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Gluten-Free Mozzarella Cheese Sticks and a YES! Winner

Gluten-free mozzarella cheese sticks, who’da thunk it? YES!

Heck, even in my former gluten-life, I could not make a cheese stick.  I could make a mean hollow tube of fried bread crumbs mind you, but somehow, the cheese always managed to escape!

Has this ever happened to you?  You roll your cheese stick in bread crumbs, plop it into the hot oil then *try* to wait patiently for the magic to occur: ooey, gooey, melted mozzarella cheese hugged tightly by a buttery, crisp crust that is just begging to be submerged into a warm and tangy pool of marinara sauce.  Only, one of two things inevitably happens instead:

A) You turn your head for a quick second then back again, only to find a pan of oozing white lava.


B) You turn your head for two seconds, then back again in a panic (didn’t you learn your lesson the first time?), only this time, you seem to have lucked out.  For reasons unknown, the cheese stick gods have apparently decided to have mercy on your poor cheese stick-loving soul and allowed a perfectly contained “stick” to remain in the pan, just for you.  You get so excited in anticipation of sinking your teeth into your sinful creation, that you clamp down hard (assuming your teeth will be met with some resistance as they come in contact with the cheese), only…there is no cheese.  You wonder WTF happened (nevermind the fact that you’re now missing part of your tooth), there is no cheese in your fully formed stick and there is no cheese in the pan of hot oil!!  Where in the bleep did it go (as you are looking around your kitchen, half expecting to find it hiding in the corner somewhere)?? 😀

There had to be a trick to them, but heck if I knew what it was!  That was when I simply gave up trying to make my own cheese sticks and just assumed I would only ever enjoy them at a restaurant or out of a box; but for me, that was many moons and an entirely different person ago.

Flash forward 20+ years and one celiac diagnosis later; I found myself, once again, in a cheese stick smack-down.  This time though, I was determined to win, because I did not have anything to fall back on (it’s really amazing the things one can accomplish when when there isn’t an easy way out!), the best part about that?  Empowerment.  It feels REALLY good when you finally decide to stand up tall, quit feeling sorry for, and/or resigning yourself to a life of living without, and instead, figure out a way to say, YES!

I’m really not sure what to say about this.

Well, nothing other than…

Prior to making these a couple of months ago, I hadn’t had a cheese stick in well over 5 years.  Then it dawned on me, neither of my boys had ever had a cheese stick before…NEVER!  And you know what?  They were perfectly fine and happy without them!  That was when it finally hit me on a deeply personal level, that how I had come to view certain foods as an adult, really had nothing to do with the food itself…it had everything to do with the emotions and memories that were attached to them.

Now that my littlest one is newly dairy-free and casein-free, the cheese sticks are once again a thing of the past for us.  This time though, that is more than okay with me, because I have decided to say YES! to allowing my children to build their own special memories surrounding the foods we now eat together as a family…instead of trying to “re-package” my childhood memories for them. 😉

So, I am happily passing this along as a vote of encouragement for all my GF friends who can still eat dairy, “May the Casein/Lactose Force Be with You!” 😀

Okay, these are super simple to make and Ree, from The Pioneer Woman Cooks! has a FANTASTIC photo tutorial for Panko Mozzarella Sticks on her Tasty Kitchen blog, and she offers up THE TRICK to make successful cheese sticks at home.  That is what I followed, only with a two very important tweaks, I used a gluten-free flour (just use your favorite, xanthan gum is not necessary, but if you use a blend with it already in it, don’t worry, it won’t affect it either way), and gluten-free Panko breadcrumbs by Kinnikinnick (if you happen to live in the Albuquerque vicinity, La Montanita Co-Op on Rio Grande Blvd. carries the GF Panko bread crumbs!):

Time to announce the winner for the Yes! Giveaway from my recent post, “Dancing in the Kitchen with Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef!”

Thank you all so very much for entering this giveaway and sharing your heartfelt stories, they were all so inspirational to me!  Alas, I only have one prize package to give, but learning to say YES! more often, is definitely the best gift we can all give ourselves and to our children. 😀

I used the random number generator to pick the winner, and that person is:

#96, Diane Bramos  (a.k.a. @Pilateschik on Twitter)

Diane said, “How fabulous!! I volunteered to supply snacks for my daughter’s Creative Writing Club.  I figure that will help spread the word to a younger crowd about what gluten free (and other food issues) means!!”

Congratulations Diane!  I will email you for your shipping information. 😀


  1. oooooooh YUM Mozz sticks …. I LOVE YOU!!!!

  2. Yum! I can't wait to make these, and would do it tonight except I've never seen the gluten free panko locally. But as soon as my order comes in, they're mine. 🙂

    I'm assuming you subbed for the flour, too–what did you use?

    • Hi Heather!

      Well now, how on earth did I forget to mention about the flour?! 😳

      Thanks for calling my attention to that, I will fix it right away. I just used my Better Batter GF All Purpose Flour, but you could use whatever your favorite flour GF flour blend is, or even just a single flour like rice, tapioca, sorghum, etc. You do not need to add xanthan or guar gum because all you are using the flour for is to give the egg mixture (or other liquid) something to adhere to, otherwise it would slide right off the cheese stick (but if you use a flour blend with a gum already in it, don't worry, it won't hurt one bit).


  3. Heidi

    I tested those Kinnikinnick Panko Crumbs a few months ago and they are fantastic. Every recipe I used them with was crispy and crunchy and perfect. Can't recommend them enough. I did fish cakes and risotto cakes and chicken strips with them and the kids loved them. Another post that had me laughing and saying YES.


    • Wendy,

      Fish and risotto cakes sound yummy! I have only ever had crab and salmon cakes before, what fish do you like to use?

      And Yes! on the laughter, that is my underlying goal with my blog ya know! Dump all the "heavy" health information about gluten, etc., (that can be enough to make anyone cry), then just as quickly put on my "glutadoodle" hat so I can try and suck people back for more gluten-free awareness, LOL! 😀


  4. Yummmmm! And congratulations to Diane!!

  5. Oh My! Yummy. Haven't had Mozzarella Stickes in like forever!

  6. Michelle Olejar says

    Looks wonderful! I am wondering if these could be made with cut up chunks of a vegan replacement? I know that Vegan Gourmet is made with soy and that is not a preferred substitute for you. Fake cheeses need higher heat to melt, so it may not work. I am going to try these for myself (little man can't have dairy) and let you know how they work. Now to find those panko crumbs!

    Congrats on getting to the point where you are making memories with your children that are of what you can do/eat vs. re-creations of your youth. Isn't that classic for most parents to want to do though; the passing down of family traditions. I have looked at the difficulties with my children (autism, food intolerances, etc) as being a blessing of breaking the need to re-create my youth or my dreams. Most important things to people as adults are those that have good memories attached. The important thing is not the "THING" but the memory. My mom has this pewter water cup and a small cross that I have told her I want someday. She asked me "why on earth do you care about those". My response was "the pewter cup I filled with water and helped you iron dad's shirts when I was little and the cross I held in my hands when we cuddled when I was sick" It is the memories with my mom that those pieces contain. I don't need the object to have the memory, but the object is still comforting. You are an awesome mom Heidi, and your children will have a lot of memories of you and all the special little things you do for them.

  7. I'm excited to try these! I always heard that putting the string cheese in the freezer for a bit before frying them helped in keeping the cheese from completely melting before they browned. I'll try that tip and let you know how it worked!!

  8. I'm SO frustrated that these Panko breadcrumbs have egg in them. Makes me so sad! I found them at earthfare about a month ago, threw them in my cart, then thought "wait a second…what about eggs". And there they are in the ingredients. SIGH!!!

    • I know! My youngest son was dx'd with an egg allergy shortly after this post, so I had to give away my remaining boxes. I wish more companies would remove the top 8 allergens from their GF foods more often…so many of us have other dietary restrictions too. 😀

  9. What are your favorite gluten & egg free breadcrumbs?

    • Ya know, I haven't gotten that far yet but it is on my short list (after Thanksgiving)…I already bought a Panko Bread Crumb Maker, so once I find the right GF/CF/EF bread, I will find us a solution! 😀

  10. my favorite bread is from Sami's Bakery in FL. i order once a month with a group of friends. i wish Udi's would magically remove eggs from their recipe! 🙂 and how cool that there is a panko breadcrumb maker!

    • Nurse.Jeanne says

      Sami's is NOT gluten free! No matter what anyone has told you!

      please be careful.

      • Nurse Jeanne…do you say that because there is cross contamination from the other products they make? i don't have celiac, so i don't worry too much about cross contamination. jen

  11. I made these today and they were awesome! I had been craving mozzarella sticks for weeks and this recipe was perfect! One note I had, with the bread crumbs I used, the coating was a bit thin, so I double coated the second batch and froze for 10 more minutes. Amazing!

  12. thank you for this:

    " allowing my children to build their own special memories surrounding the foods we now eat together as a family…instead of trying to “re-package” my childhood memories for them."

    I needed that today. Some times my heart is broken that i cant share some of my childhood faves with my kids. But you are so right! We are all better off not eating the the way we did before> it think it has so improved the health on my family.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by simplyitalianfood, Heidi Kelly. Heidi Kelly said: Congatulations to Diane Bennett Bramos, the winner of the YES! Giveaway! :0) #GF […]

  2. […] be sharing some of her celiac journey as well as a yummy dish she made from the *awesome* cookbook she won on my blog a few weeks ago: Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes.  Be sure […]

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