Some things can only be described as “quintessentially Wisconsin.” We can think of no better description for the darlings of Wisconsin: cheese curds. These squeaky cheese pleasers are formed bydditives introduced to milk during the cheesemaking process to acidify and coagulate it.
The coagulated milk is cut and heated to separate the liquid whey from solid curds, then the curds are then stacked, cut and pressed. Repeating this process releases moisture and gives the curds their unique texture. The curds are then cut into small pieces and salted to help retain their moisture.
As for that signature squeak? The casein or milk protein structure in a fresh curd is fairly porous, which traps a bit of air inside. When you bite a curd, the contact of your teeth against the wet, rubbery texture of a curd creates vibration at a squeaky frequency you can hear.
Curd is the word
If you’ve ever been to Wisconsin – or talked to anyone who has – you’ve undoubtedly heard someone singing their squeaky praises. These little Wisconsin wonders are favored by cheese lovers far and wide, perhaps no more so than when served up fried. When crispy, crunchy exterior meets squeaky, cheesy center, that’s where some real mouth magic happens.
You don’t have to wait for next summer’s state fair to experience the goodness. Just ready your air fryer and keep on reading for an airier spin on this curd-y classic.
A few pro tips
Seasoning your breadcrumbs will boost flavor. This is a great way to get creative. Italian seasoning is always a classic, while Latin spices kick things up a notch!
Look for similar-sized curds. Frying similar sized curds at the same time ensures that they melt and brown evenly.
Fry curds in a single layer. Limiting the number of curds in the fryer at a time to a single layer yields a crispier coating. (Which is always a good thing.)
Keep an eye on the cooking temperature and timing. Since air fryers vary by manufacturer, it’s best to take care while cooking curds. Adjust the temperature and cook time as needed based on how the curds are browning and melting.
Air Fryer Cheese Curd RecipeIngredients
- 8 ounces of Wisconsin Cheese curds (any brand will do, but be sure to look for the Proudly Wisconsin badge)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 large eggs
- 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Cooking spray
- Dipping Sauces: marinara sauce and ranch salad dressing
- Heat air fryer to 350˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper.
- Place flour in a medium, shallow bowl. Lightly beat eggs in separate medium, shallow bowl. Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in another medium, shallow bowl.
- Dredge cheese curds, a few at a time, in flour. Then dip in eggs; coat with crumb mixture, shaking off any excess coating between steps. Place coated curds on prepared pan.
- Lightly spritz curds with cooking spray just before placing into air fryer basket. Arrange curds in a single layer in the basket. Refrigerate remaining curds until frying.
- Set timer for 5-7 minutes. Fry curds, removing basket at 3 minutes; flip curds. Cook 2-4 minutes longer or until light brown, crispy and the curds begin 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.
Now that you've learned how to make air fryer cheese curds, life may never be the same. If you're looking for another recipe to indulge your latest curd cravings, try these air fryer chicken and cheese curd taquitos or the Wisconsin Bowl. Or, pick another crowd-pleasing dish from our selection of over 300 handcrafted recipes featuring Wisconsin cheese. Share your creation with us on Instagram or Facebook and become part of the largest cheese community in the world.
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