Skinny Mozzarella Sticks are a super simple and guilt-free appetizer loaded with the comforting flavor of melted cheese. This recipe is easy to make and easy to eat. Don’t worry if you eat a whole batch yourself, they are surprisingly healthy!
Healthy Mozzarella Sticks
When you think about mozzarella sticks, you probably don’t think about health food. ‘Skinny Mozzarella Sticks’ actually sounds like an oxymoron. In fact, mozzarella sticks are often considered one of the worst foods for you. They are typically fried, covered in unhealthy breading and full of fatty cheese. This may sound delicious but it doesn’t sound that healthy…
But the truth remains- I love them. I do! I admit it. Mozzarella sticks are my weakness and I could devour an entire plate in no time. Yet with every delicious bite, I am fully aware of how unhealthy they are. Then the guilt of eating something bad begins and that plate of enticing mozzarella sticks doesn’t seem so great anymore…
While I have always been aware of the lack of nutrition in mozzarella sticks, this came into light even more when my daughter started to like them just as much as me. As an adult, I often make poor dietary choices that I shrug off however when I see my four year old eating a fatty fried food, I know it needs to stop.
The moment I realized my daughter was headed down the path toward obsessing over fried mozzarella sticks is when I knew I had to make something better. I needed healthy mozzarella sticks but she needed them even more than me. But how could a fried cheese stick ever be healthy? It seemed like an impossible task but, as always, I was up for the challenge. After all, taking classically unhealthy recipes and making them nutritious is kind of my thing (check out this recipe I just did for skinny buffalo chicken sandwiches!).
Baked Mozzarella Sticks Without Bread Crumbs
I sat down and started to think about what made mozzarella sticks so unhealthy. The list looked like this:
- They are deep fried in unhealthy oils
- They are covered in breadcrumbs that lack any nutritional value
- They are full of fatty cheeses
- I usually dip them in a sugar filled jar of marinara sauce
- I eat too many and just can’t stop
It looked like making this food healthy was going to be quite a challenge! I decided to tackle the problem starting with the first issue: Mozzarella sticks are deep fried. Easy enough, I won’t fry them! Turn on that oven because any food that you fry, can always be baked instead!
If you really love that super crispy outside that fried food gives you, you can always opt for a healthier oil to do the frying. Coconut oil is a current hit in the health food world as it has many nutritional benefits that you don’t usually find in other oils. However, then you will have mozzarella sticks with a slight tropical taste- could be good though! Olive oil is also always revered for its benefits and can be a good option if you want to fry these skinny mozzarella sticks.
Next issue was the bread crumbs. Most commercially purchased bread crumbs are just white flour with very little seasonings that create tons of empty calories. These needed to go. While that ¼ inch layer of breading on my mozzarella sticks is quite yummy, it clearly isn’t adding anything to my diet other than taste. I say, if there is no benefit to eating it, skip it! And you know what else is good, low calorie and wraps food up? Wonton wrappers.
That’s right! Wrapping the mozzarella sticks in a wonton wrapper and then baking them was my master plan. Wonton wrappers are easy to use, inexpensive and they bake really well. I also like wonton wrappers because you can buy a large package, use a few, wrap them in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for later. They also bake to be nice and crispy which would perfectly complement the melted cheese inside my skinny mozzarella sticks- I knew this would work!
Mozzarella Stick Cheese Choices
One more major ingredient to tackle on the quest to a skinny mozzarella stick recipe- the cheese. If you have ever gone in the grocery store and contemplated the difference between a block of fresh mozzarella and a package of string cheese, you are not alone. I have wondered this as well and after some research, I discovered that they are exactly the same.
String cheese sticks are, in fact, just mozzarella cheese which has been made by aligning the proteins in just the right way to make the cheese ‘stringy’ and peel-able. So rather than cutting messy mozzarella, I decided to just use easy cheese sticks in my skinny mozzarella stick recipe- much easier! I mean, how much simpler can it get than unwrapping a perfectly cut cheese? No work needed!
You can also buy string cheese that is considered “light” and has less fat and also less calories. So if you want to make these skinny mozzarella sticks even skinner, go with the light cheese sticks for sure! See, these are already looking so healthy…
Mozzarella Stick Healthy Marinara
While I always just buy my marinara sauce to dip my mozzarella sticks in, you can totally make it if you want to. However, I feel like I already spent time making this whole recipe, I deserve a dip break! Now to pick the best one.
Look for a marinara sauce that has no added sugar. Sometimes sugar or even corn syrup is the second ingredient in a jar of mozzarella. Seriously! Picking a brand that has no sugar, no corn syrup and is just tomatoes, spices and other veggies will instantly make your mozzarella sticks healthier.
If you prefer to use something else as a dip such as ketchup, ranch dressing or honey mustard dip, always, always, always read the ingredients. You will be surprised how much sugar and other additives get slipped into sauces and dips. Get the most natural, healthy versions you can find. Your body and your taste buds will thank you!
The Taste Test
So I made my mozzarella stick changes, tried and adjusted a few batches and then they were ready for the true tester- my daughter! I gave her a plate and she immediately questioned where her “regular” mozzarella sticks were (she is an extremely picky eater). Yet after one bite of the new skinny version, she was sold.
With more flavor that regular mozzarella sticks, less calories, less fat and less sugar, these skinny mozzarella sticks are a total hit. Now, I don’t need to feel so guilty when I reach for a few mozzarella sticks in the afternoon and I also don’t need to feel like a bad parent as I hand a few to my daughter- they are way, way better than that fried old version! I am a happy mom.
If you are looking for even more “skinny” recipes, I ahve made a bunch! As I said before, re configuring recipes to be healthy is one of my favorite things to do. I have made skinny fried rice, skinny chicken alfredo and even a skinny berry wine cooler! They are all delicious and all much more nutritious than the classic versions. Give them all a try and let us know what you think!
Mozzarella Sticks Recipe Ingredients
- String Cheese
- Wonton Wrappers
- Marinara Sauce
- Olive Oil
Rather than fill up on mozzarella sticks covered in breadcrumbs, this healthier version uses wonton wrappers to enclose the cheese.
- 1 large egg
- 4 string cheese, halved
- 8 wonton wrappers
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce (for dipping!)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon of water. Working one at a time, brush wonton wrapper with egg mixture.
- Place string cheese in the center of each wrapper. Bring bottom edge of the wrap tightly over the cheese, rolling from bottom to top until the top of the sheet is reached (be careful not to tear the wrappers).
- Add olive oil to a medium-hot skillet and cook the mozzarella sticks until golden brown and crispy (about 1-2 minutes)
- Make a tripe batch and store the mozzarella sticks in the freezer in an airtight container for up to three months. Place them frozen onto the sheet pan and bake for an extra 3-5 minutes.
- Try using halloumi cheese for a new version of skinny cheese stick. Halloumi is lower in lactose and typically made with goats milk which is considered to be healthier than cows milk.
- You can opt to pan fry these mozzarella sticks if you want to cook them faster. Drizzle the olive oil into the pan and fry on each side for 2 minutes.