at pubs in the United States.

Some versions of mozzarella sticks can be made in a deep fryer.
Some versions of mozzarella sticks can be made in a deep fryer.

Usually, the sticks are served as an appetizer, before the main course of a casual meal. They may be paired with other casual finger foods as part of an appetizer sampler, such as buffalo wings and quesadillas. Mozzarella sticks are also a popular snack during parties and sporting events. Some people choose to serve them at more formal occasions, such as weddings, too.

Mozzarella sticks are made by slicing pieces of mozzarella cheese into thin sticks. Individually wrapped string cheeses are usually an ideal size for the sticks. The cheese is then dipped into beaten eggs and then into bread crumbs. Eggs help the bread crumbs cling to the cheese. A person can use seasoned or plain bread crumbs. Some cooks prefer to use a flour-based batter instead of bread crumbs.

To prevent the cheese from melting while the mozzarella sticks are fried or baked, some people freeze the breaded or battered sticks for a few hours. The extra-cold cheese is less likely to melt and destroy the sticks while cooked. If a cook doesn't want to prepare the sticks right away, she can store them in the freezer until ready to serve.

There are many variations on the traditional mozzarella stick. Some use a gluten-free batter or gluten-free bread crumbs, such as those made with rice flour, so that people with celiac disease may enjoy the appetizer too. Vegan versions, made with a non-dairy, animal product–free cheese product, are also available.

To reduce the fat content of these snacks, a person can try baking them in the oven instead of deep-frying. Deep-frying involves filling a pan with enough oil to cover the sticks while they cook. Baked sticks are lined up a baking sheet and cooked in an oven until the cheese is soft and the crumbs or batter are cooked through.

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