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.
pam on 5.25.2010
this is the best recipe i have seen in a while. i can not wait to try it
Eva Courtney on 5.25.2010
Just made a batch of sweet potato sticks. Mmmmm!
Maya on 5.25.2010
@Megan, my mother used to serve us fried cauliflower made exactly like this recipe (skip the freezing). Cut off all but a couple inches of stem, chunk it up into manageable pieces then follow the steps as above, skip the freezer step though!
Megan on 5.25.2010
Everyone is mentioning fried mozzarella, fried pickles, fried zucchini, etc but has anyone ever had fried cauliflower? I’m not a big cauliflower fan unless it’s breaded & fried!! I used to buy them from Schwan’s but they don’t sell them anymore. Hubby & I have tried to make them ourselves and it was an epic fail. But I’m thinking about trying them again with Panko. I bet they would turn out great!!
Sarah on 5.25.2010
If you’re in the UK:
“Some Waitrose and Sainsbury’s branches are reputed to carry them (look out for the Hanayuki brand), or try stores specialising in Asian ingredients, and japanesekitchen.co.uk or japancentre.com.”
As listed in the Guardian.
Gumball Girl on 5.25.2010
I have a deep fryer – may have to try these soon! The flour, egg/milk, crumb directions are very helpful. When I have tried to fry fish before, I just used milk and crumbs, and had mediocre results. Will try the extra step next time!
I love your blogs (both PW and TK). Keep up the good work!
Stacy Salinas on 5.25.2010
Anyone know what I could use instead of egg? My daughter is allergic.
Christy on 5.25.2010
I just absolutely LOVE drooling over all of your yummy-looking recipes and I want to try so many of them so badly, but I just have to ask, HOW in the WORLD does your family stay so thin? We wouldn’t be able to fit through our front door if I cooked like you! (And I mean that as a compliment because my husband [and his wife!] would LOVE to eat like this, but like me, knows we’d be even bigger than we already are now).
emilyjean on 5.25.2010
I’ve been making mozzarella sticks like this for years now. I pretty much use this exact recipe and they are delicious and insanely addictive.
Kim A. on 5.25.2010
Yum! I MUST try this recipe. These sound just like the ones I get at Captain D’s. And when my zucchini and squash are ready to pick out of the garden, they’ll get the Panko treatment too. Guess I’ll have to increase my jogging schedule to make up for the extra calories.
casserolequeen on 5.25.2010
yum, haven’t met a cheese stick I don’t like, wonderful, I like panko crumbs
storylady on 5.25.2010
I always have panko breadcrumbs in my pantry, and this recipe has inspired me to use them this week on some cheese and zucchini and….. fried green tomatoes! Does that sound great or what? Fryfest!
megOKC on 5.25.2010
My husband and our friend Kyle say that cheese is the fat mans candy…I have to agree!
tjnj on 5.25.2010
I rarely fry but love panko…use them on all types of veggies to bake instead of frying….after breading, spray or drizzle with olive oil and bake. Eggplant slices for Eggplant Parmesean are great this way. Also great for baked onion rings.
Humble Pie on 5.25.2010
Sandy in Texas: I posted a panko fried pickles recipe at Tasty Kitchen over the weekend…it calls for pickle chips, but I have also made it with spears– delicious!!’
By the way my name is Sandy and I live in Texas too…
Jeanette on 5.25.2010
I can feel the crunchiness of the coating and the gooeyness in my mouth right now! I love working w/ panko. It tastes lighter and makes you feel like you’re not being so bad w/ the friedness.
Angie Blom on 5.25.2010
OMGoodness.. now I need to go out and get all these ingredients.. yummy!!
Laurel on 5.25.2010
Ah, the memories these bring back. I owe most of the 50 lb I gained during my first pregnancy to these little delights. Thanks for the recipe so that I can reinflate my butt. :o)
Nancy Klune on 5.25.2010
Sooooo does Pesky Tim eat these since their fried? LOL
Audrey Walker on 5.25.2010
Sound great… I recently tried a recipe similar to this with a little garlic powder added to the flour for green bean fries…they were amazing. I can’t wait to try the mozzarella sticks.
Cait on 5.25.2010
Oh yum. I will give my first born to anyone who can tell me where to get Panko bread crumbs in Denmark!
Flo on 5.25.2010
My family thanks you in advance, Pioneer Woman!
The Teacher Cooks on 5.25.2010
I am in love with this recipe. This is great for an appetizer that will really impress someone. And using the string cheese is such a good idea.Panko bread crumbs make it over the top.
Sue in Canada on 5.25.2010
I am in my 50’s and my mum still tells me to be careful when deep frying..and to watch out!!..that “that knife is VERY sharp”..when in fact compared to my knives hers barely cuts butter LOL
These look yummo!
unfussyfoodie on 5.25.2010
oooooooooooo, these are on the must make list for sure!
Elizabeth on 5.25.2010
HOLY CRAP. I just swore off cheese and fried foods today. Lord save me!
Jaime on 5.25.2010
I’m wondering if you could manage the oil temp better using an electric skillet? What temp would you recommend? These sound awesome, but my son has a dairy allergy… :(. But, he’d love the pickle spears made with soy milk!
Kimberly on 5.25.2010
I CANNOT wait to try this recipe out. And I just read Shannon T”s comment about fried pickles. I am also pregnant and that sounds AWSOME!
Cariann on 5.25.2010
awesome!!! I have a container of Panko bread crumbs and need to use it up… I’m seeing a batch of cheese sticks for dinner or snack some time this week…
BeckyR on 5.25.2010
I don’t have kids, but you do right ahead and keep giving warnings about hot oil. Thanks.
carolina girl on 5.25.2010
I’m trying to stay clear of fried foods for a little while, but love the recipe – anyone have suggestions on how to bake these instead?
Bri on 5.25.2010
I’m going to remove all of your cooking related blogs from my feed because you’re MAKING ME FAT REE!
I love you for this, but my pants will love you more if you post some Weight Watcher friendly type recipes. I keep turning everyday events into “celebrations” just so I have an excuse to make your food. “Oh baby B just cut a tooth!? Lets make Chicken Scallopine to celebrate!” All these celebration excuses are lining my inner thighs.
Wonder what excuse I can find to make those damn cheesesticks.
Sonja Chandler on 5.25.2010
Goodbye Sonic cheese sticks, Hello homemade!
Can’t wait to try them. Yum!
Kristin on 5.25.2010
*drool* I’ll be hitting the grocery store tomorrow and praying to find Panko in Nowheresville!
maisy on 5.25.2010
oh yum! Thanks for the panko tip! I’m going to try the zucchini asap!
Wenderly on 5.25.2010
Again, be still my heart. I DO forgive (and thank you) for this delish recipe…but more importantly, will my jeans? oh well, that’s what a looped rubber band is for, right?
Marie on 5.25.2010
Mmmmmmmmm….i know what my late night snack is going to be
S.W. on 5.25.2010
where did you get the pretty dish?
Shannon T on 5.25.2010
Being pregnant, I think it is my official duty to try this with pickle spears. Fried Pickles + Pregnant Mama = Happy Baby.
Thanks, I’ll have to pick up some Panko breadcrumbs while shopping tomorrow!
gina on 5.25.2010
ooohhhh~!! so excited about these! i am running to the store to get some mozarella sticks(the kids already finished them) and making some! love Panko, great for anything! thanks so much for sharing!
Meme on 5.25.2010
I am in fried heaven!!!!! I love these!
Sandy in Texas on 5.25.2010
These look delicious! I wish someone would come up with a recipe for fried dill pickle spears. There is an outdoor place in Seaside, Florida that makes the best fried pickles ever. They give them to you with a ranch type dressing for dipping. I crave them every now and then especially after seeing this mozzarella delight.
Wonder if this panko recipe would do it for me?
Jackie on 5.25.2010
You should try doing fried dill pickle chips with panko crumbs. Serve with Ranch dressing. Talk about addicting!
shannachristi on 5.25.2010
These look divine!! I also love the dishes that you served them on. Where did you find those?
Angie on 5.25.2010
I wonder if these could be frozen for longer periods of time and made in large batches, for whenever the craving hits you! Hmmm…
heath22 on 5.25.2010
YUM!!! I love Panko bread crumbs!
I’ve used them for breaded porkchops too- bread them the same way you do these, pan fry to get browned & then bake the rest of the way. SO. GOOD!
Kristin on 5.25.2010
I try to make it a point not to fry things (too tight pants, you understand). But I think you beat me. I can’t NOT make these. Do they have my name on them? I swear I can make it out on the second one on the left….
kellyflynn on 5.25.2010
I don’t know if I’m more excited to make these or angry at the fact that I JUST got home from the store… and didn’t buy string cheese.
Alex on 5.25.2010
We make mozz sticks with panko all the time, but I’ve never frozen them before. What a great tip! (B/c I always have at least 2 that ooze out cheese).
Kate on 5.25.2010
Monterey Jack sticks and ranch dressing. Yum, yum, yum.