Here’s what I learned after this taste test: There’s a massive hole in the market for restaurant-quality mozzarella sticks. If you head to the grocery store looking for sticks that live up to what you get at the local sports bar, you might be bummed. Plus, there aren’t even that many brands to try. I don’t really know why that is. Mozzarella sticks are loved by all and are one of the most iconic appetizers in existence. You would think there would be more options. But, alas, we work with what’s out there.
In our search for the best frozen mozzarella sticks, we cooked each variety in the oven according to the directions on the package. We looked for milky, creamy, fatty cheese that tastes great and melts properly. We also looked for good cheese pull (there should be adequate stretch!). And, lastly, we wanted a crispy, crusty breading. Cheese sticks should have flavor (mainly salt), but we’re looking for texture more than anything. The breading should never be limp or soft, and the cheese should be melty. Mozzarella sticks have a vibe, and we know a good one when we see (and taste) it, so here’s what made the list.
Note: Lamb Weston’s mozzarella sticks would rank number one on this list (they were incredible), however, they’re only available in bulk. I implore you to purchase them, but they are not available in stores…yet.
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- TGI Fridays Mozzarella Sticks
TGI Friday’s breaded mozzarella sticks have good flavor, great quality cheese, and a crispy, crunchy panko breading. The cheese itself is a mozzarella blend that melts perfectly while still maintaining a nice, creamy flavor. While low-moisture mozzarella melts great, it can sometimes taste a little plasticky. That’s not the case here. The breading on these things is pretty good, too. Panko is an excellent choice, as it always maintains a solid crispiness. The flavor could be a tad better, but these are salty and good enough to scratch that mozzarella stick itch.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Walmart
- Whole Foods 365 Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
Whole Foods uses top-quality ingredients, and it shows. These cheese sticks blew me away with their creamy, fatty decadence. You can taste the difference in the cheese here, especially when you stack these up against other brands. They use a little dehydrated garlic, too, so there’s a subtle garlicky kick that’s really nice. It’s not panko, but the breading is just fine, too. These are packed with mozzarella cheese and have the best cheese pull of the bunch. They lack somewhat in overall flavor, but, hey, when you’re dipping a mozz stick in marinara or ranch, who actually cares?
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon
- Market Pantry Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
Market Pantry’s mozzarella sticks have a good, crunch breading and a compelling, salty flavor that permeates every bite. The cheese itself, however, tastes a bit on the cheap side, almost like string cheese. There’s nothing wrong with string cheese, by the way, it just doesn’t taste the same as actual mozzarella. I kind of love the processed vibe going on here, and would happily eat these. For what they are, they’re quite good.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Target
- Farm Rich Breaded Mozzarella Sticks
The Farm Rich brand is widely available, which I think is why it’s number one on a lot of mozzarella stick lists you’ll find online. Overall, this is a good product. These sticks are packed with cheese that doesn’t spill out onto the pan when you heat them in the oven. They’re also really salty and juicy. The juiciness is extra surprising, and something I didn’t realize I wanted in a mozzarella stick. Even when these sit out at room temperature for a while, they manage to remain super moist. There’s a bit of an aftertaste, from some oregano or tomato or something. They almost taste like they already have marinara sauce in them. Farm Rich is good, but as I mentioned in the intro, the market could do way better.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde/Amazon
- Budweiser Beer Battered Cheese Sticks
These have the delightful pungency of beer-battered bar food, and I love that. When you open the frozen bag, your nostrils are immediately struck with a beer smell. The taste is bold and a little bitter, which some found a bit off-putting. These contain white cheddar cheese in addition to mozzarella, so you get even more bold cheese flavor to go along with that beer taste. I appreciate the big swing Budweiser took with these mozzarella sticks. They’re wholly unique.
Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart
Best of the Best
Best Widely Available
Best Bold Flavor
Other products we tried: Snapps Mozzarella Sticks, Kroger Breaded Cheese Sticks, Trader Joe’s Breaded Mozzarella Cheese Sticks
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