Tempura Fried Cheese Curds with Sriracha Mayo
These golden-brown tempura fried cheese curds are surprisingly simple to make at home! Deep fried in tempura batter, they’re light, melty, and perfect with a side of spicy, garlicky Sriracha mayo. Learn how to make this delicious snack for game day, a party appetizer, or happy hour at home.
When it comes to sportsball, I 10/10 only care about the food. As my friend group’s annual Super Bowl party host (and personal chef), half of the fun for me is drinking beer and eating silly amounts of buffalo chicken pizza and beer cheese fondue. The husband, on the other hand, has feelings about football. I have never known so much about football players’ personal lives until now.
After recently acquiring a big bag of cheese curds that my dad bought me in Oregon, my initial reaction was “wtf do I do with these?” So I took it to an Instagram poll, and luckily, an old study abroad friend was like, “duh, batter them, deep fry them and dip the bitches in Sriracha mayo”.* So there we go. The ultimate Super Bowl snack.
*not an actual quote
Why you’ll love these fried cheese curds
First of all, what’s not to love? They’re fried. There’s Sriracha mayo. This is the kind of decadent fun we all deserve on game day. But, in case you need a little more convincing:
- These cheese curds are surprisingly easy. I promise!
- We’re using a light tempura batter. No eggs, buttermilk, or breading required.
- They’re a huge crowd-pleaser. Fried cheese is always a good idea.
- You can make them in advance! More on this later.
The ingredient list
One of the best parts of this recipe is that it only has a handful of ingredients! Here’s what you’ll need:
- Cheese curds – if you’re like, “ok but where do I buy cheese curds?” you can find them in the fancy cheese aisle of most local grocery stores. You can also find them at artisan cheese shops or well-stocked stores like Sprouts or Whole Foods.
- Cake flour – don’t worry if you don’t have cake flour! You can make your own. Just measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour and remove 2 Tablespoons. Then, add 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch to the flour, and sift to remove any lumps. Easy peasy!
- Club soda – the bubbles in the club soda expand when you’re frying the cheese curds, which will produce a light, airy texture. Club soda also has minerals added, which will make for a more flavorful batter compared to seltzer water. For a beer batter, use very cold, light beer!
- Mayonnaise – I recommend Best Foods for the best flavor! (Sometimes called Hellmann’s).
- Sriracha – most hot chili pastes will work but Sriracha is my favorite for flavor and a smooth texture.
- Oil – canola or vegetable are best for frying. Avoid anything with a low smoking point like olive oil or coconut oil.
- Kitchen basics – Kosher salt and a clove of garlic.
What are cheese curds?
Cheese curds are pieces of curdled milk that have a mild, cheddar-like flavor. When they’re fresh, the texture is a bit rubbery and makes a little squeaky sound when you give them a bite. Cheese curds are known as a classic “Wisconsin thing” but I’ve been seeing the fried version all over the place lately. They’re basically a saltier, less melty, bite-sized Mozzarella stick, but they’re just as addictive!
What is tempura?
Tempura is a classic Japanese dish where different ingredients, such as shrimp or veggies, are battered and deep fried. Tempura originated from Portuguese sailors, who introduced Japan to peixinhos da horta, a.k.a. deep fried veggies (usually green beans or Romano beans). Over time, Japanese cooks mastered the technique and made it their own.
In this recipe, I chose to use tempura batter, because I love how light and airy the outside is compared to the salty, richness of the cheese curds. It’s one of my favorite methods for battering! These curds are crisp, golden-brown, and not as greasy as other fried foods.
How to make this recipe
In this recipe, we’re frying the cheese curds on the stove without a deep fryer. Since we’re making them in a pot, it’s much easier to make these fried curds at home! You can also find a step-by-step video in the recipe card.
- Add the mayo, Sriracha, and garlic to a small bowl. Next, stir the sauce until it’s combined. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve.
- First, add the cake flour to a medium bowl.
- Then, add the club soda and Kosher salt.
- Lastly, whisk the mixture just until the batter forms. Don’t over-mix, or you’ll pop the bubbles, which make the batter airy!
Fry the cheese curds
- First, heat the oil until it’s 375°F.
- Once the oil is heated, dip the cheese curds into the batter, working about 6 at a time. Fry the cheese curds just until the outside is crisp, about 30 seconds. Keep the cheese curds hot in a warm oven.
- Lastly, serve the cheese curds with the Sriracho mayo. Enjoy!
Tips to prevent the cheese from melting
Cheese curds are, after all, cheese so they can melt if they are not fried properly. Here are some tips for preventing the cheese curds from melting!
- Freeze the cheese curds – frying frozen cheese curds will give the batter time to set without the cheese getting too melty. I like to freeze them overnight, but 1-2 hours will do.
- Keep an even temperature – 375°F is perfect for this recipe. If the oil is too hot, the curds will fall apart, and if it’s too cool, the batter will just soak up the oil. Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temp!
- Don’t over-fry – you should fry the cheese curds just until the batter is crisp, puffy, and light golden-brown. This will only take about 30-60 seconds. If the cheese is melting out, you’re cooking them too long!
Storing, freezing, make-ahead, & reheating
- To store leftovers, place the cheese curds in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- To freeze leftovers, place the cheese curds in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze for 1-2 hours until firm. Then, layer the frozen curds in an airtight container and freeze for up to 2-3 months.
- If you want to make these curds in advance, just prepare, freeze, and re-heat when you’re ready to serve!
- The cheese curds can be reheated from the fridge or freezer. To reheat, stack a wire rack on a sheet pan and place the curds in a single layer on the wire rack (this will allow excess oil to drip through). Bake at 400°F for 5-6 minutes for refrigerated curds, or 7-10 minutes for frozen curds, until the outside is golden brown and the center is melty. Flip the curds halfway through to ensure they cook evenly.
If Sriracha mayo isn’t your thing, here are a few other ways to eat and enjoy these cheese curds!
- Ranch dressing – store-bought or homemade. To make it spicy, add some Sriracha.
- Buffalo sauce – with a side of blue cheese!
- Gravy – for a Canadian-inspired twist, dip the curds in gravy.
- Beer – ice-cold beer is a must!
Tips for recipe success
- Use cheese curds that are at least 1/2-1” long. If the curds are too small, they will not fry evenly. The small curds are perfect for snacking on their own!
- The oil will splatter when you drop the curds in. To prevent it from burning you, I would drop the curds in with the tines of a fork or chopsticks. Drop them in near the side of the pot, so the oil splatters against the pot.
- Fry the curds just until the tempura batter is puffy and light golden brown, 30-60 seconds. Even if the cheese is not fully melted through, the residual heat will finish the cooking process.
- To keep the cheese curds hot while you’re frying, place them in a warm oven at the lowest setting (mine is 170°F). I set the fried curds on a wire rack stacked on a sheet pan, so extra oil can drip through.
- Cheese curds are best when they’re fresh, and I recommend eating them right away. But don’t worry, you can store leftovers if necessary (see tips above!).
More game day recipes
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Tempura Fried Cheese Curds with Sriracha Mayo
Tempura Fried Cheese Curds
- 1 pound cheese curds, frozen
- 1 cup cake flour, sifted
- 1 cup club soda, very cold
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 quart vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 Tablespoons Sriracha (more or less, to taste)
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- In a small bowl, whisk together the mayo, Sriracha, and garlic until smooth. Cover and refrigerate until you're ready to serve.
Batter & Frying
- While the oil is heating, make the batter. In a medium bowl, combine the sifted cake flour, cold club soda, and Kosher salt. Whisk the mixture, just until the batter forms. Do not over-mix! A few lumps are ok.
- When the oil is heated, you can start the frying process. Working with about six cheese curds at a time, dip the curds into the batter with chopsticks or the tines of a fork. Coat, and then let some batter drip off. From the side of the pot, drop the curds in the hot oil, frying them until they're puffy, crisp, and light golden-brown, about 30-60 seconds. Do not overcook, or the cheese will leak out.
- Place the fried curds on the wire rack in the oven to keep them warm while you're frying the rest. Serve the cheese curds immediately with the Sriracha mayo.
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: You Might be Sleeping by Jakob Ogawa
Originally posted on October 14, 2018.