Pop quiz: In what country were mozzarella sticks invented? If you said Italy, you’re probably wrong. Yep. Legend has it that mozzarella sticks probably came from medieval France, of all places. Of course, this means the recipe came from France. Your mozzarella sticks came straight out of the freezer.
And you want to eat them now. That brings us to the important question of how you should prepare them. Do you have to use the oven? Or will the microwave do in a pinch?
The microwave might sacrifice some of the taste and texture, but it is safe to use for your frozen mozzarella sticks.
Why is the oven better?
The joy of mozzarella sticks comes from their hot, melted, stringy cheese contained in a crunchy outer layer. Using an oven to cook frozen sticks will help maintain this combination, and that will bring out the best in the taste and texture. If you’re planning a dinner party where the food should be at its best, you will want to make time to cook your sticks in the oven.
However, there is nothing unsafe about using the microwave.
What happens if you put them in the microwave?
The worst-case scenario is still edible. Frozen mozzarella sticks that were cooked in the microwave tend to lose their crunch on the outer layer. Juices seep through from the cheese, and everything becomes a bit mushy. The separate taste of the outer breading and the cheese will be more mixed. You may even find that the cheese gets cooked unevenly, where it’s piping hot in some places and still sort of chilled in others.
If those things don’t bother your taste buds, then the microwave is just fine.
How do you microwave frozen mozzarella sticks?
There are a few simple steps to follow before you can dig into your favorite appetizer.
- Use a safe plate. Not all dishes are safe to place in the microwave. Find a microwavable plate that can fit your mozzarella sticks with room between each one so they don’t overlap. If you want to cook more sticks than you can fit comfortably on the plate, do two different rounds of cooking. Don’t pile them on top of each other.
- Check the instructions. Many frozen brands of mozzarella sticks will come with instructions for the microwave. If these are available, follow the instructions.
- If there are no microwave instructions, plan to microwave at least twice. A fair expectation is half a minute at the highest heat setting, then stop to flip the sticks, then another half a minute at the high setting. You may have to repeat this a few times, so prepare at least five minutes to be sure.
- Use a fork to test the food. When you’re checking to see whether the sticks are fully melted, make sure you use a fork or knife to cut into them. Don’t use your hands. They may be extremely hot at first. What you’re looking for are signs that the cheese is steaming and stringy. You should be able to see this if you break open two or three sticks to look inside. If they’re not ready yet, repeat step three.
- That’s it! Enjoy.
In case you don’t have (or don’t like using) a microwave, there are other options for quick preparation.
The air fryer is a popular choice for heating up frozen mozzarella sticks. It has a slightly different effect on taste and texture, so some people prefer it. This all comes down to what you will enjoy eating most.
If you want to use an air fryer, you will need to follow a few simple steps.
- Preheat. You’ll want to make sure the fryer is ready to cook your food right away, so get it preheated for about five minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Put the sticks in the fryer for 5-7 minutes. As long as you take time to preheat, cooking should be quick and easy.
- Check the sticks with a fork or knife. Just as you would do with the microwave, test to make sure the food is thoroughly cooked. If it isn’t, give it a few more minutes in the air fryer.
- That’s it! Enjoy.
Toaster ovens are great little devices because they replicate everything a standard oven can do, but they take up the counter space of a microwave. Because of this, you can follow the instructions for baking your mozzarella sticks as if you were using a standard oven. Generally, you’re going to bake at around 450 degrees Fahrenheit for nine minutes or so, then flip, test, and bake again as needed.
Is it safe to eat frozen cheese?
Technically, yes, though the taste and texture will change and might not be to your liking. Of course, it is best to thaw out and cook your food first.
How long will frozen mozzarella sticks last in the freezer?
As long as you’ve kept them stored safely in the freezer the entire time, they should maintain their taste for about eight months. They are technically safe to eat for a little while after that, but you might not enjoy them as much.
Always check for signs of food going bad before you eat it. If you detect mold or notice an odd smell, throw the mozzarella sticks away rather than risk food poisoning.