Craving cheesy gluten-free mozzarella sticks? I have you covered with my simple recipe that will satisfy that craving with ease. Plus, I’ve included my Roasted Red Pepper Marinara recipe for delicious dipping, although you could use jarred marinara sauce too. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosures.
Chances are you loved eating mozzarella sticks before you went gluten free, but finding a gluten-free mozzarella stick alternative has been, to say the least, a challenge.
While mozzarella is gluten free, the breading surrounding the cheese is not. Most breading is made from wheat-based breadcrumbs.
On top of that, it’s near impossible to enjoy fried mozzarella sticks at a restaurant. Even if a restaurant uses gluten-free breadcrumbs or flour to bread its mozzarella sticks, chances are its frying the cheesy sticks in a deep fryer that is also used to fry foods that contain gluten.
Those gluten bits then stick to your food, and this phenomenon is what is known as gluten cross contamination. Those avoiding gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats, would be wise to avoid all fried foods prepared outside of the home.
In this article, I’ll show you two ways you can safely enjoy cheesy fried mozzarella sticks again, one from the store, and one homemade. Both are gluten-free options and the choice is yours.
Store Bought Gluten-Free Mozzarella Sticks
First, you can buy gluten-free mozzarella sticks at the grocery store from a brand called Feel Good Foods. Feel Good Foods makes all sorts of hard-to-find gluten-free products such as perogies, pizza rolls, egg rolls, and potstickers.
While I’ve found Feel Good Foods products at Sprouts and Walmart, the only place I could find the gluten-free mozzarella sticks was at Whole Foods. Each box is $5.99 and contains about 10 mozzarella sticks. It’s expensive for what you get, but as an occasional treat, it’s worth it.
I love the way the Feel Good Foods mozzarella sticks taste, but I found them to be small and not as cheese-filled as a normal mozzarella stick.
Make Your Own Mozzarella Sticks
Second, if you’re frugal like me, and you want to enjoy a bigger batch of super-cheesy mozzarella sticks, consider making your own.
While I don’t make a lot of fried foods at home, I found making these to be a really fun process. Living a gluten-free lifestyle inspires you to experiment in the kitchen as you try to recreate foods you miss such as pop tarts and hot pockets.
The first step to making mozzarella sticks at home is to gather all the ingredients you’ll need, including:
- 12 1-ounce mozzarella cheese sticks, cut in half. You can also use a block of mozzarella cheese that you cut into 24 even sticks.
- ¾ cup gluten-free panko. I used Kikkoman’s Gluten-Free Panko. One box contains about 4 cups of panko so you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.
- ⅓ cup finely grated parmesan cheese. Look for the kind that comes in a jar that you shake on spaghetti.
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning, dried
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup gluten-free flour of choice. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 gluten-free flour blend.
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups (24 ounces) avocado oil
Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. This is where you’ll place your mozzarella sticks before frying or baking them. Set it aside.
Prepare three bowls with the following ingredients:
Bowl #1: Combination of gluten-free panko, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt.
Bowl #2: Gluten-free flour.
Bowl #3: Beaten eggs.
Dip each of the mozzarella sticks in each bowl in this order:
Place each breaded mozzarella stick on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all the cheese sticks have been breaded, place the baking sheet in your freezer for at least two hours or until you’re ready to fry or bake them.
(1) Deep Fry the Sticks
To fry the mozzarella sticks, heat a small to medium-sized pot of oil (about 3 cups) to 320º F (see notes). Working with a smaller pot is better because the oil is deeper and won’t splatter as much.
If you have a kitchen thermometer, it will come in handy here. If not, please note that the oil will take about 10-12 minutes to heat up over medium heat. You’ll know the mixture is hot when you add a breadcrumb to the mixture and it begins to sizzle.
Cook one mozzarella cheese stick at first to ensure that the oil is at the right temperature. It should bubble quickly when you put the mozzarella stick in the oil.
When the oil is bubbly, you can begin cooking 5-6 sticks at a time, turning them periodically and cooking them for about two minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the mozzarella sticks and place them on paper towels to drain and slightly cool.
(2) Bake the Sticks
To bake the mozzarella sticks, preheat the oven to 425º F. Spray the breaded sticks with avocado oil spray or another cooking spray on all sides and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake the sticks for 8-10 minutes, turning them after about 5 minutes, until golden brown and the cheese is melted.
You’ll find that the sticks aren’t as crunchy baked as they are fried, but they’re still good.
Mozzarella Stick FAQs
How Do You Store Leftovers? Store leftover mozzarella sticks in your fridge. They can be reheated in the microwave, oven, or air-fryer.
Can You Air Fry the Mozzarella Sticks? Yes, you can air fry them too. Spray the sticks with cooking spray and air fry at 390º F for 5 minutes. Turn them and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Air fry ovens will vary, so keep a close eye on them.
Can You Freeze Them? You can freeze the uncooked, breaded mozzarella sticks. Simply store them in a zip top bag once they’re frozen and bake or fry as desired.
How Much Oil Do You Need? I used about 3 cups (24 ounces) of avocado oil. If you fry often, you can reuse the oil again for another recipe. Simply allow the oil to cool, strain it to remove leftover crumbs, and put it back into the same container it came from. Mark the container as “used oil” and put a date on it. You will want to use it again within 1-2 months. If the oil looks off or rancid, discard immediately and do not reuse.
Why is the Oil Temperature 320º F vs 350º F? For many deep fried recipes, you’ll notice that oil is usually heated to 350º F. I find that gluten-free bread crumbs burn quickly, so frying them at 320º F instead allows them to cook for a full two minutes without burning. The result is a perfectly golden crust with a cheesy inside.
Roasted Red Pepper Marinara
The perfect complement to my gluten-free mozzarella sticks is this simple roasted red pepper marinara sauce. Of course, you could use jarred marinara sauce for a similar effect, and if you do I recommend this spicy marinara, but you’re feeling randy and want to make your own dipping sauce, this recipe will make these fried sticks of cheese sing!
To make my roasted red pepper marinara sauce, gather the following ingredients:
- 1 jar of whole roasted red pepper, drained and diced (about 16 ounces)
- ½ yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes with juices
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoons salt, more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the roasted red peppers and onion. Saute the mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute.
Add in sugar, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and saute for another 2 minutes; then add the crushed tomatoes, reduce the heat and stir well. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes.
You can serve the sauce as is (it’ll be a little chunky) or for a smoother dipping sauce, allow the mixture to slightly cool, then use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the sauce to the desired consistency.
Enjoy dipping those crispy fried mozzarella sticks in the delicious red pepper sauce – yum! It’s truly a restaurant-quality appetizer that everyone will love!
More Recipes to Try
- Gluten-Free Fried Rice
- Glazed Gluten-Free Apple Fritters
- Gluten-Free Falafel Recipe
- Extra Crispy Tofu Stir-Fry with Garlic-Ginger Sauce
Gluten-Free Mozzarella Sticks with Roasted Red Pepper Marinara
- 12 1 ounce mozzarella cheese sticks cut in half (see notes)
- ¾ cup gluten-free panko
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese like the parmesan cheese you sprinkle on pizza
- 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup gluten-free flour I used Bob's Red Mill 1-to-1 Gluten-Free Flour Blend
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups Avocado oil
Roasted Red Pepper Marinara
- 1 jar of whole Roasted Red Peppers (16 ounces) drained and diced
- 1/2 yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (with juices)
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Italian seasonings (dried)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. This is where you'll place your mozzarella sticks before frying them.
- Prepare three bowls with the following ingredients:Bowl #1: Gluten-free panko, parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and salt mixed together.Bowl #2: Gluten-free flour.Bowl #3: Beaten eggs.
- Dip each of the mozzarella sticks in the the mixtures in this order: 1. Flour2. Egg3. Flour4. Egg5. Panko
- Place each breaded mozzarella stick on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Once all the cheese sticks have been breaded, place the baking sheet in your freezer for at least two hours or until you're ready to bake or fry them.
- (1) Frying Method: Heat a small to medium-sized pot of oil (about 3 cups) to 320º degrees (see notes). A smaller pot is better because the oil is deeper and doesn’t splatter as much.
- Cook one mozzarella cheese stick at first to ensure that the oil is at the right temperature. It should bubble quickly when you put the stick in the oil.
- When the oil is bubbly, you can begin cooking 5-6 sticks at a time, turning them periodically and cooking them for about two minutes until they're light brown all over.
- Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the mozzarella sticks and place them on paper towels to drain and slightly cool.
- (2) Baking Method: Preheat the oven to 425º F. Spray the breaded sticks with avocado oil spray or another cooking spray on all sides and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Bake the sticks for 8-10 minutes until golden brown and the cheese is melted, turning them after 5-6 minutes.
Roasted Red Pepper Marinara
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the roasted red peppers and onion. Saute the red pepper and onion mixture over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent.
- Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute, then add in the Italian seasonings, sugar, salt, and pepper and saute for another 2 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, reduce the heat and stir well. Allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
- You can serve the sauce as is (it'll be a little chunky) or for a smoother dipping sauce, allow the mixture to slightly cool, then use an immersion blender or food processor to blend the sauce to the desired consistency.