These gluten free mozzarella sticks have a golden brown, crisp exterior with gooey, melted mozzarella cheese in the center. Perfect for a gluten-friendly appetizer or snack!
Who can resist fried cheese? Not this girl, and I wear that cheese-aholic badge with honor. Unfortunately most cheese that's battered and fried isn't gluten-free!
So I grabbed my apron, and set out to make my own gluten-free mozzarella sticks. Not only did they exceed my cheesiest dreams, but I learned plenty of tips and tricks along the way.
There's an art to fried food. If the oil isn't hot, you have a greasy mess and if it's too hot, you have a burnt exterior. Not to mention when it comes to fried cheese, two things are essential:
- A crispy golden exterior
- A melty hot cheese-pull center
The cheese must stay in its breadcrumb prison lest you have an empty breadcrumb shell. Cheese leakage is a mega buzzkill, friends. Don't fret though, I've figured out how to prevent it!
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Who's invited to this cheesy party?
- Canola oil - Any neutral oil with a high-smoke point works great. I use canola or vegetable oil, depending on which one I have.
- Gluten free breadcrumbs - I used 4C Plain Gluten Free Breadcrumbs, but any brand should work.
- Gluten free all purpose flour - To help the egg stick to the mozzarella stick and thus adhere the gluten free breadcrumbs. I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 All Purpose Flour because it's my favorite, so I keep it on hand.
- Eggs - Whisked eggs act like glue for the breadcrumbs.
- Milk - To break up the eggs so they aren't gloppy.
- Seasoning - Don't forget the salt! Salt and fat, in this case cheese, belong together. Salt enhances the flavor of the gluten free mozzarella sticks.
- Mozzarella cheese sticks - There's a reason cheese sticks always use mozzarella cheese. It's for that beloved, hot and gooey cheese pull. It's a must, must, must!
How to Make Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks
Make the breading station
Cut the gluten free cheese sticks in half crosswise.
In one bowl, combine the gluten-free flour, spices, and ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. In the last bowl combine the gluten free breadcrumbs and ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.
Line up the three bowls, first the flour, then the eggs, and lastly the breadcrumbs.
Dredge the cheese sticks
First, place one of the cheese sticks into the flour mixture and roll it around. Remove it from the flour, tapping off the excess flour if necessary.
Next, carefully place the cheese stick into the egg mixture. Carefully pick up the cheese stick, letting any excess egg drip off.
Carefully roll the cheese stick in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated. It's hard not to get your hands covered in breadcrumbs, and that's okay. Let the excess breadcrumbs fall off the cheese stick.
Place the cheese stick back into the egg mixture. Last time, I promise!
Then put the cheese stick back into the breadcrumbs and evenly coat.
Place the coated cheese stick onto a clean plate, and repeat with the remaining cheese sticks.
Deep-fry the gluten free mozzarella sticks
Place the plate of gluten-free coated cheese sticks into the freezer for 20 minutes. Timing is everything here. If the cheese sticks freeze too long, you won't get the gooey cheese pull. If you don't freeze them at all, the cheese leaks!
Fill a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven with at least two inches of oil. Turn on the stovetop to medium high, and attach a deep fry or candy thermometer to the edge of the pot, with the point ending inside the oil.
Once the thermometer reads 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully place two gluten free mozzarella sticks into the hot oil without touching it. Let them cook for 20 seconds, then use a slotted spoon to turn them over and cook for 20 more seconds.
If you cook them too long, the cheese will leak! For best results, set a timer. Repeat with all the cheese sticks.
Enjoy immediately with marinara sauce! If you let them sit for a while, the cheese will cool and won't be melty. If that does happen, pop them in the oven at 300 degrees until warmed through.
You will need:
- Large cast iron dutch oven or a pot with tall sides
- Fry or candy thermometer
- Slotted spoon or a spider (not the creepy crawly kind)
- Three small dishes or bowls for the flour, breadcrumbs and egg mixture
How do you make gluten free mozzarella sticks without the cheese leaking out?
A ha! Good question.
After some good ol' trial and error I found three things to prevent this common catastrophe (anything involving the loss of cheese is indeed a catastrophe).
- I did the double dip (sounds like an awesome dance move but it's not). After dredging the mozzarella stick in flour I dipped it in egg and breadcrumbs twice! This really seals in the cheese.
- After breading the sticks I froze them for 20 minutes. I do not recommend doing it for much longer than that. The last thing you want is a nice crispy outside and a cold cheese stick in the center. Twenty minutes is just enough time to cool down the cheese stick enough to prevent leakage but not so much it won't melt.
- I didn't fry the cheese stick on either side for more than 20 seconds at a time. If you leave the cheese stick on one side too long the cheese will try to pop out of it's crispy shell. You can roll the cheese stick in the oil with your slotted spoon until the outside is a nice golden brown but don't keep it on one side longer than 20 seconds and in the oil longer than a minute. You will know if you have leakage because the oil will pop as cheese leaks out.
Can you freeze mozzarella sticks after they're fried?
I actually prefer them this way. You get all the deliciousness with minimal clean up. And I'm all about that life.
It's really simple. Put a plate of fried and cooled mozzarella sticks into the freezer for 30 minutes. Place them into a plastic freezer bag and put them back into the freezer until ready to bake them.
Once ready to eat them bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Just keep an eye on them to make sure theres no cheese leakage. Pull them out if any of them begin to leak.
Enjoy with warm marinara sauce!
Tips for easy clean up and less mess:
I like to use three paper bowls for my breading station - one for flour, one for breadcrumbs and one for the egg mixture. This way when I'm done breading I can just toss everything into the trash.
You can put a paper towel on a paper plate for the cheese sticks once they're fried. Once all the gluten free cheese sticks are fried I like to remove the greasy paper towel and enjoy as soon as they are cool enough to pop into my mouth.
What do I do with the leftover oil?
All your cheese sticks are long gone and you have a pot full of oil - now what? You can strain and reuse frying oil. You can read more about reusing fryer oil here. I don't do this mostly because I don't fry food often enough and oil is relatively cheap.
You can dispose of the oil by pouring it into a disposable container and throwing it in the trash. Just be sure it is completely cool! Do not dispose of hot oil.
I personally like to buy cheap off-brand trash bags and use them to dispose of it. Simply put the trash bag around the pot and dump it into the bag. I tie it into a tight knot and toss it into the trash. Just make sure the bag is all the way around the pot before you dump. Oil isn't easy to clean!
No, classic mozzarella sticks are coated in flour and breadcrumbs which are not gluten free. They're also deep fried in hot oil that may be cross contaminated from other fried foods.
String cheese sticks are typically gluten free but it's important to always check the label! I prefer to buy brands that label their products gluten free or provide information on their website. Sargento cheese sticks are gluten free!
More Gluten Free Appetizers
- Simple Guacamole Recipe with a Twist
- Mango Habanero Salsa
- Pineapple Mango Salsa Recipe
- Avocado Dip with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta
Gluten Free Mozzarella Sticks
- Cast Iron Dutch Oven or a Large Pot with Tall Sides
- Fry or Candy Thermometer
- Slotted Spoon or Spider
- 4 Mozzarella Cheese Sticks Cut in half crosswise
- ⅓ Cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour I used Bob's Red Mill 1:1 All Purpose Gluten Free Flour
- ½ t. Onion Powder
- ¼ t. Garlic Powder
- ¼ t. Kosher Salt
- ½ Cup Gluten Free Breadcrumbs
- ½ t. Kosher Salt
- 2 Large Eggs
- 1 tbsp Milk
- Canola or Vegetable Oil for frying I used 2 ½ Cups or ¾ in up the side of the pot
- Cut the cheesesticks in half crosswise and set aside. Combine gluten free flour, onion powder, garlic powder and ¼ t. kosher salt in a small bowl and stir with a spoon.
- In another small bowl combine the gluten free breadcrumbs and ½ t. kosher salt then stir with a spoon.
- In another bowl whisk the eggs and milk together well with a fork. In a line put the flour bowl first then the egg then the breadcrumbs.
- First dredge a cheese stick in flour and gently knock off any excess. Gently drop the stick in the egg and turn until evenly covered. Pull the stick out letting any extra egg drain off then place directly into the breadcrumbs.
- Cover all sides and ends with breadcrumbs. Repeat the egg and breadcrumbs one more time and put onto the plate. Repeat with all the cheese sticks.
- Place the cheese sticks in the freezer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oil in a large dutch oven on medium high heat checking the temperature with a thermometer until it reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Gently place two breaded cheese sticks into the hot oil and count 20 seconds before turning them over with a slotted spoon. Count to 20 again and turn over. Once the whole stick is golden brown remove from oil onto a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with all the breaded sticks then enjoy with marinara sauce.