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Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Bites

These easy Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Bites are golden brown and crispy (and a little garlicky!) on the outside, oh-so melty and cheesy on the inside, and a lighter version of the classic that everyone will love!

Is there anyone on the planet that doesn’t love mozzarella sticks? All that cheesy deliciousness is the perfect please-everybody appetizer or snack. Thanks to the air fryer, you can feel less guilty about enjoying a few (because one is never enough)!

I’ve talked before about my love of all things fried but my serious dislike for the actual process of frying, especially deep frying and all that hot, dangerous, messy, smell-up-the-house, what-do-I-do-with-it-when-I’m done oil.

It has stopped me from making homemade versions of many of my favorite fried foods at home. Prime example: mozzarella sticks.

Sure, I’ve tried making baked versions, but darn it, the cheese always seems to melt all over the place before the breading is even close to being browned and crisp. So disappointing.

Enter the air fryer. It’s absolutely perfect for making mozzarella sticks. With all that intense heat and hot air circulating around, that coating gets nicely browned and crunchy in a hurry, and your cheese gets nice and soft but stays intact.

The best part? These homemade mozzarella bites are super easy to make – I call them bites because they are big rectangles rather than sticks – and I think they taste even better than the deep-fried version.

Some garlic powder added to the bread crumbs makes these taste like cheesy garlic bread mozzarella bites. Dip them in some homemade pizza sauce or marinara sauce for a flavor explosion!

And don’t forget…with just a few sprays of oil to get that coating nicely golden brown, there’s less calories!

homemade air fryer mozzarella bite being dipped into a bowl of pizza sauce

Ingredients you need:

  • mozzarella cheese (block)
  • all-purpose flour
  • eggs
  • regular Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Here’s a look at how to make Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Bites:

two images showing the steps to make homemade air fryer mozzarella bites
two images showing the steps to make homemade air fryer mozzarella bites
two images showing the steps to make homemade air fryer mozzarella bites
two images showing how to make homemade air fryer mozzarella bites
two images showing how to make homemade air fryer mozzarella bites

Tips & Tidbits:

  • You want to use the kind of mozzarella cheese you find in the dairy aisle that you use to make pizza (either whole milk or part-skim). Fresh mozzarella, although super yummy, won’t work in this recipe. It is too soft and too wet.
  • Why 2 different kinds of bread crumbs? Panko provide extra crunch, while the regular breadcrumbs, because they are finer, give a nice coverage of breading (I find that panko sometimes don’t stick as well or provide full coverage).
  • When breading the cheese, make sure you completely cover all sides during each step – flour, egg, and bread crumbs – so that there are less places for the cheese to leak out. When you get to the breadcrumbs, gently press them in to make sure you get good coverage (note: the breading will not be super thick on these).
  • Don’t skip the step of freezing the bites before cooking! They need to be frozen so that the cheese doesn’t get too hot and melt too much before the breading gets crisp and golden brown.
  • I recommend using an oil sprayer rather than cooking spray when air frying. Although the instructions for my air fryer don’t say that you can’t use cooking spray, I have read that the propellants in cooking spray can potentially cause damage to the non-stick coating over time.
  • Since you have to freeze these anyway before cooking, if you don’t want to cook all 16 bites, just keep the extras in the freezer, and they’ll be ready to cook up whenever you want. In fact, these are perfect for making ahead of time!
    • Once they have fully frozen, just place the frozen bites in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible (I love using a vacuum sealer for this). For best quality, use within 2 to 3 months.
homemade air fryer mozzarella bite being pulled apart

Just look at all that melty, stretchy, cheesy goodness! Does it get any better than that?

I hope you try this recipe for Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Bites and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Bites

These easy Homemade Air Fryer Mozzarella Bites are golden brown and crispy (and a little garlicky!) on the outside, oh-so melty and cheesy on the inside, and a lighter version of the classic that everyone will love!
3 from 2 votes
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Freezing Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 16 bites
Estimated Calories: 132

Ingredients

  • 1 (16-ounce) block mozzarella cheese, whole milk or part-skim, see note below
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, plus another if needed
  • ½ cup regular Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Italian seasoned panko bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • oil spray or cooking spray

Instructions

  • Cut the block of mozzarella into 16 equal-sized pieces.
  • In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and ¼ teaspoon salt. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg. In a third shallow bowl, combine the regular breadcrumbs, panko breadcrumbs, garlic powder, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and the pepper.
  • Dredge each piece of mozzarella in the flour, covering all sides. Then dip it in the egg, coating all sides. Then toss it in the bread crumbs, gently pressing them in, as needed, so they stick to coat all sides. Note: the coating is not going to be super thick on these, but complete coverage means less places for the cheese to melt out.
  • Place the breaded bites on a large tray or baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Spread them out so they aren't touching each other. Freeze for at least 2 hours or until they are frozen solid.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  • Add the mozzarella bites to the air fryer basket (add as many as will fit without them touching; you need air to circulate around them so they cook properly).
    Note: You will likely need to do this in 2 or more batches, depending on the size of your air fryer. In my 6-quart air fryer with a square basket, I can fit 8 bites at once. Leave any bites you are not cooking in the freezer until you are ready for them.
  • Lightly spray the tops of the bites with oil or cooking spray (make sure the basket is out of the air fryer when you do this; never spray oil into the air fryer). Air fry for 3 to 4 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and crisp.
  • Remove the basket from the air fryer and gently and carefully turn the bites over. Lightly spray the other side with oil or cooking spray. Return the basket to the air fryer and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until the bites are golden brown and crisp on the other side.
    Note: Check on them frequently during these last minutes. You may see just a little bit of melted mozzarella beginning to leak out near the very end of the cooking time, but you don't want them to go too far and have too much cheese leak out.
  • Remove the basket from the air fryer and place it on a trivet or wire cooling rack. Allow the bites to cool down for a minute or two before serving (so they will firm up just a bit and be easier to handle).
  • Serve immediately with warm pizza sauce or marinara sauce for dipping, if desired.

Notes

  • You want to use the kind of mozzarella cheese you find in the dairy aisle that you use to make pizza. Fresh mozzarella won’t work in this recipe. It is too soft and too wet.
  • One large egg is usually enough when I make these, but you might need two.
  • Since you have to freeze these anyway before cooking, if you don’t want to cook all 16 bites, just keep the extras in the freezer, and they’ll be ready to cook up whenever you want. In fact, these are perfect for making ahead of time!
    • Once they have fully frozen, just place the frozen bites in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible (I love using a vacuum sealer for this). For best quality, use within 2 to 3 months.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it!Share it on Instagram, tag @nowcookthis and use the hashtag #nowcookthisrecipes. Thanks!
Recipe Rating




Sandy

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

So easy and so delicious! I could have eaten the whole batch myself!

Michelle

Wednesday 1st of June 2022

Thanks for your comment and 5-star rating, Sandy! I'm so happy you enjoyed them!

Ashley

Monday 9th of May 2022

I followed the instructions very closely, yet I still found myself very dissatisfied. The cheese was rubbery and the bread coating was nothing special. On top of the food rating, it make a HUGE MESS in my air fryer.

Michelle

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

So sorry to hear that this recipe wasn't for you, Ashley. Maybe you need to try a different brand of cheese if yours was rubbery, and you could always change up the spices in the breadcrumbs to suit your own tastes. As far as the mess, I assume it was cheese and not the breadcrumbs, so you might have cooked them too long. All air fryers are different, and so as the recipe states, you need to keep an eye on them so the cheese doesn't melt too much.

Scott

Monday 8th of February 2021

These look great! Can't wait to try them!

Michelle

Monday 8th of February 2021

Thank you, Scott! I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!