The first time I ever ate genuine deep-fried cheese curd was on a chilly Fall day in the square of a small midwestern town. For $2, I received a full paper cone of randomly sized cheese curds after standing in line for about 20 minutes.
There was some polka music playing in the background, which made the wait bearable. One bite and I knew the wait was worth it: that first fresh cheese curd was warm and crunchy and gooey all at the same time. It was one of those moments that stands out in time for me because it was so good!
Deep-fried cheese curds are a staple snack of quite a few communities, especially in Quebec and throughout the Northeast and Midwestern United States, but the fried cheese curds are flash-frozen and sold in many stores or restaurants like French fries don’t compare to the real thing.
Not many foods will change you… but I can testify to the power of genuine deep-fried cheese curds!
What are Cheese Curds?
A cheese curd is a solid mass of lactic acid starter culture dairy solids and water shaped into a small, rough ball. They are created when the natural lactic acid in milk coagulates protein into long strands for cheese.
These days, most “cheese curds” are produced with rennet, a microbial enzyme commonly used in cheesemaking. Rennet makes shorter, tougher curds that are easier to handle and less likely to break during the manufacturing process.
Cheese curds are often used in savory dishes, as they have a mild flavor and a slightly rubbery texture. They can be eaten on their own as a snack, as appetizer cuisine, or used as an ingredient in recipes such as poutine.
What Do Cheese Curds Taste Like?
Cheese curds have a mildly salty taste and a slightly springy texture. They are often used in savory dishes, as they provide a contrast to the other ingredients in a recipe.
How to Eat Cheese Curds
If you are looking for things to do with cheese curds, they can be eaten on their own as a snack, or used as an ingredient in recipes. One popular dish that uses cheese curds is poutine, a dish from Quebec, Canada that consists of french fries, cheese curds, and gravy.
Types of Cheese Curds
There are many different types of real cheese curds, and the type you choose will depend on your personal preference.
Some of the most popular types of curds include:
- Cheddar Cheese Curds: Cheddar curds are the most popular type of cheese curd. They have a sharp, tangy flavor that pairs well with savory dishes.
- White Cheese Curds: White cheddar cheese curds have a milder flavor than other types of cheese curds. They pair well with fruits and vegetables or can be used in sweet dishes.
- Naked Deep-Fried Cheese Curds: These fried cheese curds are not breaded or battered, and are usually served with a dipping sauce.
- Battered Deep-Fried Cheese Curds: These fried curds are breaded or battered cheese curds before they are deep-fried and are typically fried to a golden brown.
Can You Buy Cheese Curds?
Yes, absolutely. Fresh curds are available for purchase in many stores, including your local grocery store, cheese shops, and online retailers.
If you’re looking for the freshest cheese possible, your best bet is to find a local source. You may be able to find a few curds being sold at your local farmers’ market, as well as some specialty food stores.
You can also find frozen curds in some stores, which can be a convenient option if you’re looking to make poutine or another dish that requires cooked cheese curds.
If you want freshly made deep-fried cheese curds, go to Minnesota or Wisconsin where you will find them at nearly every dive bar or regional fast food spot.
Here are some of our favorite fresh curds:
- Culver’s (if you love fried cheese curds, you know this place)
- Dairy Queen
- Buffalo Wild Wings
- Ellsworth Creamery in Wisconsin
Where to Buy Cheese Curds
Cheese curds can be found in the dairy section of most grocery stores. They are also available at specialty cheese shops and online retailers.
You’ll also find that some of the most well-known brands in the midwest sell cheese curds online but it may be a bit more expensive. A great option for this would be purchasing fresh Ellsworth cheese curds.
How to Make Cheese Curds
If you’ve ever made croquettes, the principle is essentially the same: you take your food, the cheese curd, dip it in a strong batter, then fry it up to a golden brown.
For typical fried cheese curds, you’ll find a batter that has a similar texture to the generic frozen cheese stick you’d find in the grocery store.
Those aren’t the good ones… no, you’ve got to make your own because there’s no other way to replicate the extreme gooey goodness of squeaky cheese curd!
The other part of the equation is that you’ve got to get fresh cheese curds. The best curds to use for the frying process aren’t the ones that have been sitting on grocery store shelves for a week or two.
They are the ones that come straight from the cheese factory and are only a few hours old. You can tell if you’ve got a good, fresh batch of curds by the “squeaky cheese” test: if the cheese curds squeak on your teeth as you eat them, then you can fry them.
If they don’t, you might as well just buy a block of cheese and fry up pieces of that.
Deep-Fried Cheese Curds Recipe
For those who can make freshly deep-fried cheese curds at home, failure comes not from the ability to get great curds to fry, but from a bad batter mixture.
You see, cheese curds need to have a light batter coating on them so that there’s just enough crunch when you bite into it, yet not too much batter where that’s all you taste. Think about the last time you had Sweet & Sour Chicken and you’ve got an idea of what battered curds should be.
There’s one foundational difference, however: instead of using carbonated water, you’re going to use beer to make the batter lighter and fluffier – 3/4 of a cup, to be exact.
For added flair, customization, or just plain bragging rights, use a local microbrew. When I make these at home, I prefer to use Spotted Cow if I’ve got any in the house (one of the best breweries in Wisconsin).
You’re also going to need two eggs, 1 cup of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 cup of milk. Mix that stuff together until you have a fairly smooth batter.
You’re also going to need at least 2 cups of oil and you’ll want to heat that up to a good 375F. I tend to use canola oil for this because of food allergies, but almost any oil will do. Just don’t use peanut oil – trust me on this!
The hot oil has to be the right oil temperature, however, because the batter will cook too fast and you’ll have a solid core on the inside.[If this does happen, just put the oven at 200F and stick the cheese curds in on a baking sheet for a few minutes.]
Now take your fresh cheese curds, dip them in this batter, and immediately put it into the hot oil. You’ll want a wire strainer to help take the curds out of the oil when they’re done because otherwise, the oil tends to just go everywhere.
Let them cool down for a minute, but not too long… you’ve got to eat these while they’re hot!
Dipping Sauces for Fried Cheese Curds
Some people would consider it a crime to include a dipping sauce in your cheese curds recipe. I would say that it depends on how fresh your curds are, what type of cheese you use, what type of beer batter, and if you use garlic salt or garlic powder in the curds. If you’re serving generic fried cheese curds as an appetizer, you might want some dipping sauces on the side.
The two most popular ones are ranch dressing and marinara sauce, but you can really dip them in anything you want.
I’ve seen people use ketchup, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, and even chocolate sauce. Some people also like to dip their cheese curds into some kind of sauce – ranch, for instance, or maybe a honey dijon sauce. Good, hot, fresh cheese curds need none of this!
If, however, you’ve got an older curd that has become a bit solid on the inside, take your standard tartar sauce, add some dill to it, and you’ve got a fantastic and flavorful addition. A good tzatziki sauce will also compliment your fried cheese curds quite nicely!
Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to dipping sauces – just use whatever you think would taste good as a pairing.
See Related: Minnesota vs Wisconsin
Final Thoughts: Are Cheese Curds Good?
The one issue with fried cheese curds is their fat content. Many recipes, including this one, will have 40g of fat or more per typical serving, and considering it’s easy enough to eat two or three servings at a time… There’s no getting around the fact that the best cheeses to fry have a high-fat content.
You can use vegetable oil and low-fat cheese to halve the fat content, but the flavor just isn’t the same. Don’t get me wrong – it’s ok, but it’s not life-changing!
Are cheese curds good? The answer to this question is a resounding “yes!” Fried cheese curds are delicious, and they’re perfect as an appetizer or side dish. They’re also easy to make, so you can enjoy them at home any time you want.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe for fried cheese curds. Thanks for reading!
What are cheese curds?
Cheese curds are small, bite-sized pieces of fresh cheese. They are often described as being similar in taste and texture to squeaky cheese. They are a popular snack food in many parts of the world, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
How are cheese curds made?
Cheese curds are made by separating the solid particles (curds) from the liquid (whey) in milk. This process is accomplished through a variety of methods, but the most common method involves adding an acidic substance (such as vinegar or lemon juice) to milk, which causes the curds to separate from the whey. The curds are then collected and formed into small, bite-sized pieces.
What is the best way to eat cheese curds?
There is no wrong answer to this question! Cheese curds can be eaten plain, or they can be breaded and fried. They can also be used as an ingredient in a variety of recipes, such as macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches.
Can you buy cheese curds?
Yeah! If you are looking to find cheese curds, you can usually get them at the local supermarket. The food is often located at delis near the fresh mozzarella and other special cheese.
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