Can you air fry frozen mozzarella sticks? Yes, you can! IMHO, air fryers are the best way to cook frozen mozzarella sticks. Keep reading to learn how to make keto mozzarella sticks with pork rinds. This low carb air fryer frozen mozzarella sticks recipe has only 1.4 grams of net carbs per serving! You’ll love these keto “fried” cheese sticks with their savory, crisp coating and warm, melty cheese centers. YUM!
Have you ever wondered how to make mozzarella sticks without breadcrumbs? Whether you are gluten free due to celiac disease or using a keto diet for weight loss, a lot of people are cutting back on wheat. Luckily, it’s extremely easy to make air fried mozz sticks using completely keto friendly ingredients.
Believe it or not, you can make bready, delicious cheese sticks with no flour made of grains. You might always want to make frozen cheese sticks in the air fryer this way!
Just picture those warm and melty keto mozzarella cheese sticks with marinara sauce. Pull one apart and admire the beautiful cheese pull. Ahhh...
Everyone will love this amazingly scrumptious keto appetizer. I know that we can’t get enough of them in my house!
One of the things that is great about this recipe is that the uncooked cheese sticks are stored in the freezer. You can make these low carb mozzarella sticks ahead, and only air fry what you need when you need them. This should help make portion control a teeny, tiny bit easier...
That said, if you have a large family, you may want to double or triple this recipe. Most people will want more than one of these!
Why air fry mozzarella sticks? This recipe has some nutritional advantages compared to store bought mozzarella sticks. Here are a few benefits:
- No added sugar and no added oil: There is some pork fat in the pork panko in this recipe (more details on this ingredient below). Aside from that, there are no empty calories in this recipe from added sugars and added oils.
- No refined grains: Nearly all store bought options for frozen cheese sticks contain refined grains, such as bread crumbs made from white flour. Most people in the U.S. are far exceeding the recommendations for refined grain intake. Cutting back on foods with white flour and other refined grains can help to better the quality of your diet.
- Protein: Because I have breaded the cheese with pork panko rather than white flour, you’re getting more protein. (These are definitely not a lean protein option, but I thought this was worth a mention.)
- Not an ultra-processed food: One reason I am a big fan of cooking at home is that it helps limit my intake of ultra-processed foods. Store-bought breaded frozen cheese sticks may be convenient, but they are ultra-processed food products. Avoid the unwanted additives by making homemade mozzarella sticks instead.
- Fits a number of special diets: Is your way of eating low carb, keto, or gluten free? If so, these air fryer frozen mozzarella sticks will be a good fit! (And if you want a vegetarian option, check out the FAQs below!)
- SO GOOD: Ok, ok, so eating cheese breaded with pork rinds really isn’t the most health promoting food option out there. That said, this has got to be one of the most tasty snacks I have on the site. My goodness, it is so, so (so, so, so) good!
Let’s cover what you need to make this frozen mozzarella sticks air fryer recipe! First up, you are going to need the refrigerated cheese sticks or string cheese sticks. I used Costco mozzarella sticks, but whatever brand you prefer should also work.
The other ingredients you’ll use in this recipe will be separated into three bowls. The mozzarella sticks will be dipped in the ingredients in each of the bowls twice. Here’s bowl one:
- Almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill super fine almond flour)
Here’s the second bowl:
- Large eggs
And here is bowl three:
- Pork panko
- Garlic powder
- Parsley (dried)
- Oregano (dried)
- Basil (dried)
- Thyme (dried)
- Rosemary (dried)
I also like to have some warmed marinara sauce on hand for dipping! I used Bacon Heir’s Pork Panko for this recipe. The only ingredients in this product are pork rinds (cooked in pork fat) and salt.
If you are looking for a keto substitute for bread crumbs, I cannot recommend this product enough. It makes really delicious keto breaded foods! I promise you’ll be seeing more recipes with pork panko on this website in the future.
This is an air fryer recipe, so you’ll definitely need an air fryer to make this one. There are so many air fryer options out there: Ninja Foodi, Power Air Fryer, Cosori air fryer, Philips air fryer...
The good news is that you can probably make this recipe work no matter what type of air fryer you have. I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven to develop my air fryer recipes.
If your air fryer is smaller, you may need to make this keto mozzarella sticks air fryer recipe in multiple batches. You may also need to adjust the cooking times.
Besides the air fryer, I also recommend having a large cookie sheet and some parchment paper for freezing the mozz sticks. You’ll also need three bowls for your dipping station.
How to Make Mozzarella Sticks in Air Fryer
Let’s air fry frozen mozzarella sticks! Make sure to start this recipe at least 3-4 hours before it’s time to eat. Your low carb mozzarella sticks need time to freeze.
Start by cutting 5 mozzarella sticks in half widthwise. You should now have 10 mini cheese sticks.
Get out three medium-sized bowls. In the first bowl, stir together the almond flour and salt. In the second bowl, whisk together two large eggs.
For bowl three, you should stir together the pork panko, garlic powder, and dried herbs (essentially a DIY Italian seasoning). There is no need to add additional salt to the pork panko- it is already very salty!
Line a large baking tray with parchment paper. Now you’re ready to bread mozzarella sticks!
Dip each mozzarella stick in the almond flour, the egg, and then the pork panko mixture. Then go through the steps again, breading the coated mozzarella stick with another layer of almond flour, egg, and panko. Put the mozzarella sticks that have been coated twice on the lined baking tray in a single non-touching layer.
Make sure that the cheese sticks are completely coated, with no cheese peeking through. I like to pat the pork panko mixture on with my hands, it helps it to stick better.
After all of the low carb keto cheese sticks are wearing their low carb breading, put the tray into the freezer. Let the mozzarella sticks freeze for at least 2-4 hours before air frying. This step is important to help them cook properly!
Cook Time and Temperature
Your air fryer frozen mozzarella sticks will air fry for a total of 6 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Start by preheating your air fryer for 5 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the air fryer trays or air fryer basket in the air fryer so they get hot.
Once heated, carefully move a tray (or basket) from the air fryer. Place the frozen cheese sticks on the tray in a single, non-touching layer. I was able to fit them all on one tray.
Put the tray in the top rack position in the air fryer (closest to the heating element). Air fry for 3 minutes at 400F. Then carefully flip the mozzarella sticks over and air fry them for an additional 3 minutes at 400F.
They will have a little give when they are done. You can give them a gentle squeeze if you’re unsure.
Be careful removing them from the air fryer- they are HOT! Let them cool 3-5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
Dip for Mozzarella Sticks
IMVHO, the best dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks is warm marinara sauce. It’s a keto friendly, low calorie, lycopene-rich sauce option.
Perhaps most importantly, it is a DELICIOUS complement to air fryer cheese sticks. Just perfect.
That said, you’re welcome to use another type of sauce for these gluten free mozzarella sticks if you would prefer. Here are a few options for you:
- BBQ sauce (Need a Low carb BBQ sauce? Check out my suggestions in the Air Fryer BBQ Chicken post.)
- Hot sauce
- Ranch dressing (Find a super delicious homemade ranch dip recipe in my Air Fryer Fried Mushrooms post.)
- Honey mustard sauce
Tips for Air Frying Mozzarella Sticks
Everyone hates a messy, deflated mozzarella stick! Luckily, there are some simple things you can do to stop the cheese from melting out of the breading.
I used all of the following tips in this recipe. However, they can be applied to other cheese stick recipes as well. I picked up these tips from Food Network Magazine, and I think you’ll find them helpful:
- Bread your mozzarella sticks TWICE: Repeat the process of dipping your cheese sticks in flour, egg, and seasoned breading two times. The thick breading means your cheese can air fry until it is melty and oozy without leaking out.
- Freeze your low carb cheese sticks after breading: Don’t just pop your breaded cheese sticks in the air fryer! Freezing them first is another step you can take to prevent cheese from oozing out. This also makes it easier to air fry just the portion you need.
- Preheat the air fryer: Get your air fryer nice and hot before air frying mozzarella sticks. This will help the coating crisp and solidify faster, creating an enclosure for the cheese before it starts melting.
- Don’t overcook them: If you cook your air fryer mozzarella sticks for too long, they’ll eventually burst and deflate. This will leave you with pork rind shells and a cheesy mess in your air fryer. Prevent the mess and avoid overcooking your cheese sticks!
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 3 recipe (weight maintenance and active lifestyles). Why did I make a recipe that’s only 125 calories and 1.4 grams of net carbs per serving level 3? That would be because I know it is pretty unrealistic to expect anyone will eat just one or two of these. (Truth time: I seriously snarfed like 4-5 of these and called it lunch. Haha)
This recipe is very energy dense, high in fat from both the crushed pork rinds and the cheese. You’re not getting a good balance of macros from this recipe. Just because a recipe is keto does not automatically mean it is good for weight loss.
If I had breaded these cheese sticks with whole grain breadcrumbs instead of pork panko and almond flour, it would actually be lower in calories. You’d lose out on some protein, but gain a smidge of fiber from whole grains.
So, does that mean cheese sticks breaded with whole grains are better? Honestly, not really.
I know I could eat my weight in both keto and regular mozzarella sticks. Many find it difficult to eat an appropriately-sized portion of cheese when it is served in the form of cheese sticks. Something about the explosion of crispy, salty, melty, cheesy goodness makes this treat a difficult one to resist!
If you did want to balance this one out a bit more, add a large salad with leafy greens on the side. If you choose a light dressing, you’ll get a lot more filling volume into your meal for few calories. This tip should work regardless of the weight loss approach you have chosen (keto, calorie tracking, etc.).
For best results, I don’t recommend cooking more frozen mozzarella sticks than you are going to use. If you have leftover mozzarella sticks (cooked and refrigerated), try reheating them in a preheated air fryer at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 minutes.
Um, this recipe for air fryer frozen cheese sticks is the absolute best, of course. 😉 In general, homemade mozzarella sticks are going to be both healthier and tastier. I’ve heard good things about the frozen Farm Rich mozzarella sticks if your priorities are convenience and taste versus limiting ultra-processed foods.
Dairy foods, including mozzarella, are not included on most Paleo diets. Thus, even though we’ve omitted the grains in this air fryer mozzarella stick recipe, it’s not Paleo friendly.
These keto mozzarella sticks provide 1.4 grams of net carbs each. (Keep in mind though that you’re pretty likely to eat more than just one!)
For vegetarian keto mozzarella sticks, try breading them with almond flour or coconut flour instead of pork panko. You’ll still need to coat them with the breading twice, just as I’ve done in this recipe.
Yes, mozzarella sticks can also be deep fried, pan fried, or oven baked. I recommend skipping the deep frying if you want healthy mozzarella sticks. Deep frying adds a lot of oil that you can skip when you air fry or use other cooking methods.
More Keto Air Fryer Recipes
Are you here because this is an air fryer keto recipe? If so, I have some other very low carb air fryer recipes you might enjoy as well:
- Air Fryer Chicken Schnitzel (Keto, Low Carb)
- Air Fryer Radish (Keto Loaded Potato Substitute!)
- Keto Buffalo Wings in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs with Mustard and Herbs
- Air Fryer Burgers Stuffed with Cheese
Don't forget to subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter to be kept up-to-date on all of the latest and greatest recipes!
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Frozen Mozzarella Sticks (Keto, Low Carb)
- Note: Start this recipe at least 3-4 hours before it’s time to eat. The low carb mozzarella sticks need time to freeze.
- Cut the mozzarella sticks in half widthwise. You should now have 10 mini cheese sticks.
- Get out three medium-sized bowls. In the first bowl, stir together the almond flour and salt. In the second bowl, whisk together the eggs. In bowl three, stir together the pork panko, garlic powder, parsley, oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
- Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Dip each mozzarella stick in the almond flour, the egg, and then the pork panko mixture (in that order). Then go through the steps again, breading the coated mozzarella stick with another layer of almond flour, egg, and panko. (Watch the video below!)
- Make sure that the cheese sticks are completely coated, with no cheese peeking through. I like to pat the pork panko mixture on with my hands, it helps it to stick better.
- Put the mozzarella sticks that have been coated twice on the lined baking tray in a single non-touching layer.
- Freeze the tray of mozzarella sticks for 2-4 hours or more. Do not skip this step!
- Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Keep the air fryer trays or air fryer basket in the air fryer so they get hot.
- Once heated, carefully remove a tray (or basket) from the air fryer. Place the frozen cheese sticks on the tray in a single, non-touching layer. I was able to fit them all of the frozen breaded mozzarella sticks on one tray.
- Put the tray in the top rack position in the air fryer (closest to the heating element). Air fry for 3 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Then carefully flip the mozzarella sticks over and air fry them for an additional 3 minutes at 400°F (200°C).
- Let them cool 3-5 minutes before serving. Serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.