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Lately I’ve been on a bit of a personal mission to revamp some of my favorite foods to fit better into the healthier lifestyle I’ve been working to create for myself. There are many recipes in my recipe box that could use a facelift, especially with the holidays charging at me full speed, and with all the potlucks and cookie swaps in my future I’m going to do my best to keep some control in the foods I’m preparing at home.
I was perusing the aisles at Walmart the other day and ran into a couple Weight Watchers® demo stands. The samples I tried were fantastic! I was loving the information I found on the nutrition labels and it gave me the bright idea to use Weight Watchers products to help me revamp some of my favorite recipes.
It didn’t take long for me to decide on Mozzarella sticks. They are a delicious snack, but with all the cheese and fried breading, it’s something I was ready to revamp. I was thrilled to find Weight Watchers had string cheese snacks in addition to the chocolate treats I’d just tried, so that was the start of my new recipe. I picked up two packages of the cheese because I wanted to see which one would taste better. Honestly, I was excited to try the smoked flavor string cheese. It would be that added boost of flavor to something that was already going to be fantastic.
When I got home I got to work on my new recipe. I started thinking about how I could improve this recipe and still get the crispy texture on the outside and gooey cheese on the inside. I’d already found my cheese, so now I needed to work on the breading. Frying needed to be out. I didn’t want all that extra greasiness, so that meant oven baking. That would greatly reduce the amount of oil being absorbed into each mozzarella stick.
I decided to use half panko and half seasoned bread crumbs. I would get some added flavor in the crust without adding any extra herbs and spices, and the panko would give it some extra crunch.
With my plan of action in place, it was time to get started.
Perfectly Crisp Baked Mozzarella Sticks
First, unwrap all the cheese from a package of Weight Watchers String Cheese. This should be twelve sticks.
Now put all those cheese sticks in the freezer for about fifteen minutes or to an hour depending on how frozen you want them. Freezing them will help make sure they don’t melt too much in the hot oven. Experiment with your tastes on this recipe, you may decide you like to leave them in for a shorter or longer amount of time. I find it’s a preference to how much you want to bake them.
While the cheese sticks freeze you can start getting the rest of the ingredients ready.
Grab three bowls. In the first place about 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour. I used a half cup and had way too much, so a little goes a long way. In the second bowl whisk up two to three eggs. I needed three, but depending on how you decide to make these, you may only need two, I’ll touch on that more in a bit. In the third bowl place 1/2 cup panko and 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs, then mix them up good.
Now you can preheat your oven to 350 and add a light coating of oil to a baking sheet. You’ll want a little oil on there to help coat the breading so it’s not too powdery when you’re done. This little bit of oil is nothing compared to the oil bath mozzarella sticks get when deep fried.
Once the cheese sticks have had a good chance to freeze up a bit, pull them out and start breading them. First dip them in flour to coat, then egg wash, followed by a coating of the bread crumbs. If you prefer a light coating stop here and place them on the baking sheet, if you like a little more breading dip them once more in egg wash followed by the breading again. I double dipped for this tutorial.
After all the cheese sticks are coated and lined up on the baking sheet, give the sticks a quick spray of vegetable oil. This is to help the tops of the mozzarella sticks brown up and reduce that powdery texture. Now place them in the oven.
I baked my mozzarella sticks for about ten minutes, but they could have gone in just a bit longer. I didn’t want the cheese to splurge out, and it was just starting to do so on a few of them. You may want to check yours at the five minute mark to see how they are doing.
After creating this delicious recipe for mozzarella sticks and vastly improving on my old fried recipe, I decided I wanted more. So, I create a dipping sauce for the mozzarella sticks with the holidays in mind. Cranberry BBQ Sauce.
Sweet Cranberry BBQ Sauce
First gather all of your ingredients. There are a lot of small doses of herbs and spices, so check the recipe card below the photo step by step for specifics.
Let these cook over medium heat for about fifteen minutes or so. Cranberries cook fast. Now either put them in a blender or use an immersion blender to blend until it’s smooth or the texture you would like.
Once you’re done blending, continue simmering your sauce until it’s the thickness you like. When mine was all said and done I had just a little over one pint and it fit perfectly in a mason jar for me to keep in the fridge.
For Weight Watchers tracking, the Cranberry BBQ sauce has 1 point per 2 tbsp serving, and the mozzarella sticks are 3 points per two Mozzarella stick serving, or one stick if you don’t cut them in half.
Baked Mozzarella Sticks with Cranberry BBQ Dipping Sauce
- 1 package Weight Watchers String Cheese 12 sticks
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 to 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup panko
- cooking spray
For the Cranberry BBQ Dipping Sauce
- 3 cups fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup diced sweet yellow onion
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup chicken broth low sodium if possible
- 1/4 cup brown sugar packed
- 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 tsp liquid smoke or a little more for a really smokey flavor
- 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp mustard powder
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
- 1/2 tsp tarragon
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/2 tsp thyme
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Cut string cheese sticks in half, then place in the freezer for 15 minutes to an hour.
- Prep for the breading process. Get 3 bowls out. Place flour in one bowl. Whisk eggs in another bowl. Then combine the panko and bread crumbs in the third bowl.
- Preheat oven to 350 and prepare a baking sheet with a light coating of cooking spray.
- Remove cheese sticks from freezer and dredge in flour. Coat with egg, then dip in bread crumb mix to coat. If you'd like a thicker breading repeat the egg and bread crumb mix steps. Place coated cheese sticks on baking sheet.
- Bake cheese sticks for approximately 10 minutes, checking sticks halfway through to make sure the cheese isn't melting too much.
- Remove mozzarella sticks from oven and enjoy with the Cranberry BBQ Dipping Sauce
For the Cranberry BBQ Dipping Sauce
- Combine all ingredients under the Cranberry BBQ Dipping Sauce in a small stock pot and cook for 15 minutes at medium heat.
- When cranberries are soft, use an immersion blender to blend sauce to desired consistency.
- Continue simmering sauce until desired thickness is achieved.
- Cool and serve.
If you want to recreate this recipe you can find the Weight Watchers String Cheese snacks in the cheese section at Walmart.
Don’t forget to hit up the upcoming Weight Watchers demo stands at participating Walmarts too. They have some delicious items to share with you, I’m glad I stopped by! Here are the dates and times for the participating Weight Watchers demos.
- 10/29 – Thursday 12:30-7:00 PM
- 10/30 – Friday 12:30-7:00 PM
- 10/31 – Saturday 10:00-4:30 PM
- 11/1 – Sunday 12:30-7:00 PM
What is your favorite recipe? Find some ideas to revamp it using Weight Watchers products here. I’d love to hear about the inspiration you find. Please share it in the comments below!