Why It Works
- The direct, two-sided heat of the waffle iron crisps the breading without the need for flipping.
- Cooking in the waffle iron instead of deep-frying means less mess and quicker set-up and clean-up.
Breaded, melty cheese is something that crosses cultures—from deep-fried mozzarella sticks at state fairs to queso frito in Latin America. Inspired by those foods, we've taken squares of cheese are breaded and "fried" them in the waffle iron for just a minute, until their outsides turn golden brown and crunchy and their insides become perfectly melted and gooey.
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika, or a pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1/2 pound low-moisture mozzarella, sliced about 1/2 inch thick (see note)
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Salsa, for serving (optional)
Preheat waffle iron. (Set it to medium if it has temperature controls.)
On a plate, mix flour with paprika or cayenne. Place eggs in a second plate or bowl and bread crumbs in a third. Working one slice at a time, coat cheese in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
Spray both sides of waffle iron with nonstick spray, place as many cheese slices as will fit in waffle iron, and close lid. Cook until bread crumbs turn golden brown, about 1 minute. Repeat with any remaining cheese.
Serve hot on its own or with salsa for dipping.
Any good melting cheese such as young provolone, fontina, Jack, cheddar, or a queso chihuahua can be used in place of the mozzarella. Avoid fresh mozzarella or dry cheese meant for grating. Some recipes call for the breaded cheese to be refrigerated (or frozen) before cooking. I did not find this to be necessary with the waffle iron version, but you can certainly bread the cheese several hours ahead and refrigerate it until you're ready to waffle.