I'm such a fan of mozzarella sticks – and halloumi sticks, and mozzarella balls, and any kind of cheese covered in a crumb – and if they're on a menu, you can be sure that I'll be ordering them.
However, I've never been able to replicate the crisp coating and melted center at home. That was until I discovered this Cheetos-coated mozzarella stick air fryer recipe on YouTube Shorts.
The original video was posted by Lisa Nguyen – a YouTuber with more than 4.2 million subscribers – and the recipe takes just 10 minutes from start to finish. At 19 million views, and counting, the recipe I followed is proof that the best air fryers are just as good for making quick snacks as they are for cooking up larger meals and sides.
Below, I guide you through how to make Lisa's mozzarella sticks recipe at home, and suggest how you can put your own spin on this comforting cheesy treat.
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Air fryer mozzarella sticks recipe
In her video, Lisa uses hot Cheetos to form the crumb coating for the mozzarella sticks. I'm not a fan, so I opted for standard Cheetos instead. However, any corn puffs, or potato chips for that matter, will do the job. You just need to make sure they're finely crushed.
You can also use breadcrumbs, panko crumbs, or anything else you can think of that will from a crispy coating once cooked. The same goes for swapping out mozzarella for halloumi, for example, or using a vegan cheese alternative.
In Lisa's original video, her mozzarella sticks were uniform in size and shape, but I couldn't find such sticks in my local store. Instead, I bought a mozzarella ball and cut it into strips to get the same effect.
Air fryer mozzarella sticks ingredients
The amount of ingredients you need will depend on the number of sticks you want to make. The amounts listed below use one mozzarella ball, which makes around eight sticks.
You can also use frozen mozzarella sticks; but, be aware that cooking times may vary.
- 120g Cheetos
- 2 eggs (beaten)
- 1 cup of flour
- Mozzarella sticks/ball
Although this particular recipe isn't suitable for vegans, you could replace the mozzarella and Cheetos with vegan alternatives, and replace the chicken eggs with flaxseed eggs (flaxseeds mixed with water).
Air fryer mozzarella sticks method
I used the Tower T17099 Vortx Eco Dual Basket Air Fryer (opens in new tab), set at 380°F (200°C) for seven minutes. This resulted in a crispy crumb and melted center that didn't ooze out of the coating.
Step 1: Cut the mozzarella ball into strips.
Step 2: Pour the flour into one bowl, beat two eggs into a second bowl, and crush Cheetos into a third, shallow dish.
Step 3: Coat each stick individually in flour before dipping it into the beaten eggs.
Step 4: Remove any excess egg and then roll the mozzarella stick in the crushed Cheetos. Gently squeeze the stick and Cheetos in the palm of your hand to press the crumb into the cheese.
Step 5: Place the coated mozzarella sticks in rows in the air fryer. Space the sticks as far apart as possible – and, ideally, on a grill rack. If you don't have a grill rack, line the basket in aluminum foil to make it easy to get the sticks out once they're cooked.
Step 6: Set the air fryer to 380°F (200°C) and leave to cook for seven minutes. If you're using frozen mozzarella sticks, adjust the cooking time accordingly. Make sure the sticks are piping hot all the way through before serving.
Step 7: Remove from the air fryer and allow to cool briefly before serving. This is to maintain the structural integrity of the sticks and avoid them melting in your hands.
Air fryer mozzarella sticks recipe verdict
If you're a cheese lover, you won't go wrong with this quick, tasty and comforting recipe. The mozzarella sticks are the perfect starter or snack, and they'll definitely be on the menu the next time I have friends over.
Despite the softness of the Cheetos corn puffs, they crisp up enough to add a cheesy bite to the soft center.
They don't quite have the crunch of deep-fried sticks, but neither do they have the calories, so it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to have mozzarella sticks at home.
If you're still sitting on the fence and wondering whether to buy an air fryer, you may want to read our article to decide whether air fryers are worth it?