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Can I put mozzarella sticks in the air fryer?

Yes, you can absolutely put mozzarella sticks in an air fryer! Air fryers are a great way to make quick and easy mozzarella sticks that turn out crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside without needing to deep fry them.

What Are Mozzarella Sticks?

Mozzarella sticks are a popular appetizer or side dish consisting of mozzarella cheese coated in breadcrumbs or batter and then fried until the cheese inside melts and the coating becomes crispy. Traditional mozzarella sticks are deep fried, resulting in the crispy exterior but requiring a good amount of oil.

By making mozzarella sticks in an air fryer, you can achieve a similar taste and texture without needing to submerge them in oil. Air fryers use rapid hot air circulation to create a crisp outer layer without all the fat and calories from deep frying.

Benefits of Using an Air Fryer for Mozzarella Sticks

Here are some of the biggest benefits of using an air fryer rather than deep frying for mozzarella sticks:

  • Less oil and fewer calories: Air frying significantly reduces the amount of oil needed, resulting in a healthier option.
  • Crispy exterior: The circulating hot air makes the outside coating perfectly crispy.
  • Melty cheese: The mozzarella inside gets nicely melted and gooey.
  • Quick cooking: Air fryers cook food very quickly, so mozzarella sticks are ready fast.
  • Easy cleanup: With less oil, there’s less mess and cleanup afterwards.

How to Make Mozzarella Sticks in an Air Fryer

Making mozzarella sticks in an air fryer is simple and straightforward. Here are step-by-step instructions:

  1. Cut mozzarella cheese into sticks: Cut or shred mozzarella into long sticks about 1/2-inch thick.
  2. Coat with breadcrumbs: Dip mozzarella sticks into egg or milk, then coat thoroughly with Italian breadcrumbs.
  3. Air fry: Place sticks in air fryer basket in a single layer without overcrowding. Air fry at 375°F for 4-6 minutes until golden brown.
  4. Flip sticks: For even browning, flip the mozzarella sticks halfway through cooking.
  5. Serve warm: Serve mozzarella sticks immediately while still warm and melty inside.

For the best texture, use low-moisture mozzarella rather than fresh. Chilling the uncooked mozzarella sticks before air frying also helps the cheese hold its shape better.

Tips for the Best Air Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Follow these helpful tips for irresistibly delicious air fried mozzarella sticks:

  • Use panko breadcrumbs for an extra crispy coating.
  • Dip in egg rather than milk for a thicker, sturdier breading.
  • Sprinkle seasonings like garlic powder or Italian seasoning into the breadcrumbs.
  • Let the cheese come to room temperature before breading to help the coating stick.
  • Brush the mozzarella with oil or butter to help get a nice golden color.

Common Air Fryer Mistakes

Avoid these common mistakes when making mozzarella sticks in an air fryer:

  • Overcrowding:Too many sticks can prevent proper air circulation.
  • Undercooking: Don’t pull them out too soon or the cheese won’t fully melt.
  • Breading issues: Use a binding agent and press crumbs on thickly.
  • Not preheating: Fully preheat the air fryer before adding food.
  • Wrong temperature: 375°F is ideal, too low and they won’t crisp up.

What You’ll Need

These simple ingredients are all you need to make mozzarella sticks in an air fryer:

  • Low-moisture mozzarella cheese
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Breadcrumbs (Italian style or panko)
  • Oil or butter (for brushing)
  • Herbs, spices, or seasoning salt

Suggested Mozzarella Stick Pairings

Here are some delicious options for serving alongside your hot and crispy air fried mozzarella sticks:

  • Marinara or pizza sauce for dipping
  • Ranch, bleu cheese, or other creamy dressings
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Pepperoni
  • Vegetables like carrots, celery, peppers
  • Breadsticks

Recipe Customizations

There are lots of ways to adapt and customize this basic air fried mozzarella stick recipe:

  • Use cheese blends like cheddar-mozzarella or Monterey Jack.
  • Add seasonings to the cheese like garlic powder or red pepper flakes.
  • Use crushed crackers, potato chips, or cornflakes for coating instead of breadcrumbs.
  • Flavor the breading with spices like paprika, chili powder, or cayenne.
  • Stuff cheese with jalapeños, sun-dried tomatoes, or cooked spinach.

Get creative with different cheese, coating, and filling options for your own unique mozzarella sticks!

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Cooked mozzarella sticks are best eaten right away while the exterior is ultra crispy. But leftover sticks can be stored and reheated.

To store, place sticks in a single layer on a plate or pan lined with paper towels to absorb excess grease. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 3-4 days.

To reheat, place sticks on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F for 4-6 minutes until hot and crispy again. Microwaving makes the coating soggy, so baking is best.

Freezing Instructions

You can also freeze uncooked mozzarella sticks for quick and easy appetizers anytime. Here’s how:

  1. Prepare sticks through the breading stage.
  2. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer.
  3. Freeze until solid, about 1-2 hours.
  4. Transfer to an airtight freezer bag or container.
  5. Freeze up to 2-3 months.
  6. When ready to eat, cook frozen sticks 1-2 minutes longer.

Let frozen mozzarella sticks thaw slightly before cooking so the coating crisps up nicely.

Are Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks Healthy?

Mozzarella sticks made in an air fryer are healthier than their deep fried counterparts. However, they are still a high-fat, high-calorie indulgence that is best enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet.

Some ways air frying makes mozzarella sticks healthier include:

  • Uses only 1-2 tsp oil rather than being submerged in fat.
  • Eliminates absorption of oil deep frying causes.
  • Reduces calories from fat by 70-80% compared to deep fried.
  • Cut down on saturated fat and trans fats from frying oil.
  • Retain more vitamins than if fried at higher heat.

While air frying is a healthier cooking method, mozzarella sticks are still a high-calorie choice. But they can be part of a nutritious diet when enjoyed occasionally in reasonable portions.

Nutrition Information

The nutrition facts for a typical serving of air fried mozzarella sticks are:

Nutrition Facts Per 3 sticks
Calories 196
Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 6g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 29mg
Sodium 323mg
Carbohydrates 12g
Fiber 0g
Sugar 0g
Protein 9g

As you can see, air fried mozzarella sticks are high in fat, saturated fat, and sodium. Portion control is key when enjoying them!

The Verdict

Mozzarella sticks are a perfect candidate for the air fryer. They cook up delicious and crispy using just a small amount of oil. Thanks to the hot circulating air, you can achieve the same taste and texture as deep fried mozzarella sticks without all the excess grease.

Coat the cheese sticks evenly in breadcrumbs, preheat the air fryer, and fry at 375°F for 4-6 minutes until that irresistible golden-brown exterior forms. Flip halfway for even cooking. Air fried mozzarella sticks are craveable appetizers everyone will love. They are great for parties, game day, or anytime snack attacks hit. Serve with dipping sauces for a restaurant-quality treat from your own kitchen.