I first discovered panko bread crumbs back in 1999. Please don’t ask me how I know that; I just do. I remember vividly reading a recipe that contained panko bread crumbs, and I remember vividly that I was nursing my second baby, and I remember vividly that I was hormonal and desperate, and the next thing I knew I was ordering panko bread crumbs from some market in Chelsea that the magazine recommended. On the phone, of course, because although I had a computer at the time, I certainly wouldn’t have been cool enough to use it to order panko bread crumbs. Plus, I was nursing. Not enough hands.
Panko bread crumbs, in a word, are delicious. They’re indispensable. They’ve saved the word. And they’ve really burst into the mainstream in the last few years, and are available in most larger supermarkets—even stores in my neck of the woods!
Panko are Japanese breadcrumbs, and are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs. They absorb less oil, too, so after frying they result in an incredibly crunchy texture. I just love panko. They’re a wonderful creation!
When I set out to make a recipe with panko bread crumbs, I started in the direction of something Asian/exotic. But Erika set me straight and said, simply, “Why not just make something simple…like mozzarella sticks?”
So guess what I did? I made mozzarella sticks!
Let me back up: my family LOVES fried mozzarella sticks. Loves them. Even Marlboro Man. I make fried mozzarella quite a bit, but I’ll tell you that without fail, they love the panko version the best. The panko crumbs are so light and incredibly crispy, which is such a necessary contrast to the soft, melted mozzarella inside. Coating the mozzarella adequately is the key; I’ll show you the best way I’ve found to get it all to stay put. And the great thing is, you can use this same method—and same recipe—with lost of other fried items. Zucchini spears would be perfect. I’ll wait till my garden is exploding with them!
Here we go: Panko Mozzarella Sticks!
Grab the panko breadcrumbs.
You’ll need a bunch of string cheese—one string cheese per two fried mozzarella sticks you’d like to make.
You’ll need a bowl of flour…
A couple of eggs…
A little milk…
And some dried parsley flakes.
Add the parsley flakes to the panko crumbs…
And stir them together with a fork. Now, you could certainly sprinkle in a little salt, garlic salt, or other seasoning mix—even a little cayenne pepper—but I wanted to keep things simple. I don’t think the crumbs really need much help.
Next, splash a little milk into the eggs…
And whip it together with a fork.
Finally, unwrap as many pieces of string cheese as you need…
And just slice them in half with a sharp knife.
Now, this is just a great, basic way to bread basically anything with panko crumbs. Use this method for everything from chicken tenders to zucchini spears. In this case, just set one of the pieces of mozzarella in the bowl of flour…
And roll it around to lightly coat.
Next, dip the flour-coated mozzarella in the egg/milk mixture.
Coat it completely…
Then place it straight into the seasoned panko crumbs.
Rather than roll it around and disturb the coating, I just use my hand to scoop panko crumbs on top of the mozzarella so that it’s adequately coated.
Pat it gently to make sure it’s all coated with crumbs, then gently remove from the crumbs…
And place on a clean tray or cookie sheet.
Repeat until all the pieces are coated.
Now—this is an important step: Place the tray, uncovered, directly into the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes. This will flash freeze the mozzarella sticks (at least partly), which will help them stay together better when it’s time to fry, and will also keep the mozzarella from melted too quickly when it hits the hot oil.
When you’re ready to fry ‘em up, heat a good inch to an inch-and-a-half of canola oil over medium heat. Medium high or high, at least on my stove, proves to be a little too hot for panko crumbs. Medium’s about right, but you can sort of gauge your stove and see what you need to do.
Pull the frozen sticks out of the freezer…
And carefully add a few to the hot oil.
Oh! And I always feel like saying this: be careful with pans of hot oil if you have cute little roly poly kids walking around the house. I always, out of habit—even now that my roly poly kids are getting bigger—keep pans on the back burner of the stove (handles far out of reach) if I’m going to fry with oil. It’s just one of those things that crawled into my brain at an early stage of parenting, and something I’m going to keep bugging you about anytime I share a recipe that involves frying with hot oil.
Hope you don’t mind.
Things will move quickly—be ready to roll them over to the other side when the first side gets brown. The trickiest part of making these is getting the oil to just the right temp in order to melt the cheese without burning the crumbs, but it isn’t difficult to get the swing of it right away. Keep in mind that the cheese will continue to soften/melt after you remove them from the oil.
When they’re nice and golden, remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
Yum! Look at the yummy panko breading. If I took a bite of this, you could hear the crispiness in Yonkers!
Pretty dish filled with marinara sauce.
My kids and husband were gathered around as I was taking these photos. I had to beat them away with my tongs.
Because I wanted to try one first.
The Verdict: Perfection. These are not your typical run-of-the-mill fried mozzarella sticks. The panko crumbs absolutely make them. They add a much-needed crispiness and texture to this widely loved (but sometimes tired) bar-and-grill food. You’ll love them!
Here’s the printable recipe:
And remember: use this flour-egg/milk-panko breading process on any number of things:
raw, deveined shrimp
sweet potato sticks
The list goes on!
Comments are closed for this recipe.
Alyssa L. on 9.14.2010
Just made these tonight — delicious!! I added some kosher salt and grated parm to the breading and it was delicious. (Adding the parm was my husband’s suggestion — he uses the exact same breading mix–including panko bread crumbs and all–to make fabulous homemade chicken nuggets.) They needed to be frozen for longer, though — next time, I’m freezing them over night.
Kelly on 8.22.2010
I made these for boyfriend, and he was raving about how delicious they were. These were very easy to make, too! Highly recommended.
Diana Anderson on 8.17.2010
I wonder, can I freeze the ready-to-go cheesesticks in the freezer for a longer time than just 30 minutes? I would like to make a lot in advance, and be able to pop them in the frying pan at a later date. Does anyone know if that is okay & will they still be tasty?
DilleMomma on 8.11.2010
I just made these and can I just say Yummy!!!! My hubby and kids love them!!! Thanks Ree!!!!!
jillpickle on 8.6.2010
I made these today and saw my panko crumbs were for some reason abnormally large so I had to crush them somewhat. I think I would have had cheese popping out all over if I hadn’t. So make sure you check the size of your crumbs…
MARTHABALL26 on 7.28.2010
I took my first mortgage loans when I was very young and it helped my business a lot. But, I need the short term loan again.
kimmy40 on 7.23.2010
I also LOVE panko crumbs, especially when I make Chicken Parmesan. I have also used them in Salmon Patties.
ahemphi on 7.9.2010
These are really good – you can spice up the breading with Italian Seasoning – easy and scrumptious.
Kelly on 6.8.2010
Just made these tonite for the family and they were a huge sucess, thank you very much for posting this recipe. I will definitely make these again. I ended up frying them in the deep fryer (was making french fries and chicken tenders also) at 350 and they turned out perfect. So crispy and gooey, served them with a standard jarred sauce, soo good I ended up eating more of these than the dinner I served lol!
Julie Pilch on 6.7.2010
I added crispy fried onions (the ones from the box) to the breadcrumb mix and it was really good!
TxLady on 6.6.2010
I just made these with both string cheese and shrimp and mushrooms. I love panko, but have never deep fried with it before, this stuff was amazing. I have to strain the oil now, since there’s a lot of crumbs floating in it, but totally worth it.
Ellen on 6.3.2010
LOVE panko and I LOVE mozzarella sticks…..just as everybody said…my jeans HATE mozzarella sticks…..oh well I’m not too fond of my jeans anyways! I’ve used panko crumbs on fish and ovenfried them. Wonderful! Also on porkchops and chicken breasts but I coat them with a little dijon mustard first and then roll then in the panko mixed with a little bit of parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Really good too!
Liz on 6.3.2010
This may replace popcorn for dinner when my husband is traveling. I’m screwed. No bathing suit on my body this summer.
Heather - Kitchen in the Sticks on 6.2.2010
Made them & loved them! It’s almost sinful how easy these are to make…and how fast they disappeared!!
Laycee on 5.30.2010
Again, you have killed my diet! I made these yesterday and LOVED them….I’m not a fan of marinara tho, so I dipped mine in honey mustard…yum! It is now 11:15pm and all day long these delicious fried bits of heaven have made it hard for me to concentrate. Off to the kitchen to make some more….thanks Ree~
Christine on 5.30.2010
WOW, I made these last night for my family party (48 of them) and within 15 minutes all of them were gone! Highly recommend.
for those who asked about BAKING, i baked mine tonight in a toaster oven and they came out delicious. i have a weird infrared toaster oven that does not allow me to select temps, just “frozen foods,” “baking,” “casserole,” etc. i cooked it on frozen (i believe this is 425-450) for about 5 mins and the panko was blackening so i switched to baking (which i believe is 350-375) for about 5 more. i had to handle them delicately to keep the panko from going anywhere, but they were divine!
Kristen on 5.30.2010
Made these the other night. The entire family LOVED them!
Z0mbeena on 5.30.2010
I just made these. They were so easy! PW is right though, as soon as I put them in a pan with hot oil they were ready to be turned over. Next time I will try seasoning them with a little salt. TIGHT PANTS HERE I COME.
Katharyn on 5.29.2010
Oops! Forgot to say that cranberry sauce goes oh so well with the fried camembert! So good I had to come back & let you know.
Katharyn on 5.29.2010
oh.my.goodness! Thank you for posting this, giving me the courage to give it a go! Better still when I applied your method to camembert!!!!! Oh, it’s heaven!
@Carolina girl, you wanted to bake these, how do you think they’d go if you sprayed them with cooking oil/spray, whatever it’s called where you are & bake them in a tray on baking paper? Maybe not the same, but worth the try if your desperate? Enjoy your experiment!
Lisa Lanning on 5.27.2010
Love panko crumbs…use it for fish, shrimp, chicken, veggies and NOW apparently for cheese. Thank you for pointing me towards a favorite I totally left out!
Leatta on 5.27.2010
String cheese is pricy SO I cut a one pound block into strips about the same size as the string cheese. One 16 ounce block made 24 cheese sticks.
Emily on 5.27.2010
After reading this recipe the other day, I went right out to the store to buy the ingredients I needed to make these little delights!
Definitely two thumbs up! So easy to make and so tasty. Now to find the willpower not to make them weekly….
Jennifer on 5.27.2010
Stacy on 5.27.2010
Thank you Juli for the suggestion on making these gluten free. I’ve been in pain over my craving for mozzarella sticks since my celiac diagnosis and the pregnancy is excacerbating that craving! That’s a great tip about the corn flakes!
Joe Paull on 5.27.2010
Very nice recipe. I must compliment you on your photography. The pictures beautifully illustrate the instructions.
Tracey Ireland on 5.27.2010
Oh my gosh I saw these yesterday and tried them last night. They are the bomb! I ate too many! I think I’m going to try this on some zucchini slices! Then I’ll start weight watchers!
Kirsten on 5.27.2010
I think my Bf is going to be even more in love when I make these!!! I am going to stop buying the pre-made!!
Heather on 5.27.2010
I am pregnant right now and have been craving cheese anyway. I would like to jump into my computer screen now… I guess I’ll be stopping at the grocery store on the way home.
stef on 5.27.2010
I made these last night and all the cheese leaked out leaving hollow panko logs
The zucchini was EXCELLENT though.
Lien Titus on 5.27.2010
That was so beautifully illustrated! Thanks for sharing! Wonderful food photography and step by step instructions. Absolutely fantastic!
EmmyJune on 5.26.2010
Made these tonight….amazing!! Then I made deep fried pickles the same way and I thought my husband was going to swoon. If he knew what that was. Great recipe Ree!!
Nikki Ritter on 5.26.2010
My family would thank you but they have all been taught to not talk with their mouths full of food and they can’t quit shoveling these in to take a breath let alone talk. You’re the bomb diggity in our house PW!!
Docrock on 5.26.2010
My 12 year old is addicted to fried cheese sticks. She makes them on her own. I will have her try this recipe and get her take on it. Looks very yummy.
Stephanie on 5.26.2010
Now I have to go to the store. At least I’m a nursing mama. That means I get a free pass on extra calories, right? Sigh. Tell that to my under-the-arm- can’t-wave-goodbye-to-anyone chub.
cruisinmom on 5.26.2010
Can’t wait to try these! I would of never thought to use string cheese!
Erin on 5.26.2010
Me Want FRIED MOZERELLA STICKS! I think I just found my new favorite thing in the entire world.
Swee San on 5.26.2010
Wow I am going to make this!! Thanks for sharing, pioneerwoman
Rebecca on 5.26.2010
I’ve been craving mozzarella sticks. Can’t wait to try this recipe. My husband loves panko crumbs and he cooks with them often.
Mary on 5.26.2010
Yum! My question is this: how do you continue to look so good when you cook such rich delicious food all the time? What’s the secret, sister?
Cassie on 5.26.2010
I will be making these this weekend!
lizabelle177 on 5.26.2010
my boyfriend and I are both home sick today. something tells me that eating these may make us feel better! we could use the calcium (sure, I will keep telling myself that)!
If you search the Tasty Kitchen blog, it not only has a recipe for panko-fried pickles but also the temp for an electric skillet (375).
mrsbmw09 on 5.26.2010
I don’t know if anyone else has suggested this yet or not, but you should try this with Pepper Jack cheese. It’s a wonderfully melty cheese that has just the right kick. They’re still good dipped in marinara sauce.
Jessie P. B-Town on 5.26.2010
Bake on 400 10 to 15 minutes. Put the cheese in the freezer for 1 hour before making.
Pertigal on 5.26.2010
One more post. Giggling at the “wanton” wrappers typo. Talk about fun in the kitchen.
Pertigal on 5.26.2010
Oh, and I would also be interested in hearing if someone has a good recipe for baking them.
Pertigal on 5.26.2010
Any tips on making this with fresh mozzarella? Would anything be different? Thanks!
westmonster on 5.26.2010
Thank you, PamJ. I’ll just try the baking with something un-melty then, I think…