There’s a lot of reasons to love Wisconsin, but few rank higher in our hearts than a fresh basket of fried cheese curds. Thankfully, fried cheese curds curdn’t be easier to make and you can enjoy this piece of Wisconsin from the comfort of your kitchen.
Read on to discover everything you need to know about frying cheese curds and two easy frying methods you can try today.
What kind of cheese can you fry?
Well, we’d flip that around and say what kinds of cheese can’t you fry? As we like to say, “where there’s a will, there’s a whey.” From mozzarella sticks to a pan-fried slice of bread cheese (or juustoleipä), fried cheese is a pretty substantial food group.
But when it comes to deep-frying cheese, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the pleasure of a fried cheese curd. It’s a Wisconsin signature for a reason! These squeaky, bite-sized cheeses become melty and gooey when fried. And of all the cheeses out there, cheddar curds tend to fry the most evenly.
What’s in a curd?
Curds are the delicious building blocks of cheesemaking process. Bacterial cultures and rennet are added to Wisconsin milk, which causes the milk to clot and separate into solids and liquids.
The solids are cut up into cubes and pressed to squeeze out all the whey—leaving behind the curds! Cheese curds are known for their “squeaky” texture and fresh, milky taste. Emphasis on the fresh; here in Wisconsin, we take the freshness of our cheese curds seriously.
Frying Cheese Curds the Wisconsin Way
A good batter is light, flavorful, and crisp. Our secret: lager beer. It adds a malty, rich flavor, and the carbonation helps to keep the batter airy. (Plus, the chef gets what’s leftover.) When you mix your batter, it should look like a thin pancake batter; thick enough to coat the curds without getting gummy.
Need a recipe to get you started? Try our Deep-Fried Cheese Curd recipe.
Picking the right oil
Make sure to pick out a neutral-flavored oil with a high smoke point, like canola, peanut, grapeseed, or corn. That way, the flavor of the cheese will shine through, rather than the taste of oil.
Don’t forget to have a thermometer on hand so you can test the oil’s temperature all the way up to its destination of 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oil is too hot, your cheese curds could burn—a modern-day tragedy—but if it’s too cold, the batter can absorb the oil and become soggy.
Top frying tips
Once your oil is heated to 375 degrees, fry one test curd to see how it comes out. Based on that tester, you can adjust your batter consistency or your oil temperature, so all the other curds come out perfect. As the saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed, fry, and fry again.
Curds can be delightfully different, coming in irregular shapes and sizes. Try to fry in small batches where each curd is roughly the same size. Avoid crowding the pot, which can lower the temperature of the oil. This will ensure a stress-free frying experience.
While the milky, sweet flavor of fresh Wisconsin Cheese curds is pretty incredible on its own, we’ll never say no to a dipping sauce. Here are some of our favorite accompanying sauces for homemade cheese curds:
Sriracha Ketchup: 1/2 cup ketchup + 1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
Chipotle Ranch: 1/2 cup prepared ranch dressing + 1 tablespoon chipotle-flavored hot sauce (or the liquid from chiles in adobo)
Honey Mustard Aioli: 1/2 cup mayonnaise + 1/4 cup prepared mustard + 2 tablespoons honey
Lemon Dill Tartar Sauce: 1/2 cup mayonnaise + 1 teaspoon lemon zest + 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice + 1 teaspoon dill pickle relish + 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
Make fried cheese curds without any oil! Our Air Fryer Cheese Curds use panko breadcrumbs for a crispy, crunchy bite. Try mixing in different herbs and spices for endless flavor combinations. As one reviewer said, “my air fryer just paid for itself with this recipe.” Weeknight cheese curds? Sign us up!
Get the recipe for our Air Fryer Cheese Curds here.
If all this talk of fried cheese curds has gotten you hungry for a cheese tasting, you can get Wisconsin’s finest cheeses delivered right to your door with our continuously updated list of cheesemakers and retailers that allow you to order cheese online. Award-winning Wisconsin Cheese is just a click away.
Craving something else? Choose from our selection of over 400 recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese. Don’t forget to share your creative cheesy creations with us on Facebook and Instagram.