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Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks

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Easy air fryer mozzarella sticks are a cheesy, gooey appetizer or snack made with just six everyday ingredients. A homemade cheese stick that is breaded and air fried to crispy, crunchy perfection and filled with melty cheese. Perfect for dipping in marinara or ranch.

pile of mozzarella cheese sticks with the cheese being pulled apart from a broken one.

Easy Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks

My love of gooey mozzarella sticks runs deep. When I was little, I remember ordering cheese sticks at restaurants as my main course.

Now, I don’t do any deep frying in my kitchen but I wanted to make some homemade mozzarella sticks. Enter the air fryer.

Air frying this cheesy goodness allows for the crispy, deep fried texture without all the excess grease.

Of course picking up a pack of frozen store bought cheese sticks is an option but I wanted homemade. Plus, I always have cheese sticks on hand in the fridge and breadcrumbs in the cupboard, so no special trip to the freezer department is needed.

Try them for your next party or just the next time you’re craving cheesy deliciousness!

If you are new to air frying, while you’re at it, you have to try making baked potatoes in the air fryer. It creates that perfect restaurant quality potato with crispy skin and fluffy potato center. Or learn how to make this copycat Taco Bell quesadilla

Why You’ll Love Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks

Whole Family Will Love It – This is a family friendly recipe that the whole crew will enjoy. An easy, 5-star rating recipe that you will want to make over and over again.

Crispy Shell – The panko breadcrumb mixture offers the ultimate crunch with a warm melted cheese center. They taste just as good as deep-fried mozzarella sticks.

Fun Recipe – One of the easiest recipes. These mozza sticks take minimal effort and cook quickly. The hardest part is waiting for the cheese to freeze up before you toss in the air fryer basket.

overhead shot of cheese sticks in an air fryer with a bowl of marinara.

Equipment you’ll need

  • Air Fryer – I’ve had this 5.8 quart air fryer for years and still recommend it.
  • Tongs – I like to use tongs to keep my hands clean.
  • Air Fryer Liners – I like to use parchment paper liners in my air fryer basket for easy cleanup. Make sure you pick the right shape/size for your air fryer.
  • Oil Mister – For spritzing the cheese sticks before you air fry them.

Ingredients for homemade air fryer mozzarella sticks

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

Mozzarella Sticks – We always have mozzarella string cheese on hand in the fridge for snacks. Whole milk or low-moisture cheese sticks work, but I prefer whole milk for the most gooey cheese.
Panko – I love panko breadcrumbs for the extra crunchy texture but you can also use Italian breadcrumbs.
Seasonings – Garlic powder and salt to season the panko. If you’re using pre-seasoned breadcrumbs, you’ll want to adjust.
Egg – A beaten egg will help act as the glue to hold the breadcrumbs onto the cheese stick.
Flour – A beaten egg will help act as the glue to hold the breadcrumbs onto the cheese stick.
Olive Oil Spray – You’ll need an olive oil mister or cooking spray.

overhead shot of labeled ingredients laid out to make air fryer mozzarella sticks.

How to make cheese sticks in the air fryer

  1. STEP ONE: To prep, cut four mozzarella sticks in half to make 8 sticks and prep three bowls, one with the seasoned panko, the second bowl with a beaten egg, and the third with flour. Make an assembly line.
  2. STEP TWO: First up, roll the mozzarella sticks in flour, then dip in egg, turning to cover all sides. Place into the panko mixture, pressing the panko firmly onto the cheese. Repeat for all 8 sticks and then place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Move the prepped cheese sticks to the freezer for 15 minutes.
  3. STEP THREE: Place the frozen cheese sticks to the preheated air fryer in a single layer. Spritz with oil and cook for 5 minutes or until golden brown (air fryers vary so yours may take up to 6-8 minutes).
  4. STEP FOUR: Serve with dipping sauces & enjoy!
collage of four photos showing the process of breading mozzarella cheese for cheese sticks.

🧀 Tips & Suggestions

  • Don’t skip preheating the air fryer. This is going to help allow the panko bread crumbs to really crisp up and create that crunchy texture.
  • Don’t skip the freezing step either. This is important or the cheese will become too melty and leak out of the crust. 
  • You can use regular or low fat cheese sticks. Either type will work for the recipe, but I recommend regular.
  • Use an oil mister to spritz the cheese sticks as it will help allow the panko bread crumb coating to become golden brown. If you don’t spritz, they will not become golden.
  • Make sure to do a single layer in the air fryer or you will not get an even cook. The hot air needs to circulate all around each of the cheese sticks.
  • If you want to spice them up, try adding some chili powder or cajun seasoning to the breadcrumb mixture.

What to serve with them

Try pairing some other air fryer appetizers with them like air fryer chicken nuggets, air fryer onion rings, air fryer pizza rolls, or air fryer jalapeno poppers.

How to store leftovers

If you don’t eat all the cheese sticks, place them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. The texture will soften a bit, but they will still taste good.

How long will mozzarella sticks last in the fridge?

1-2 days in the fridge. You can eat them cold or warm them up.

collage of two photos showing breaded mozzarella sticks going into the air fryer.

Can I freeze them?

Yes, you can freeze these cheese sticks before you air fry them. Prep them as directed and then flash freeze them. Once the breading is frozen, place the frozen sticks in a freezer bag and freeze for 2-3 months.

When ready to enjoy, take them from the freezer to the air fryer and cook as directed, adding an additional minute or two until all the way cooked through.

I do not recommend freezing once they’ve already been fried.

How to reheat them

For best results, I recommend heating them up in the oven or air fryer, to keep the breading crispy.

They’ll likely get soggy in the microwave…but they’ll still taste good! 15-20 seconds is all they’ll need. Heating too long can cause cheese to bubble out so watch closely.

plate of air fryer cheese sticks with marinara.

FAQs

How long do you air fry mozzarella sticks?

5 minutes is all they should need, but cooking time will depend on your air fryer. Some may need 6-8 minutes.

Should I freeze mozzarella sticks before air frying?

Yes, freezing the mozzarella sticks once breaded helps ensure the cheese will not melt out when you cook them. Otherwise, the cheese will ooze right out.

Why do my mozzarella sticks always explode?

Overcooking the cheese sticks is the cause of them exploding. Make sure to keep an eye as they are cooking in your air fryer basket or air fryer trays. If you do a tray place on the middle rack of your air fryer. 

Need more air fryer recipes? Try these:

Buffalo Chicken Wings
Homemade Tortilla Chips
Air Fryer Edamame

Click here for my entire collection of air fryer recipes.

Need more cheesy recipes? Try these:

Slow Cooker Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs
Cheesy Chicken Fajita Casserole
Cheesy Chicken Spinach Artichoke Casserole
Mac & Cheese in a Mug

hand dipping a mozzarella stick into marinara.

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pile of mozzarella cheese sticks with the cheese being pulled apart from a broken one.

Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks

Melissa Williams
Easy air fryer mozzarella sticks are a cheesy, gooey appetizer or snack made with just six everyday ingredients. A homemade cheese stick that is breaded and air fried to crispy, crunchy perfection and filled with melty cheese. Perfect for dipping in marinara or ranch.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Freeze Time 15 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 8 servings
Calories 94 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 4 mozzarella cheese sticks cut in half
  • 1 cup panko
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • ¼ cup flour
  • olive oil for spritzing
  • marinara sauce or ranch for dipping

Instructions
 

  • Preheat airfryer to 390° F for 5 minutes.
  • Cut mozzarella sticks in half to make 8 sticks. Add beaten egg to a second shallow bowl and flour in a third bowl.
  • To a small, shallow bowl, combine panko, garlic powder, and salt.
  • To another small bowl, add an egg and beat until frothy.
  • To a third small bowl, add the flour. Make an assembly line.
  • Roll mozzarella sticks in flour, then dip in egg, turning to cover all sides. Place into panko, covering with a spoon and pressing cheese firmly into panko.
  • Repeat this process twice with each mozzarella stick. Place on paper plate or parchment lined, freezer safe dish and freeze for 15 minutes.
  • Place mozzarella sticks into air fryer basket and spray or brush with oil. Cook 5 minutes or until golden brown. Air fryer cook times vary so check after 5 minutes – you may need 6-8 minutes.
  • Serve with dipping sauces.

Notes

  • Whole milk or low-moisture cheese sticks can be used for this recipe. Whole milk is preferred.
  • When coating, try to keep one hand dry to help panko stick.
  • Freezing 15 minutes is required, but you can freeze longer or overnight if making ahead of time.
  • Leftovers can be stored in refrigerator for 2 days and reheated in microwave for 15-20 seconds. Heating too long can cause cheese to bubble out so watch closely.
  • These shouldn’t be frozen after they are cooked, but you can make extra and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow to freeze on paper plate or half sheet, then place in freezer bag or other freezer safe container.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 94kcalCarbohydrates: 9gProtein: 5gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.3gTrans Fat: 0.003gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 319mgPotassium: 32mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 36IUVitamin C: 0.01mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Originally published February 10, 2010

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  1. Raymond says

    5 stars
    Tried it and Love it. I also tried dipping in Sriracha Sauce. Boy, that’s good!

    • Melissa Williams says

      You’re fast! I love it. Thanks so much for reporting back 🙂

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