Aldi does its share of appetizers. They vary in quality, sometimes even within a specific product. Some of them are Special Buys (ALDI Finds), while others are Regular Buys. This is one of the Regular Buys.
Appetitos Mozzarella Cheese Sticks, which can be found in Aldi’s frozen section, come in a small box containing 11 ounces of cheese sticks. (The back of the box claims there are “about 8 sticks” — our box had 7.) At the time of this post, they retailed for $1.49, or 13.5 cents an ounce. Granted, this isn’t a large box of cheese sticks, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find cheese sticks of any amount under $1.50.
The cheese sticks come with two different cooking directions: conventional oven and deep fry. Both are pretty simple. The conventional oven directions call for preheating the oven to 450 degrees, then placing the mozzarella sticks on a baking sheet. The sticks are cooked for 8 minutes, turning once halfway through. Then pull the cheese sticks out and let them stand 1-2 minutes before serving. The instructions caution that overheating the sticks may cause a loss of filling.
The deep fry method involves frying the sticks at 350 degrees for 3 to 3 1/2 minutes or until the desired crispness is achieved. You then pull the sticks and let them stand 1-2 minutes before serving. (We suggest placing them on a plate with a paper towel on it when you pull them from the oil.) We decided to deep fry our sticks, and that came with some problems. The cheese was oozing out of some of the sticks before the 3 minute mark, forcing us to pull them out a little early, so if you go this route, pay close attention.
The sauce packet also comes frozen, and it’s thawed by placing the packet in a bowl of hot water for 6 to 8 minutes. The instructions add that you should refrigerate any leftover sauce.
Nutritionally, you wouldn’t expect cheese sticks to be good for you, and they’re not, but at least they’re not large.
So how do they taste? Well, the breading and the marinara were fine enough, but all of the sticks that we tried were short on cheese. We’re used to cheese sticks that are loaded with cheese — you know, the kind where you pull them apart and the mozzarella strings out. That can’t happen with these sticks, because they contain only a small amount of cheese. Some of our sticks oozed cheese during the deep fry process, but even those that didn’t had an empty space in their bread packet where we thought cheese ought to be.
They’re certainly inexpensive and easy to make, but despite a decently seasoned breading, these cheese sticks are too short on the most important ingredient. The cheese factor is pretty small, which is fine if you care mostly about the breading but not as fine if you’re looking for a true fried cheese stick experience. Because of that, we can’t currently recommend them … although we can always hold out hope Aldi retools them, which it does from time to time.