If you fancy cheesy, melty, and crispy snacks, cheese curds and mozzarella sticks are top-notch options. Known as squeaky cheese – curds are a dairy product, not cheese, but a starter of young cheddar. Fresh-tasted mozzarella is very close to curds, and they are frequently mixed up. Both are my favorite savory snack options, and I often use them to elevate boring fast-food plates. But, what is the difference between cheese curds and mozzarella sticks?
Mozzarella sticks are string cheese, while cheese curds are irregular bite-sized pieces. What’s interesting is that cheese curds don’t go through a full cheesemaking process, but mozzarella sticks do. Furthermore, sticks are big in the USA, and curds are popular in the Midwest and Canada.
I love fast foods, but I adore protein- and vitamin-packed options the most. And, yes, you can have it at the same time! Cheese curds and mozzarella sticks are my favorite, especially served with a quality dip and a refreshing salad to enjoy. Read on to have an insight into their differences: ingredients, taste, texture, sides, and more!
Ingredients and Preparation
If you want to prepare cheese curds, you need a young cheddar – fresh from the whey. Curds are, in fact, tiny rice-sized pieces of renneted milk that pile up to form cheese. That’s an inevitable step in the cheesemaking process.
After that, it goes to forming cheeses into wheels and eating them fresh or leaving them to age, even for years. Cheese curds are special because they go through a part of the cheddaring procedure. Cheesemakers withdraw residual whey and air by piling up curds into chunks just to mill them into bite-sized, ready-to-consume pieces.
Mozzarella sticks are, actually, formed cheese that is shaped and stretched to strings. Here, the cheesemaking process is finished, while cheese curds are a new dairy product. Furthermore, mozzarella sticks are processed cheese, and cheese curds are freshly curdled milk not older than 24 hours.
When prepared, they are both savory, crunchy, melty, and stretchy. Yum! There are many recipes for both of them, but in the end, all come to the same thing: breading! You need classics: eggs, bread crumbs, and flour.
If you want to spice it up a bit, exchange milk or buttermilk with beer to give them a nice golden color and subtle sweet aroma. When it comes to seasoning, salt, garlic, dill, and sometimes Italian seasoning is a usual choice for cheese curds. Mozzarella sticks are richer in flavoring: garlic, panko, onion powder, and herbs like oregano, parsley, thyme, plus much more.
You are free to fry, air-fry, or bake both of them; just get them to melt!
Mozzarella is the only cheese that can be shaped in strings, but curds have an irregular, almost round shape. Curds come in bite-size pieces, while sticks are usually a bit bigger. At the cross-section, mozzarella is always white, but curds can be yellow or white. Sticks go from golden brown to red, depending on what’s in the panko mix, while curds can be pale if you opt for the garlic-salt seasoning combo.
Taste and Texture
Cheese curds and mozzarella cheese have pretty similar tastes. They are not the same thing, but can easily substitute for one another. Mozzarella and curds are mild and fresh with a hint of salt, but mozzarella is creamier while curds are milkier.
They are like a blank canvas – perfect for experimenting with seasoning. If you want to spice things up, go all in herbs and flavorings. So, it can go from mild to spicy in a bit. Cheese curds are more garlicky, while mozzarella sticks are richer in herbs and tangier.
Both of these meals can’t pass without fine dipping sauce. You can serve it with any condiment you like, but here are some ideas. Mozzarella sticks pair perfectly with sweet chili sauce, honey mustard, BBQ, and alfredo sauce.
For cheese curds, go with marinara, ranch, or caramel sauce, no doubt! The two go well with fries, chicken nuggets, onion rings, pesto, hash browns, mashed potatoes, salads, and so on.
Cheese curds have a bit more calories and calcium than mozzarella sticks, but a pretty equal amount of protein. They are both packed with vitamins B12 and A, plus phosphorus and selenium. They are coated in batter and usually fried, so consume them moderately.  
Origin and Popularity
Mozzarella sticks were born in France, but they went through adaptations and became a mega-popular and staple food in any fast-food place in the USA. What’s interesting, you will rarely come across them in Italy, even mozzarella is a big deal there.
History says that cheese curds originated in Ancient Rome, but the ones popular today come from Wisconsin, USA. They are also kind of a Canadian thing, and you will find them anywhere there!
Cheese Curds vs. Mozzarella Sticks: Which Is Better?
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. They are both simple to make, cheesy, and crunchy. If you like it more aromatic, go for mozzarella sticks, and for a more garlicky option – choose cheese curds.