Fried cheese is one of those food combinations that hits all the right spots. The combination of a crunchy fried exterior filled with gooey melted cheese can’t be beaten.
However, frying cheese can be quite the process and not everyone wants to be bothered with dipping the cheese in an egg wash and then breadcrumbs. Additionally, mozzarella sticks can get boring and sometimes you just need to switch it up and fry some exotic cheese without that pesky breading.
Fortunately, there is an incredibly easy way to fry cheese without breading and that is choosing the right kind. Cheese comes in countless different flavors, textures, and are made with different purposes in mind. Some cheese is made to melt over burgers while other cheese is designed to get crispy over the grill.
This is the type of cheese you are after. A firm cheese that can hold its form under high heat. While there are many kinds of cheese available that can handle this task, there are four that come to mind.
Good non-stick cookware is essential for frying cheese. Take a look at our article on the best non-stick cookware for glass top stoves.
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The first option is halloumi. Halloumi is one of the original frying and grilling cheeses that were ever introduced. It is a delicate brined cheese that requires extremely high temperatures before it melts. This makes it the perfect cheese for frying in hot oil. This cheese is common in the Mediterranean and is featured in many Mediterranean recipes. However, over the last few years, it has quickly gained popularity in the United States.
The second option is a common cheese that is found in Finland. It is called bread cheese because it looks like toast when it is fried and has the same consistency of bread. This cheese is incredibly dense and also has a high melting point. While it does soften when it is heated up which can be quite alarming during the cooking process, it doesn’t actually melt. This is exactly what you want in a cheese to get that soft gooey interior and a crunchy golden exterior.
The third option is from India and it is called paneer. If you are familiar with Indian cuisine you are probably familiar with this ingredient as it is used quite frequently This cheese is very similar to halloumi as it doesn’t melt even at high temperatures. It has a similar squeaky and chewy texture to curds and can be fried in the pan without any issues.
The final option is one that is a lot less exotic but equally delicious and gets the job done perfectly. That cheese is called provolone. Provolone is quite common in the U.S. and can be found at almost any grocery store. Provolone has a relatively normal melting point but if you cut it in thicker slabs you can increase the melting point.
The inside will get soft and potentially even melt, but the exterior crust will seal in all of that melting cheese. This makes it one of the best options for fried cheese.
The tastes and textures of all of these cheeses will vary greatly depending on the type, and how you fry it. With that in mind, you should take into consideration the cooking time of all these different types of cheese. To get the soft center and crispy crust you need to cook the cheese at the right temperature for the perfect amount of time or else you could end up with a horrendous mess.
Step 1 – A non-stick frying pan
To start, make sure you have a good non-stick frying pan. This is essential as you don’t want the cheese to stick or you could have a big mess on your hands. Even though you will be using oil in this process we still recommend using a non-stick frying pan just to ensure there is no risk of sticking when all the oil has cooked up.
Preheat your non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Medium heat is important so that you can lower or higher it without any issues. Too high could cause burning and too low will draw out the process and potentially turn your fried cheese into fondue.
Step 2 – Preparing the cheese
The second step is to prep your cheese. It is important that you cut your cheese into the same size. The thickness of the cheese will be up to you except when using a less dense cheese such as provolone. You want provolone to be thicker than the other options to ensure it doesn’t melt.
Once your cheese slices are ready, make sure they are nice and dry. You don’t want to throw wet cheese into hot oil because that could be incredibly messy as well as potentially dangerous. Pat your cheese with a clean towel or drain it prior to frying it. Once the cheese is dry and sliced you can lightly brush each piece of cheese with some oil.
Step 3 – Frying the cheese
Once your cheese is dry and your oiled pan is hot you can then begin frying it. Most of these cheeses will emit a bit of smoke while cooking which is completely normal but you should definitely keep an eye on it and potentially turn on a fan. You will notice the cheese looks like it is softening but you just need to give the exterior time to caramelize and harden so that it traps the softer cheese in the center.
As the crust starts to harden and turn gold, you can poke the cheese with your cooking utensils to see if it has reached a consistency you desire. Each side should only take 1 or 2 minutes before it is done. However, everyone likes their fried cheese a bit differently and how crispy you would like it is completely up to you. Once it is ready you can eat it plain or top it with any garnishes such as fruit, and herbs.
Frying cheese can be a messy and complicated process but it doesn’t have to be. The combination of choosing the right kind of cheese, high-quality non-stick pan and confidence can make all the difference. We hope that this article inspired you to walk away from traditional breaded mozzarella sticks and dive into the exciting world of fried halloumi, paneer, bread cheese and provolone.
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