Fried Cheese

The pleasure of perfectly fried cheese

Humans have been frying food for thousands of years – cheese included. Of course, it takes a special kind of cheese to hold its shape in the heat of a frying pan or grill – only cheeses with a high melting point can make the grade. Whether it's halloumi, paneer, mozzarella, or fresh cheese curds, a fried cheese – slightly crispy on the outside, slightly gooey on the inside – is one of the great pleasures of the cheese life.

Here in Wisconsin, we love to prepare cheese in as many ways as possible, so you'll definitely find fried cheese on the proverbial menu. We're particularly fond of fried cheese curds, but we've been known to delicately batter a 1-inch chunk of young cheddar and drop it in oil, or pair a thick slice of fried provolone with an heirloom tomato on country-style bread for lunch.

And for the warm, gooey texture of fried cheese without the actual frying, we love to warm a nice slice of bread cheese (also known as "juustoleipa") for in a nonstick skillet for breakfast. In the cheesemaking process, bread cheese is baked in special ovens, and the heat caramelizes the sugars on the outside of the cheese. It has a signature light brown crust. And it's that toasty crust, much like bread, that gives juustoleipa its name.

So, when you're looking for fried cheese, safe to say you'll find something for every palate – and every meal – in Wisconsin.

The art of fried cheese

While fried cheese may seem like an easy thing to make, it actually takes some pretty solid cooking chops to make a perfectly fried cheese dish. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  • Choose the right tools. If you don't have a deep-fat fryer at home, a heavy Dutch oven or a stockpot will do. Ideally, the pot should be deep enough to hold 1 to 4 inches of bubbling oil without splattering it all over your stovetop. You'll also want a wire basket, long-handled tongs, or a slotted spoon at the ready.
  • Pick the right oil. Oil for deep frying should have a high smoking point, so the oil won't break down and start to smoke as you heat it. Peanut, canola, or vegetable oil are excellent choices, while oils with low smoking points like butter and olive oil should be reserved for pan frying or sautéing. Use enough oil that you can fully submerge the cheese.
  • Keep an even temperature. For best results with fried cheese, heat your oil to 375°F. A higher temperature will cook the outside of the cheese before the inside is done, while a lower temperature can make cheese greasy. When cooking in batches, make sure the oil temperature returns to 375°F before you start the next batch.
  • Fry consistent sizes. Fry similar-sized chunks of cheese together to make sure that all the pieces get done at the same time.
  • Give your cheese some space. Don't overcrowd the pan – fry cheese in batches instead for the best results.
  • Know when it's done. Fry your cheese until it's golden brown and warmed through. Drain your fried cheese on paper towels and remove any extra fried pieces from the oil before you add the next batch.

Here are a few of our favorite fried cheese recipes:

  • Deep-Fried Cheese Curds – these delicious, crispy deep-fried cheese curds are a real crowd-pleaser and can be served with an assortment of dipping sauces.
  • Air Fryer Cheese Curds– this recipe proves that an air-fried cheese curd can be just as tasty as its deep-fried cousin.

And if you're up for a taste of juustoleipa, we've got recipes for every meal:

  • Warmed Juustoleipa with Strawberry-Rhubarb Jam, along with a cup of coffee, makes a deliciously filling breakfast.
  • Juustoleipa and Chicken Bowls with quinoa, brown rice, and apple-honey vinaigrette are a special treat for lunch.
  • Grilled Veggie and Juustoleipa Burgers with eggplant, red bell pepper, and pesto on pretzel buns make a delightfully cheesy option for dinner.

Videos: Discover Your Next Favorite Cheese

FAQs: What is fried cheese?

What is fried cheese?

Fried cheese is a slice, ball, or chunk of cheese that is fried in hot oil. Some fried cheeses are battered before frying, creating a warm crispy outside and a slightly melted cheesy inside.

What cheeses can be fried?

Cheeses that have a high melting point can be fried. While the cheese melts slightly, it will generally retain its shape in the fryer or skillet. Popular fried cheese options are cheese curds, queso blanco, halloumi, paneer, mozzarella, bread cheese, certain cheddars, and provolone.

What is juustoleipa?

Juustoleipa, or "bread cheese," comes from northern Finland and Sweden, where it was originally made from reindeer milk. With a soft, buttery texture and mild, slightly sweet flavor, juustoleipa is baked in special ovens where the heat caramelizes the sugar on the outside of the cheese to give it a toasty crust.

Why Wisconsin is first in fried cheese

Some people assume that Wisconsin's devotion to fried cheese springs from our love of fried foods. And while we like onion rings, schnitzel, and fish and chips as much as anyone, our focus on fried cheese is just part of our obsession with doing one thing really well: making cheese.

You may not know this, but cheesemaking has been in our DNA since 1837 – before Wisconsin was even a state. Today, our 1,200 licensed cheesemakers produce one-quarter of all the cheese in the U.S. and nearly half of all the specialty artisan cheese. And not to brag (well, okay, to brag a little bit) we've brought home more cheese awards (that's awards for cheese, not made of cheese) than any other state or country in the world.

That's all to say we love fried cheese because we love cheese in every form and flavor, and we are dedicated to producing more varieties, types, and styles of cheese than anyone else in the world.

Craving award-winning aged cheddar, pining for parmesan, or searching for a new cheese to try? The world’s best cheese is just a click away! Explore our directory of Wisconsin cheesemakers and retailers who offer online cheese shopping and get cheese shipped right to your door. What are you waiting for?

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