Air Fried Cheese Curds
Every Minnesotan has their favorite State Fair foods. For us, it’s fried cheese curds. It doesn’t matter that every summer brings a new batch of fantastical food to turn our heads, like deep-fried tacos on a stick, cheesy Sriracha funnel cake bites, or a swirl of blue soft-serve ice cream in a nest of pink cotton candy. We may try them, we may even gorge ourselves on them — it wouldn’t be the State Fair otherwise — but our hearts will always belong to the squeaky, squeaky cheese curds.
Like all of our best food experiences, we’re constantly trying to recreate State Fair fried cheese curds at home. They never taste quite the same: In order to get the full effect, you need to be sardined in a giant crowd of people with the smell of Martha’s Cookies, tractor engines and newborn piglets wafting over you. But these Air-Fried Cheese Curds get pretty darn close.
We dredge our cheese curds through a little flour, eggs and panko so they develop a crispy, crunchy crust in the air fryer. The panko is laced with garlic and cayenne pepper, and there’s a nice, savory heat when you bite into the cheese curd — and then a gush of gloriously melty cheese.
The best thing about the air fryer is that it only takes 10 minutes to fry up these beauties. Well, maybe that’s the second best thing. The actual best thing is that there’s no greasy oil, so you can feel awesome about eating more fried cheese curds, and when you’re done there’s a lot less mess to clean up.
Our tip: Want to get State-Fair level creative with your cheese curds? You can put whatever spices you like in the panko. Try it with some of our L&B spice blends, like Potato Spuds Seasoning, Trail Dust Seasoning or Honey Mustard Seasoning. Blazing Fire & Spice? Yup.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 2.5 hours
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups panko bread crumbs
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
12 ounces L&B White Cheddar Cheese Curds
Marinara sauce or ranch salad dressing, optional dipping sauces
- Heat air fryer to 350 F and line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.
- Place the flour in a medium, shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in a separate medium, shallow bowl. Combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in another medium, shallow bowl.
- Dredge the cheese curds, a few at a time, in flour. Then dip them in the eggs and coat them with the crumb mixture. Shake off any excess coating between steps.
- Place the coated curds on the prepared pan.
- Just before placing them in the air fryer basket, lightly spritz the first batch of curds with cooking spray. Refrigerate the remaining curds until you’re ready to fry them.
- Arrange the prepared curds in a single layer in the fryer basket. Set a timer for 5-7 minutes. Fry the curds for 3 minutes, and then remove the basket and flip the curds. Cook 2-4 minutes longer or until the curds are light brown, crispy, and beginning to melt.
- Repeat with remaining curds, starting with a light spritz of cooking spray.
- Serve in a bowl or parchment-lined basket with dipping sauces.
Recipe adapted from Wisconsin Cheese.