My feeling towards most savory foods is that, if it doesn’t have cheese, it ain’t good. Of course, this isn’t always true. But you would be hard-pressed to find something that isn’t better with a little bit of cheesy goodness.
In fact, the more cheese, the merrier. I always order extra cheese on my pizza, and yet it never seems to be enough. And my favorite meal ever is my Eggplant Parmigiana because it is loaded, stuffed, and oozing with mounds of endless melty cheese. It’s like a dream come true.
Naturally, for any cheese lover, fried cheese is the bomb. There is perhaps no greater way to experience cheese then breaded in a crispy suit of golden armor and fried until it reaches molten perfection. The standard fried cheese is mozzarella, chosen for its impeccable stringiness and mild flavor. But why not kick things up a notch with some hot and spicy pepper jack?
These Baked Pepper Jack Sticks were born from two things: my love for cheese and my need to use up a block of zesty pepper jack just waiting to come out of the fridge and party. But instead of frying it, I opted for oven-baking which provided the same golden brown crust and gooey interior as frying does, but without all the fatty oil and hassle. Some of the sticks do bust open while baking, but that’s all part of the fun. In fact I most enjoyed the ones with cheese streaming out the edges; they were extra delicious.
The Panko breading is delightfully crunchy while the pepper jack is creamy and molten with that great spicy kick. If you like a little heat, this is a great change from the traditional mozzarella stick. I’m giving you a one-way ticket to ooey-gooeyville to enjoy an all-expense paid stay at melty resort. Only a fool would pass up a cheese-tastic opportunity like that. So close your eyes and take a deep bite through crispy, golden breading and straight to a sea of spicy pepper jack cheese; let it take you away to cheese heaven.
A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:
- These might explode a little while baking, but they’ll still taste fantastic, so don’t sweat it.
- Serve with marinara sauce or ranch.
- Check out my favorite twist on fried cheese: Fried Eggplant Parmesan Sticks.
- You can use regular breadcrumbs too. In fact, they’ll probably hold together a little better.
- If you don’t like spice, sub Monterey jack.
- You must double coat these or they will not hold together.
Baked Pepper Jack Sticks
By The Smart Cookie Cook
- 16 oz. pepper jack cheese
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil.
- Cut the cheese into strips, about 1 inch wide and 3-4 inches long. Place the flour in a medium bowl, the milk and eggs in another, and the breadcrumbs and salt in a third. Whisk together the milk and eggs. Stir together the breadcrumbs and salt.
- Dip each cheese stick into the flour, followed by the milk mixture, and ending with the breadcrumbs. Make sure to entirely coat the cheese in each step. Repeat once more a second coat: flour, milk, breadcrumbs. Place on the baking sheet.
- Bake sticks 5 minutes then turn the oven up to broil and cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Enjoy!