Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks

5 from 2 votes

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Actually ALL the air fryer cheese sticks — plus all the secrets to great air fryer cheese sticks every time.

Air Fryer of Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

Hi there! It’s me, your air fryer! Remember you bought me (or asked for me as a gift, or found me wrapped under the tree) and had all kinds of big plans for us, and then you left me sitting in a box. Well, now it’s time for us to make the magic happen.

Mozzarella Cheese Sticks in an Air Fryer.

I am just getting to know my air fryer. Just scratching the surface. I’ve made fries a few times from actual potatoes, and I did a battered dipped cauliflower thing that was so delicious and decadent (batter, panko, a serious mayonnaise-like sauce dripped all over everything) that the fact that it was made in an air fryer was if not irrelevant not a huge bragging point. And then I made these.

Air Fryer of Mozzarella Cheese Sticks.

My friends at PureWow ( a very fun website that regularly features my recipes) came over to see my new kitchen studio and asked if we could shoot some video while they were visiting. Sure, why not? Then, they asked if I had any good air fryer recipes to play with. That was all I needed to release the little person inside of me who had been loudly whispering, “Make mozzarella sticks! Make ALL the cheese sticks!” One of the happiest moments for all of my boys at a certain type of restaurant is when they spot mozzarella cheese sticks on the menu, and I wanted to bring the magic home.

Easy Mozzarella Sticks

Dip, roll in the coating, place on the air fryer rack, close the lid, and push the button. More specific directions await, but if you thought making air fryer cheese sticks at home was going to be tricky, you are in for a very lovely surprise.

Less Oil for Healthier Mozzarella Sticks

Have you ever fried mozzarella sticks? Or seen them fried in a restaurant? If so, you know that while these are by no means health food, they call for WAY less oil than conventionally fried mozzarella sticks.

Woman pulling apart a Mozzarella Cheese Stick.

Different Kinds of Cheese Sticks

The first thing I did was buy about a half dozen kinds of cheese sticks: Colby, cheddar, good old string cheese, and, of course, mozzarella, the leader of all of the cheese sticks. Why are mozzarella sticks the best? Or if not the best, why are they the self-appointed king of the cheese sticks? It’s just the way the cheese melts and stretches, giving that perfect cheese pull each and every time (as long as you allow it to get warm enough but not too hot). Magic. Not to mention Instagram gold.

(Ok, please tell me I am not the only one who heard the word “cheese sticks” in this song and then had to be gently corrected).

But that shouldn’t stop any of us from playing with other cheese sticks. The stretchy pull might not be as dramatic (I was getting up to a couple of feet of stretchiness with the mozzarella), but the flavors are amazing. I also sliced up some halloumi into stick-shaped pieces.

Long string of cheese from a Mozzarella Cheese being pulled apart.

Dipping Batter for Cheese Sticks

You can use a plain beaten egg to dip the cheese sticks in before the coating, just seasoned with salt and pepper, or you can go to town. I added a few different things to different batches: hot sauce, Dijon mustard, Buffalo sauce. Or skip the egg mixture and play with other somewhat thick liquids, like maybe ranch dressing.

Cheese Stick Coatings

I made some with plain Panko, and then I mixed Panko with creole seasoning. You could also mix it with an Italian seasoning herb blend, or some Old Bay Seasoning (or New Bay seasoning!), or maybe a curry blend, or anything that strikes you. Or use plain breadcrumbs instead of panko for a finer coating, and season them similarly (or buy seasoned Panko or breadcrumbs).

Woman rolling a cheese stick in a bowl of crushed potato chips.

Other coatings I played with that were delicious: fairly finely crushed saltines, pretzels, and potato chips. If you can crush it and roll a cheese stick in it, it’s fair game. You want it fairly crushed and crushed but not a powder; a little texture is nice. You can do this in a blender or food processor, or by placing the items in a sturdy zipper top bag and using a rolling pin or a wine bottle to roll and gently pound everything until it reaches the desired consistency.

And, you can also make gluten-free mozzarella cheese sticks by simply using gluten-free breadcrumbs or gluten-free Panko or another gluten-free coating. Homemade cheese sticks are a real gift to a gluten-free family member or friend.

Woman dipping a Mozzarella Cheese Stick into miso mayonnaise.

Dipping Sauces for Mozzarella Sticks

Once you have your flavor situations picked out for the batter and the coating, match up a great dip. I mixed mayonnaise and a miso gochujang sauce, which was very interesting, and I also used a buttermilk dressing dip, a blue cheese dip (I know — cheese on cheese, crazy-town), classic marinara sauce (which is always perfect), and salsa.

All the secrets to great air fryer cheese sticks every time.

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3 Tips to Perfect Air Fryer Mozzarella (and other cheese) Sticks

Here are the secrets to great air fryer cheese sticks every time:

Cheese sticks and breading toppings in front of an Air Fryer.

First Coating of Flour

Rolling the cheese sticks in flour before dipping them in the egg allows the egg to adhere better. I would also play with different types of flour in the future (good to think about if you are gluten-free as well), and maybe season the flour with some different spices, but it’s just a thin coating on the cheese stick, so not a big flavor component.

Woman coating a cheese stick in flour.

Two Coatings of Egg and Crumbs

I tried a bunch with just one dip in egg, and one in Panko, or whatever crumb coating I was using, and unless you caught the cheese sticks just at the moment of melting internally, they melted pretty completely and dripped right through the rack. Go for the second coating of breadcrumbs.

Woman rolling a cheese stick in an egg mixture.

Freeze Cheese Sticks Slightly

Place them in the freezer for 30 minutes after they are all coated so that they firm up. This will allow them to cook more evenly in the fryer with the outside getting crisp and browned just at the same time the inside gets super soft and melty.

And, no, you do not have to preheat your air fryer for mozzarella sticks!

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5 from 2 votes

Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks

Actually ALL the air fryer cheese sticks — plus all the secrets to great air fryer cheese sticks every time.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 2 People
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  • 6 cheese sticks (such as mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Colby)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1 cup Panko or other crushed coating (such as crushed crackers, pretzels, or chips; see recipe intro for more information)
  • Dip of your choice to serve (such as marinara sauce or salsa)


  • Unwrap your cheese sticks. Have a plate or small tray or baking sheet at the ready.
  • Place the flour in a shallow bowl. Place the eggs in another shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Place the Panko in another shallow bowl.
  • Roll the cheese sticks first in the flour, then the egg, then the Panko, then the egg again, and then the Panko one more time. Use one hand to roll the cheese sticks in the wet ingredients and the other to roll them in the dry so you have less clumpiness and mess (it will still be a bit clumpy or messy, which is the way it goes). As you complete each cheese stick place it on the waiting plate or tray. When they are all coated, place them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
  • Set up your air fryer with the rack inserted on the level vs. tilted setting (if applicable). Place the cheese sticks on the rack with space in between them. Set the temperature to 400 F if applicable, or press the cheese stick button if not. Cook for about 8 minutes (this is a very inexact number; you really have to watch and keep checking). If you see the ends or any part of the cheese stick start to slump through the rack, pop open that lid and get them out.
  • Serve the cheese sticks hot with the dipping sauces of your choice!


I made some with plain Panko, and then I mixed Panko with creole seasoning. You could also mix it with an Italian seasoning herb blend, or some Old Bay Seasoning (or New Bay seasoning!), or maybe a curry blend, or anything that strikes you. Or use plain breadcrumbs instead of panko for a finer coating, and season them similarly (or buy seasoned Panko or bread crumbs).


Calories: 535.41kcal, Carbohydrates: 48.75g, Protein: 30.74g, Fat: 24.05g, Saturated Fat: 12.29g, Cholesterol: 209.04mg, Sodium: 942.95mg, Potassium: 152.96mg, Fiber: 2.2g, Sugar: 2.11g, Vitamin A: 237.6IU, Calcium: 139.18mg, Iron: 3.67mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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  1. Becky says:

    Fantastic simple recipe❣ I was going for Flamin Hot Cheetos mozzarella sticks. I added about 1/8c corn starch to the crumbs, which I was hoping eliminated the need for the double dip/breading(at least when using cheetos) and they turned out perfect:)

    1. Katie Workman says:

      I am SO trying those! I was also thinking all of the Dorito flavors….

  2. Nancy Maynard says:

    Can these be done without an air fryer?

    1. Katie Workman says:

      yes, you can bake them as well – or deep fry them if you are so inclined!