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What sauce can you put on mozzarella sticks?

Mozzarella sticks are a popular appetizer or side dish consisting of mozzarella cheese that has been breaded and deep fried. They are often served with some type of sauce for dipping, which can complement and enhance the flavor of the mozzarella. When choosing a sauce for mozzarella sticks, there are many options to consider that can work well. The right sauce pairing can take this appetizer to the next level.

Popular Sauce Choices for Mozzarella Sticks

Some of the most popular and commonly used sauces that pair deliciously with mozzarella sticks include:

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a classic Italian tomato-based sauce that goes great with melted mozzarella. The tangy tomato flavor pairs perfectly with the salty and mild melted cheese in the mozzarella sticks. Marinara sauce often contains tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, onions, herbs like oregano and basil, red pepper flakes, and sometimes wine or balsamic vinegar. It brings a fresh, aromatic component to balance the fried mozzarella sticks.

Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing is a creamy and tangy sauce made from buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, herbs like dill, parsley, chives, and spices like onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. It cools down the hot fried mozzarella for a nice contrast in temperatures. The rich creaminess of ranch pairs wonderfully with the gooey mozzarella, creating a satisfying flavor combination.

Cheese Sauce

For extra cheesy goodness, a cheese sauce made from cheddar, parmesan, monterey jack, or a blend of melted cheeses makes a delicious pairing with mozzarella sticks. The smooth, creamy cheese sauce adds more tangy, savory cheese flavor to the fried mozzarella.

Pizza Sauce

For a taste similar to enjoying mozzarella on a fresh pizza, an aromatic tomato pizza sauce made with Italian seasoning is an excellent match for mozzarella sticks. The hearty tomato base with Italian herbs and spices complements the stretchy melted cheese inside the crispy exterior of the mozzarella sticks.

Honey Mustard

Honey mustard contains a tangy mustard base mixed with sweet honey. This is a popular sauce for mozzarella sticks because of the contrast between the salty cheese and fried coating with the sweet and sour notes in the sauce. The honey mellows out the mustard’s bite.


Chunky salsa made with tomatoes, onions, peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and spices like cumin and chili powder provides a fresh, flavorful dip for mozzarella sticks. The vegetables and acidity from the lime cut through the rich cheese and give a tasty contrast. The spices also amplify the other flavors.


Creamy, cool guacamole made from avocados, tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and spices can offer a delicious, refreshing pairing with gooey mozzarella sticks. The buttery avocado base along with the onions, tomatoes, and lime juice complement the melted cheese inside the crispy fried exterior.

Barbecue Sauce

Sweet and tangy barbecue sauce containing tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, spices, onions, garlic, and other ingredients like mustard, Worcestershire sauce, or fruit jam can be an excellent dip for mozzarella sticks. Barbecue sauce adds sticky sweetness and smoky flavors to contrast with the melted cheese.

Basil Pesto

Herby basil pesto sauce made with basil, Parmesan, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil makes a great topping drizzled over fried mozzarella sticks or as a dip. The pesto’s rich herby flavors and creamy Parmesan base pair wonderfully with melted mozzarella for an extra flavor boost.

Marshmallow Sauce

For those with a sweet tooth, dipping mozzarella sticks in gooey, fluffy marshmallow sauce is a popular combination. The sweet vanilla and toasted notes in the marshmallow pair surprisingly well with the saltiness of the fried mozzarella for a fun flavor mashup.

Chocolate Sauce

Warm chocolate sauce is another sweet dipping sauce that can provide a tasty contrasting flavor when paired with mozzarella sticks. The bittersweet chocolate and the creamy, salty cheese make an addicting combination.

Other Possible Sauce Pairings

In addition to the most popular sauces used for mozzarella sticks, some other sauces that can make tasty pairings include:

Tzatziki Sauce

Cool, creamy tzatziki sauce made from yogurt, cucumbers, dill, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt offers a refreshing contrast to hot fried mozzarella sticks.

Buffalo Sauce

Zesty and buttery buffalo sauce provides heat and tangy flavor to pair with the mild cheese interior of the mozzarella sticks.

Creamy Horseradish Sauce

Horseradish sauce gives a kick of heat and pungent flavor that works well with the saltiness of the mozzarella sticks.

Cocktail Sauce

Tangy cocktail sauce made with ketchup, horseradish, and lemon juice also makes an excellent dipping companion for mozzarella sticks, cutting through the rich fried coating.

Sweet Chili Sauce

Sweet chili sauce combines chili pepper heat with sweetness for a flavorful accent to melted mozzarella sticks.

Tartar Sauce

Creamy tartar sauce with pickles, capers, onions, and herbs offers a tangy seafood-inspired flavor pairing for fried mozzarella sticks.


Garlic aioli with roasted garlic flavor provides a rich, aromatic dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks.

Plum Sauce

Sweet and tangy plum sauce made from plums, vinegar, ginger, garlic, chili, and spices makes a unique fruity pairing for mozzarella sticks.

Sweet and Sour Sauce

For a bright, flavorful contrast, sweet and sour sauce with pineapple, bell peppers, vinegar, corn starch, and sugar complements mozzarella sticks nicely.

Choosing the Best Sauce for Mozzarella Sticks

With so many great sauce options, which one should you choose for your mozzarella sticks? Here are some tips for picking the right sauce:

  • Consider your flavor preferences – do you prefer sweeter sauces or more savory ones? Spicy or mild?
  • Think about flavor contrasts – sauces that balance the fried mozzarella flavor with tangy, creamy, herby, or sweet notes work well.
  • Try classic pairings like marinara, ranch, cheese sauce, or pizza sauce for crowd-pleasing options.
  • Experiment with unexpected flavors like honey mustard or plum sauce for fun twists.
  • Offer variety by providing 2-3 sauces so guests can choose their favorite option.
  • Match the sauce to the meal – ranch with a casual American meal, marinara with Italian food, etc.

The most important thing is choosing a sauce you enjoy with the melted, fried mozzarella. The sauce should complement, not overpower, the mozzarella stick flavors. Whichever sauce sounds most appealing will likely be the best pairing.

Making Homemade Sauces for Mozzarella Sticks

Instead of buying pre-made sauces from the store, you can also prepare homemade sauce recipes to serve alongside your homemade or store-bought mozzarella sticks. Here are some tasty sauce recipes to consider whipping up:

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce


  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  2. Add the crushed tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened.
  3. Remove from heat and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve sauce warm with mozzarella sticks.

Creamy Ranch Dip


  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, dill, mustard, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper.
  2. Whisk ingredients together until fully blended.
  3. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
  4. Refrigerate dip until ready to serve with mozzarella sticks.

3-Ingredient Pizza Sauce


  • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Combine tomato sauce, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder in a small saucepan.
  2. Simmer sauce over medium-low heat for 10 minutes to blend flavors.
  3. Let cool and serve with hot mozzarella sticks for dipping.

5-Minute Cheese Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Gradually whisk in the milk. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the cheddar cheese and whisk until melted and smooth. Stir in mustard and cayenne pepper.
  4. Season sauce to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately with mozzarella sticks.

Cooking the Perfect Mozzarella Sticks

To maximize your mozzarella stick and sauce pairing, it helps to start by making delicious homemade mozzarella sticks. Here are some tips for cooking mozzarella sticks perfectly:

  • Use high-quality mozzarella, preferably fresh. Avoid pre-shredded cheese which can make the sticks rubbery.
  • Cut mozzarella into 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick sticks for easy coating and even melting.
  • Chill uncooked mozzarella sticks before breading so coating adheres better.
  • Bread sticks with flour, egg wash, then panko or seasoned breadcrumbs for a crispy coating.
  • Refrigerate breaded sticks 30 minutes before frying for extra crispiness.
  • Fry at 350°F for 1-2 minutes until golden brown.
  • Drain fried mozzarella sticks on a paper towel-lined plate.
  • Serve sticks immediately while hot and melty for best results.

Taking a little extra care when preparing the mozzarella sticks helps ensure you end up with the perfect crunchy outside and melty cheese interior to pair with your favorite dipping sauces.


Mozzarella sticks deserve an accompaniment that enhances their irresistible cheesy flavor. With so many tasty sauce options from rich marinara, herby pesto, zesty Buffalo, or sweet chocolate, you can pick a sauce that complements the fried mozzarella sticks perfectly. Classic pairings like marinara and ranch are sure bets, but part of the fun is also trying unique flavor combinations like plum sauce or honey mustard for exciting new taste sensations. Whip up some homemade marinara or cheese sauce for from-scratch dipping options. Prepare the mozzarella sticks with care to get that ideal crispy coating and melty cheese. Then serve them hot with your sauce choices for an appetizer that everyone will love. The right dipping sauce can truly bring your mozzarella sticks to the next level.