Crispy and ooey-gooey, my mozzarella sticks have a delicious twist reminiscent of French onion soup! This tasty recipe calls for mozzarella string cheese to be dipped into crispy panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with parmesan and thyme before frying, and comes with a rich, caramelized onion and Guinness beer dipping sauce instead of traditional marinara for a flavorful surprise!
When Mozzarella Sticks Meet French Onion Soup
One of my favorite ways to get creative as a recipe developer is to dream up unexpected twists for some of our favorite dishes, classic finger foods, and appetizers.
How can I serve this? What can I change about it to make it fresh and new? What does this remind me of that's a bit different? How can this be tweaked? Those are some of the questions I like to ask when approaching a recipe for the sake of shaking it up a little, and making it slightly different and even fun.
I love surprising people's palates with new flavor profiles or accompaniments that are unexpected yet utterly mouthwatering, or offering slightly unique ways to present a dish.
And I believe we all appreciate sharing interesting goodies with each other in hopes of delighting, don't we?
For instance, take these hot, crispy, and golden mozzarella sticks...
Traditionally, we're used to enjoying these with a marinara sauce on the side, which of course is absolutely tasty. But I had an idea to create a mozzarella sticks recipe reminiscent of the flavors of French onion soup, with its rich caramelized onion flavor and its cheesy lid.
I mean, saucy caramelized onions and gooey melted cheese are natural partners, am I right?
These homemade mozzarella sticks are dredged in extra-crispy panko breadcrumbs seasoned with some parmesan cheese and dried thyme, and come with a dipping sauce that tastes like a thick, rich take on French onion soup, prepared with deeply caramelized onions, Guinness beer, Worcestershire sauce, and a hint of balsamic to round out the flavors.
Super fun, super tasty and totally unique, these mozzarella sticks with caramelized onion and Guinness dipping sauce are a terrific appetizer when you're craving a new take on something traditional, or just want to have some fun getting creative in the kitchen!
How to Make Mozzarella Sticks with a Twist
Sure, you can get tasty mozzarella sticks in the frozen foods section of the market; but let me tell you, nothing beats a freshly-fried, well-seasoned homemade version served in an extra delicious way!
I've found the trick to frying up the best hot, ooey-gooey mozzarella sticks from scratch is to first bread them in the desired coating (in this case, panko breadcrumbs seasoned with parmesan, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper for added flavor), and then to freeze them for a couple of hours to allow them to firm.
The reason for the freeze is that it gives the mozzarella string cheese a chance to really “chill out” so that when these babies get dropped into the hot oil for their 2-3 minute fry time, they don't immediately begin oozing cheese into the frying pan, but rather slowly soften and melt just as the coating is also becoming nice and crispy and golden.
And while those mozzarella sticks chill, that's when I like to prep my caramelized onion and Guinness dipping sauce to have ready, warm and on hand to dip the fresh, hot mozzarella sticks into.
Here's a peek at my mozzarella sticks recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I dredge my mozzarella string cheese in a bit of flour, then whisked eggs, and finally the seasoned panko breadcrumb mixture, and place onto a baking sheet or tray. I place the breaded mozzarella sticks into the freezer for 2-3 hours, but no longer than that, to firm and thoroughly chill before frying.
- While the mozzarella sticks chill, I prep my caramelized onion and beer dipping sauce by caramelizing my onions for roughly 40-45 minutes with other delicious ingredients until almost jam-like in consistency—thick, rich and flavorful. (I keep the dipping sauce warm.)
- Once the breaded mozzarella sticks have chilled, I bring my oil up to temp (350°-365°) in a large, cast iron skillet or other deeper pan. Once hot, I add about 3-4 mozzarella sticks into the hot oil and allow them to fry for roughly 2 minutes, until deeply golden and crispy. I drain the mozzarella sticks on a paper towel lined platter and season with salt/pepper.
- I garnish with parsley, and serve the hot mozzarella sticks with a generous dish of the warm caramelized onion and Guinness dipping sauce on the side for dipping.
by Ingrid Beer
Cuisine: French, Italian-American
Yield: Serves 4
Nutrition Info: 472 calories (per 3 mozzarella sticks with ½ cup sauce)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Mozzarella Sticks Ingredients:
- ½ cup flour
- 2 eggs, whisked
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs, processed in food processor until very fine
- ¼ cup grated parmesan
- Black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 12 mozzarella string cheese sticks (not low fat)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, for garnish
Caramelized Onion & Guinness Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 large yellow onions, quartered and sliced very thinly
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dry thyme
- ½ cup Guinness stout beer (or any stout)
- ¾ cup beef stock
- 1 ½ teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
- Begin by gathering and prepping all of the mozzarella sticks ingredients according to the mozzarella sticks ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- Add the flour to a medium size bowl large enough for dredging. Have the whisked eggs in a separate medium bowl large enough for dredging, as well. Then, in a large bowl, mix together the panko breadcrumbs with the parmesan, salt, pepper, dried thyme, and paprika, and set aside for a moment.
- To bread your mozzarella sticks, dredge each mozzarella string cheese stick lightly in the flour, next the whisked eggs (allowing the excess to drip off), and then add into the panko breadcrumbs mixture, pressing firmly to get as much adherence as possible. Repeat the process until all mozzarella string cheese sticks are breaded.
- Next, place the breaded mozzarella sticks into the freezer to firm for 2-3 hours. (Don't step this step, as the cheese will melt too quickly before the breading is crispy, otherwise.)
- While the mozzarella sticks chill, gathering up and prepare all of the caramelized onion and Guinness dipping sauce ingredients according to the caramelized onion and Guinness dipping sauce ingredients list above to have organized and ready for use.
- To prepare your sauce, place a large, heavy-bottom pan or pot over medium heat, and add in the butter and oil. Once melted, add in the sliced onions (will seem like too much, but they will cook way down) along with the brown sugar, the salt, black pepper, Italian seasoning and dried thyme, and stir together to combine.
- Allow the onions to slowly caramelize for about 30-35 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning to the bottom (add a bit more oil, if needed). After about 35 minutes, and once the onions have begun to become golden and slightly caramelized, add in the Guinness, and allow it to reduce for about 30 seconds; next, add in the beef stock, and allow that to reduce for a few more minutes until mostly reduced and “jam”-like, but still slightly saucy.
- Next, add in the Worcestershire sauce and the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine and incorporate, and then turn the heat off and add in the chopped parsley to finish. Keep warm.
- To fry the mozzarella sticks, add enough oil into a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy-bottom, deeper pan) to come up a couple of inches. Heat until the temp reaches 350°-365°.
- Carefully add about 3-4 mozzarella sticks into the hot oil, and allow them to fry for about 2 minutes or until a deep, golden brown and the cheese is gooey. Remove from oil and place onto a paper towel-lined plate or platter, and season with a pinch of salt/black pepper while still hot.
- Repeat the process until all mozzarella sticks are fried, and then sprinkle over top the chopped parsley to garnish.
- Serve the mozzarella sticks while hot, along with a dish of warm, caramelized onion & Guinness dipping sauce on the side for dipping.
Tips & Tidbits for my Mozzarella Sticks:
- Regular or panko breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs are slightly more textured than regular and offer a bit more crispy crunch, which is nice with these mozzarella sticks. But feel free to use regular breadcrumbs instead if that is what you have on hand.
- Allow time for deep caramelizing of the onions: This is where time is your friend with this recipe, as allowing 45-50 minutes for the onions to deeply caramelize and become jam-like is what creates all that rich flavor. It’s so good, and makes all the difference for flavor.
- Don't skip the “chill” time: It's essential when preparing these mozzarella sticks that you allow for 2-3 hours in the freezer once they're breaded. Don't go longer, as you don't want to completely freeze the cheese, but you do want these sticks to firm up so they slowly melt in the hot oil as the coating crisps.
- Reheating mozzarella sticks: To reheat any leftovers, simply place into your oven/toaster oven and bake on 325° or 350° for 5-10 minutes until hot and melted through, and serve with warm sauce.
Cook's Note: This recipe was originally published in 2013, and has been updated with even more love!