There are several types of deep-fried cheese, although all of the recipes involve submerging the cheese in hot oil until it has melted. Most often, the cheese is either coated in batter or protected in another substance that forms a crust around it and stops the cheese from burning and dissolving into the oil. The actual cheese used can be any type, although mozzarella, Swiss and cheddar are very common in certain recipes. Deep-fried cheese can be served as an appetizer, a snack food or as a novelty item at festivals and other events. In addition to deep-fried cheese, some cheese-making regions also deep-fry the cheese curds that are used to form the cheese, creating a similar type of dish.
The most basic method for creating deep-fried cheese is to take a type of cheese that will melt smoothly, such as mozzarella, Gruyere or even processed varieties such as American cheese, and slice it into thick logs or cubes, although any shape will do. A mixture of flour, eggs, baking soda and sometimes breadcrumbs is made and the cheese is coated in it. Each piece of coated cheese is then dropped into hot oil and allowed to cook until the outer crust has browned, and the cheese inside has had time to heat up and melt. The crust holds most of the melting cheese inside.
There are some variations on the basic deep-fried cheese recipe. One is to use a lighter batter that will puff as it cooks, creating a lighter coating on the outside of the cheese. Some recipes call for the cheese to be placed in a freezer for a time before it is put in the oil so it melts at a slower pace or allows softer cheeses to be used. Beer-batter dips are sometimes used, and the actual pieces of cheese can be skewered on sticks and cooked to create a simple, portable snack.
The spongy nuggets of milk solids that are formed during the cheese-making process, known as the curds, also can be coated in a batter to make deep-fried cheese. These are often served as finger foods, because each curd is generally very small. They are battered, sometimes flavored with spices, and then cooked until golden brown.
The finished deep-fried cheese can be served as is, though it more commonly is served with dipping sauces such as tomato sauce or cocktail sauce. If the cheese is sliced into wide pieces, it can be placed on a roll and eaten like a sandwich. Small pieces of deep-fried cheese also can be used as croutons in salads or pasta dishes.