Frozen Mozzarella Stick Brands Ranked Worst To Best

When it's your turn to buy apps for the table, what's your finger food of choice? Are you a chips and queso kind of friend, or do you opt for a bolder choice like chicken wings? Do you cater to the indecisive with a sample platter of the best fried goods? One restaurant appetizer you can't go wrong with is mozzarella sticks — who doesn't love a boatload of gooey, melty cheese and some tasty marinara to go with it?

Unfortunately, mozzarella sticks are one of those foods that are almost always better at restaurants, since that's where they're most often deep-fried for maximum melty, crispy goodness. The same taste and crunch just can't be achieved in a home oven — or can it? 

Frozen grocery store mozzarella sticks made at home might not be as good as a platter of them from Applebee's, but some brands are worthwhile enough to be served at your next home game night or football Sunday. We tested 13 frozen mozzarella stick brands, all baked in the oven, to find out which ones make the tastiest appetizers at home.

How can you make frozen mozzarella sticks taste like restaurant mozzarella sticks?

Before we get to the ranking, let's talk cooking techniques. The best part of ordering mozzarella sticks at a restaurant is knowing that you're guaranteed a golden, crispy coating with a molten, sizzling cheese center. Replicating these deep-fried delights at home may seem impossible, but you can get pretty close with a few hacks. Of course, the best way to ensure you're getting fresh-out-of-the-fryer quality mozzarella sticks is by using a home deep fryer. But home fryers are a bit of a hassle, so instead, you may want to try a shallow pan-fry in a deep skillet with about half an inch of vegetable oil. This will probably yield nearly identical results to deep-frying. If shallow-frying on the stove is too messy for you, you should opt for any sort of convection cooking, such as an air fryer, if possible. Another important tip for cooking mozzarella sticks at home is to never crowd your cooking vessel; if the sticks are packed in, hot oil (or air) can't properly circulate around them, which may lead to soggy breading. 

But what about that elusive extra something flavor-wise that restaurant mozzarella sticks seem to have? You can dress up your sticks by sprinkling a dash of garlic powder on them before cooking. If you are feeling particularly sophisticated, you can also garnish them with chopped fresh basil and oregano, parmesan cheese, truffle salt or oil, or cracked black pepper. 

13. Cole's

Cole's mozzarella cheese sticks are soft, bready, and loaded with garlic. They're also imposters and should be ashamed. Despite being marketed as mozzarella sticks on our local grocery store mobile app and being among the other mozzarella stick brands in the freezer section, these cheese-filled breadsticks — while delicious — are literally that, cheese-filled breadsticks. They're not sticks of mozzarella, rolled in a bread crumb coating or batter, like the other brands, and they're not the kind of thing you'd order six of as an appetizer. These full-fledged breadsticks are the sort of thing you'd get as a side to spaghetti or lasagna — and it's unclear why they're classified as a mozzarella stick. 

So while the bread of this breadstick in disguise is fluffy and soft and the garlicky-herb flavor is fantastic, there isn't nearly enough cheese to qualify this brand as a cheese stick. Cole's narrowly avoids disqualification by simply being put in last place instead.

12. Snapps

Textbook mediocrity is the best way to explain our experience with the Snapps mozzarella sticks. The cheese is runny and tasteless, while the breading was too doughy even after being fully cooked. There was no spice, flavor, or interest added to the breading, either — it was just bread crumb, nothing more. 

The underwhelming performance of Snapps is continued in its mozzarella. The cheese lacks any body or elasticity; not only did it burst out of the breading and spill all over while in the oven, but what wasn't lost in the cooking process spilled out of the breading when we broke open a stick. Overall, the Snapps mozz sticks were messy, flavorless, and a big letdown — but how much could you really have expected from the cheapest product on this list, which cost just $1.24 at Walmart? If budget is an absolute priority, or if you need a lot of mozzarella sticks for a low price, Snapps is a good way to go. 

11. Wholly Veggie

Any finger food that relies on a good cheese copycat to disguise its veganness is already fighting an uphill battle. It may be unfair to crack down on this vegan brand of mozzarella stick for its discrepancies in the cheesy filling, so we will start with what we liked about this brand: The mozzarella sticks come in handy miniature sizes, which makes serving the sticks at parties and eating a whole stick before the cheese has gone cold and hard more feasible. This is also one of the few brands in our testing that included marinara packets in the box. 

The breading is really very good; it has a nice flavor, but mostly the crumbs offer a nice, snappy crunch when bitten into. Sadly, we struggled to see the vegan mozzarella cheese in a positive light. There was no flavor whatsoever, and the texture achieved a bizarre state of duality where it was so watery and thin that it spilled out of the bread casing when broke in half, but it also congealed into something like a hot Elmer's Glue once slightly cooled. We aren't vegan snack food experts, but surely there must be better options than Wholly Veggie for our plant-based friends out there.

10. Golden Crisp

Golden Crisp mozzarella sticks were just inches short of greatness. These are among the biggest sticks on our list, and going by appearances, you could argue that Golden Crisp sticks definitely look like they were served fresh in a restaurant. But looks, unfortunately, are deceiving in many cases, including this one. Golden Crisp's mozzarella cheese does deserve high marks. For one, there's an absolute river of it in each stick, and it oozes out when broken open. Thick and creamy, with a good stretch, this mozzarella is some of the freshest-tasting on the list. 

But the breading cost Golden Crisp many rank spots here. Perhaps if this brand's mozzarella sticks were deep-fried instead of cooked in an oven, the breading would be improved. But even when the sticks had cooked for as long as their box directions allowed, the inner side of the bread coating was pasty and chewy, like half-baked dough. This sogginess really detracted from the breading quality, despite the outside being delightfully crisp and flavorful. We recommend only buying this brand if you have a home fryer — let us know if that improves things!

9. TGI Fridays

The best part of these TGI Fridays sticks is definitely the breading. When you first sink your teeth into one of these sticks, you're met with bright flavors of garlic, black pepper, and onion in the breading. And while the outer layer does get beautifully golden with an exquisite crispness, the TGI Fridays sticks are more prone to splitting open than any other brand we tested. It could be because of these sticks' shape and size, or the thinner coat of breading. 

The cheese was unfortunately less impressive. As seen in the pictured sample, this brand's mozzarella never really achieved that melty, gooey texture, remaining quite clumpy even after being fully cooked. The taste was alright — not fully bland and flavorless, but certainly not as creamy and fresh as other brands included — but not memorable. And without that silky, melty stretch of mozzarella you're supposed to experience when biting into a cheese stick, we couldn't move TGI Fridays up any further on the roster. 

8. Market Pantry

Market Pantry (a private label brand at Target) was close to being a tester favorite, but missed the mark. The cheese in particular is where we have the most complaints. As you can see in the picture, the mozzarella in Market Pantry's cheese sticks behaved strangely, staying in a thick, ropey consistency when pulled apart even after being cooked. Lacking in stringy meltiness, this cheese seemed more like one of those pull-apart cheese sticks you eat cold. The cheese and breading were also weirdly separated from one another, which led to the stick nearly falling apart when we broke it open. It's almost like there needed to be more cheese to fill out the casing. 

On the other hand, the breading was good with a classic seasoning blend. It toasted up to a pleasing golden crunchiness in the oven, and didn't split or burst while cooking. With some changes to the cheese, Market Pantry's rank status would definitely improve. 

7. Trader Joe's

Trader Joe's is a great destination for all things snacky foods, whether that be boxed products, baked goods, or freezer aisle gems. The Trader Joe's brand mozzarella sticks were supremely tasty, but not quite an all-time favorite TJ's find. The bread crumb outer shell was super flavorful, but it lacked any sort of satisfying crunch needed to flatter the stretchy, stringy cheese, instead taking on an anticlimactic sogginess. We followed the oven directions exactly for this TJ's product to preserve the integrity of our testing, but if we were enjoying these in different circumstances, the sticks would definitely need to be cooked in an air fryer or even a home fryer to get some crunch into the breading.

These sticks' mozzarella filling had a great taste and texture, and stretched nicely when the sticks were pulled apart, but we couldn't ignore the breading layer where T-Joe's fell short.

6. Farm Rich

Farm Rich mozzarella sticks are very similar to the Market Pantry cheese sticks from Target, with the needed improvements to the cheese abundance and consistency. The breading, like Target's, is lightly seasoned with flavors of garlic and onion, with a very satisfying crunch. 

While Market Pantry's cheese had a weird texture and didn't adhere to the breading, leading to a falling-apart cheese stick, the Farm Rich sticks are absolutely stuffed with mozzarella, and they held up their shape much better than the Target option. There still isn't as good of an elastic stretch to the cheese as there could be — this brand was a bit more stringy than others. You may still want some marinara sauce to compensate for a slight lack in flavor, but overall, we'd call this a very standard, classic mozzarella stick that you wouldn't have to twist our arms to get us to eat again.

5. Saz's

The Saz's mozzarella stick brand offers a unique approach to the classic food: The mozzarella core is wrapped in egg roll wrappers, rather than a bread crumb coating or batter. The resulting mozzarella can be best described as puzzling; what is the reason for this thinner, less crispy, less flavorful wrap? We had troubles with the Saz's sticks from the start, when the oven instructions called for the sticks to be flipped halfway through cooking but the egg roll wraps were stuck on the parchment paper. They were so stuck that flipping the sticks would have been ripping them apart, so instead we ended up with a golden-crispness on one side and pale sogginess on the other.

The wrap, also, doesn't really taste like anything, unlike the seasoned breading on other brands. Saz's redemption comes from its cheese, which was some of the best in this ranking. It tasted fresh, salty, and creamy, with a great stretchy texture. We'd have expected nothing less of the fresh Wisconsin cheese Saz's says its sticks are made with. 

4. Crav'n

Crav'n, Hy-Vee's private label brand, usually puts out excellent frozen snacky and appetizer foods — and its mozzarella sticks are no exception. These are bigger than many of the other sticks on the list, with a thicker, crunchier breading. There is some nice flavor to the crumb coating as well. We thought the thicker breading would mean that there'd be no cheese spillage during cooking, but some did escape, as pictured. 

The cheese in the Crav'n mozzarella sticks is fantastic. Taste-wise, there are no complaints, but the absolute best thing about this brand's cheese is how much of it there is, and its smooth, stretchy texture. These Crav'n sticks are the closest replicas of restaurant mozzarella sticks in this ranking, and while cooking them in a home fryer or air fryer would definitely achieve the crispest breading possible, following the oven directions still yielded an excellent crunch. We wish this brand came with marinara sauce, because it's one of the ones we'd definitely buy again.

3. Feel Good Foods

Feel Good Foods' gluten-free egg rolls were included in the roundup of frozen grocery store egg rolls that we taste-tested. We weren't all that impressed with those egg rolls, but Feel Good Foods definitely redeems itself with these mozzarella sticks. The cheese is delicious, with a perfect picturesque stretch when pulled apart, and there was no spillage in cooking or eating. 

The real star of the show here is the breading. Feel Good Foods' mozzarella stick breading is beautifully flavored with a spice and herb blend — so tasty that marinara isn't even needed. Despite being a gluten-friendly breading, there was no compromise in the texture of the bread crumbs; the outer layer got golden and toasty, and structurally, the breading held up very well and didn't split or crack in the oven. And when biting into one of the Feel Good Foods mozzarella sticks, there is a very satisfying crunch. Even being perfectly tolerant of gluten, we'd happily eat these cheesy sticks again. 

2. Budweiser

If you've ever had fresh, Wisconsin cheese curds dunked in a beer batter and deep-fried, you'd know how delicious these Budweiser cheese sticks are. The cheese definitely has more of a fresh Wisconsin cheese curd consistency, even though it's mozzarella and not cheddar as Wisconsin curds traditionally are — but this adds to the experience of these cheese sticks instead of detracting from it. And according to the product packaging, there is some white cheddar cheese included with the mozzarella, which explains how reminiscent these sticks are of the popular Midwestern snack that is fried cheese curds.

The breading is excellent: light, sort of flaky, and golden, with a distinctive Budweiser taste. Even though these sticks were cooked in the oven, the batter had that crispiness that only deep fat frying seems to achieve. Overall, these are definitely not traditional cheese sticks — and the Midwesterner in us would definitely dip them in ranch instead of marinara — but the salty, creamy taste of that fresh cheese and the accompanying beer batter can't be missed. 

1. Appetitos

Appetitos mozzarella cheese sticks can be found at Aldi, and you should absolutely swoop these up next time you're shopping at the German bargain grocery store. Despite being just a humble private label brand, Appetitos was a quick favorite in this ranking. Simplicity is at the forefront with these cheese sticks. The breading is not as intensely flavored with herbs and spice as other brands, but its buttery goldenness more than made up for that. Appetitos' bread crumb coating also stayed fully intact while baking, so no precious mozzarella was lost. 

And speaking of the cheese, this brand packed its sticks to nearly bursting, so you get tons of mozzarella in every bite. This cheese was perfectly textured for mozzarella sticks: Smooth, creamy, and elastic. And its flavor was simple and fresh, good enough to be enjoyed even without dunking in marinara sauce. We wished these sticks were just a little bit bigger, but the classic flavor is enough to push Appetitos to the top of the ranks. Aldi for the win!