Deep Fried Cheese Curds have been a favorite at State Fairs and festivals, as well as recognized staples on menus throughout Wisconsin and Canada, but you can also make them at home!
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Cheese Curd Recipe
Lightly fluffy beer batter engulfs sweet little nuggets of gooey cheese, make the perfect appetizer similar to mozzarella sticks. Who doesn’t love fried cheese?
If you follow me on Twitter, you are aware of my recent realization that:
A. I like cheese curds
B. my “like” has turned into obsession.
This all started when I was prompted to make Poutine and I needed cheese curds. The name alone sounds a little gross, or at least not deliciously appetizing, I like it is the curd part. But holy cow they are good!
What are cheese curds?
Cheese curds are a baby cheese, if you will. During the cheese making process, milk is curdled using a combination of acid, rennet and bacterial cultures (yummy, huh?).
Don’t dis it until you try it.
Fresh curds are pasteurized milk solids prior to being put into molds and allowed to age, resulting in various tastes and textures of cheese. They have a salty, milky taste and are famous for squeaking when eaten, thus earning their nickname of “squeaky cheese”.
They are best fresh, but most of us will be purchasing them packaged and preserved. Look in your specialty cheese department, they are usually in a bag. You can even make your own cheese curds at home, if you prefer.
However it takes a lot of dairy to make 1 pound of cheese curds since here is little milk solid leftover from each batch of fresh cheese. In fact, it can take up to 10 pounds of dairy to make 1 pound!
Cheese Curd Flavors
Cheese curds come in a variety of flavors, mostly cheddar, so you can tailor your Fried Cheese Curds to your own liking and tastes.
You can also add different flavors to the beer batter like garlic, onion, paprika, chile powder, lemon pepper, Cajun seasoning and anything else you can think of.
PRO TIP: Cut the curds so they are a similar size and will then fry at the same rate.
The color of cheese curds comes from the diet of the dairy cow. Most are white, because it is a milk solid. Some naturally have an orange tint, but most with strong hues have been colored.
How to Make Cheese Curds
Freeze the curds! When it is frozen, it takes more time to melt and gives the batter longer to brown and crisp. If they aren’t frozen, you might find yourself with escaping cheese.
The next step on the road to making fried cheese curds is the cheese curd batter. I prefer to use a light and fluffy beer batter, but some like to coat in flour, egg and then dried bread crumbs for more of a traditional fried cheese texture and taste. You’ll want to tap off any excess batter before putting them into the deep fryer (or large pot).
Then comes the frying, which tends to be the most intimidating part. Use an oil with a high smoke point, vegetable, peanut or canola oil are good choices.
My best advice is to use a candy or frying thermometer to track the temperature. Too hot and you’ll burn them, too cool and the cheese will thaw and melt before the batter browns.
So monitor the oil temperature closely and aim for it to be around 350, knowing it will dip a little after adding the curds. Fry until golden brown.
Can I make fried cheese curds without beer? You sure can. Just substitute water or milk for the liquid.
Can you fry cheese curds without a batter? I supposed you can fry anything without a batter, but you are going to end up with a gooey mess of melted cheese in a pot. Not suitable for eating.
Make Ahead & Freezing
Like so many fried foods, they are really best fresh. My advice would be to make the batter, but dip and fry them when you are ready to serve.
Can you freeze cheese curds? Cheese curds can be frozen in their original cheese curd form. I have tried to freeze them after frying, but refried cheese just never comes back to the same texture.
How do you reheat fried cheese curds? The best way is to lightly pan fry them again and allow to drain on paper towels. The next best way is to warm them gently in the oven on 300 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Watch them carefully as the cheese will melt and start to escape. Fried foods can be microwaves, but lose the crunch.
Tools for making Cheese Curds:
Heavy Bottom Sauce Pan– this will be one of your most used kitchen tools. Having something that is heavy bottom will distribute heat better and prevent burning whether you are using an electric or gas range.
Ramekins– I like giving folks their own individual sauce cups. Then you don’t have to worry about double dipping! Ramekins are also great for ingredient preparation and baking mini soufflés.
Slotted Metal Fry Spoon– I like these best for frying because they can withstand very high temperatures, the fine mesh means I can fish out any remaining batter that might be burning and they don’t stick to things easily.
Fried Cheese Curd Recipe
- Measure 1 cup cold beer into a measuring cup. Start drinking the remainder of the beer. (This step is essential to perfect cheese curds).
- In a medium bowl combine flour through oregano and whisk together. It will be thick and pasty. Slowly whisk in beer. Place in the refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. The colder the curds (which should be frozen) and batter are, the better of a golden brown fry you will get.
- In a large heavy saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat. You can test the oil by dripping a small drop of batter into the oil, if it starts to float and sizzle, the oil is ready for frying.
- Dredge frozen cheese curds in the cold beer batter. Working in small batches, place beer battered cheese curds in hot oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes turning to evenly brown. Remove as soon as beer batter is a warm brown and before cheese melts and escapes from the crunchy exterior.
- Remove each batch to a paper towel lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with desired amount of sea salt. If you are making a large amount, you can keep completed beer battered cheese curds in the oven on 200 degrees to keep warm, but don’t heat it up too long or allow them to sit because the cheese will escape!
- Serve immediately with Bloomin’ Onion Sauce or other desired sauce. Enjoy your Beer Battered Cheese Curds with Bloomin’ Onion Sauce!
- If you’ve tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was!